5.4.4 Heritage management of early prehistoric sites

Argyll has some of the most important Mesolithic sites in Scotland, and indeed the UK. Yet there is no heritage management of these sites. In one regard the required management is limited: with the exception of middens, Mesolithic sites are predominately buried below ground in areas unlikely to be disturbed or developed. This is not always the case: numerous Mesolithic have been found by ditch digging and other farming activities and remain subject to further risks of this nature; others are in fields that are regularly ploughed or coastal areas subject to erosion, especially with anticipated rise in sea level. Our understanding is that none of the Mesolithic sites have been scheduled to ensure they are protected. Another dimension of heritage management is public engagement. Our experience is that the public have a huge interest in the Mesolithic and would enjoy visiting Mesolithic sites, even if these are only points on the landscape with no visible archaeology. As such a programme of marking sites with suitable display boards, producing walking trails, guide-books and related exhibitions within the local museums should be a priority. This must also apply to the Neolithic. The chambered cairns on Islay, for instance, are largely buried by vegetation, with no markers for visitors or walking trails.