MHG63090 - Broad Cave - Rosemarkie


An archaeological survey and test pitting was undertaken between 2011 and 2015 by the Rosemarkie Caves Project.

Type and Period (2)

  • OCCUPATION SITE (Early Medieval to 19th Century - 561 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • CAVE (Occupied, Early Medieval to 19th Century - 561 AD? to 1900 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

The 2011-15 Rosemarkie Caves Project excavation report contains descriptive details of 14 caves which could potentially have been used as rock shelters in historic or pre-historic times.

From the results of our 2011-2015 programme of survey and test pitting, substantial evidence for lengthy use of the Rosemarkie Caves over the past 2000 years was gathered. A number of the caves, in particular the Learnie group, had been visited or occupied sometime during the 7th-9th centuries AD.

Broad Cave; situated just above the beach, this cave is more open that the other caves, and appears more like a rock shelter. The cave floor is at 5.5 metres OD. However, it is well sheltered and has the remains of a hearth in the centre of the floor, with a possible shell midden nearby. Although close to the beach, the outer rampart is 5 metres above it, making it 7 metres OD. The floor is 5.5 metres OD. One test pit was excavated along the WNW wall of the cave.

Test Pit 1
The test pit, measuring was 2 x 1 metres was set against the back of the cave (Figure 16), facing the sea (SE). The trench displayed a well-stratified sequence of archaeological material (Figure 17). Several pebble tools were recovered from the upper layers [001] and [002], which also contained butchered animal bone, shells and evidence for burning. Context [003] separated the upper deposits from the lower levels, where increased evidence of burning and midden material were noted. At the southeast end of the trench, a wood ash layer [005] abutted a large slab, suggesting that a possible hearth structure or surface was present. This overlay another charcoal-rich ash layer [006]. Below this, a thick midden layer [007] contained frequent animal bone, shell and charcoal fragments. Archaeological material may have continued below the base of the test pit, but excavation stopped due to depth and time constraints. A fragment of mammal bone from context [005], a sample of elm roundwood charcoal from context [006], a sample of elm charcoal from context [007] and a fragment of sheep/goat bone from context [007] were selected for radiocarbon dating.

Radiocarbon dates were obtained as follows;
Mammal mandible ramus - 1495‐1635 AD Calibrated 1‐sigma (68.2%) 1476‐1643 AD Calibrated 2‐sigma (95.4%)
Elm roundwood charcoal - 1522‐1646 AD Calibrated 1‐sigma (68.2%) 1488‐1654 AD Calibrated 2‐sigma (95.4%)
Elm charcoal (single entity) - 905‐1017 AD Calibrated 1‐sigma (68.2%) 895‐1022 AD Calibrated 2‐sigma (95.4%)
Mammal mandible - sheep/goat 1159‐1221 AD Calibrated 1‐sigma (68.2%) 1049‐1259 AD Calibrated 2‐sigma (95.4%) <1>

A list of caves, with grid references, is available on the Rosemarkie Caves Project website. <2>

Sources/Archives (6)



Grid reference Centred NH 7634 6137 (50m by 50m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH76SE
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (2)

External Links (3)

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