A funerary landscape..?

Posted by on Jun 25, 2015 in Bronze Age, LiDAR, Public archaeology, Survey
A funerary landscape..?

We had a very productive day today! We were working in an area close to Broubster Village, a post-medieval settlement that was abandoned in the early 1950s. However, our focus was of course on the prehistoric traces in the landscape. The area was known to feature numerous hut circles and burial cairns, and we recorded a number of these for the first time. While the area was last surveyed in 1981, there are no plans/maps and it seems as though only a written record was created.

The northern end of our survey area contained numerous cairns, from large round cairns with the remains of cists poking out to smaller cairns that may or may not contain burials – around a third of these small cairns do contain human remains, but the majority simply relate to field clearance. Many, if not all, of the cairns had seen some form of excavation in the past, probably by antiquarian investigators looking for riches within! The number of burial monuments in this area suggests that we are looking at a funerary/ritual landscape.

This cairn has a large hollow in the top, and the stone in the photo is probably the capstone from a cist - a stone-lined box that would have contained an inhumation burial

This cairn has a large hollow in the top, and the stone in the photo is probably the capstone from a cist – a stone-lined box that would have contained an inhumation burial. Clearly someone has been exploring in here before!

The southern end of the survey area was more domestic/agricultural in nature, containing numerous hut circles. One of these had later had a drystone enclosure of sorts built over the top of it.

hut circle

You can see the curve of the hut circle sweeping around to the left hand side of the image, with a complex post-medieval animal pen/enclosure overlying the prehistoric remains

All in all, a very exciting day (thanks, participants!), but we must sign off now as Stratford Halliday is giving a talk at the Heritage Centre at 7.30pm tonight so we have preparations to make – hope to see you this evening!

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