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 Steading||C||390–170 BC;|
|Midden. Iron Age dates but no structures. AD dates are from antler tool and cow bone||MHG46260; Holden et al 2008; Case Study; Brotchie’s Steading|
|Upper Suisgill||S||1st and 2nd centuries BC (old date)||Series of houses at same site. Phase VI has evidence of stake holes, walls and drains, but no house||MHG9345; Barclay 1984|
|Portmahomack||ER||Early centuries AD||Pits||Carver et al 2016|
|Dalmore||ER||AD 207–376||SUERC-68315||Pit associated with Bronze Age roundhouse||EHG5164; Higgins and Farrell 2016|
|Foulis||ER||Five dates, 1st and 2nd centuries AD||Burning and animal bone layer on top of knoll||MHG8945; ARCH 2012|
|Torvean, Inverness||I||381–204 BC||Grain storage pit||Mary Peteranna pers comm|
|Broadford Medical Centre||Skye||A range of dates, mainly between 350–50 BC||Grain drying kiln and grain storage pit||MHG55638; Birch 2012; Birch forthcoming|
|Home Farm, Portree||Skye||Early Iron Age||Fill of pits||MHG51648; Suddaby 2013|
|Torrin||Skye||400–115 BC||GU-3492||Pits near hearth, but no structures identified. Later shieling huts on the site.||MHG5158; Armit 1996, 241|
|Arisaig||L||50 BC–AD 140||SUERC-2452||Charcoal layer overlying Bronze Age kerb cairn mound||MHG36853; Carter et al 2005|
|Dun Mhurchaidh||L||Early Iron Age||Platform with cremated bone beneath.||Awaiting publication (Ardnamurchan Transitions Project).|
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.