6.5.4 Organics

Due to poor survival conditions, evidence for the working of organic materials, including bone and wood, is very limited in the Highland Region during this period. Nevertheless, a few insights into the skills of the region’s inhabitants exist. The level of preservation of an Early Bronze Age composite cattle hide and wood dagger scabbard found at Seafield West (MHG3944; Cressey and Sheridan 2003; Case Study Seafield West) provides evidence for how the sides of the scabbard were sewn together, using animal sinew. The boat-shaped log coffin in which the dagger was found, plus the remains of a plank-built wooden ‘cist’ beside it, attest to the woodworking skills of the inhabitants. Other traces of woodworking come from a birch stake, dated 1780–1430 BC, found in the Ballachulish Moss (MHG18008; Clarke 1998) and axehead-marks relating to the chopping of ancient pine roots that were found at Loch Farlary (MHG13310; Tipping et al 2007b; 2008a) and Kilbraur near Golspie (MHG60365; Timpany 2010).

The remarkable Late Bronze Age hat from Kirtomy, Sutherland (MHG60588; Sheridan et al 2014), demonstrates the use of bound bundles of horse tail hair to create a ‘boater’-style hat.

As for the working of bone and antler, no manufacturing debris has been found, but it is likely that simple objects were made by individual communities at a domestic scale. Rock shelters may hold the best possibility of evidence for bone working as preservation is generally good, and in some cases evidence survives for this period, for example at An Corran on Skye (MHG6497; Saville et al 2012; Case Study An Corran) and Coire Sgamhadail in Wester Ross (MHG37258; Hardy and Wickham-Jones 2009).


Case Study: Seafield West


Case Study: An Corran



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