Coldcairns

Because we are interested in all periods through time, one of the things we are trying to do is to investigate the changing use of the landscape itself. In part we have done this through our survey work, but we have also begun to excavate some sites that can tell us about changing use of the landscape. These include so-called ‘clearance cairns’, which can date from any period from the Bronze Age on, and represent the results of people clearing fields of stone in order to make them easier to farm. One such clearance cairn, close to Swordle Corrach, was excavated by the team in 2013. This showed that the ‘cairn’ was actually mainly 20th century rubble and rubbish that had been dumped into the remains of a structure formed partly of stone and partly of turf. No dating material was recovered from the site, but the form of the structure suggests it certainly predates the later phases of occupation at Swordle Corrach, and may date back to the use of the first structures there in the 17th century. In the future we hope to dig other clearance cairns as well as a selection of the field boundaries across the study area to gain a better understanding of the changing use of the landscape through time.

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