The archaeological excavation and subsequent watching brief, together with further excavation, carried out in advance of and during construction of the new Torvean Golf Course and new houses at Golf View Terrace, located on the south west side of Inverness, west of the Caledonian Canal and the River Ness. The development area comprised a Greenfield site, formerly rough grazing agricultural fields situated on gentle hills, mostly east-facing slopes.
Previous archaeological evaluation in early 2016 had identified significant archaeological sites in ten areas of the site, where excavation was later undertaken. The watching brief was subsequently required in order to identify and record any further significant archaeological sites uncovered during groundworks prior to their destruction by the development. This work resulted in further excavation within three areas.
Targeted excavation was carried out during July and August 2016, followed by watching brief and excavation in August – September 2016 and intermittent watching brief through March 2017.
Topsoil clearance revealed the remains of extensive multi-period occupation, mostly prehistoric pit groups, across the development site, concentrated across the 30-50m OD contours, gently undulating terraces aligned N-S, which sloped downhill to the east and overlooked the River Ness Valley to east and Moray Firth basin to the northeast.
Most of the archaeological features consisted of pit groups and scattered isolated pits, the majority of which produced limited artefactual material – mostly quern stones, coarse prehistoric pottery sherds, pebble tools, occasional flint tools and struck flakes and rare iron objects. One small group contained an unusual carbonised seed or nutshell and a glass bead. Although substantially truncated, some of the pit groups contained possible structural remains, in particular half-circle alignments that may have formed open-sided timber structures. Sections of shallow ditches, possible enclosure features, were found to occur near pit groups in three locations on the site. One ditch was believed to contain upright timber posts.
While many of the pits were interpreted as hearths/fire-pits, there were individual prehistoric sites on the site that stood out. Keyhole or pear-shaped pits, thought to be large fire-pits or small kilns were found in several locations on the site. Two large suboval pits containing burnt lenses, one with worked pebble tools and one with burnt grain and iron objects, were found in isolation in two different areas and thought to represent cooking or industrial pits. Another large pit was interpreted as a disused standing stone hole.
There were several significant structures uncovered on the site:
- A burnt mound was represented by spreads of blacked soil and fire-cracked stone around the site of a D-shaped boulder kerb that contained a collapsed stone tank.
- A keyhole shaped, clay-lined grain-drying kiln survived mostly intact with collapsed burnt structural material representing two phases of use.
- A perfectly shaped ovoid granite boulder set into a shallow pit for an unknown use.
- A vertical, stone-built well located in isolation on low-lying ground
The ruins of a small settlement, Balphadrig, were left in situ within the development area and a measured survey was conducted to create a record of the site. Two soakaway features were found close to the settlement site. <1>