Digging Bronze Age Drumnadrochit

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One of the Beaker pots discovered during ongoing excavations of a Bronze age burial site in Drumnadrochit. (PHOTO: AOC Archaeology)

On the western shore of Lochness, the village of Drumnadrochit has been giving up a wealth of prehistoric secrets thanks to several excavations by AOC archaeology, undertaken ahead of various development projects.

Bronze age cists (a rectangular, stone-lined grave type) were discovered in the Kilmore area of the village in 2015 and 2017, and excavation this year has once again shown how rich the region’s prehistoric landscape is, with a third example found during an investigation ahead of a new care-housing development.

This latest example showed signs of having previously been disturbed, as the capstone was missing and one of the side slabs had collapsed, broken, into the grave. The acidity of the local soil meant that the remains of the individual from the cist had not survived (the grave’s size suggests it once contained a crouched burial), but fragments of a Beaker pot dating back 4,000-4,500 years were recovered.

The find emphasises this area’s importance as a Bronze age burial site. all three cists, as well as a fourth burial pit that was found during monitoring work, are on slightly raised ground overlooking a wide flat expanse between the River Enrick and the River Coilie on the edge of Glenurquhart Bay. The first discovery of the trio still contained male human remains, while an adjacent burial pit held a Beaker pot and archer’s wristguard. The second, which like the third was missing its burial, contained another whole Beaker vessel, as well as preserving traces of the cobbled flooring that had once covered the bottom of the grave.

During this latest excavation, the AOC archaeology team also discovered evidence of medieval farming activity in the area, which may have been responsible for at least some of the damage seen to these Bronze age burials, and which could also have destroyed other cists that were once present at this site. Finds dating to the Neolithic period were unearthed too, including pits containing pottery, burnt grain, and hazelnut shells. Further phases of work are continuing on the site.

This article appeared in CA 346.

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