MHG51768 - Rock shelter, Uamh an Eich Bhric, Fiskavaig


A rock shelter, occupied during the Late Iron Age, which contains substantial occupation and midden deposits. A programme of excavation is ongoing as the site is under threat from erosion.

Type and Period (3)

  • OCCUPATION SITE (Late Iron Age - 2 AD to 560 AD) + Sci.Date
  • MIDDEN (Late Iron Age - 2 AD to 560 AD)
  • ROCK SHELTER (In use, Late Iron Age - 2 AD to 560 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

This site consists of a large eroding midden containing significant occupation deposits dating from the Late Iron Age. The midden fills a large rock shelter situated just above the high tide line. Analysis of eroded archaeological material recovered between October 2006 and March 2008 indicated a typical domestic assemblage including stone, iron, copper-alloy, bone and antler artefacts and ceramics. There was evidence for both iron and copper-alloy smelting as well as a well-preserved, but unfortunately unstratified faunal assemblage. Two radiocarbon dates from securely stratified animal bone in the exposed midden face produced Late Iron Age dates. <1>

Excavations took place at this site between April and December 2008. These revealed a short-lived sequence of occupation deposits and associated hearths with large quantities of ecofactual material including a well-preserved faunal assemblage with related butchery evidence. A wide range of small finds was also recovered including stone, iron, copper-alloy, bone and antler artefacts, ceramics and evidence for both iron and copper-alloy working (iron slag, crucible fragments, mould fragments, fragments of furnace lining and copper-alloy scrap) as well as leather-working and textile production. All of the material seems to have been deposited within a tight time frame, perhaps as little as 30 years and probably no more than 100 years.
The excavations established that different processes were in use for different categories of find, which were deposited in different areas of the midden. Shell middens, fish bone middens, pottery dumps and bone heaps were all discernible. It was also possible to identify four distinct types of hearth, which may conceivably have had different functions.
Eight further radiocarbon dates were determined following the 2008 excavations, full details of which are available in the excavation report and in the main HER database. <2>

Correspondence with Steven Birch concerning early visits to the site and the threat posed to the site by erosion. <3>

The second season of work at this exposed site saw the excavation of Trench 3 between the previous seasons Trenches 1 and 2. Trench 3 completed the removal of threatened cultural deposits, adding to the evidence for metal smelting/working (both copper/bronze and iron) with new evidence for ivory, bone, leather and antlerworking. A human cranial fragment with a drilled hole was also recovered, adding an interesting dimension to the finds from the site. Occupation of the site has been provisionally dated to AD c50–150. <4>

The 2010 season saw the completion of recording and the final tidying of the site before its abandonment to the waves. Work now moves to the post-excavation phase and preparation of final reports. <5>

DSRs for the 2009 and 2010 season are awaited and a final report is in progress GW 24/06/20

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference NG 3028 3263 (point)
Map sheet NG33SW
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish BRACADALE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (4)

External Links (1)

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