The SEARCH (Sheffield Environmental and Archaeological Research Campaign in the Hebrides) project began in 1987 and covers the Scotland's Outer Hebrides. The aim of the project is to investigate how human societies adapted in the long-term to the isolated environment of the Outer Hebrides.
The first major excavation on South Uist discovered that what was thought to be a shell midden at Cill Donnain was in fact a wheelhouse, a type of dwelling used in the period c.300 BC- AD 500; under which lay the remains of a Bronze Age settlement. This settlement was partly investigated by Marik Zvelebil in 1991 and then later by Mike Parker Pearson and Kate MacDonald in 2003. The site itself is situated at the foot of a high steep-sided dune on the eastern edge of a large sand valley, close to the western shore of Loch Cill Donnain.
The archaeological report of the excavation at the Cill Donnain wheelhouse shows that, in comparison with contemporary neighbouring settlements, it was unlikely that each was an independent unit and that they were linked by social and economic inter-dependency. The wheelhouse thus provides striking new evidence that contributes to developing theories about the social, material and economic life in the period.
This volume presents the extensive archaeological evidence found at the site, including pottery, faunal remains and a variety of bone and metal tools, illustrating that the Cill Donnain landscape is rich in archaeological sites of all periods from the Beaker to the post-Medieval.
Mike Parker Pearson is Professor of British Later Prehistory at University College London. A distinguished prehistorian he has been involved with many major projects, including leading the recent Stonehenge Riverside Project. His many publications include Stonehenge: Exploring the Greatest Stone Age Mystery (2012) and From Machair to Mountains: archaeological survey and excavation in Uist (2012).
Contents: LIST OF FIGURES LIST OF TABLES CONTRIBUTORS PREFACE Chapter 1: Introduction Mike Parker Pearson and Helen Smith Chapter 2: The excavations Marek Zvelebil and Mike Parker Pearson Chapter 3: Early-Middle Bronze Age (phase 1): a Cordoned Urn settlement Mike Parker Pearson with Kate MacDonald Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating (Jean-Luc Schwenninger) Pottery Chris Cumberpatch and (Mike Parker Pearson) Bone and stone tools (Mike Parker Pearson) The faunal remains (John Hamshaw-Thomas, Kim Vickers and Mike Parker Pearson) Chapter 4: Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age occupation (phase 2): eighth-early sixth centuries BC Mike Parker Pearson Chapter 5: Before construction of the wheelhouse (phase 3) Mike Parker Pearson Chapter 6: Construction and initial use of the wheelhouse (phases 4 and 5) Mike Parker Pearson and Marek Zvelebil Chapter 7: Modification and abandonment of the wheelhouse (phases 6-8) Mike Parker Pearson and Marek Zvelebil Chapter 8: The midden overlying the wheelhouse (phase 9) Mike Parker Pearson Chapter 9: The pottery Chris Cumberpatch Ceramic artefacts (Mike Parker Pearson) Chapter 10: The metal finds and industrial debris The copper-alloy artefacts ( Martin Dearne) The lead object (Mike Parker Pearson) The iron objects (Martin Dearne) Bronze-casting clay refractories (Mike Parker Pearson) The crucible (Mike Parker Pearson) The metalworking slag (Martin Dearne and Mike Parker Pearson) Fuel ash slag (Mike Parker Pearson) Chapter 11: The stone tools Mike Parker Pearson Chapter 12: Bone, ivory and antler tools and ornaments Mike Parker Pearson with species identification by John Hamshaw-Thomas and Kim Vickers Chapter 13: The faunal remains Kim Vickers with Saleem ul Haq and John Hamshaw-Thomas Chapter 14: The carbonised plant remains Pam Grinter and Soultana-Maria Valamoti Chapter 15: Marine mollusca Sean Bell and Karen Godden Chapter 16: Radiocarbon dating Peter Marshall and Gordon Cook Chapter 17: Conclusion: Cill Donnain's prehistoric landscape The evolution of settlement on Cill Donnain's machair (Mike Parker Pearson) Occupation and activity at Cill Donnain in the Iron Age (Mike Parker Pearson with Marek Zvelebil) The Cill Donnain III wheelhouse in the context of the Hebridean Iron Age (Mike Parker Pearson) Conclusion (Mike Parker Pearson) Appendix: Context list and phasing for the 1989, 1990 and 1991 excavations at Cill Donnain III