MHG3058 - Iron Age settlement - Stoneyfield House


Ring ditches seen on APs near Stoneyfield House were subsequently shown to represent an Iron Age settlement where iron working had been carried out.

Type and Period (3)

  • RING DITCH (Unknown date)
  • SETTLEMENT (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • IRON WORKING SITE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A number of sites have been reported after private flights carried out in 1996. Stoneyfield House (Inverness & Bona parish) NH 692 454. Cropmark of a series of four ring-ditches c 15m in diameter, 20m N of railway. One has narrow outer ditch. Suggestion of internal pits - possible round barrows. <1>

Fieldwalking, geophysical survey (for which Both resistivity and magnetometry techniques were used) and trial trenching were carried out by the Centre for Field Archaeology over the site of the ring ditches in 1996 in advance of the construction of a proposed business and retail park. A substantial ring ditch was identified in Trench 8, which fixed the position of the cropmark feature. A substantial charcoal-rich layer was recorded within its interior which suggested protracted human occupation. A copper alloy fibula or bow brooch was recovered from the fill of the ring-ditch. <2>

Full excavation was carried out by the Centre for Field Archaeology in 1997 on the site of features previously identified as cropmarks and whose position had been fixed in the trial trenching. Trenches 8 and 9 had demonstrated that a palisaded enclosure had created the cropmark and that other features existed in the immediate surrounding area. Full excavation of the area (known as Area 2 to distinguish it from a second area to the north) exposed the enclosure surrounded by the postholes and associated features of at least three timber roundhouses. One of the features was overlain by a later iron smelting hearth. A second palisaded enclosure, seen on APs, was located in the north eastern area of the trench. A series of other pits and postholes were recorded across the site The area excavated measured 60m x 40m. Prior to excavation the area had been used by the contractor as a temporary stockpile for subsoil. This was removed by mechanical excavator in order to locate the underlying plough soil which was also removed without archaeological supervision leading to some truncation of the archaeology. The project design proposed a single excavation trench measuring 80 by 50m (4000m²) and located in reponse to the aerial photographic and geophysical evidence. However, during the final stages of the excavation the trench was extended by a further 80 by 5m (400m²) along the northern limit of the trench. This enabled the fuller definition of a number of features in the northern part of the site. <3>

Subsequent post-excavation work by the Centre for Field Archaeology demonstrated that the archaeological remains consisted of a series of negative features, post-holes and annular ditches which formed parts of at least nine separate structures of a late prehistoric unenclosed settlement. A mould fragment indicated late Bronze Age sword production in the vicinity. Some of the structural and artefactual evidence compellingly pointed to an in situ ironworking workshop. A large cache of smithing charcoal found in association with a smelting hearth was radiocarbon dated to 180BC - AD 70 and represented one of the few dated in-situ Iron Age ironworking episodes in Scotland. <4>

A Roman copper alloy dolphin style brooch found during the CFA evaluation of the ring ditch in 1996 was photographed at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery in 2013 during the ARCH Hilton Local Heritage Project. <5>

The excavation assemblage from the site was submitted to Treasure Trove (TT 61/02) and allocated to Inverness Museum. They are listed under Acc. No. 2012.006. A museum transfer form and box list inventories are with the museum archive files. <6> <7>

Sources/Archives (8)



Grid reference Centred NH 6920 4535 (40m by 40m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH64NE
Geographical Area INVERNESS

Finds (12)

  • SHERD (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2400 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • ROTARY QUERN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • WHETSTONE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • HAMMERSTONE (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • DOLPHIN BROOCH (Roman - 79 AD to 409 AD)
  • BEAD (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • BEAD (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Early Iron Age to Medieval - 550 BC? to 1559 AD?)
  • SLAG (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • MOULD (Late Bronze Age - 1250 BC to 551 BC)
  • DAUB (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • HEADSTUD BROOCH (Roman - 79 AD to 409 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (4)

External Links (2)

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