Excavations at Cill Donnain: A Bronze Age Settlement and Iron Age Wheelhouse in South Uist

Overview

The SEARCH (Sheffield Environmental and Archaeological Research Campaign in the Hebrides) project began in 1987 and covers the Scotland's Outer Hebrides. The aim of the project is to investigate how human societies adapted in the long-term to the isolated environment of the Outer Hebrides.

The first major excavation on South Uist discovered that what was thought to be a shell midden at Cill Donnain was in fact a wheelhouse, a type of dwelling used in the period c.300 BC – AD ...

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Overview

The SEARCH (Sheffield Environmental and Archaeological Research Campaign in the Hebrides) project began in 1987 and covers the Scotland's Outer Hebrides. The aim of the project is to investigate how human societies adapted in the long-term to the isolated environment of the Outer Hebrides.

The first major excavation on South Uist discovered that what was thought to be a shell midden at Cill Donnain was in fact a wheelhouse, a type of dwelling used in the period c.300 BC – AD 500; under which lay the remains of a Bronze Age settlement. This settlement was partly investigated by Marik Zvelebil in 1991 and then later by Mike Parker Pearson and Kate MacDonald in 2003. The site itself is situated at the foot of a high steep-sided dune on the eastern edge of a large sand valley, close to the western shore of Loch Cill Donnain.

The archaeological report of the excavation at the Cill Donnain wheelhouse shows that, in comparison with contemporary neighbouring settlements, it was unlikely that each was an independent unit and that they were linked by social and economic inter-dependency. The wheelhouse thus provides striking new evidence that contributes to developing theories about the social, material and economic life in the period.

This volume presents the extensive archaeological evidence found at the site, including pottery, faunal remains and a variety of bone and metal tools, illustrating that the Cill Donnain landscape is rich in archaeological sites of all periods from the Beaker to the post-Medieval.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781782976271
  • Publisher: Oxbow Books Limited
  • Publication date: 6/30/2014
  • Pages: 272

Table of Contents

Contents:

LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF TABLES
CONTRIBUTORS
PREFACE

Chapter 1: Introduction
Mike Parker Pearson and Helen Smith

Chapter 2: The excavations
Marek Zvelebil and Mike Parker Pearson

Chapter 3: Early-Middle Bronze Age (phase 1): a Cordoned Urn settlement
Mike Parker Pearson with Kate MacDonald
Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating (Jean-Luc Schwenninger)
Pottery Chris Cumberpatch and (Mike Parker Pearson)
Bone and stone tools (Mike Parker Pearson)
The faunal remains (John Hamshaw-Thomas, Kim Vickers and Mike Parker Pearson)

Chapter 4: Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age occupation (phase 2): eighth–early sixth centuries BC
Mike Parker Pearson

Chapter 5: Before construction of the wheelhouse (phase 3)
Mike Parker Pearson

Chapter 6: Construction and initial use of the wheelhouse (phases 4 and 5)
Mike Parker Pearson and Marek Zvelebil

Chapter 7: Modification and abandonment of the wheelhouse (phases 6–8)
Mike Parker Pearson and Marek Zvelebil

Chapter 8: The midden overlying the wheelhouse (phase 9)
Mike Parker Pearson

Chapter 9: The pottery
Chris Cumberpatch
Ceramic artefacts (Mike Parker Pearson)

Chapter 10: The metal finds and industrial debris
The copper-alloy artefacts ( Martin Dearne)
The lead object (Mike Parker Pearson)
The iron objects (Martin Dearne)
Bronze-casting clay refractories (Mike Parker Pearson)
The crucible (Mike Parker Pearson)
The metalworking slag (Martin Dearne and Mike Parker Pearson)
Fuel ash slag (Mike Parker Pearson)

Chapter 11: The stone tools
Mike Parker Pearson

Chapter 12: Bone, ivory and antler tools and ornaments
Mike Parker Pearson with species identification by John Hamshaw-Thomas and Kim Vickers

Chapter 13: The faunal remains
Kim Vickers with Saleem ul Haq and John Hamshaw-Thomas

Chapter 14: The carbonised plant remains
Pam Grinter and Soultana-Maria Valamoti

Chapter 15: Marine mollusca
Sean Bell and Karen Godden

Chapter 16: Radiocarbon dating
Peter Marshall and Gordon Cook

Chapter 17: Conclusion: Cill Donnain’s prehistoric landscape
The evolution of settlement on Cill Donnain’s machair (Mike Parker Pearson)
Occupation and activity at Cill Donnain in the Iron Age (Mike Parker Pearson with Marek Zvelebil)
The Cill Donnain III wheelhouse in the context of the Hebridean Iron Age (Mike Parker Pearson)
Conclusion (Mike Parker Pearson)

Appendix: Context list and phasing for the 1989, 1990 and 1991 excavations at Cill Donnain III

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