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Record details

ID:MHG32043
Type of record:Monument
Name:Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave)
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Summary

Fieldwork carried out to date has revealed a site of later prehistoric date, focused on areas located both outside and within a natural cave. The discovery of a formalised entrance to the natural cave, connected with the underlying cave system, provides direct access to an underground stream that flows through over 320 metres of subterranean passages. The activities at the site display distinct ritual aspects including the burial of whole animal carcasses after butchery, the deposition of artefacts utilised in everyday life, human inhumations including infant and foetal burials combined with the bones of a foetal pig, and evidence of feasting.

Images

Wooden lyre from High Pasture Cave (photo by Steven Birch)  © West Coast Archaeological ServicesWooden lyre from High Pasture Cave (photo by Steven Birch)  © West Coast Archaeological ServicesWooden lyre from High Pasture Cave (photo by Steven Birch)  © West Coast Archaeological Services(photo by Highland Council)  © Highland Council(photo by Highland Council)  © Highland Council(photo by Highland Council)  © Highland Council(photo by Highland Council)  © Highland Council

Reports

Fieldwork report  © West Coast Archaeological Services (File size: 13356 KB)Colour photograph  © Please contact Highland Council for details (File size: 1695 KB)Article  © Please contact Highland Council for details (File size: 1244 KB)Article  © Please contact Highland Council for details (File size: 367 KB)Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave), Strath, Isle of Skye 2004  © West Coast Archaeological Services et al (File size: 3149 KB)Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave) & Environs Project, Strath, Isle of Skye 2005  © West Coast Archaeological Services et al (File size: 5635 KB)Fieldwork report  © West Coast Archaeological Services et al (File size: 30173 KB)Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave) & Environs Project, Strath, Isle of Skye 2006  © West Coast Archaeological Services et al (File size: 6194 KB)Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave) & Environs Project, Strath, Isle of Skye 2008  © West Coast Archaeological Services et al (File size: 5934 KB)Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave) & Environs Project, Strath, Isle of Skye 2009  © West Coast Archaeological Services et al (File size: 3662 KB)
Grid Reference:NG 5942 1973
Map Sheet:NG51NE
Civil Parish:STRATH
Geographical Area:SKYE AND LOCHALSH

Monument Types

Other References/Statuses

  • Historic Environment Record: MHG32043
  • NMRS NUMLINK Reference: 273776
  • NMRS Record Details: NG51NE83 SKYE, UAMH AN ARD ACHADH
  • Old SMR Reference Number: NG51NE0114

Full description

The cave is situated near Torrin in Skye. Archaeological material was disturbed in the cave and subsequently the cave has been surveyed and the threatened deposits recovered for analysis. The items recovered includes a concentration of pig bone, stone tools and a socketed iron axe/adze.
See Assoc. Docs. File for report and plans, by S Birch, 07/2003 <1>

Archaeological material was identified by Steven Birch within this cave in May 2002. The deposits had been disturbed by cavers and the sediments included animal bone, shellfish remains, charcoal, fire-cracked pebbles, coarse pebble tools, pottery and metalwork. The animal bones contained an unusually high proportion of wild boar/pig remains, some of which displayed evidence of butchery and processing. Around the mouth of the cave are structural remains including a roundhouse and a large U-shaped enclosure with associated dykes and further putative cell-like structures. It is possible that the cave may have been used as a 'souterrain' associated with this settlement. <2>

Archaeological rescue work within the cave and survey work of the surface remains is currently being undertaken by Birch/Wildgoose/Kozikowski. A short report of the ongoing work has been published in Teach an Tir (Spring 2004) is held in Assoc. Docs. <3>

NMRS Report: (23/04/2007 15:11:05)
NG51NE 83 5943 1971

(Location cited as NG 594 197). The first season of the High Pasture Cave Project between March and September 2004 included clearance of the main stream-way to the excavation site (60m down an underground river).
Fieldwork included detailed survey and site drawings of all surface structures, and excavation of a trial trench in the bone passage to assess the extent of the archaeological deposits.
The trial trench demonstrated that the cave had seen extensive use in both the Bronze and Iron Age, with two floor levels (granite slab and compacted gravel) indicating two intensive periods of use followed by periods of midden dumping. Two separate deposits of animal bone and a discrete periwinkle midden suggest deliberate deposition in the cave.
A cave morphology survey was also carried out, with samples removed for dating.
Finds include metalwork, worked antler and bone, carbonised cereals and seeds, decorated and plain pottery, worked stone and worked pumice. The animal bone assemblage is predominantly pig (80-90%) and shows evidence for butchering. There was also evidence for iron and copper smelting and working.
During a series of open days in September, locals and visitors to the island were shown around the site and taken on conducted tours through the cave system.
Sponsors: HS, Highland Council, Skye and Lochalsh Enterprise - Leader+, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Dualchas, Jansvans of Portree, Hitch-n-Hike, Stoney Cove Marine Trials.
S Birch and M Wildgoose 2004.

(Location of the cave entrance cited as NG 5943 1971: this is the major area of excavations).
Information from Simon Birch, 7 February 2006.

NG51NE 83 NG 594 197
Excavation; landscape project. Excavations at High Pasture Cave continued between March and October 2005 (DES 2004, 80-81), resulting in the discovery of 3.5m of Iron Age deposits lying within a natural depression in the former ground surface above the cave. These stratified deposits contained a series of related hearths and surrounded a fine stone-built stairwell. The stairwell would appear to give direct access to the cave, which lies some 5m below current
ground level. The upper 1m of the stairwell (the only part excavated so far) contained the remains of at least four, and possibly five, Iron Age inhumations. Multiple deposits of quern fragments (saddle and rotary), pebble tools, bone/antler pins and animal bone were recovered from around the hearths and stairwell entrance.
Excavations also continued within the cave (Bone Passage), and a wide range of materials was recovered including animal and fish bone, shellfish remains, charred plant remains, metalworking residues, iron pins, bone and stone tools. See www.high-pasturecave.org. Excavations will continue in 2006.
Sponsors: HAS, Highland Council, Skye and Lochalsh Enterprise Leader+, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
S Birch and M Wildgoose 2005. <4>

Work is ongoing at this important site. Fieldwork carried out to date has revealed a site of later prehistoric date, focused on areas located both outside and within a natural cave. The discovery of a formalised entrance to the natural cave, connected with the underlying cave system, provides direct access to an underground stream that flows through over 320 metres of subterranean passages. The activities at the site display distinct ritual aspects including the burial of whole animal carcasses after butchery, the deposition of artefacts utilised in everyday life, human inhumations including infant and foetal burials combined with the bones of a foetal pig, and evidence of feasting. Full details can be found in the data structure reports linked to this record. <5>


Birch, S., Wildgoose, M. and Kozikowski, G., 03/2005, Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave), Strath, Isle of Skye 2004: The Preliminary Assessment and Analysis of Late Prehistoric Cultural Deposits from a Limestone Cave and Associated Surface
Features
(Text/Report/Fieldwork Report). SHG22354.


Birch, S, Wildgoose, M and Kozikowski, G, 04/2007, Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave) & Environs Project, Strath, Isle of Skye 2006: The Preliminary Assessment and Analysis of Late Prehistoric Cultural Deposits from a Limestone Cave and Associated Surface Features (Text/Report/Fieldwork Report). SHG24084.


Birch, S., Wildgoose, M. and Kozikowska, G., 07/2003, Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave) Kilbride, Strath, Isle of Skye: Archaeological Deposits from a Limestone Cave on the Island of Skye (Text/Report/Fieldwork Report). SHG22035.


Birch, S., Wildgoose, M. and Kozikowski, G., 2006, Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave) & Environs Project, Strath, Isle of Skye 2005: The Preliminary Assessment and Analysis of Late Prehistoric Cultural Deposits from a Limestone Cave and Associated Surface Features (Text/Report/Fieldwork Report). SHG22455.


Birch, S., Wildgoose, M. and Kozikowski, G., 2008, Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave) & Environs Project, Strath, Isle of Skye 2007: The Preliminary Assessment of Late Prehistoric Cultural Deposits from a Limestone Cave and Associated Surface Features (Text/Report/Fieldwork Report). SHG23974.


Birch, S., Wildgoose, M. and Kozikowski, G., 2009, Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave) & Environs Project, Strath, Isle of Skye 2008: The Preliminary Assessment of Late Prehistoric Cultural Deposits from a Limestone Cave and Associated Surface Features (Text/Report/Fieldwork Report). SHG24862.


Birch, S., Wildgoose, M. and Kozikowski, G., 2010, Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave) & Environs Project, Strath, Isle of Skye 2009: The Preliminary Assessment and Analysis of Late Prehistoric Cultural Deposits from a Limestone Cave and Associated Surface Features (Text/Report/Fieldwork Report). SHG25478.


<1> Aitken, J, Comments by Jacquie Aitken, SMR Assistant, 25/03/2004 (Verbal Communication). SHG23722.


<2> Cameron, K, Comment by Kirsty Cameron, HC Archaeologist, 04/2004 (Verbal Communication). SHG23467.


<3> Birch, S A, 2004, High Pasture Cave: A window on the prehistory of Strath, Skye (Text/Publication/Article). SHG25479.


<4> RCAHMS, 02/2008, Annual update from Canmore, 273776 (Dataset). SHG24123.


<5> Tilbury, S, Comment by Sylvina Tilbury, HER Officer, 26/09/2011 (Verbal Communication). SHG23297.

Related Monument/Building records - none

Related Investigations

EHG1299Field survey - High Pasture Cave site, Isle of Skye (Ref:HPC001)
EHG1384Geophysical survey - High Pasture Cave site, Isle of Skye
EHG1399Trial excavations - High Pasture Cave site, Isle of Skye: 2005 season (Ref:HPC002)
EHG2818Geophysical surveys - High Pasture Cave site, Isle of Skye (Ref:HPC001)
EHG2819Trial trench - High Pasture Cave site, Isle of Skye (Ref:HPC001)
EHG2820Excavation - High Pasture Cave site, Isle of Skye: 2007 season (Ref:HPC004)
EHG2874Trial excavations - High Pasture Cave site, Isle of Skye: 2006 season (Ref:HPC003)
EHG3280Excavation - High Pasture Cave site, Isle of Skye: 2008 (Ref:HPC005)
EHG3590Excavation - High Pasture Cave site, Isle of Skye: 2009 (Ref:HPC006)
EHG965Detailed survey and artefact collection - Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave), Isle of Skye
EHG4257Excavations - High Pasture Cave site, Isle of Skye: 2010 (Ref:HPC007)
EHG3510Topographic survey - area around High Pasture Cave, Isle of Skye
EHG3744Historic Landscape Assessment - Aultbea to Dundonnell Overhead Line
EHG4490Laser scanning survey - High Pasture Cave, Isle of Skye
EHG4491Test-pitting - Strath Suardal, Isle of Skye

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