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



Midden (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Inchkeith

Classification Midden (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 52868

Site Number NT28SE 2

NGR NT 293 830

NGR Description NT c. 293 830

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Kinghorn
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District Kirkcaldy
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NT28SE 2 c. 293 830

See also NT28SE 3.

(Area NT 293 830) A kitchen-midden was located by Grieve on Inchkeith in 1870 "within a gun-shot" of the landing pier on the E side (NT 2935 8303), and from it he recovered bones of sheep, pig, cow, horse, rabbit and grey seal as well as shells (D Greieve 1873). In 1898 Dr T B Sprague recovered, from what was presumably the same shell-mound or kitchen-midden implements of deer-horn and bone (J Anderson 1898) including round-nosed bone chisels, similar to those from the late Mesolithic deposits of Argyll (R Munro 1908). By 1929 the island had been so much disturbed by military operations that the site could not be identified (J G Callander 1929), but it lay "in the slope or talus inclining from the cliffs to the beach" and had been reported to Grieve as a raised beach. At the bottom, close to the beach, the talus had been washed away, forming a section of earth and stones varying in height from 8ft to 10ft above high water mark. In the face of this section bones and shells were visible. Some of the bones were split and a few bore marks of fire. In parts of the bank the earth was black as if an intermixture with carbonaceous matter. Grieve deduced that the settlement associated with the midden was situated on a former plateau in front of and under the cliff at the top of the embankment and that the debris had slipped down. Shells were still abundant at the top of the bank although bones were more abundant at the bottom. Grieve donated the bones to the NMAS in 1872 (D Grieve 1873) (Acc No: HR 40-94). Lacaille (1954), who also mentions edge-worn flat pebbles in connection with the site, was not convinced that it was Mesolithic because of the situation and the fact that the vast majority of the recorded bones were of domestic animals.

Another search for the site in 1973 was unsuccessful, but noted the occurrence of beach-flint on the E side of the island. (See also NT28SE 3.)

D Grieve 1873; J Anderson 1898; R Munro 1908; J G Callander 1929; A D Lacaille 1954; R J C Mowat, J B Campbell and I A Morrison 1973.

No further information.

Visited by OS (B S) 14 September 1978.


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