SAIR 18:The excavation of four caves in the Geodha Smoo near Durness, Sutherland
by Tony Pollard
with contributions by D Alldrit, J H Barrett, E Photos-Jones, R Cerón-Cerrasco, C Smith and R Squair
GUARD, Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ
Published in November 2005 by The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, in association with The Council for British Archaeology and Historic Scotland, in Adobe Acrobat format. Available free of charge (see Terms & Conditions of Use).
In response to the threat posed by marine and river erosion, a series of deeply stratified midden deposits was excavated in caves leading off a narrow, rock-cut inlet known as the Geodha Smoo, near Durness, Sutherland. These included the famous Smoo Cave (NGR: NC 4136 6714), at the southern end of the inlet; two smaller caves cut into the western wall of the inlet (Glassknapper's Cave and Antler Cave); and a fourth cave (Wetweather Cave) in the eastern wall. The majority of excavated deposits from these caves appear to relate to Viking/Norse or post-Norse activity, with fish bones, marine shells and mammal and bird bones representing the processing and consumption of marine and terrestrial foods. Possible evidence for metalsmithing in the form of iron slag and boat nails could suggest that boats were repaired in the sheltered inlet. Four radiocarbon dates from Smoo Cave and Glassknapper's Cave provide evidence for use of these sites between the eighth and 11th centuries AD. Convincing evidence for pre-Norse activity, although unsupported by radiocarbon dates, was recovered from Glassknapper's Cave in the form of probable Iron Age pottery, while late Neolithic pottery came from floor deposits in the Wetweather Cave.
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|Table of Contents|
|List of Illustrations|
|List of Tables|
|3.1 Background and methodology|
|3.2 The Smoo Cave section|
|3.3 Summary and interpretation|
|4||Glassknapper's Cave, Antler Cave and Wetweather Cave|
|4.1 Background and methodology|
|4.2 Glassknapper's Cave|
|4.3 Antler Cave|
|4.4 Wetweather Cave|
|5.1 Pottery by Robert Squair|
|5.1.2 General description of fabrics|
|5.1.3 Vessel catalogue|
|5.1.5 Depositional practices and post-depositional processes|
|5.2 Bone and antler artefacts by Tony Pollard (with species identifications by Catherine Smith)|
|5.3 Metal objects|
|5.3.1 Iron nails|
|5.3.2 Copper-alloy pin|
|6||Analysis of Slag and Fuel Samples from Smoo Cave by E Photos-Jones|
|7||Animal and Plant Remains|
|7.1 Animal bones from Smoo Cave by James H Barrett|
|7.2 The fish remains from Glassknapper's Cave, Antler Cave and Wetweather Cave by Ruby Cerón-Carrasco|
|7.3 The mammal and bird bone from Glassknapper's Cave, Antler Cave and Wetweather Cave by Catherine Smith|
|7.3.2 Species present|
|7.3.3 Age of animals at death|
|7.3.4 Economy of the site — evidence of butchery and bone working|
|7.4 Marine shells by Ruby Cerón-Carrasco|
|7.5 Plant remains by Diane Alldritt|
|7.5.4 Summary and overall conclusions|
|8||Conclusions and Discussion|
|8.1 Prehistoric activity|
|8.2 Viking/Late Norse and later activity|
Published by The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, in association with The Council for British Archaeology and Historic Scotland, in Adobe Acrobat format. Available free of charge (see Terms & Conditions of Use).
Use http://www.sair.org.uk/ to cite this page.
Page last modified by Seren Langley(firstname.lastname@example.org) on Tuesday 22 November 2005.