MHG34256 - Rock Shelter and Midden - Crowlin 1


A rock shelter and midden investigated during the Scotland's First Settlers Project. Radiocarbon dates spanning the Iron Age to Late Medieval have been obtained from the site, but substantial rock fall deposits prevented any dates been obtained from potentially earlier material.

Type and Period (2)

  • SHELL MIDDEN (Mesolithic to Medieval - 8000 BC? to 1559 AD) + Sci.Date
  • ROCK SHELTER (Mesolithic to Medieval - 8000 BC? to 1559 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Created automatically by NMRS Register Utility
User: Admin, Date: Wed 13 Oct 2004
NG63SE 3 691 338
NG 691 338 Rock shelter site, located a few metres above the high water mark. The roof of the shelter has collapsed in the past, but shell midden material is visible in areas between the collapse and below some of the larger boulders. The midden appears to be predominantly limpet. Some pieces of chipped stone were recovered from the surface. Recent hearth sites suggest that the site is under threat from day trippers.
B Finlayson, K Hardy, S Birch, C Wickham-Jones and M Wildgoose 1998

The following site was recorded between January and September 1999 as part of the Scotland's First Settlers Project. A full report has been lodged with the NMRS.
NG 691 338 Crowlin 1 is a rock shelter (Finlayson et al 1998) with a large overhang sheltering a small level platform with evidence for numerous rockfalls. Three test pits were opened during August 1999. All three trenches produced midden material interspersed with rockfall material. The midden appears to be a complex accumulation of material with periods of abandonment, and the evidence suggests that it did not have a single function over time. A small amount of artefactual material was recovered: 31 lithics including a gun flint found loose on the surface and one bone point.
B Finlayson, K Hardy, C Wickham-Jones 1999

This site was investiated by the Scotland's First Settlers Project in 1999. It comprised a large highly visible rockshelter with a large overhang that sheltered a small level platform with evidence for numerous rockfalls. Midden material was abundant on the surface, mostly comprising loose material with apparent clusters of oysters and limpets. Some shell midden material was also visible between and below some of the larger rockfall. Three test pits were opened. Test Pit 1 to the rear of the rockshelter, and Test Pit 2 and Test Pit 3 just outside. There were 31 lithic finds, a plain hammerstone, a bevelled pebble and a ground stone tool (which was very similar in shape and dimensions to a piece from the Mesolithic site at Kinloch, Rùm), 1 bone tool, a single shank fragment of an iron nail, an irregular sub-square sheet of lead with one edge broken, a mixed assemblage of fish bones including saithe or pollack, herring and cod and assemblage of limpet, oyster and periwinkle.
Four radiocarbon dates were obtained. Test Pit 1 yielded a wide spread of determinations: one in the 2nd century AD(AD 120-340); and two in the 15th–16th centuries AD (AD 1400-1480; AD1480-1560). Test Pit 3 yielded a date in the 8th century AD (AD 650-810).
The evidence from Test Pits 2 and 3 suggests that the visible remains of the midden material post-date the rockfall events. Time constraints and safety issues prevented removal of the substantial quantities of rockfall that would have been required to demonstrate an earlier use of the site. Test Pit 1 indicated that the midden was a complex accumulation of material with periods of abandonment probably over a long period of time. With the exception of the gunflint, the lithics were not diagnostic: it was possible that they suggest early activity, but they might equally have resulted from the later use of flaked stone. Two of the coarse stone tools might be early; parallels exist on other Mesolithic sites. The dates, however, are all post-prehistoric and Crowlin 1 has clearly attracted attention over the years. Interestingly, one of the debitage chunks has damage suggesting that it was later used as a strike-a-light, so that it may be that later occupants of the shelter came across relics of earlier users. The gunflint is small, and of dark flint, it obviously fits happily into the period of use suggested by the later dates, and this is supported by the lead sheet as lead is uncommon before the medieval period. <1>

See link below to published Scottish Archaeologocal Internet Report 31 for futher information and radiocarbon dates. See also link belwo to Scottish Radiocarbon Database.

Sources/Archives (1)



Grid reference Centred NG 6910 3379 (20m by 20m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG63SE
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

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External Links (3)

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