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Due to scheduled maintenance work by our external provider, background aerial imagery on Canmore may be unavailable

between 12:00 Friday 15th December and 12:00 Monday 18th December


Inverness West Link Road

Archaeological Feature(S) (Prehistoric), Cremation Pit(S) (Bronze Age), Human Remains(S) (Prehistoric), Pit(S) (Post Medieval), Pit Group(S) (Prehistoric), Post Hole(S) (Prehistoric), Roundhouse(S) (Prehistoric), Stake Hole(S) (Prehistoric), Cup (Pottery)(Period Unassigned), Unidentified Object (Copper Alloy)(Period Unassigned), Urn(S) (Pottery)(Bronze Age)

Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. 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


Excavation (June 2019 - September 2019)

NH 6542 4365 to NH 6515 4395 A watching brief and excavation were undertaken during construction of Phase 2 of the Inverness West Link Road, situated on the W side of the Caledonian Canal to the SW of the Tomnahurich Swing Bridge and on the N side of the A82. The site was located within the grounds of the Torvean Golf Course, and, as such, had not been subject to evaluation in advance of development. The Phase 2 development was located on the opposite side of the Canal to the Phase 1 development, where extensive multi-period prehistoric archaeological remains had been excavated, including Neolithic pit groups and a ditch-defined roundhouse. The work took place between June and September 2019.

Approximately 500 truncated archaeological features were excavated, with over 95% of these comprising the remains of prehistoric activity dating from at least the Neolithic period. One area of the site contained a Bronze Age pit cremation burial site, comprising eight burials containing urned and un-urned cremated remains. Five pits contained ceramic urns, all but one of which had been previously truncated. Three pits contained un-urned cremated bone deposits, from two of which a copper alloy object and ceramic funerary cup were recovered as grave goods.

Groups of pits survived in varying degrees of preservation, usually within clusters of three or more pits containing a mixture of ceramic vessel fragments (undecorated and decorated), struck flint flakes and tools, the occasional cobble tool, and carbonised material including hazelnut shells. Adjacent to one significant pit group, a large, deep V-profile pit was interpreted as a possible displaced standing stone-hole. Other large pits were present, including one deep circular pit with multiple burnt layers, suggesting use as a cooking pit. Some smaller pits were interpreted as fire-pits or hearths on the basis of evidence for in situ burning and fire-cracked stone. While the majority of the pits are believed to be Neolithic in date, there are likely multiple periods of use represented.

Two definite post-defined roundhouses and one ditch-defined roundhouse were excavated, with the largest post-defined house measuring 15m in diameter and the smaller houses measuring 5.5-6m in diameter. A deposit of cremated bone had been inserted into the top of one large post-hole. A third probable small roundhouse and three probable four-post-hole structures were recorded on the site. There were also several small post- and stake-hole alignments identified. Many of these appeared to represent timber lean-to or sub-semi-circular structures or shelters for living or work areas measuring 5-7m across. Other possible structures were defined by curvilinear ditched slots or pits enclosing similar sized areas.

One intriguing site appeared as a large sunken sub-oval feature, measuring 9 x 7m overall. It contained a central pit with cobbles and filled overall with an extensive compact layer of mostly small stones in the base of the larger cut (measuring 4 x 5m). Prehistoric ceramic vessel fragments were recovered from upper layers.

The excavation has provided a significant assemblage of prehistoric artefacts and the layouts of multi-period prehistoric structures and activity, to include roundhouses, shelters, cooking pits and a funerary site. This site, together with the recent material unearthed in the adjacent fields, is continuing to build up the picture of prehistoric settlement in Inverness.

In addition to the prehistoric archaeology, a number of sub-oval or sub-rectangular pits were interpreted as post-medieval storage pits. These features were remarkably similar to an extensive area of similarly sized (c.1.5-2m long) sub-rectangular or sub-circular pits at Torvean Golf Course in 2017. All of the West Link Road pits contained homogenous, sterile sandy loam fills within a straight-sided, flat-based pit believed to have been spade dug used for the purpose of long-term vegetable storage in areas of well-draining ground. One of the pits had been constructed with a cobble-lined floor, presumably for improved drainage.

Archive: NRHE

Funder: RJ McLeod and Highland Council

Mary Peteranna - AOC Archaeology Group

(Source: DES Vol 20)


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