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Islay, Finlaggan

Cairn (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Mound (Period Unassigned), Site (Period Unassigned), Animal Remains, Unidentified Flint(S) (Flint)

Site Name Islay, Finlaggan

Classification Cairn (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Mound (Period Unassigned), Site (Period Unassigned), Animal Remains, Unidentified Flint(S) (Flint)

Alternative Name(s) Cnoc Seannda

Canmore ID 79731

Site Number NR36NE 40

NGR NR 392 684

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NR36NE 40 392 684

Natural feature.

Undated information from RCAHMS per OS archaeological records.

A mound about 30ft high and 500ft in circumference is situated approximately 100ft SW of Finlaggan farm. Stones, roughly hexagonal, form a boundary wall with corners.

F Celoria 1959.

Cnoc Seannda: Just behind the Finlaggan Visitor Centre there is a prominent, rounded mound, formed of limestone. Geophysical surveys undertaken in June by Geophysical Surveys of Bradford suggested an artificial feature cut in the centre of its summit. Excavation revealed the outline of a stone-lined trench, 1.6m by 4.8m, probably with lintel stones collapsing into it. Several flint cores and flakes were recovered from the surrounding surface. It is planned to examine this more closely in 1995.

D H Caldwell 1994c.

(No grid reference cited in publication). Excavation and geophysical survey were carried out on 24-6 June 1994 for the Channel Four Television 'Time Team' series to investigate Cnoc Seandda (name centred: NR 3921 6844). Resistivity survey under wet conditions revealed anomalies which were interpreted as 'walls cut into the natural limestone'. Flints, including microliths of Mesolithic date, were found during deturfing of the mound, and subsequent excavation revealed the feature to comprise what appeared to be 'a row of stones deliberately set into the top of the hill'. These were interpreted as the collapsed lintel- or roofing-stones of a 'prehistoric chamber or souterrain' which measured about 5m by 1.5m and had animal bones (possibly a ritual deposit) at the bottom of the fill.

Channel Four Television 1994.

Investigation subsequent to that reported by the Time Team in 1994 revealed animal bones, a flint arrowhead of Bronze Age type and a bone disc within the 'stone-lined chamber' on top of the mound. No remains of burials were identified, but there was a 'Bronze Age cairn' (measuring 3m across) next to the chamber.

T Taylor and M Aston 1997.

NR 3912 6848 Further to the exploratory work reported previously (Caldwell 1994), limited excavation was undertaken on the top of this mound. It is hemispherical with a base diameter of over 50m and a height of over 5m above the adjacent ground. It consists of solid rock, metamorphic limestone with the strata on edge.

The 'stone-lined trench' uncovered in 1994 was revealed as a chamber about 4m long, 0.5-0.7m wide, and less than 1m deep, contained in a 6m long cut into the bedrock. It was lined on both sides by large boulders and was finished at both ends with slabs of limestone prized from the mound. The two ends of the cut were backfilled with sandy silt and fragments of limestone. The central area of the chamber contained a deposit of peaty soil and rubble, apparently representing robbing of the original fill in antiquity. From it was recovered a pierced bone disc, identified as an Iron Age piece, possibly a toy, which may date the robbing of the chamber. A flint barbed-and-tanged arrowhead of Bronze Age type was found in sandy clay, possibly the undisturbed fill of the chamber.

Adjacent to the chamber, but with no sure stratigraphic relationship, is a small denuded kerb cairn. It is D-shaped with the kerb of another cairn springing from its back. The kerb stones appeared to be graded in size and height, with the largest on the southern segment, and the bedrock was cut back to take them. Within the kerb the surface was levelled up with clay. A darker patch in the centre may represent the location of a cremation burial, with an alignment of boulders on one side of it the remains of a burial chamber. It is clear, however, that the cairn has been robbed. Small pieces of calcined bone and charcoal were recovered from the disturbed gravelly material of the cairn superstructure and from the make-up deposits.

Extending over most of the area excavated, including the chamber and cairn, was a spread of gravel from which were gathered several hundred Mesolithic flints. This gravel deposit is interpreted as robbed material from the cairn.

Sponsors: National Museums of Scotland, Russell Trust, Schroder Charity Trust, The Army, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

D H Caldwell 1997.


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