MHG60588 - Horsehair Object - Kirtomy


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Type and Period (1)

  • FINDSPOT (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Horsehair object, found in peat during peatcutting, c4 feet (1.22 m) below the original surface of the bog from near Kirtomy (NMS X.unreg.). It was radiocarbon dated to 1110-1003 BC, calibrated to 1 sigma, as part of a project to date objects in the NMS collections, which was published in DES 2014/14.

This object, hitherto unpublished but for a note of its acquisition by the then-named National Museum of
Antiquities of Scotland in 1961/62 (Proc Soc Antiq Scot 95 (1961–62), 312, no 32), is of complex, coiled construction featuring bound bundles of horsehair plus a second organic material that had wholly disintegrated. Meticulous study of its construction by Audrey Henshall revealed that it consisted of four elements: a slightly domed ‘crown’, tubular ‘upper’ and ‘lower walls’ and a brim-like piece; the most plausible interpretation is that it had been a hat. The date establishes that this is a Middle to Late Bronze Age object, roughly contemporary with a piece of braided horsehair cordage from an enigmatic organic object found during peatcutting at Sheshader, Lewis and radiocarbon-dated to 2860±85 BP (OxA-3536, 1188–917 cal BC at 68.2% probability, 1262–834 cal BC at 95.4% probability: Sheridan and Saville 1992). These objects currently constitute the earliest radiocarbon-dated evidence for the use of the domestic horse in Scotland, the alleged ‘Beaker period’ horse tooth from Northton, Harris, having been shown to be of medieval date (Sheridan 2012b). While the Kirtomy object was a stray find, it should be noted that there is other evidence for activity during the second half of the second millennium BC in the area. <1>

Sources/Archives (1)



Grid reference Centred NC 7530 6250 (60m by 60m)
Map sheet NC76SE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish FARR

Finds (1)

  • HAT? (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC) + Sci.Date

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

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