Broadcast 18 January 2004
Videotext Communications was commissioned by Channel 4 to carry out an archaeological evaluation as part of the Time Team television series on the shore of Loch Migdale, Sutherland, Highlands (centred on NH 625 916).
The archaeological evaluation comprised a geophysical survey and trial trenches, which were located across a crannog, a henge and a hut circle. The opportunity was also taken to examine a number of additional features, including a cairn, two hollows and a shieling. The work was undertaken over three days in March 2003.
The crannog was examined by a team of four underwater archaeologists led by Dr Nicholas Dixon, Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology. Dr Dixon concluded that there was no doubt that the remains discovered underwater at Loch Migdale are those of an artificial island or crannog connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway. It was suggested initially that, on the basis of the tool marks on the timbers, that the crannog may be of Late Bronze Age date, though two radiocarbon determinations support an Iron Age date which is consistent with the evidence from many other crannogs.
The henge had an external bank and internal ditch and single, east-facing, entrance. The single entrance would allow it to be classified as a Class 1 henge but the small size, a mere 12 m diameter, is consistent with its classification as a mini-henge. Although no dating evidence was recovered, the monument is likely to date to the Later Neolithic or Earlier Bronze Age.
Examination of the hut circle was very limited and no dating evidence was recovered. It is likely to date to the prehistoric period. There was similarly no dating evidence from the cairn although the presence of a kerb and a central feature that may have held a timber post recalls prehistoric monuments such as ring cairns and kerb cairns. The recurrent association of henges and other ritual or funerary monuments is well known.
None of the three sites, the henge, the cairn or the hut circle has been firmly dated. It seems likely on morphological grounds, that the former is of Later Neolithic or Earlier Bronze Age date. The cairn and hut circle could also be of this date, and provide a domestic element to the Bronze Age landscape of which these more substantial monuments are only the immediately obvious elements.
The evaluation has produced important new information on the prehistory of the area. It is recommended that the results of this project are more widely disseminated through an appropriate level of publication in an academic archaeological journal.