MHG11644 - Shell middens, Earls Cross Road, Dornoch


Shell midden deposits of uncertain extent and date, but possibly resulting from human activity dating back to the Mesolithic period.

Type and Period (2)

  • SHELL MIDDEN (Mesolithic - 8000 BC? to 4001 BC?)
  • (Alternate Type) NATURAL FEATURE? (Undated)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NH89SW 13 8046 9026.

At NH 8046 9026 on a raised beach is an amorphous sandy knoll with mussel shells on its surface which is locally alleged to be an ancient shell midden. It was excavated about 20 years ago by a local man, now deceased, who found it contained large quantities of mussel shells, but no artifacts were revealed.
Visited by OS (A A) 23 May 1971.

A remedial watching brief in 2005 observed thin layers of wind borne shell mixed in with a fine, light sand. It was concluded that this was a natural deposit, identical in morphology to the wind blown deposits found on any sandy beach. <1>

Trial trenching in 2008 identified several shell middens in two of the trenches (Trenches 1 and 8 - see related investigation EHG3043). The deposits in Trench 1 contained shells of various species, bone and worked stones. In Trench 8 the midden was shallow and compact and made up of 90% mussels plus occasional bone and stone, with no visible sorting or later disturbance. It was concluded that these middens are potentially of archaeological significance, but further analysis of the deposits and finds is required. <2>

A watching brief during house construction in the eastern part of this site, in the vicinity of Trenches 1 and 8, did not identify any deposits asociated with these middens. Although some shells were noted to the south east corner of the house these lay on top of sand directly under the topsoil and they were interpreted as being of natural origin. <3>

It is unlikely that the works that were monitored during this watching brief extended to a sufficient depth to encounter the midden deposits. The watching brief only covered the stripping of topsoil to a depth of 30cm across the site. <4>

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred NH 80493 90212 (84m by 207m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH89SW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish DORNOCH

Finds (4)

  • MAMMAL REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • FISH REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • WORKED STONE? (Unknown date)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (3)

External Links (1)

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