MHG60875 - Urned and Un-urned Cremations - Fortrose and Rosemarkie Waste Water Works


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Type and Period (3)

  • CREMATION (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC) + Sci.Date
  • CREMATION CEMETERY (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC) + Sci.Date
  • PIT? (Mesolithic - 8000 BC to 4001 BC) + Sci.Date

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A desk-based assessment and archaeological watching brief was undertaken by Ross and Cromarty Archaeological Services (RoCAS) in 2012 at the site of the Fortrose and Rosemarkie Waste Water Works. Thirty-nine pit features were recorded and excavated during the fieldwork. Features 6-10 formed a tight cluster of pits to the northeast of the grain-drying kiln (F25) and formed a small funerary complex. Feature 6 was a steep-sided pit approximately 0.5m in diameter, which contained two fills. The upper fill contained significant amounts of alder and hazel charcoal, together with a coupleof indeterminate cereal grains. Due to its poor preservation and fragmentary nature, the cremated bone present could not be identified as human or animal. The lower fill contained charcoal flecks. The pit’s function remains undetermined as its contents could be interpreted as general domestic hearth waste, but its position in the cluster suggests a funerary association.
Feature 7 was also a steep-sided pit with a 0.4m diameter. Its upper fill contained alder and birch charcoal, together with a significant amount of cremated bone from a human adult, dated to 1740-1643 BC (SUERC-51511, calibrated to 1 sigma), and a small number of animal bone fragments. The surface of a small number of the bones were stained blue/green suggesting that they had been in contact with a copper alloy based item during the cremation process. Feature 8 was the largest pit in the cluster, measuring 1.12m x 0.94m x 0.48m deep, with steeply sloping sides and a flat base. Within the upper fill was a truncated Early Bronze Age Cordoned Urn. It was found upright and located off-centre, towards the north side of the pit next to a large stone. The urn contained the cremated remains of two individuals, a possible adult and sub-adult, dated to 1744-1665 BC (SUERC-51512, calibrated to 1 sigma), along with some cremated animal bone fragments. The surrounding matrix contained further cremated bone fragments and tiny fragments of birch and oak charcoal. During excavation, it seemed that the pit was overly large for the urn and, given the urn’s position in the pit, it was postulated that the pit had had a prior use. The lower fill contained birch charcoal with traces of alder, with the birch producing a Mesolithic date of 7027-6770 BC (SUERC-51493, calibrated to 1 sigma). This suggests that the pit had indeed been reused and gives a glimpse into earlier occupation of the site. Feature 9 was another small circular, steepsided pit with two fills. The upper fill contained cremated human bone, together with alder charcoal and some carbonised barley grain. The lower fill contained only small amounts of alder charcoal. It would appear that alder was the chosen pyre fuel in this case and the presence of the cereal grains suggests that offerings of food were placed on the pyre along with the body. Finally, Feature 10, a small circular pit, similar in shape and size to F6-7 and F9 contained an inverted Early Bronze Age bipartite urn, which was virtually complete; about a quarter of its rim was missing. Interestingly, this gap had been filled by a large sherd from a different, but similar-looking, pot. The urn contained the cremated remains of a single adult, identified as suffering from osteoarthritis and dated to 1770-1684 BC (SUERC-51513, calibrated to 1 sigma), although the majority of the cremated bone recovered was from the matrix surrounding the pot. This matrix also contained alder charcoal from the pyre. F10 was the only funerary pit to produce grave goods: a copper alloy awl and three fired clay beads, one oblate and two fusiform. All the beads had passed through the funeral pyre, so are likely to have been worn by the deceased during the cremation process; it is probable that the awl also passed through the pyre. <1> <2>

The excavation assemblage from the site was allocated by Treasure Trove (TT 186/14) to Cromarty Courthouse Museum. <3>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred NH 7308 5710 (3m by 3m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH75NW
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY

Finds (6)

  • CREMATION (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC)
  • CORDONED URN (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC)
  • CEREAL GRAIN (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC)
  • BIPARTITE URN (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC)
  • AWL (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC)
  • BEAD (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (1)

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