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Skye, Kyleakin

Bog Butter, Cauldron (Bronze), Keg

Site Name Skye, Kyleakin

Classification Bog Butter, Cauldron (Bronze), Keg

Canmore ID 11666

Site Number NG72NE 2

NGR NG 75 26

NGR Description NG c. 75 26

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Strath
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Skye And Lochalsh
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NG72NE 2 c. 75 26.

RMS ME 167; 'keg of butter.. hollowed out from one block, 14 x 13in., without bottom, found in moss at Kyleakin, Skye - Purchased 1884'.

NMAS 1892.

In 1884 a bronze cauldron was found in close juxtaposition with kegs of butter in a peat moss at a depth of 7 1/2 ft near Kyleakin. It measured 18 ins in diameter and was much patched: the rim and handles are missing. (J Anderson 1885)

Classified as a cauldron of 'Battersea' type of the early 1st cent AD and in view of its association with the kegs of bog-butter suggested as a likely votive deposit. (S Piggott 1955)

Further observations and comparisons with a keg discovered subsequently at Kilmaluag (See NG47SW 9) (J Ritchie 1941) Cauldron and keg now in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS).

Visited by OS (A C) 9 November 1960.

No further information.

Visited by OS (R L) 14 September 1971.

NMS ME 167/SHC 2. Two-piece carved keg of Alnus sp., found filled with bog butter. The base and sides were pinned together and the lid was missing. 220 +/- 35 ad (UB-3186).

C Earwood 1993.

Before 1885 a bronze cauldron of globular form and 'Battersea' type, and 'several kegs or small barrels' of bog butter were found 'in close juxtaposition' during peat-digging near Kyleakin, and at a depth of 7'6" (2.3m). The various discoveries were not recorded in detail and need not have been associated. The cauldron and one of the small kegs were transferred to the museum of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (now the Royal Museum of Scotland) where the latter artifact is stored under accession number NMS SHC 2.

This keg was recorded as being hollowed in the shape of a barrel from a single piece of wood. It measured 1'2" (0.4m) in height by up to 1'1" (0.3m) in diameter, making the capacity about 28 litres. Two 'slight projections' or external lugs were noted with holes burnt through them. Both the lid and the base had rested on prepared ledges, and were missing when the discovery was recorded. The timber has been identified as alder and a radiocarbon determination of 220 ? 35 ad (UB-3186) has been obtained from the contents, which may be calibrated to between about 260 and 329 cal AD.

The object was seen in the course of conservation at the Royal Museum of Scotland . It has suffered from extensive splitting and has been reinforced (since discovery) with iron wire around the surviving fill of butter. Neither base nor lid survives but there are the remains of a retaining dowel around the foot and the prominent groove that forms the neck has possibly been intended to hold a retaining string. No evidence of protruding lugs can be identified but two holes which have possibly been burnt through slight projections on each side may have served to retain strings.

Anderson 1885, 309-11; Ritchie 1941, 15, 16, 20-1; Macgregor 1976, 2, no. 306; Earwood 1991, 233, 235, 236, 237; Earwood 1993a, 13, 14, 109-11, 278; R J C Mowat 1996, visited November 1994.

Radiocarbon date (UB-3186) cited as 225-401 AD.

NMRS, MS/996/1.

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