MHG59428 - LBA-EIA burnt mound - Coille Gaireallach


A late Bronze Age - early Iron Age burnt mound at Coille Gaireallach.

Type and Period (2)

  • BURNT MOUND (Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age - 1250 BC? to 1 AD?)
  • WATER TANK (Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age - 1250 BC? to 1 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A burnt mound (part of site LS06), identified by M Wildgoose in a walkover survey as part of the High Pasture Cave and Environs project. The burnt mound and an associated hut circle (see MHG55550) were subsequently excavated in 2011, with dating evidence placing initial occupation, including the burnt mound, during the late Bronze Age to early Iron Age.

The burnt mound was found within an elongated enclosure to the east of the hut circle. Two test pits were excavated in the hut circle and a third (TP3) was excavated within the enclosure. The test pit was placed in the centre of the enclosure and revealed a mass of burnt and shattered pebbles (burnt mound). A single sherd of Late Bronze Age decorated pottery, a fragment of a steatite (soapstone) tuyere and a quantity of iron slag were recovered from the exposed burnt mound material - the last two indicators of metal smelting close by. A later extension of this test pit to the south demonstrated that the burnt mound had been levelled sealing a collapsed sandstone slab tank which had been constructed within a cut into the local natural (Karstic clay) and that the enclosure wall overlay the burnt mound spread and was therefore later in date.

Site LS06 was later selected for more extensive study and two apposing quadrants (North & South) were excavated in 2011. Excavation demonstrated that the site had seen extensive use at the end of the Bronze Age or perhaps the beginning of the Iron Age when the central pit hearth and an arc of post within the northern quadrant were constructed. A single post found in Test pit 2 also belonged to this period and may represent part of an enclosure fence. The adjacent stone tank and burnt mound also date to this time. At a later date, perhaps during the Early to Middle Iron Age, the circular, stone walled, enclosure was constructed sealing the post hole in Test Pit 2. A slab hearth was also laid over the remains of the pit hearth. An activity horizon containing small abraded Middle Iron Age pottery sherds then accumulated sealing the earlier post holes in the northern quadrant. Subsequently the associated burnt mound was levelled concealing the tank and the rectangle enclosure was constructed over the spread burnt mound material and against the east side of the circular enclosure. It is possible that the circular structure was robbed of movable stone at this time. There was no evidence that the circular enclosure was roofed during the secondary activity (there were no contemporary post holes) and it is likely that the site served some other purpose — perhaps, initially, as the burnt mound and tank might suggest, as a forerunner to the High Pasture Cave site, and latterly perhaps as an animal enclosure related to the adjacent enclosure system before going out of use when the associated rectangular enclosure was constructed. <1>

See also <2> for a summary of the landscape survey project and test pitting campaign. <2>

The site was included in the ARCH Broadford Community Project. <3>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred NG 5978 1988 (19m by 11m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG51NE
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish STRATH

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (2)

External Links (2)

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.