MHG52987 - Findspot of wooden planks, Acharacle


A group of five waterlogged oak planks retrieved from peat deposits during a watching brief. The deep peat deposits across the site are considered to have high archaeological potential.

Type and Period (1)

  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1318 AD to 1318 AD) + Sci.Date

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A group of five wooden planks were retrieved from a newly-cut drainage ditch during a watching brief in 2009. A visual assessment of the planks suggested they might be of some antiquity and they were retained for analysis and dating.
The site was also the subject of a peat survey in order to establish the depth of peat and archaeological potential of the site. The depth of peat was found to vary across the site, ranging from 0.5m over ridges of redeposited glacial material to more than 3m between the ridges. Examination of the sections of three drainage ditches established that some areas of the deeper peat contain very well preserved wood inclusions ranging from small twigs to larger tree trunks. It is likely that these areas were formerly pools of standing water that infilled over time. Probing in the vicinity of the findspot of wooden planks did not detect any significant structures or features within the peat, but the presence of further isolated wooden remains is a distinct possiblity. The archaeological potential of all the areas of deep peat on the site is considered to be high. <1><1>

All the planks were oak (Quercus sp.) and were waterlogged. One of the planks was in fact a chord cleft from the outside of a tree and showed no signs of being deliberately worked, but the others had been radially split from the tree and their ends roughly square. Two of the planks (ACH2 and 3) were complete, being 0.91m and 0.94m in length respectively, and both were 0.03m thick at the bark edge. The others were longer (1.42m and 1.14m respectively) but were incomplete. Toolmarks were visible on only one of the planks (ACH1), made by an axe or an adze.
The four worked planks were subject to dendrochronological analysis and samples of two were also submitted for radiocarbon dating. The dendrochronological analysis suggest that three of the planks came from the same tree. The results of this work show that the trees were felled in the early 14th century.
Two possibilities have been put forward as explanations for the presence of the planks in this location. Firstly, they may represent a small cache prepared in the nearby woodland and left in a pool of peaty water to prevent them drying out. Alternatively, it is noted that the planks were found close to the findspot of a logboat discovered in the late 19th/early 20th century. It is possible that the planks formed part of its cargo, perhaps the remnants of early 14th-century forestry operations. It is also noted that a group of five unworked oak logs were found in peat deposits in the Achnanellan forest on the south shore of Loch Shiel. One of the group (SUNART2) is estimated to have been felled, or died, between AD1325 and 1361. <2>

Sources/Archives (2)



Grid reference NM 6744 6823 (point) Estimated from sources
Map sheet NM66NE
Geographical Area LOCHABER

Finds (1)

  • PLANK (Medieval - 1318 AD? to 1318 AD?) + Sci.Date

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (2)

External Links (0)

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