7.3.6 Other Settlement Evidence

Burnt Mounds

Burnt mounds were discussed in the Bronze Age chapter (6.3), which noted that they have been interpreted as both practical (for cooking) or ritual, or indeed as both. Regardless, they indicated the presence of a settlement nearby. Their use continued into the Early Iron Age in the Highlands, as shown by the evidence from High Pasture Cave (Case Study: High Pasture Cave). Numerous fire-cracked stones and hearths were uncovered, often with the burnt residues carefully deposited in the cave, but no tanks were found. The heated stones may have therefore been used in containers, or possibly used directly to cook and prepare food. These burnt spreads were dated to the Early to Middle Iron Age (Birch et al forthcoming). The burnt mound from Auchinduich, Sutherland (MHG20592) may also possibly date to the Iron Age (McCullagh and Tipping 1998). Further dating of Highland sites will show if Iron Age burnt mounds are widespread or not.

Middens and Pits

Brotchie’s SteadingC390–170 BC;
AD 20–230;
AD 60–250
Midden. Iron Age dates but no structures. AD dates are from antler tool and cow boneMHG46260; Holden et al 2008; Case Study; Brotchie’s Steading
Upper SuisgillS1st and 2nd centuries BC (old date)Series of houses at same site. Phase VI has evidence of stake holes, walls and drains, but no houseMHG9345; Barclay 1984
PortmahomackEREarly centuries ADPitsCarver et al 2016
DalmoreERAD 207–376SUERC-68315Pit associated with Bronze Age roundhouseEHG5164; Higgins and Farrell 2016
FoulisERFive dates, 1st and 2nd centuries ADBurning and animal bone layer on top of knollMHG8945; ARCH 2012
Torvean, InvernessI381–204 BCGrain storage pitMary Peteranna pers comm
Broadford Medical CentreSkyeA range  of dates, mainly between 350–50 BCGrain drying kiln and grain storage pitMHG55638; Birch 2012; Birch forthcoming
Home Farm, PortreeSkyeEarly Iron AgeFill of pitsMHG51648; Suddaby 2013
TorrinSkye400–115 BCGU-3492Pits near hearth, but no structures identified. Later shieling huts on the site.MHG5158; Armit 1996, 241
ArisaigL50 BC–AD 140SUERC-2452Charcoal layer overlying Bronze Age kerb cairn moundMHG36853; Carter et al 2005
Dun MhurchaidhLEarly Iron AgePlatform with cremated bone beneath.Awaiting publication (Ardnamurchan Transitions Project).
Table 7.8 Other Highland radiocarbon dated settlement evidence
All dates cal at 95.4% probability. For full details of dates, see Datasheet 2.1

Other settlement evidence consists of middens, pits, postholes or occupation layers. Some indicate industrial use and are discussed in 7.5. Hearths without walls might indicate an ephemeral structure, but could also be evidence of outdoor activity.


Case Study: Brotchie’s Steading

Leave a Reply