04 July 2010
The Excavation

There was a preliminary survey of the site on Sunday 20th June when Eric Grant, Alastair Morton, Simon Gunn and excavation leader Hugo Lamdin-Whymark had a good look at the cave and decided on strategy. Actual work started on 21st June, when two Landrover loads of gear was taken to the beach below the cave. The morning was spent erecting the marquee that was to be our base for the next fortnight. Trenches were started after lunch.

There were 3 trenches in the cave itself : 1,2 and 5. Trench 3 was across the two spoil heaps, while Trench 4 was in a stone ruin that revealed itself once the braken was removed.

Samples of all contexts were wet-sieved to reveal a large number of shells, mostly winkles with limpets. Other finds were many animal bones, some with cut marks. We found two bone artefacts, a rough pin or awl and another smoothed off, but incomplete. There was quite a quantity of pieces of pottery and china, with 5 small pieces of older pottery. There was much glass, much of which will be modern, small pieces of metal objects and many rounded beach stones which will be closely examined to check for their use as tools. The best find was a saddle-quern rubber in excellent condition.

We were very lucky with the weather, with only the occasional shower to drive us inside. As a result we completed the excavation two days early.

We had several objectives. We wanted to investigate whether this was the cave that Dr MacLean had excavated, and how he did it. We concluded that the cave had been excavated, probably by MacLean and his crew digging out 1-1.5 metres of floor, sieving it and depositing it in a large spoil heap outside the cave.

We also wanted to check the cave for early inhabitation. We found no stone or flint tools that could support this. However, above the rock base of the cave was a thick layer of soil with many winkle shells and much charcoal. Analysis should enable us to find the earliest date of this. Further investigation of the lowest layers of the cave could be done in future, but the slope of talus outside the cave would make this hazardous.

We have begun to understand the history of this cave and hope that analysis of charcoal, bones and other finds will build up a fuller picture.



sitemap | cookie policy | privacy policy | accessibility statement