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Lewis, Great Bernera, Bosta

Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Lewis, Great Bernera, Bosta

Classification Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Traigh Bosta; Traigh Bostadh; Bostadh

Canmore ID 4130

Site Number NB14SW 2

NGR NB 1373 4010

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/4130

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Western Isles
  • Parish Uig
  • Former Region Western Isles Islands Area
  • Former District Western Isles
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Recording Your Heritage Online

GREAT BERNERA (Beàrnaraigh Mhòr)

The five villages of Bernera, the only island in Loch Roag now inhabited, are linked to the main island of Lewis by Blyth & Blyth's bridge of 1952, which made pioneering use of pre-stressed concrete girders.

Dun Baravat, 300-200 bc Iron Age roundhouse on islet in Loch Baravat, with evidence of intra-mural galleries and other elements of broch construction, although it was irregular-shaped and never a broch tower. Reconstructed horizontal Norse mill, 10 minutes walk over Airigh Ard from road's end. Bosta (Bòstadh)

Iron Age village, probably first occupied more than 1,500 years ago, overlooking the creamy sweep of Bosta Beach. It was concealed beneath the machair until 1993, when a severe storm exposed the site. Excavations in 1996 revealed a complex of semi-subterranean, drystone dwellings, now vestigial, overlaid by a Viking house. The local history society has built a life-size reconstruction of one of the Iron Age dwellings nearby.

Taken from "Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Mary Miers, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press http://www.rias.org.uk

Archaeology Notes

NB14SW 2.00 1373 4010

See also NB14SW 2.01 NB 13720 40019 Bosta, Experimental Archaeological Site

(NB 138 402) Midden deposits and associated stone structures are being eroded at the base of sandhills.

I A Crawford 1966.

(NB 138 403) Sandhills settlement exposed by erosion. Finds include probable Iron Age 'A' (E W Mackie, Hunterian Museum) sherds, stone implements and pieces of corroded iron. In the vicinity are at least two similar floors and all appear to have been more or less disturbed. At NB 137 401, where a structure was demarcated by large stones, a flint flake, a small thick sherd, a utilised antler tine of red deer and a fragment of a whale-bone tool were found. The finds are in Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum.

J Davies 1968.

The amorphous remains of Iron Age settlement are defined at NB 1373 4010 by an arc of set stones appearing through the sand, and several other short stretches of walling, probably the remains of huts. Midden material is exposed a few yards to the west, containing shells, bones, and fragments of coarse broch-type pottery. A piece of decorated bone was found during field investigation. It is perforated for use as a comb.

Site surveyed at 1/10,560.

Visited by OS (AA) 2 July 1969.

Found in eroding sand dune, a rusty metal object of twisted or knobbed metal bent into a ring 114m diameter with overlapping ends. With finder.

R Ponting 1983.

Midden layer with associated stone structure one metre below surface of eroding foredune. The landward machair carries many pre-clearance settlements and enclosures, but the site reported lies below the pre-clearance surface.

J S Smith 1989.

The site is continuing to erode and the remains of only one structure are currently visible. Finds include two basalt hammerstones, a heavy concentration of iron slag, and numerous heavily abraded fragmentary potsherds.

Nearby at NB 1380 4020, a further pottery scatter associated with the remnants of stone structures.

Finds have been deposited with Museum nan Eilean, Francis Street, Stornoway.

C M Cunningham and S Hothersall 1992.

About six stone buildings have been exposed over a length of 30m in an eroding sand dune face, which lies between exposed rock to the N, a stream estuary to the S and Bosta Cemetery to the E.

Severe erosion occurred during the storm force winds and exceptionally high tides of January 1993, which eroded at least 1m of dune face and lowered the beach level by approximately 1m. Further rapid erosion of the steep face will occur due to wind, cattle, rain and high tides.

The total vertical height of the eroding face of the dune varies from 2m to 5m. There is a considerable quantity of tumble stone on the beach below and about 0.5m to 1m of clean sand overburden above the walls.

In cross section most of the walls are over 1m thick, and are faced with stones and infilled with homogeneous sand. They stand in or on dark brown sand occupation deposits.

Finds include pottery (160 rims and 50 bases), Beaker pottery, fish and animal bone (some with cuts), antler shells, worked bone tools, fragments of up to 3 combs, and a lead weight. In addition there is a spread of similar stones and finds across the adjacent beach. The finds do not appear to establish the date or dates of this settlement. Most of it is likely to be pre-Viking, and it may be noted that there is a complete absence of copper.

A report, drawings and finds list have been provided to Historic Scotland. Finds and photographs are currently with the authors.

Sponsors: Historic Scotland; Outer Hebrides Archaeology.

M R Curtis and G R Curtis 1993.

NB 1373 4010 As a result of further coastal erosion at the walled structures of the settlement, the following finds have been recovered: broken red hammerstone, broken quartz hammerstone, broken pot boiler, quartz flake, pottery sherds, animal bone, shell, and stone.

Also, near the E end of the beach (NB 1378 4022): 2 hammerstones, pot boiler, 2 quartz cores, and pottery rim with stab-marked pattern.

Sponsor: Outer Hebrides Archaeology.

M R Curtis and G R Curtis 1994.

NB 137 401 Rescue excavation was carried out on a multi-phase settlement in the eroding dune system to the E of Traigh Bostadh. The history of previous discoveries from the area has been well documented elsewhere (eg Curtis and Curtis 1993). The excavation revealed remains of five structures from the 1st millennium and associated middens and a later, probably Norse, building.

Houses 1-3 are thought to date from the late 1st millennium AD. These sand-revetted structures share a number of common architectural features. They are stone-built roundhouses with S entrances and at least one annexe. The walls have drystone inner and outer faces with a core of sand and midden. The central hearths were constructed of stone, forming three sides of an open-ended rectangle. 'Squatter' occupation was found in all of the structures. Worthy of note is the probable intra-mural bed in the W annexe of House 3. A useful stratigraphic sequence was observed between the houses, showing up to three of the five structures in use at the same time.

House 3 was constructed on a substantial midden spread. This layer was not excavated, as a result of time constraints and the developing protection strategy for the site that occurred during the project (see below).

Three sides of a later rectilinear building survived to a maximum height of two courses and directly overlay the sand within House 1. An associated midden spread downslope from this structure, overlying the sand infill of House 3. The presence of steatite bowl fragments with rivet holes in the midden suggests that the associated rectangular structure is Norse in date.

An initiative is underway to preserve Houses 1 and 2. The eroding dune face has been protected by the emplacement of pre-seeded matting on an artificially sculpted dune face, funded by Western Isles Council. The void previously occupied by House 3, which was completely dismantled, has been backfilled, and the 'footprint' of the structure indicated in stone. Houses 4 and 5 have been backfilled.

Finds from the excavation include pottery and animal bone, carved bone implements, composite bone combs, hammerstones, saddle and rotary querns, and some metalwork. Decorated pottery, tentatively dated to the 3rd-5th centuries AD, was found in House 5. The preservation of palaeoenvironmental evidence is excellent.

A full report will be deposited with the NMRS.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

T Neighbour and C Burgess 1996.

Activities

Project (2006)

Field Visit (2006)

NB 13810 40265

Complete beach front erosion from access at cememtery to rock escarpment at E end of beach, eroding at a significant rate exposing cellular housing, shell middens and pottery sherds.

J Crawford 2006

Field Visit (February 2015)

ShoreUPDATE

Midden consisting of worked quartz in the east-facing section in the coast edge on the west side of the beach. Wall leads from coast edge wnw and splits in two, one section north for 20m approx, one west approx 15m.

Visited by Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk (SCHARP) February 2015

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