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Lewis, Gridig

Midden (Period Unassigned), Naust (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Lewis, Gridig

Classification Midden (Period Unassigned), Naust (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 72700

Site Number NB13NW 21

NGR NB 1002 3628

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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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

Archaeology Notes

NB13NW 21 NB 1002 3628

A denuded boat noost was recorded during the course of an archaeological survey of the Bhaltos Peninsula in 1989 and 1992. The noost is situated on an area of rocky foreshore, immediately W of Gridig, Cnip (Kneep).

A Dunwell 1995; NMRS MS 726/64


Excavation (September 2010)

NB 1002 3628 In September 2010, a sample from the main body of a previously identified aceramic shell midden was taken for radiocarbon dating, as part of a wider project investigating the Mesolithic of the Western Isles. The site was first located due to coastal erosion in the 1990s (Armit 1994) and very little of the shell midden now remains due to the extremely active erosion. The dating sample was taken because it was thought that the site may relate to the Mesolithic period, as the base of the midden graded into a possible early to mid-Holocene soil, in a similar fashion to the first Mesolithic site published from the Western Isles at Northton, Harris (Gregory et al 2005). The 2 litre sample was processed and contained hundreds of shells, hundreds of fish bones, some crab, a single hare bone and small numbers of burnt hazel nutshell and a single piece of charcoal. No evidence of any domestic animal or plant species or pottery was recovered. Two radiocarbon dates on carbonised hazel nutshells produced calibrated dates in the second half of the fifth millennium cal BC, or the very last centuries of the conventional British Mesolithic.

Therefore, a full coastal erosion assessment of the site was undertaken in September 2011, with the extent of the midden remains identified. Approximately 4m2 of midden remains in plan and the midden deposits are up to 0.3m deep and capped by a thin layer of turf. The eroding section edge was stepped back by c0.1 m along its edge, photographed, drawn and over 50 litres of shell midden sampled. The midden has little evidence for structural lamination and appears to have been accumulated relatively rapidly, perhaps over a few seasons. It rests on a possible old ground surface which grades into a largely inorganic sandy silt. The eroding edge was consolidated with gravel and turf but it is envisaged that the site will be completely eroded in a few years. Initial processing of the samples taken from the midden have produced a large assemblage, including thousands of shell and fish bones, with fewer numbers of hazelnut, charcoal, crab and animal bone, including hare and bird bones. A few flint and quartz worked lithics were also recovered. Due to the erosion threat and the uniqueness of the site, further funds are being sought to fully excavate the midden and any underlying archaeology.

Archive: To be decided

Funders: National Science Foundation of America, Historic Scotland and Durham University

Durham University, 2010

Excavation (21 September 2012)

NB 1003 3633 On 21 September 2012, bulk samples were taken from an unidentified shell midden eroding from the machair covered headland, immediately W of Tràigh na Beirigh. The site was exposed as a result of renewed coastal erosion and identified following survey c50m along the coast from the excavation of a Late Mesolithic, open-area shell midden at Tràigh na Beirigh (DES 2011,194–5).

The site was sampled as the basal deposits of the midden grade into an early to mid-Holocene soil, a stratigraphic sequence comparable to Tràigh na Beirigh. A 1.3m section was cleaned to expose the deposits along the eroding edge, however it was evident the deposits continue for a significant stretch along the headland, potentially over 10m in section and over 0.4m in depth. The site was comprised of an old ground surface overlain by a shell-rich midden deposit. The midden was covered by a layer of stones that seemed to be deliberately laid and subsequently infilled by interface deposits with the substantial machair sequence covering the site. The lowest deposits were heavily concreted by post-depositional carbonate deposits, as a result of groundwater outflow under the machair. It is suggested that the site represents an eroding part of a Late Mesolithic landscape, containing both this site and the adjacent shell midden, which is overlain by the machair on the E slopes of the headland.

The section was drawn, photographed and geo-referenced using GPS, before bulk samples were taken for laboratory analysis. Initial processing of the samples has indicated the deposits contain struck quartz, burnt and unburned fish and mammal bones, shellfish, crustacean, charred hazelnut shells and charcoal. Three small fragments of heavily-abraded pottery were recovered from the upper interface deposits with the overlying machair. Radiocarbon dates will be obtained following the submission of suitable dating material to establish the chronology of the site.

Archive: To be decided

Funder: National Science Foundation of America, Historic Scotland and Durham University

MJ Church, RR Bishop, E Blake, C Nesbitt, A Perri, S Piper, PA Rowley-Conwy, L Snape-Kennedy, J Walker - Durham University, 2012

(Source: DES)

Field Visit (15 November 2015)

A lot of the midden has been removed by Dr Mike Church during rescue excavation. Small layer of shell midden still visible in the topsoil.

Visited by Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk (SCHARP) 15 November 2014


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