MHG54230 - Neolithic settlement - Milton of Leys


A number of recessed hearths, together with linear features, of Neolithic date, recorded during archaeological evaluation at Milton of Leys.

Type and Period (1)

  • SETTLEMENT? (Neolithic - 4000 BC? to 2401 BC?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A number of features were identified during initial trial trenching by GUARD at Milton of Leys in 1999 in advance of a proposed housing development. The remains of a hearth/pit, a possible unexcavated second hearth and three other possible features were recorded in Trench 55. <1>

Further investigation of the features identified in Trench 55, during the initial evaluation was carried out by Headland Archaeology in 2000. The remains of three hearths were identified and fifteen sherds of prehistoric pottery, later determined to be Neolithic, were retrieved from pits. The majority of features were concentrated in the south of the trench and it was interesting to note that where the subsoil became more stony, there was an absence of features or deposits. The south end of the trench was the closest to an area of hut-circles. It is, therefore, possible that these pits and hearths were associated with the prehistoric settlement further to the south. It is unclear whether the full extent of these features was exposed, but in the confines of this evaluation, their presence is a clear indication of prehistoric activity in this area. A linear feature of possible prehistoric origin was also identified, cut by later agricultural ditches. <2>

Additional evaluation work was undertaken by Headland Archaeology in 2001. The results indicated that the cluster of features was confined to an area to the south of the access road for the Milton of Leys development. Only two additional features of possible archaeological significance were identified. A continuation of the possibly prehistoric linear feature was identified, although no dateable evidence was recovered from it. A shallow scoop was very similar in character to the discrete features excavated previously, and may, therefore, also be prehistoric. <3>

Subsequent soil stripping over the area of the 2001 trenches and open area excavation revealed additonal, though similar features comprising a cluster of small pits and post-holes. Neolithic Grooved Ware, including one vessel in the Durrington Walls sub-style, was recovered from several of the features, which appear to be domestic in function. At present, this is the most northerly example of pottery in the Durrington Walls sub-style. Furthermore, radiocarbon dating has determined that this vessel dates to the second half of the fourth millennium bc, which is one of the earliest dates anywhere in Britain for this style. Milton of Leys is the latest of a number of small Neolithic settlement sites to have been discovered in the Inverness area, where none was previously known. These findings highlight the fact that our picture of the distribution and dating of such pottery and sites reflects accidental discovery during archaeological work and that these sites are very difficult to detect. All four radiocarbon dates, one from the hearth and three from pits, were Neolithic. <4>

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred NH 6981 4167 (105m by 95m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH64SE
Geographical Area INVERNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (5)

External Links (2)

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