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Skye, Camas Daraich

Bloodstone Scatter (Mesolithic), Occupation Site (Mesolithic)(Possible), Shell Midden (Period Unassigned), Lithic Implement(S) (Mesolithic)

Site Name Skye, Camas Daraich

Classification Bloodstone Scatter (Mesolithic), Occupation Site (Mesolithic)(Possible), Shell Midden (Period Unassigned), Lithic Implement(S) (Mesolithic)

Canmore ID 181536

Site Number NG50SE 27

NGR NG 567 000

NGR Description NG c. 567 000

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NG50SE 27 c. 567 000

NG 567 000 The site was discovered in the upcast from a newly constructed track in November 1999. Initial inspection revealed the presence of a prolific lithic scatter comprising artefacts made predominantly of Rum bloodstone and including narrow blade microliths. The site was identified as potentially of great interest due to its location on the 20m raised beach which dates to the late glacial period, and to the presence in the assemblage of possibly early lithic types: tanged points. Historic Scotland funded initial work to cover the exposed sections and prevent further damage, and a small assessment excavation was carried out in May 2000 with the objectives of assessing the size, preservation levels, artefact types, and date of the main site.

A total of 2647 flaked lithics were collected from the spoil alongside the track throughout winter 1999-2000. Another 261 came from three subsidiary sites. Excavation in 2000 concentrated on one trench (Tr1) across the new track, together with four test pits. Three soil pits were also dug. The preservation of a greasy black occupation layer in the vicinity of Tr1 was confirmed. This layer sits directly on the raised beach and it contained artificial features: at least one scoop and a possible hearth. An assemblage of 2013 pieces of flaked stone were recovered from the excavation, together with some coarse stone and pumice. The presence of charcoal and carbonised hazelnut shell was also confirmed. The flaked stone assemblage incorporates several large pieces (including a scraper and obliquely blunted points) that are typologically early and are not common in Scotland. In addition there are narrow blade microliths that would conventionally be more appropriate to the post-glacial settlement of Scotland. The stratigraphy suggests that the narrow blade assemblage may lie in the ploughsoil and overlie the larger assemblage which seems to be associated with the dark occupation layer.

Four samples were submitted for radiocarbon dating, returning dates of the early to mid-7th millennium BC (see List of Radiocarbon Dates, p. 123). These place Camas Daraich at the start of the recorded human settlement of Scotland.

The site at Camas Daraich is of considerable interest, as the presence of potentially early broad blade lithic industries in the Scottish Mesolithic has long been problematical. Camas Daraich provides a date for both broad blade material and a possible dated association for tanged points, and it provides one site where it should be possible to examine the relationship between a broad blade industry and a more common narrow blade industry. Further excavation is not at present feasible, but it is hoped to be able to preserve the site for possible future research.

Sponsors: Historic Scotland, CFA, University of Edinburgh.

S Birch, K Hardy, G Kozilowski, C R Wickham-Jones and M Wildgoose 2000


Ground Survey (April 2009)

During two short field seasons (October 2008, April 2009) a coastal survey was undertaken to identify new shell middens and coastal sites, and samples were taken on several shell middens for radiocarbon dating. The survey and sampling focused on three main areas:

The third area investigated was on the Point of Sleat. In 2000 a possible occupation site was partially excavated

(Wickham-Jones and Hardy 2004). A nearby shell midden was also noted during this work. Two additional new shell middens were found in April 2009. All three middens were sampled and radiocarbon dates are pending.

Excavation (June 2010)

NG 5670 0007, NM 5605 9977, NM 5608 9988 and NM 5672

9988 The aim of this research project is to apply recently

developed methods and ethnoarchaeological perspectives to

the study of the Mesolithic and Early Neolithic of western


During the 5 May–6 June 2010 season the site of Camas

Daraich (NG 5670 0007) [NG50SE 27], previously partially excavated in

2000 (Wickham-Jones and Hardy 2004) was reopened. The

excavation area was extended to cover 30sqm and three new

test pits were dug. Significant finds included a large lithic

assemblage showing Mesolithic characteristics, a bevel ended

stone pebble with parallel cut marks, and a feature consisting

of three interlocking partially preserved stone circles, of c1m

in diameter.

Two shell middens (NM 5605 9977 and NM 5608 9988) [NM59NE 3 and NM59NE 4]

were recorded in rock shelters in 2009 (DES 2009, 99). Test

pits were excavated in 2010 at one of these sites (NM 5605

9977) and at another previously recorded shell midden at

NM 5672 9988 [NM59NE 5], which lies near the site of Camas Daraich.

Radiocarbon dates from the upper layers of these middens

gave a calibrated date range of 360 BC – AD 1600. However,

as the middens are deep, further work will be required to

determine their full age range.

Archive: The UAB in Barcelona

Funder: I and D, Ministry of Science and Innovation, Madrid

Test Pit Survey (1 September 2016 - 17 September 2016)

NM 56746 99960 (Canmore ID: 181536) Twenty seven test pits were dug, 1–17 September 2016, around the Mesolithic site of Camas Daraich to reveal an extensive distribution of lithic material and associated geomorphological deposits and the possible presence of ochre. Identification of a 3mm long broad blade microlith, possibly on flint, suggests that the date range for this site is likely to be extended while

extensive use of lithic material from a newly identified raw material source at Ord a few miles to the N, together with a large assemblage of Rum bloodstone and Staffin baked mudstone, was recorded.

Funder: The British Academy

Karen Hardy – ICREA at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

(Source: DES, Volume 17)


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