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Lephin, Mull

Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Chapel (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Township (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Lephin, Mull

Classification Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Chapel (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Township (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Port Chill Bhraonain

Canmore ID 22085

Site Number NM45NW 9

NGR NM 4457 5716

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kilninian And Kilmore
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM45NW 9 4457 5716.

(NM 4457 5716) Burial Ground (NAT)

OS 1:10000 map (1976)

The name Port Chill Bhraonain (at NM 446 578) probably comes from Kilbrenan, indicating a chapel dedicated to St Brendan in the vicinity.

T Hannan 1926

There is no local knowledge of any religious site in the area other than that of the burial ground at Lephin (NM 4457 5718) which consists of the fragmentary remains of an earth-and-stone bank enclosing a slightly raised area measuring 28m from E to W by 21m transversely. Within this enclosure are the turf-covered foundations of two buildings. The larger of these measures 8.5m from E to W. by 4.6m transversely within walls some 0.9m in thickness. The entrance is in the N. This building possibly represents a chapel. The other building, which has rounded angles, is situated some 2.0 m to the W and at right angles to the former.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (DWR) 15 May 1972

'Burial-ground', Lephin (Site): The remains here are as described above. Although identified on OS 6" 1875 as a burial-ground (there is no authority for this name in the relevant ONB), the remains appear to be those of a dwelling-house and outbuilding with their associated cultivation-patch.

RCAHMS 1980, visited 1972


Excavation (17 September 2018 - 23 September 2018)

NM 44579 57172 During the preparatory works for the

community excavation at Baliscate a number of similar sites

were surveyed. The excavation at Baliscate located a 13/14thcentury

enclosure structure(s) with an 8th-century cemetery

beneath it. The finds and deposits within the structure were

typical of domestic occupation.

The main aim of the community-led excavation at Lephin,

17 – 23 September 2018, was to see if the site was of a

similar date to Baliscate and whether there was evidence of

contemporary burials. The structure at Lephin was built from

stone, with the roof appearing to have been supported by

internal earthfast posts. There was a considerable build-up

of midden-like material on the floor, from which decorated

pottery, very similar to that from Baliscate, and which has

been dated to the 13th century, was found. The enclosure

was also built of stone and had been deliberately levelled.

A possible stone-lined grave cut was discovered within the

enclosure, although there was no bone within it. A probably

in situ deposit of ash and charcoal was discovered on the

outside of the enclosure wall and it was demonstrated that

this deposit ran under the enclosure wall; it was from this

early deposit that fragments of a decorated composite bone

comb were recovered.

Archive: NRHE (intended)

Funder: Heritage Lottery Fund

Clare Ellis – Argyll Archaeology

(Source: DES, Volume 19)

Excavation (September 2019)

NM 44579 57172 An excavation took place in September 2019 at Lephin (Canmore ID: 22085), and revealed that the main structure was partially rebuilt, probably in the late 14th or early 15th century. A burial was also discovered under the floor of the main structure, although at this stage it is unclear as to which phase of activity the burial dates from, it lends credence to the presence of a chapel. Additional postholes and a gully were also recorded below and sealed by the lowermost floor deposits, indicating that there is an earlier structure underneath the main one.

A sunken, probable turf-built structure with an internal hearth, internal room division and turf-built porch paved with stone were recorded to the E of the main structure. It is thought likely that this structure pre-dates the enclosure wall and may date to the Norse period. This structure was sealed by remnants of metalworking, which is postulated to be contemporary with the reuse of the chapel in the 14th or 15th century.

Further fragments of decorated burnt bone/antler and many pieces of burnt undecorated antler and burnt antler tips were recovered from charcoal rich deposits associated with a number of pits which had been previously dated to around the 11th century AD. The remains appear to indicate a substantial hearth upon which antler working waste was discarded.

Finally, within the circuit of the enclosure, a gully and pit were recorded located below a deliberately laid layer of rubble; the function of this gully and pit aren’t yet known. A similar deliberately and neatly laid layer of rubble was recorded outside the entrance of the main structure, and both rubble deposits are thought to date to the last phase of occupation of the site when a barn was constructed over the remains of the enclosure wall.

Archive: NRHE (intended)

Funder: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Medieval Society, Just Giving, Waterfall Fund, Mull Museum, Argyll and Bute Supporting Communities, North West Woodland Community Eagle Fund, Mull Historical and Archaeological Society, and various individuals

Clare Ellis - Argyll Archaeology

(Source: DES Vol 20)


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