MHG11410 - Caves, Allt Nan Uamh


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • CAVE (Neolithic to Norse - 4000 BC to 1300 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

NC21NE 1 2679 1704 to 2680 1702.

(NC 2679 1704 and NC 2680 1702) Caves (NAT) (Two shown)
OS 6"map, Sutherland, 1st ed., (1878)

There are 4 caves in a limestone cliff, about 200 ft. above Allt nan Uamh - a tributary of the Loanan, near Inchnadamph.
In 1889, Dr J Horne and Dr B N Peach explored third cave from west and found bones of a rich Arctic fauna with traces of human habitation (Proc Roy Soc Edinburgh 1927)
Further excavations were made in 1926 by J E Cree, caves 1 and 2 from west being dug and a trial trench dug in 1889 cave.
Finds included animal bones, human skeletons - one a definite burial, an iron blade a bone pin and an awl, a reindeer horn implement, cut and scratched antler and charcoal. The nature of the fauna, state of fossilation of bones, and geological evidence suggests an Upper Palaeolithic date, certainly belonging to Magdalenian or earlier.
J G Callander, H E Cree and J Ritchie 1927; Proc Roy Soc Edinburgh 1917.

Refers to the late Upper Palaeolithic date suggested for the occupation of the caves. The animal remains apparently represent a late arctic fauna surviving in a refuge area into early post glacial times. It suggests that the human habitation was not earlier than Mesolithic or even Neolithic in date.
A D Lacaille 1954.

The material from Allt nan Uamh is at the Royal Scottish Museum, Chambers St., Edinburgh.
Information contained in letter from A S Henshall, (Asst. Keeper, NMAS) 28 December 1961.

The most easterly cave is very shallow and little more than a rock shelter, the other three are true caves and have narrow tunnels leading off them.
Visited by OS (G H P) 6 June 1962.

No change to previous field report.
Visited by OS (J M) 11 July 1980.

Samples were taken for radiocarbon dating from bone awl and double ring headed pin of walrus ivory, found in "cave earth" during the excavation of reindeer Cave by J Cree in 1926. the bone awl had too little collagen to be datable.
Walrus ivory pin NMS HM 377 1900+/-80bp (50+/-80ad) OxA-3527
NMRS MS/735/1

Excavations in the 1920's at the Creag nan Uamh bone caves, near Inchnadamph, aroused considerable interest in the possibility of evidence for a Palaeolithic presence in north-west Scotland. Four objects found during those excavations, including the one on which the principal claim for a Palaeolithic date was based, are published here for the first time. Two are probable Viking Age/early medieval artefacts of unusual type, one is undated but is possibly also of the same period, and the fourth, while almost certainly of Pleistocene age, is regarded as an unmodified natural object. Collectively these items serve to discount previous claims for Palaeolithic human presence. Radiocarbon dating of the human skeletal remains found, however, suggests the caves were a burial place in the Neolithic period. This paper makes extensive use of archive domumentation to put the 1920s discoveries at Crea nan Uamh and their aftermath into historical context. (See link below to online article) <1>

NW SUT Local Plan, May 1987: P23/2.36.
J Aitken : 11/06/01.

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred NC 2678 1704 (30m by 30m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet NC21NE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish ASSYNT

Finds (8)

  • HANDLE (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Undated)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2401 BC) + Sci.Date
  • BLADE (Undated)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 560 AD)
  • PIN (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • AWL (Neolithic to Early Medieval - 4000 BC? to 1057 AD?)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (3)

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