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02 October 2013
Autumn Update

The Ulster University visit in September was the busiest yet, with digs going on at four different places at the same time.

Audrey Horning, Professor, Chair of Archaeology at Queen’s University Belfast, extended the excavations at Ardskenish. Despite a couple of truly miserable days, weatherwise, she continues to be very excited by the extent and variety of remains there and would like to continue to extend excavation there to build up a fuller picture of the settlement there.

Roddy Reagan, archaeologist, explored a number of sites at Beinn Bheag at the far end of Kiloran Bay, ably assisted by Esme Marshall, our most enthusiastic resident, who was lucky enough to find a number of pieces of pottery thought to be from the iron age. Roddy was very excited to have evidence of such early occupation of the site.

Colin Breen, archaeologist and senior lecturer from Ulster University, and John Raven, Inspector of Ancient Monuments with Historic Scotland and a specialist in Hebridean and landscape archaeology, assisted by Kevin Byrne, our own local historian, were lost in the hills above Loch Fada in a vain search for evidence of habitation before coming back to expose more of the Port Mor cottage excavated in May. We were joined there by the children from Kilchattan School who have now had the opportunity to extend their skills by joining in at three of the sites on the island. A number of interesting finds were made, including 19c pottery, glass, a bone hair clip and a metal pin: all clues to our past.

Marianne O’Connor, geomorphologist and Research Associate (in Heritage Conservation) at Ulster University, was back doing more GPS topographical surveying, although was thwarted in one location by the beginning of silage making! Her work will help us get a clearer picture of the coastal changes on the island over time.

Sharon Webb, Director and Curator of Kilmartin House Museum held a very informative workshop at our temporary premises in the Old Generator Shed, where she talked us through how to identify and catalogue a variety of archaeological finds before allowing us some ‘hands on’ time, carefully cleaning up some of Esme’s finds from Beinn Beag. While this was going on we were able to pick Sharon’s brain regarding the Trust’s plans for the future: an informative day!

Max Hope, a geographer interested in the social dimensions of environmental issues, joined us for the final two days. His role is to understand how our community is using heritage as part of our sustainable development activities. His research on the island will be of great help when we apply for funding for our centre.

And now we look forward to their return in November when they will present their findings to the community through an exhibition and talk.

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