Friday, 15 April 2016

Vikings & Picts

The area between Ben Hiant and Camas nan Geall , as well as being breathtakingly beautiful, is rich in archaeological remains which, if only we could interpret them, would give us priceless detail of the early history of western Ardnamurchan and of the west coast. The neolithic cairn and bronze age standing stone at Camas nan Geall tell us something of the religious background, but identifying the houses of people like the Picts and the Norse, whom we know lived here, is elusive.

The first field trip of the newly formed Ardnamurchan History & Heritage Association was to this area yesterday afternoon. Our guides were Cara Jones (left) and Phil Richardson (right, in red) of Archaeology Scotland's Adopt a Monument project, and we took them to three sites which we think are very old houses.

The site in this picture is a building of elongate, round-ended design and sunken floor which resembles known late Norse or mediaeval houses. However, short of a miraculous discovery of an artefact which conclusively proves its age, all we could do was.... admire it.

The second site, on Tornamona land, is buried under brambles but appears to be a roughly circular building with a 'tail' stretching towards the shore. For a moment Phil, who described it as 'figure of eight-shaped', seemed to suggest it might be Pictish, which would have been very exciting indeed, but.... all we could do was admire it.

The afternoon's last site involved some fairly hard walking across boggy ground, steep slopes and rocky burns in order to reach Camas nan Geall, where we had previously cleared....

....another building which we believe could be a very old house.

None of these buildings resemble the straight-edged, round-cornered houses that are characteristic of the clachan houses from the 18th through to the 19th centuries, after which squared-off corners became the norm. However, although this one is very well preserved, and has a couple of boulders in it which, having rolled down from the hill above, suggest it is old, dating it wasn't possible, so we.... admired it.

Ardnamurchan History and Heritage Association is a fully constituted group which has taken over from Ardnamurchan Community Archaeology. AHHA, as well as continuing the success of ACA in the archaeological field, hopes to draw in people who are more interested in the history and heritage of the area. Amongst other things, it hopes to capitalise on the success of Kilchoan Learning Centre's 'Ardnamurchan Memories' sessions, where people like Alastair, May and Mary recollect their childhood in a crofting community.

Many thanks to Cara and Phil for giving us so much of their time.
A few places are left for Ardnamurchan Memories 2


  1. Is there any chance someone could record or transcribe the Ardnamurchan Memories event? It sounds great and I'm sure a lot of people would love to hear it but can't be there on the day.

  2. I was going to say exactly the same as Michael. I would love to see the event but live hundreds of miles away. Maybe record the event and put online?

  3. Yes I would like to hear or see the talk on Ardnamuchan Memories any chance of you Jon put it on Kilchoan Blogspot under a heading so we all interested in Ardnamuchan Peninsular History could enjoy it.
    I will be Sailing in area again in July.

  4. Yes I too would very much like to hear the talk.

  5. A sound recording would be amazing....I expect there are complications but if it could be sold like Mary MacGilvery's book it would be a treasure and a source of funds for the project. Not simple I know