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Inverness, Torvean Golf Course

Burnt Mound (Possible), Corn Drying Kiln, Ditch(S), Floor, Hearth(S), Pit(S) (Prehistoric), Pit Group (Prehistoric), Post Hole(S), Well

Site Name Inverness, Torvean Golf Course

Classification Burnt Mound (Possible), Corn Drying Kiln, Ditch(S), Floor, Hearth(S), Pit(S) (Prehistoric), Pit Group (Prehistoric), Post Hole(S), Well

Canmore ID 354812

Site Number NH64SW 78

NGR NH 64380 43609

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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


Archaeological Evaluation (5 October 2015 - 9 February 2016)

NH 64380 43609 A trial trenching evaluation was carried out, 22 February – 15 March 2016, at the greenfield site of a proposed new golf course and adjacent house site at Torvean. Evaluation trenches were excavated in areas where groundworks could impact upon buried deposits. Sixty significant archaeological features were recorded across the area.

The majority of the features comprised truncated pits interpreted as probable prehistoric features. Three trenches in the southern part of the site revealed distinct clusters of pits. Although shapes and sizes varied, a number of the pits comprised bowl-shaped cuts containing fire-cracked stone with charcoal-rich fills, suggesting that they were fire-pits or hearths. Other pits appeared to be postholes, indicating the presence of structural remains on the site. Further pit features comprised shallow, elongated pits interpreted as possible storage sites and keyhole-shaped pits interpreted as possible small kilns. Several of the features contained

degraded sherds of prehistoric pottery.

A number of ditches were also recorded. The remains of a well built slab-lined ditch with a cobbled floor were interpreted as a probable house or byre drain, although there were no other structural remains found. Another

stone-filled slot within lower-lying ground may have been a post-medieval field drain, while definite, later field drains were also found in the vicinity. The remnants of two further ditches were found in areas close to the location of a possible burial cairn identified during a survey in 2013.

An extensive spread of fire-cracked stone and blackened soil was located in a trench on the NW side of the site. The section revealed that the spread of material was substantially deep with possible structural stonework within it. It was loosely interpreted as a burnt mound.

Excavation was recommended in ten areas around the location of the sites recorded during the evaluation.

Archive: NRHE (intended)

Funder: Capita

Mary Peteranna and Lindsey Stirling – AOC Archaeology Group

(Source: DES, Volume 17)

Excavation (May 2016 - September 2016)

NH 6557 4360 – NH 6499 4227 A watching brief and excavation were undertaken, May–September 2016, prior to and during reconfiguration of a golf course. Topsoil clearance revealed the remains of extensive multi-period occupation across the area, focused across the 30–50m OD

contours, overlooking the River Ness Valley to the E and Moray Firth basin to the NE.

Most of the features consisted of prehistoric pit groups and curvilinear ditch segments, the majority of which produced limited artefactual material – mostly quern stones, coarse prehistoric pottery sherds, pebble tools, occasional flint tools and struck flakes and rare iron objects. One small group contained an unusual carbonised seed or nutshell and a glass bead. Although substantially truncated, some of the pit groups contained possible structural remains, in particular half-circle alignments that may have formed open-sided timber structures. Sections of shallow ditches, possible enclosure features, were found to occur near pit groups in three locations on the site. One ditch was believed to contain upright timber posts.

While many of the pits were interpreted as hearths/firepits, there were individual prehistoric sites on the site that stood out. Keyhole or pear-shaped pits, thought to be large fire-pits or small kilns were found in several locations on the site. Two large sub-oval pits containing burnt lenses, one with worked pebble tools and one with burnt grain and iron

objects, were found in isolation in two different areas and are thought to represent cooking or industrial pits. Another large pit was interpreted as a disused standing stonehole and an area of sub-rectangular pits were interpreted as potentially medieval or later storage pits.

There were several significant structures uncovered on the site:

A burnt mound was represented by spreads of blacked soil and fire-cracked stone overlying a D-shaped boulder kerb that contained a collapsed stone tank.

A keyhole shaped, clay-lined grain-drying kiln survived mostly intact with collapsed burnt structural material representing two phases of use.

A perfectly shaped ovoid granite boulder set into a shallow pit for an unknown use.

A vertical, stone-built well located in isolation on low-lying ground.

The ruins of a small settlement, Balphadrig, were left in situ within the development area and a measured survey was conducted to create a record of the site. Two soakaway features were found close to the settlement site.

Archive: NRHE

Funder: The Highland Council

Mary Peteranna – AOC Archaeology Group

(Source: DES, Volume 18)


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