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An Sithean, Kilmelford

Cave (Period Unassigned), Lithic Working Site (Palaeolithic), Core(S) (Flint)(Palaeolithic), Debitage (Flint)(Palaeolithic), Lithic Implement(S) (Flint)(Palaeolithic)

Site Name An Sithean, Kilmelford

Classification Cave (Period Unassigned), Lithic Working Site (Palaeolithic), Core(S) (Flint)(Palaeolithic), Debitage (Flint)(Palaeolithic), Lithic Implement(S) (Flint)(Palaeolithic)

Alternative Name(s) An Sidhean, Kilmelfort; Kilmelfort Cave

Canmore ID 22882

Site Number NM81SW 9

NGR NM 8405 1475

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kilninver And Kilmelford
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM81SW 9 8405 1475

(NM 8405 1475) Cave (NAT)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

A cave was discovered in the side of the hill known as An Sidhean when a Hydro-Electric power station was being built in 1956. It was excavated by members of the Dept of Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Edinburgh. Excavation revealed a single occupation horizon yielding a backed blade and scraper industry on flint and quartz. The flints are not typical either of the Scottish microlithic or of the west coastal Mesolithic industries.

J M Coles 1959.

Only a small portion of the cave now survives, measuring 3 metres deep and 4 metres in height at the entrance, and narrowing to 1.5 metres at the end.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (D W R), 29 September 1971.


Publication Account (2009)

An assemblage of flint and quartz artefacts recovered during the destruction of Kilmelfort Cave, Argyll, in 1956, was initially attributed to the Mesolithic period. In this paper the assemblage is reanalysed and the conclusion that it represents the residue of human occupation at the site during the Late Glacial Interstadial is reached. Typological considerations indicate the assemblage is of Curve-Backed Point Group (Federmessergruppen) affiliation and likely to date to the 12th millennium 14C yr bp. Significantly, the evidence from Kilmelfort provides the first substantive indication of the presence of Late Upper Palaeolithic hunters in Scotland.

A Saville and T Ballinn 2009


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