MHG54900 - Rock shelter with shell midden, Dubh-Aird, Inner Loch Torridon


A rock shelter with shell midden noted by a member of the public.

Type and Period (2)

  • ROCK SHELTER (In use, Mesolithic to Late Iron Age - 8000 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • SHELL MIDDEN (Mesolithic to Late Iron Age - 8000 BC? to 560 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A rock shelter with shell midden has been noted on the shore of Inner Loch Torridon. This is not the same site as a similar feature identified by NOSAS. <1>

NG 8723 5505 Lub Dubh Aird is a low lying bedrock promontory on the S shore of Upper Loch Torridon. The E-facing coastline has three bays, two of these lie at the landward end of the peninsula, the third bay is near the tip of the peninsula. Lub Dubh Aird was brought to our attention by two local residents, one who has been collecting lithics in the intertidal zone here for several years and a second who had also found a nearby rock shelter containing a shell midden.
The area was surveyed 6 April – 25 May 2012. A total of four different locations, including the three bays and the rock shelter produced lithics, though LDA 1 (NG 8723 5505) was by far the most prolific. The rock shelter appears to be the result of a major collapse from higher cliffs. The current rock shelter is a huge void c6m deep and 1m high in the rock tumble. The archaeological deposits, which have some evidence of inversion, are found in and around this void. A walkover survey of the intertidal zone confirmed the presence of lithics across the beach. A total of nine pits were excavated near the upper limit of the beach, only three produced lithics. All lithics were found in a small beach gravel deposit which was found across the beach and continued under the peat for a short distance. Lithics analysis suggests an early prehistoric date and confirmed a range of raw materials including flint nodules which occur naturally on the beach. Most of the finds are bipolar flakes and waste. The strongly bipolar nature of the technology is unusual, though it may be related to the very small nature of the flint nodules. The lithics have a sharp, unrolled appearance which suggests they were deposited without significant water rolling, perhaps soon after production. The high concentration of artefacts found at the upper part of the beach near and in test pit 1 suggests this may be the source though, it has most probably now largely eroded away. Some material was also found below the rock shelter in the rocks just above the high water mark, and had clearly fallen ultimately into the water here also, though whether surviving deposits survive underwater is not known. <2>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference NG 8735 5496 (point)
Map sheet NG85SE
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY

Finds (2)

  • FLAKE (Mesolithic to Late Bronze Age - 8000 BC? to 551 BC?)
  • CORE (Mesolithic to Late Bronze Age - 8000 BC? to 551 BC?)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

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