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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 859301

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/event/859301

NH76SE 32 7566 6075

NH 7566 6075 10 amateur and professional archaeologists worked together in September 2006 to carry out a preliminary excavation of a cave at Learnie, near Rosemarkie on the Black Isle. The project objective is to identify and record any evidence of past occupation within the group of caves, and to offer an opportunity for local people to participate actively in archaeological fieldwork.

The cave is at about 4m above the present high water mark, and faces SE (towards the open sea). It is mostly dry. It was chosen because it had the remains of two stone walls across the entrance, suggesting it may have been lived in or used in some way at some time in the past.

The cave had been used for sheltering cattle and the floor was covered with a layer of trampled cattle dung. Below this were thin floor levels. Finds were all post-medieval, mostly 19th- and 20th-century pottery and fragments of shoe leather including off-cuts. Only one complete shoe was found, that of a small girl. Among many metal objects were two farthings of uncertain date, and a 1916 halfpenny. There was plenty of 20th-century debris including wire, parts of tin cans, and a sickle.

The substantial outside wall overlay a shell midden, apparently also post-medieval in date although this is not yet fully clear. The bones were nearly all from mammals, including cow, sheep and possibly seal, with very few fish bones.

It was clear that only limited investigation was possible in a long weekend, even with the huge enthusiasm of those who took part. Further seasons are planned for this cave and others to discover more of their archaeology. A small display about the project and its results was mounted in Groam House Museum, Rosemarkie, during Highland Archaeology Fortnight.

Report to be lodged with Highland SMR and Library Service, and NMRS; archive will be deposited with RCAHMS.

Sponsor: Cromarty Archaeology Field Group; Highland Archaeology Services Ltd.

John Wood, 2006.

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