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Eigg, Struidh

Cave, Midden (Period Unknown), Platform (Prehistoric), Ritual Enclosure (Prehistoric)(Possible), Roundhouse (Prehistoric)(Possible), Hammerstone(S) (Period Unknown)

Site Name Eigg, Struidh

Classification Cave, Midden (Period Unknown), Platform (Prehistoric), Ritual Enclosure (Prehistoric)(Possible), Roundhouse (Prehistoric)(Possible), Hammerstone(S) (Period Unknown)

Alternative Name(s) Sron Na H-iolaire

Canmore ID 255803

Site Number NM48NE 58

NGR NM 49294 89897

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/255803

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Small Isles
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Lochaber
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NM48NE 58 49294 89897

Formerly entered in error as NM49SE 5 at cited location NM 4929 9015.

Scheduled as Struidh, enclosure and underground chamber.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 23 February 2004.

RCAHMS survey area, information to follow.

Activities

Field Visit (6 May 2001)

This unusual site is situated in the midst of a boulder field on the broken ground between the cliffs of Sron na h-Iolaire and the coast below. It consists of a substantial grass-and bracken-grown platform that measures about 20m from E to W by at least 10m transversely, on top of which there are the remains of a circular enclosure, probably a roundhouse, measuring about 6m in internal diameter within drystone rubble walls 2m thick. The wall thickens to 4m at the entrance to the enclosure where a narrow passage provides access to the interior. On the far side is the entrance to a large boulder cave that runs W beneath the enclosure wall. The main chamber of the cave measures about 7m from NE to SW by up to 3.5m transversely and 2.5m high; but there are other smaller chambers opening off to either side and at the end. The cave entrance and the sides of the chamber have been modified by the insertion of rough walling, while a thick deposit of midden material covers the floor. This includes animal bones, shells and broken hammerstones, some of which have a concretion of crushed shell to their points. Other hammerstones occur in the many small caves and voids found between and beneath the boulders nearby.

The site is unusual, but not unique for it has counterparts at Usinish on the east coast of South Uist where there are other roundhouses constructed around the entrance to boulder caves (NF83SW 4; NF83SW 6). What makes the Eigg site stand out is its position in the landscape. The cliffs on this side of the island are characterised by the horizontal banding of different lavas, but immediately above the site these bands are broken by a dramatic eruption of vertical basalt columns soaring to the top of the cliff. Standing in front of the roundhouse, the eye is immediately drawn upwards. The view is framed by two enormous boulders, one to each side and the sense that this has been an 'especial place' is inescapable. Hidden away in difficult terrain, access involves a tricky scramble over the boulder scree. The resources required to construct the platform and roundhouse suggest something of more importance than a farmhouse or a herdsman's hut. Little is known about religious practices in Western Scotland during the Iron Age, but it is tempting to speculate whether this might not be a prehistoric 'eremetic' site.

EIGG01 279

Visited by RCAHMS (SDB, MFTR) 6 May 2001

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