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Belladrum

Buried Land Surface (Period Unassigned), Field Boundary (Period Unassigned), Structure (Period Unassigned), Coin Hoard (Roman), Coin Hoard (14th Century), Slag (Iron), Unidentified Pottery (Prehistoric)

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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Kiltarlity And Convinth
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Inverness
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Activities

Excavation (2009 - 18 October 2012)

NH 517 421 A scatter of Roman and medieval silver coins was discovered by Eric Soane during metal detecting in 2009. A magnetometry survey of the area was undertaken in November 2010 by Tessa Poller of Glasgow University, but proved unproductive due to modern metal debris in the soil. An excavation undertaken 11–18 October 2012 by NMS has recovered the remainder of the coins and provided some context for them. The coins represent two separate hoards, separated by 1200 years but buried a few metres from one another. A medieval hoard of twenty 14th-century coins, and a hoard of 36 Roman denarii, the latest coins of mid-2nd-century date. Both had been disturbed by later activity and scattered by cultivation. A field wall and traces of an abutting sub-rectangular structure, as yet undated, were found in the area of the Roman coins, and what may be a vestigial cobbled surface near the medieval ones. Evaluation trenching on slightly higher ground just S of the hoards revealed a cobbled surface with a spread of cultural material over it, including later prehistoric pottery and iron working slag. This suggests the Roman hoard is connected to an Iron Age settlement site.

Funder: Inverness Field Club and National Museums Scotland

Fraser Hunter, National Museums Scotland

2012

Excavation (29 August 2014 - 7 September 2014)

NH 517 421 Following excavations in 2012 (DES 2012, 106) at the findspot of two coin hoards (one Roman, one medieval), a second season of excavations was conducted, 29 August – 7 September 2014, to clarify their context. Two main trenches were opened: one immediately S of the hoards, conjoined with the 2012 trench; and another further S, over putative

settlement remains uncovered previously. The results painted a far more complex picture of the site’s development, with a well preserved series of buried soils.

Phase 1 is Early Neolithic, associated with sherds of carinated bowl pottery; structural remains consist of a series of pits and a small stone row. An unstratified pitchstone flake is likely to relate to this activity. This horizon was overlain by a thick layer of hillwash (phase 2; presumably from agricultural activity nearby which caused erosion). This left the tops of the stone row standing proud.

Further structures, likely to be ritual in nature, were then constructed in phase 3 – a small cairn, a very small circle of stones, and some other stone-packed features. No artefactual dating evidence was recovered, but it is suspected to be Bronze Age in date. Some of these features were overlain by a series of long dry stone field walls (phase 4); observed

relationships between walls indicate that this system built up over some time. One of the walls was aligned on the earlier stone row. The second main wall was overlain by a cobbled spread (phase 5) associated with Flat-Rimmed pottery of Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age date. This provides a terminus ante quem for the field walls.

There was then apparently a long gap before the deposition of the Roman silver coin hoard in the 2nd century, and then the medieval silver coin hoard in the 14th century. Neither was associated with any settlement activity, and although the area was probably still used for agriculture, there was no trace of this. It strongly suggests that both hoards were buried because this was a memorable landscape, marked by cairns, standing

stones and stone walls, rather than being associated with a contemporary settlement.

The lack of visible surviving remains was explained by a test trench in a hollow to the S, excavated to see if it had once been waterlogged. This proved negative, but it did reveal thick soil dumps from when the area was extensively landscaped in the 19th century. A further test trench at the S edge of the field, on a higher terrace, revealed cobbled surfaces, but time did not permit their investigation.

The results suggest there are well preserved and well stratified remains in this field from an extensive earlier prehistoric ritual and farming landscape. This provides a plausib le context for the burial of the two hoards, many centuries later, in a landscape shaped by history.

Funder: Inverness Field Club and National Museums Scotland

Fraser Hunter – National Museums Scotland

(Source: DES)

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