MHG58707 - Rockshelter and Midden - Loch a Sguirr 1


A rock shelter and midden dating to the Mesolithic, investigated by the Scotland's First Settlers Project.

Type and Period (2)

  • ROCK SHELTER (Mesolithic to Late Iron Age - 8000 BC to 560 AD?) + Sci.Date
  • MIDDEN (Mesolithic to Late Iron Age - 8000 BC to 560 AD?) + Sci.Date

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A rockshelter and midden was investigated by the Scotland's First Settlers Project in 1999. This site lay adjacent to SFS 18 (MHG35897), Loch a Sguirr 2, and was the smaller of two rockshelters that lay above the sea cliff at the north-western edge of Raasay. The entrance was situated on a rock ledge with a 2m drop to the open platform below and had a large boulder to the front. The boulder restricts access to the shelter, although it also provided some shelter from the prevailing winds. The shelters were cut into the vertical rock face and appeared quite distinctive because of the coloured bands running through the rock. A midden was visible in both shelters. Loch a Sguirr lay at the heart of the area of study and had views to all directions from the hills above the site.
Two test pits were excavated within the shelter, one deep inside and the other in the south-east sector of the shelter where shellfish, bone and lithics had previously been recovered. 149 lithics were recovered. The knappers here worked both quartz and baked mudstone. Some chalcedonic silica was used at this site, but there is no Rùm bloodstone. There were some pieces of fine quartz, including six regular blades, but the quartz was of such variable quality that much of it has flaked into small chunky pieces, hence the general over-representation of debitage. There was no retouched artefacts from this assemblage. 3 bevel ended tools, a single sherd of pottery and a bone and shell assemblages were also found.
Three radiocarbon dates were obtained. Two of these confirm activity in the Mesolithic (6230-6000 BC and 6640-6250 BC) and the third, from charcoal in a lower spit, suggests disturbance, dating to the Iron Age (170 BC- AD 50).
Only a small amount of archaeological material was recovered from this site, but indicates that the rockshelter was occupied in the Mesolithic. The lithic assemblage is generally undiagnostic. The six blades together with the bevel-ended bone tools all suggest Mesolithic activity and this was supported by the radiocarbon determinations, two of which dated to the 7th millennium BC. The third radiocarbon determination from SFS 8 was interesting in view of the later material (pottery) from the adjacent rockshelter, SFS 18. It indicated activity around or later than the mid second century BC to the mid first century AD and the two may well be related. Erosion appeared to have removed many of the archaeological deposits here. Neither the talus slope nor the platform in front of the shelters contained any archaeological material. <1>

See link below to published Scottish Archaeological Internet Report 31 for futher information and radiocarbon dates. See also link below to Scottish Radiocarbon Database.

Sources/Archives (1)



Grid reference Centred NG 6084 5286 (20m by 20m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG65SW
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish PORTREE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (2)

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