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Shell Midden (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Inveravon

Classification Shell Midden (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) The Tower, Inveravon

Canmore ID 47795

Site Number NS97NE 18

NGR NS 9519 7981

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating


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

  • Council Falkirk
  • Parish Bo'ness And Carriden
  • Former Region Central
  • Former District Falkirk
  • Former County West Lothian

Archaeology Notes

NS97NE 18 9519 7981

In May 1970, a mechanical excavator, digging a trench for a gas pipe, cut a section through a shell mound at NS 9519 7981, at Inveravon, which had been first noted by the Geological Survey in 1879. It was situated at c. 50' OD, which was sea level at the post-glacial period. The excavator produced a section some 30' long through the heap, running from somewhere in the middle of the heap on the W to the N-S road on the E. The midden actually continues E beyond the road. The maximum depth of the shell layer was about 6' and, though the shells had coatings of mud sticking to them, they everywhere lay with air spaces between them. Thus no other soil had accumulated with the shells except for occasional lenses of dark earth containing flecks of charcoal and occasional beach pebbles; presumably these were occupation sites.

Topsoil lay on the shells to a depth of c. 2', and the heap rested directly on gravel, with no signs of an old turf line or of soil. The most extensive black layer was nearly at the base of the heap, about 3" - 4" above the gravel.

Three samples of shell and one of charcoal were sent for radio-carbon dating: (1) from the base of the heap on the gravel, was dated at 4060 +/- 180 BC. (2) from half- way up the section, 3.6' above the gravel, 2250 +/- 120 BC. (3) from the top of the heap, just below the plough-soil, 6' above the gravel, 2295 +/- 140 BC. Sample 4 (charcoal) came from a lens of black earth about halfway up the section, 3.5' above the gravel, but c.17' E of sample 2. It was dated at 4005 +/- 180 BC. Though the absence of intermediate soil or turf lines among the shells precludes the finding of any stratigraphic proof of phases in the accumulation of the heap, it seems probable that the midden spread gradually horizontally, and probably not in any regular fashion. This might explain why the charcoal from the middle of the heap was the same age as shells at the base a few feet away, and why shells from another part of the middle and from the top were of a much later age. As expected, the heap had begun to accumulate by the late 5th millenium BC, and perhaps much earlier on other parts of the site. However, with no sign of any break in its stratification, it was still accumulating close by at the end of the 3rd millenium BC, i.e. 1,000 years or more after Neolithic farmers had settled in southern Scotland.

The cessation of use of this midden may be explained by the waters receding away from the base of the slope, at the top of which it stood.

E W MacKie 1972

The site of this midden has been returned to agricultural use and is now under crop.

Visited by OS (JP) 17 July 1974

Photographed by the RCAHMS in 1980 (colour transparencies).

(Undated) information in NMRS.

Site recorded during a desk-based assessment and field survey of a proposed pipeline route running from the proposed Mossmorran Offtake Station to the proposed End Terminal at BP Grangemouth..

NS 9520 7980 Pottery stray find and shell midden

Two detailed reports will be lodged with the NMRS.

Sponsor: Penspen Ltd.

C McGill 1998.

Scheduled with Antonine Wall (NS97NW 46.00 and NS97NE 21.00) and fortlet (NS97NE 21.01) as 'Antonine Wall, fort and shell middens 240m WSW of The Tower, Inveravon... a stretch of the Antonine Wall and a Roman fort surviving as buried remains ... [with]... a large cluster of mesolithic shell middens.'

[Location map supplied; classification cited as Middens].

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 25 June 2010.


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