MHG356 - Lithic working site - Cul na Croise (Drynan Bay)


Lithic working site containing a considerable number and variety of lithics alongside beaker and later pottery.

Type and Period (1)

  • LITHIC WORKING SITE (Mesolithic to Late Bronze Age - 8000 BC? to 551 BC)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A lithic working site containing a considerable number and variety of lithics alongside beaker and later pottery at the Cul na Croise peninsula, Ardnamurchan (also known locally as Drynan Bay).

Sherds of beaker pottery (see MHG13230), leaf-shaped and barbed-and- tanged arrowheads, minute round scrapers, and many small pointed narrow blades, and a few microliths were found in the sand dunes behind Cul na Croise (NM 622 698) by Lethbridge in 1924. Lacaille (1954) also notes that large quantities of flints found in the sand dunes of Drynan Bay indicate the presence of a flint-knapping site there. The finds included Obanian flakes, blades and scrapers, pick-like tools and other artifacts of a Larnian type, and some flints retouched in a characteristic Bronze Age way, while other blades had been worked by micro-burins in the Tardonensian manner. Lacaille concludes that these finds, which cannot pre-date the Bronze Age, indicate a survival of mesolithic traditions into that period, by a coming together of descendants of the Obanians and those of a later stage of development.
T C Lethbridge 1925; A D Lacaille 1954.

The material from Drynan Bay is predominantly of quartz, but contains a variety of flint implements including parallel-sided and leaf-shaped blades, scrapers, pebble- choppers and several microlithic blades and cores.
Artifacts from here, including fragments of All-Over-Corded Beaker and later pottery (see MHG13230), are in the University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Cambridge (Acc No: 51.1047); the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow (Acc No: B.1951, 258-83); and the NMAS (Acc Nos: ACA 29-40, 309-11).
Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1963; 1978; J N G Ritchie 1973; RCAHMS 1980.

Drynan Bay is the local name for Cul na Croise (NM 622 698) and the bays to the SW as far as Camas an Lighe (NM 623 690) an area of shifting sands; otherwise no further information.
Visited by OS (R L) 28 May 1970.

The NMS catlaogue lists lithics from this site under the Acc. Nos. ACA 30- ACA 41, ACA 309- AC 311. <1>

The Hunterian Museum contains a large amount of finds from the site which are listed on their online Catalogue (Acc. Nos.: GLAHM:B.1951.258-83). See link below. <2>

Several lithics from the site are within the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. These are listed in their catalogue as microliths (1951.1048.1-9), scrapers (1951.1048.10-28), leaf shaped arrowheads (1951.1048.29-30), a transverse arrowhead (1951.1048.31), a possible hollow based arrowhead (1951.1048.32), barbed and tanged arrowheads (1951.1048.33-36), an awl (1951.1048.37), small cores (1951.1048.38-9) and flakes (1951.1048.40-42, 1951.1049.2-64) A bronze strap end is listed under 1951.1048.1. 2 'pigmy scrapers' are also listed (1925.731 A.1-2). <3>

A DBA and walkover survey were undertaken by AOC Archaeology in February 2016 at the Gorteneorn promontory, Ardnamurchan, where there was a proposed development to temporarily change the use of an area of forestry to a film set. Six areas were identified containing archaeological material, four of which were of significant archaeological interest. The predominant areas of archaeological interest were Sites 3-6, which contained significant amounts of diagnostic prehistoric archaeological material, mostly quartz and flint lithics and small tools with some visible evidence for old ground surfaces. A low soil horizon at Site 5 was found directly associated with some of this material. These areas have already been heavily disturbed and are open to erosion from natural elements and increased footfall. In addition, it appears that any significant in situ archaeological sites would be buried below deep wind-blown sand deposits. Due to the nature of the film project, which was designed specifically to be non-invasive, the site was not being treated as a normal planning condition with regards to mitigation. <4>

A second survey of the area was undertaken by AOC Archaeology Group in Oct 2016. The site was the filming location for a television documentary. The survey was undertaken seven months after the baseline survey in February. The survey targeted the location of the dune system above the shoreline and focussed on two large dune hollows (Sites 5 and 6) identified by the previous survey. This was the primary area of concern for the film contributors. The two areas showed the effects of further light-moderate erosion. Quartz and flint debitage, which is likely to include some tools, was recovered during the survey. Recommendations were made for further evaluation of one exposure at Site 5 and for further analysis on the recovered material by a lithics specialist. <5>

A third survey was undertaken by AOC Archaeology Group in April 2017. The survey was undertaken following completion of the documentary series to assess the extent of any further erosion to previously recorded archaeological deposits in the sand dunes. Generally, the buildings and infrastructure built on the site for the programme were low-key and non-intrusive. Some shallow ditches had been cut for drainage around cultivation plots and building stances. Further quartz and flint debitage, including some tools, most of Neolithic and Bronze Age date, was recovered. Full analysis of the full lithics assemblage from all three phases of survey is included in the report. <6>

The finds assemblage from the AOC survey work 2016-17 was submitted to Treasure Trove (TT 113/18) and allocated to Inverness Museum. <7>

Sources/Archives (13)



Grid reference Centred NM 6228 6967 (422m by 644m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NM66NW
Geographical Area LOCHABER

Finds (12)

  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Undated)
  • BARBED AND TANGED ARROWHEAD (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC)
  • BLADE (Undated)
  • BLADE (Undated)
  • MICROLITH (Mesolithic - 8000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • MICROLITH (Mesolithic - 8000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Undated)
  • CHOPPER (Undated)
  • CORE (Undated)
  • CORE (Undated)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Undated)
  • LEAF ARROWHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2401 BC)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (3)

External Links (2)

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