EHG4756 - Trial trenching - Quarry site, Wester Balblair



AOC Archaeology Group


May 2015


An evaluation was undertaken by AOC Archaeology in 2015 in advance of the extraction (Phase 1b southern area) of further reserves of sand and gravel at Balblair Quarry, Wester Balblair, Beauly. The work was undertaken in connection with a planning condition and in accordance with a Written Scheme of Investigation agreed with the Highland Council Historic Environment Team. Of 12 possible features recorded during a walkover survey undertaken in advance of the associated planning application, 11 were identified and investigated. With the exception of a possible burial cairn these all displayed simple stratigraphy (in all cases comprising stone in a soil matrix) and none were associated with any dating evidence or indeed any other type of possible anthropogenic material such as charcoal. The evaluation confirmed the identification of seven agricultural clearance cairns of probable prehistoric date. A further possible clearance cairn may have been a small sub-oval banked enclosure. However, given the heavy tree cover encountered during the works there remained the probability that this feature actually consists of several overlapping clearance cairns. This may also have been the case with two possible banked enclosures identified during the walkover, neither of which provided any evidence for stratigraphic complexity or occupation. The possible burial cairn had obvious structural similarities with a nearby Bronze Age example excavated by Headland Archaeology Ltd in 2004 (Dutton et al 2007). A large conifer located over the central portion of the cairn prevented a more comprehensive investigation being undertaken and it is possible that an intact cist is preserved under the cairn and tree. No dating evidence was recovered from the cairn with the exception of a small saddle-quern recovered from the upper matrix. Although not precisely dateable this can be taken as generally indicative of a prehistoric date. Further works will be required prior to any extraction works, including the full excavation of the burial cairn and further testing of the three possible enclosures. <1>

Sources/Archives (1)



Location Wester Balblair
Grid reference Centred NH 4999 4404 (52m by 60m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH44SE
Civil Parish KILMORACK
Geographical Area INVERNESS

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Record last edited

Nov 10 2020 3:31PM

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