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Islay, Newton

Barrow(S) (Prehistoric), Enclosure(S) (Period Unassigned), Site (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Islay, Newton

Classification Barrow(S) (Prehistoric), Enclosure(S) (Period Unassigned), Site (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 37769

Site Number NR36SW 4

NGR NR 34179 62830

NGR Description From NR 341 628 to NS 343 627

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Killarow And Kilmeny
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NR36SW 4 341 628 to 343 627

Cropmarks on air photographs show that extending ESE from the public highway for a distance of about 180m on the S side of the the track leading to Newton Farmhouse, there is a cluster of at least 17 barrows, revealed by the annular or penannular markings of their enclosing ditch, and, in most cases, what appears to be a central grave pit. The barrows range in diameter from about 4m to 10m; interspersed among them are a number of features defined by cropmarks which defy ready classification. It is possible, on the analogy of similar markings on the mainland, that some may indicate the sites of habitations. Nothing significant is visible on the ground.

RCAHMS 1984, visited May 1981.

This remarkable complex of sites, which was revealed solely by cropmarks recorded on air photographs,' occupies an

area of rising ground on the right bank of the River Sorn lying between Newton farmhouse and the public road from

Bridgend to Port Askaig (A846); it may be significant that these fields represent the heart of the richest arable ground in the whole island.

(1) Extending ESE from the public highway for a distance of about 180m on the s side of the track leading to Newton

farmhouse, there is a cluster of at least seventeen barrows, revealed by the annular or penannular markings of their

enclosing ditch and, in most cases, of what appears to be a central grave-pit. The barrows range in diameter from about

4mto 10m.

(2) Immediately to the E of(l) there is a roughly circular enclosure (A), measuring about 17m in diameter over its

single ditch, which does not appear to contain a central pit.

(3) About 25m to the N of A there is a second single-ditched enclosure (B), subcircular on plan and measuring

57m from E to why at least 40m transversely over all. The ditch appears to be interrupted at an entrance on the N.

(4) Enclosure C, lying 15m to the N of B, is also subcircular on plan and defined by a single ditch; it measures about 58m from NE to sw by about 50m transversely over all. The entrance may lie within the broad gap on the ESE.

(5) Interspersed among the barrows (1) are a number of features defined by cropmarks which defy ready classification: one is a thin-ditched, roughly L-shaped structure measuring about 30m from NW to SE by 17m

transversely with an average width of about 8.0m; the others are characterised by more amorphous areas of darker

cropmarking, presumably representing local hollows in the subsoil - most are oval or subcircular in shape, but one is

conspicuously wedge-shaped. It is possible, on the analogy of similar markings recorded on the mainland, that some may indicate the sites of habitations; for further discussion, see the Introduction to RCAHMS 1984, Argyll volume 5)

RCAHMS 1984

Three penannular crop-marks were excavated in advance of road improvement scheme. All three were penannular ditched enclosures (8-9m diameter) and contained rectangular pits (2m by 0.8m; 0.8m deep) aligned SW, two of the ditches were interrupted on the W, the third on the E. The central pits contained neither skeletal material nor artefacts, though the central one did have small schist slabs set upright at each end. The form of the remaining unexcavated cropmarks appears to match this layout, with many clearly containing rectangular central pits. Other features include fence-line slots forming an elongated grid which pre-dates the ring ditches. One of 3 pre-ring-ditch period pits contained about 30% of a late Neolithic carinated bowl. Worked flint had been found in almost every context and it seems likely that in constructing the main feature an earlier flint rich site had been disturbed. On the next terrace down a circular crop mark on the line of the road was found to relate to a deep series of charred deposits, the base layer of which surrounded a stone lined hearth. These deposits contain many hundreds of flakes of all shapes, including various blade forms, (varying from c 10cm down to 2mm in length). Hammers, stones, (?) bones and flint cores were also abundant. Though no finished flint tools were found it seems reasonable to interpret this as a manufacturing site.

R McCullagh 1984

Excavations at Newton have revealed three phases of land use. Mesolithic activity was restricted to small flint working and domestic sites. A Neolithic phase appears to relate to a fragile soil resource which rapidly declined in quality. The final phase, possibly related to a christian Irish presence on the island, occurs late in the sequence.

R McCullagh 1991

NR 341 627 Magnetometry and limited resistivity were undertaken, as part of the Scottish Mesolithic Geophysical Survey Project, over the lower terrace to examine cropmarks previously interpreted as probable Mesolithic structures. This further defined the character of these two circular cropmarks and revealed a suite of other linear and pit-like features.

Sponsors: Robertson Bequest Fund, University of Glasgow - Dept Archaeology.

N Finlay 2004

Activities

Excavation (1984)

Three penannular crop-marks were excavated in advance of road improvement scheme. All three were penannular ditched enclosures (8-9m diameter) and contained rectangular pits (2m by 0.8m; 0.8m deep) aligned SW, two of the ditches were interrupted on the W, the third on the E. The central pits contained neither skeletal material nor artefacts, though the central one did have small schist slabs set upright at each end. The form of the remaining unexcavated cropmarks appears to match this layout, with many clearly containing rectangular central pits. Other features include fence-line slots forming an elongated grid which pre-dates the ring ditches. One of 3 pre-ring-ditch period pits contained about 30% of a late Neolithic carinated bowl. Worked flint had been found in almost every context and it seems likely that in constructing the main feature an earlier flint rich site had been disturbed. On the next terrace down a circular crop mark on the line of the road was found to relate to a deep series of charred deposits, the base layer of which surrounded a stone lined hearth. These deposits contain many hundreds of flakes of all shapes, including various blade forms, (varying from c 10cm down to 2mm in length). Hammers, stones, (?) bones and flint cores were also abundant. Though no finished flint tools were found it seems reasonable to interpret this as a manufacturing site.

R McCullagh 1984

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