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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 856300

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NC36NE 99 3780 6717 and NC 3807 6745

Excavation was carried out in June and July 2004 at two sites on the fixed dune grasslands to the W of Loch Borralie (see DES 2001, 54). The work involved limited geophysical survey, trial trenching of a sub-rectangular bow-sided structure (46), and open-area excavation of a similar structure (89) set within a fenced-off deflated area; deposits in both structures were being damaged by burrowing.

Excavation of structure 46 established that it had been largely scoured out in the past by erosion, although a fire-spot and some occupation deposits did survive. Sherds of coarse pottery from these deposits, together with the isolated position and substantial bow-sided character of the structure, suggest that it pre-dates the post-medieval occupation of the area.

Structure 89 ran beneath 18th-century township buildings. Excavation established that it had a complex structural sequence: its walls had been thickened and incorporated two small querns or large fishing weights. It was associated with deep, extensive midden deposits containing fish bone, animal bone and marine shells. The walls overlay earlier midden deposits that in turn sealed earlier walling. Sherds of what may be late 1st millennium AD pottery were found associated with the earlier walling. The substantial, bow-sided form of the later structure would suggest a Norse or late Norse date for it.

The work was carried out as part of the Strathnaver Province Viking-Medieval Archaeology Project, a five-year excavation and survey project designed to further understanding of medieval rural settlement on a regional scale and inform its future management, encourage heritage awareness in the region and provide training in archaeological field techniques to members of the local community and university students.

Report lodged with Highland SMR and the NMRS.

Sponsors: HS, Russell Trust, European Union Community Economic Development Fund, University of Glasgow, Assumption College.

O Lelong and A Gazin-Schwartz 2004

Medieval building NC 3807 6745 Further excavation was carried out in June and July 2005 of a structure first investigated in 2004 (DES 2004, 72) - a sub-rectangular, bow-sided building which runs beneath a later 18th-century building belonging to the cleared township of Borralie. The excavation found further evidence of how the building had

been used, including a central hearth and possible industrial area at the W end of the interior, including several firespots, pieces of worked antler and iron. It also uncovered a well-built clay-bonded stone oven in the centre of the building. The excavations found more evidence for the building's considerable structural complexity: the S walls were rebuilt on at least two occasions, while the N wall appears to have been of one build. Sherds of 16th-century Dutch

cooking pot sealed beneath the N wall date its construction to the 1500s or later, but it is not yet clear whether the phases of building on the S began at the same time, or relate to remnants of earlier structures.

The excavations also investigated the deep midden deposits underlying the N wall, recovering late medieval pottery from

its upper part and coarse grass-tempered pottery from its lower horizon. A structure sealed by the midden and comprising burnt limestone was also further uncovered, although not investigated. Finally, excavation to the S of the building revealed what may be the earliest features yet found on the site, including a pit filled with charcoal and coarse pottery and a hearth scoop.

Report lodged with Highland SMR and NMRS.

Sponsors: HS A, Russell Trust, Hunter Archaeological Trust, Sutherland Partnership, University of Glasgow,

Assumption College.

O Lelong and A Gazin-Schwartz

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