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A month of firsts for the archaeologist

28 May 2008

I arrived disorientated and fresh to the island in early May, somewhat like a migrant bird. Since then, I have been rushing about to see the island’s archaeological sites and accommodate the work parties and visitors. In addition, we have all been taken aback by the stunning weather, unbroken for almost 2 months! My first few weeks were spent re-surveying the island group as part of a 3-year joint project between the National Trust for Scotland and the Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. We were lucky to be joined by Mary Harman of Scottish Natural Heritage, whose intrepid fieldwork and research in the 1970s and 1980s laid the groundwork for an understanding of the island’s archaeology. We focussed in a number of areas; Carn Mor, Oiseval, Gleann Mor and Mullach Mor, and were surprised to find a considerable number of additional sites. Carn Mor in particular yielded an additional 60-70 sites, most of which were ephemeral but anthropogenic stores and hidey holes for birds harvested in this vast boulder field. In addition, a group of substantial sub oval ruins were noted at the base of Gleann Mor though agreement was not reached over their function or date. Since then, the first work party (multi talented and charismatic) has beavered away successfully repairing woodwork, cleits and undertaking all manner of small but vital tasks. However, renewing the drainage to the 1860s factors’ house has proved to be a task that will take a good deal of thought and extend long in to the summer…


Surveying cleits on Oiseval, overlooking Dun



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