Monday, 25 April 2016

Mystery Structure

Located to the south of Torr na Moine and along the coast to the west of Camas nan Geall, this thicket doesn't look of much interest, but members of Ardnamurchan History & Heritage Association had noticed that it hid....

....a stone structure which has a very unusual layout, one which, even after it had been cleared of the worst of the brambles, left more questions than answers.

Over the weekend, the group spent almost five hours on the site. This picture, looking south, shows the upper, oval-shaped area formed by what appears to be a poorly-constructed stone wall. An unusual feature of this is that, to the right of the picture, larger rocks can be seen balanced on smaller.

This picture looks southwest towards Mull and shows, running to the left of the oval structure, a 'tail' of rocks which narrows away downhill. Both oval structure and tail are raised above the level of the ground.

After clearing the structure the group enjoyed lunch with a view across the Sound of Mull to Tobermory and with a backdrop of the hills rising to the summit of Ben Hiant.

The afternoon was spent drawing a detailed plan of the site, a task which was none too easy as we're careful not to move anything except loose vegetation.

Even though it was painstakingly drawn, the plan has its limitations. It only shows those rocks which are visible at the surface, many of which are probably much larger than appear in the diagram, and it doesn't indicate the extent and height of the raised area which the structure occupies.

While we enjoyed speculating, we have no idea what the structure is. The oval area alone could be anything from an animal pen through to a roofed dwelling, but the walls are very poorly built and irregular in shape for the latter. One suggestion was that it was a burial cairn in which the large rocks formed a rough tomb, or cist, in the middle, and the smaller rocks covered them, but the structure was then crudely excavated. Another possibility is that the large stones were portal stones forming an entrance. Both these suggestions would explain why the large rocks are piled on top of the smaller on the west side.

Many thanks to Andrew Perkins for the plan drawing.

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