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Islay, Airigh Ghuaidhre

Township (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Islay, Airigh Ghuaidhre

Classification Township (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 82928

Site Number NR36SE 31

NGR NR 3980 6280

NGR Description Centred on NR 3980 6280

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NR36SE 31 3980 6280

NR 398 628. A small group of three rectangular building footings, the largest being 17m by 4m and associated low field walls and strip cultivation. A debris-filled limekiln lies at the N end of the group, another is situated 320m to the W.

Visited by OS (JB) 26 June 1978


Geophysical Survey (20 August 2011 - 2 September 2011)

NR 39689 62507 – NR 39954 62496 – NR 39729 62955 – NR 40014 62996 A detailed survey of the remains of the abandoned township of Airigh Ghuaidhre, near Kilmeny, was undertaken 20 August–2 September 2011. This work represents the continuation of the study, which was started a year earlier, when a geophysical survey was conducted over the remaining earthworks of a probable chapel enclosure belonging to this township (DES 2010, 41). A hilltop enclosure was also identified and surveyed on the W side of the hillock. A possible Neolithic burial mound at the edge of the township and a fallen standing stone near the heart of the 19th-century settlement offer glimpses of even earlier human presence.

The township A partial survey of the Airigh Ghuaidhre township undertaken by the OS survey in 1978 included three buildings and several partial enclosure banks and boundaries. The OS maps also feature three disused kilns, which were first surveyed as early as 1878 and appear on the 1st Edition OS map. The new survey took two surveyors 12 days to complete using a Leica TS-400 Total Station. Over 9000 measurements were taken during the survey of the township and the surrounding topography and prehistoric monuments. The overall survey area measured c500m N–S by c325m E–W. The surveyed extent of the township was not only increased spatially, but was also enriched in detail and overall accuracy. The survey recorded the remains of the township consisting of nine longhouses, two subsidiary buildings, six lime kilns and a string of interconnecting stock enclosures and boundaries.

Hilltop enclosure The western part of Airigh Ghuaidhre hilltop shows evidence of being partly enclosed along the W and SW side of the summit by at least one or possibly two ditches with the corresponding internal banks. The inner ditch and bank were considerably clearer. A township boundary made of turf and a post-township stone enclosure wall both cross over the lines of the ditches and the banks. While the attempts to enclose the summit from the W are relatively clear the southern slope is unbroken and does not show any signs of possible enclosure. Aerial photography, however, indicates that there might be a possible return to at least one of the ditches in the N direction from the area where they disappear as negative features. Geophysical investigation accompanied by targeted trenching across the line of the suspected ditches would provide necessary confirmation or rejection of the proposed extent and character of the enclosure.

NR39911 62811 Standing stone Two fragments of a large smooth stone lie loose on the ground on the outside of the eastern side of the post-township enclosure. The stone appears to have been deliberately split in two, but originally it would have been 3m long and 1m wide. The stone is lying on the SW–NE orientation and if it indeed represents a fallen standing stone next to its original position, then the likelihood is that it has fallen down the slope from the SW to the NE.

NR40035 63045 Burial mound A large oval grassy mound is located c300m NE from the fallen standing stone. Topographic and electrical resistance surveys were conducted over the mound and its immediate surroundings. The mound’s orientation is NNE–SSW and it is 25m long, 15m wide and 3m high. It is ovate in shape, but with a relatively straight N side. The mound is covered with grassy hummocks, most of which represent grassed-over rocks protruding at the top of the main body of the mound. The rocky makeup of the mound can be observed through the breaks in the grass at several other places on the sides of the mound, but there was no obvious indication whether the core of the mound is a bedrock outcrop or a stone-built cairn. The resistivity survey grid was orientated along the mound and it measured 30 x 25m. The instrument used was Geoscan’s RM15 resistivity meter with twin probe configuration and 0.5m spacing. The survey was conducted with 0.5m traverse spacing and 0.5m sample intervals. The most obvious feature of the results is the generic high resistivity of the mound’s core in comparison to the surrounding areas. The smoothness of the edges of the mound and the regularity of its oval shape are striking and they strongly support the argument for the artificial nature of the mound’s construction. The results cannot be used to infer any potential structural information from within the central highest part of the mound due to the insufficient penetration capabilities of the instrument. A ground penetrating radar survey is planned for 2012 season.

Archive: University of Reading

Funder: University of Reading

University of Reading 2011

Geophysical Survey (18 August 2012 - 22 August 2012)

NR 39689 62507 – NR 39954 62496 – NR 39729 62955 and NR 40014 62996 (township and enclosure) and NR 40035 63045 (mound) A third season of the survey of the remains of the 19th-century township of Airigh Ghuaidhre and surrounding prehistoric remains took place 18–22 August 2012.

The focus in 2012 was a ground penetrating radar survey of a possible burial mound at NR 40035 63045, which showed promise following the resistivity survey in 2011 (DES 2011, 44–45). Noggin Plus system was used with 500MHz antennas mounted on a SmartCart. A grid measuring 30 x 30m was surveyed over the mound with 0.5m traverse spacing and the directions of traverse perpendicular to the mound, i.e. ESE–WNW, in zig-zag mode. Additionally, seven longitudinal profiles were collected along NNE–SSW orientation. The GPR survey was successful in obtaining information from a depth exceeding the capabilities of the resistivity survey. The results showed strong reflections, equivalent to the high resistance anomalies suggestive of a possible cairn structure, but continuing much deeper than previously known and suggesting that the core of the mound could be grassed-over bedrock. A 2 x 1m trench was excavated at the SW edge of the mound to test the geophysical results. The mound proved to be natural in origin and composed of steeply rising limestone bedrock, which gave the mound such striking edge definition in the resistivity results.

Seven GPR lines at 3m intervals were collected in the S–N direction over the chapel enclosure, which was previously surveyed with the resistivity survey (DES 2010, 41). The purpose of the GPR survey was to investigate the possible presence of graves in the enclosure and obtain a lateral profile of the proposed chapel structure situated at the E end of the enclosure. In addition, two 2D lines measuring 65m and 74m were collected at the site of possible hilltop enclosure (DES 2011, 44–45). The lines were positioned across the southern extent of the possible enclosure to investigate the profiles of putative ditches and locate their eastern return. This data is currently being processed.

Archive: University of Southampton

Funder: University of Southampton and University of Reading

Darko Maricevic, University of Reading

Steven Mithen,

Karen Wicks,



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