Thursday, 24 July 2014

Clearing the Archaeology at Camas nan Geall

A group of volunteers, some from Ardnamurchan but others from as far away as the Uists, joined Phil Richardson and Paul Murtagh of Archaeology Scotland and Sarah Ashford from Adopt-a-Monument to spend the day clearing the bracken, nettles, grass and other cover from the two main monuments at Camas nan Geall - the neolithic chambered cairn and the graveyard.  Picture shows Phil briefing us before we started, when the temperature was, at least, reasonable.

Paul was happy to demonstrate the scale of the task.  As can be seen, the bracken in the graveyard was well over head high and almost as high as the Bronze Age standing stone behind Paul.

Not that the scale of the vegetation, nor the steadily rising temperature were enough to dampen the enthusiasm of those taking part.  This is the graveyard at a point late in the morning when it had been largely cleared.  Note that Archaeology Scotland even provided drinks and biscuits.  Nor are....

....Archaeology Scotland the sort to expect nothing but hard labour from its volunteers.  Picture shows Phil and Paul teaching Wendy and Dave how to survey the rapidly emerging chambered cairn.

As the temperature soared towards its day's maximum of 32C.... yes, 32C....  the group was able to stand back and admire the results of its efforts.  The two complete Campbell gravestones, dating to the first part of the 18th century, are now clearly visible, along with a third, just to the right of them, broken and lying on its side, which....

....we'd never looked at closely before.  It has a number of carvings on it, but one is a skull with three crossed bones, and what looks like a larger bone beside it.

There's a huge amount of work to be done on the archaeology in the graveyard, so we're hoping that we'll be doing some 3-D digital survey work on it between 8th and 10th August; if anyone would like to join us, please contact Phil at

We're well aware that merely clearing the two sites in the middle of summer isn't enough.  The area needs proper management so that visitors and archaeologists can have good access to this historic site at all times so, with that in mind, we'll be talking to Phil and to the Ardnamurchan Estate, who were kind enough to allow us access, about how this can be achieved.

Many thanks to the hard-working team that came along - Jenny and Dave Kime, Jim Caldwell with his strimmer (which, understandably, overheated), Wendy Macfadyen, Mairi Stewart and Catherine MacLeod from the Uists, and Allyson and Andrew Perkins.

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