Fieldwalking in Sutherland Day 8: Walking adjacent to Càrn Liath broch

To the east of Golspie the study area landscape is rather different. We are no longer walking around the fringes of a former estuary but are now higher above the sea on top of a fossil cliff. There are commanding views south across the Dornoch and Moray Firths.

Ploughed land overlooking the sea. (Photo: Aaron Watson)

Here, the remains of the Iron Age broch known as Càrn Liath today offer a landmark for anyone journeying along the A9. This afternoon we began work in fields immediately alongside this impressive structure, although we are looking for the people who walked this land over a thousand years before its construction.

Fieldwalking with Càrn Liath broch in the background. (Photo: Aaron Watson)

In contrast to many of the fields further west which are low-lying and likely to have been close to the prehistoric sea level, we immediately encountered a scatter of worked fragments of an orange-brown coloured stone. This was not flint but possessed similar qualities as a raw material. It seems likely that a source of this stone was discovered nearby and exploited. We also recorded burnt and melted materials which might derive from iron smelting, possibly in association with the nearby broch.

Many thanks to Pat Scott and Dorothy Low for help with the project, the local farmers for their support, and to the Coffee Bothy café in Golspie for their hospitality and hot drinks.

Further information:

The fieldwalking project at Loch Fleet is a collaboration between Richard Bradley, Aaron Watson, Ronnie Scott and Annette Jack. It is part of a wider investigation into the role of marine transportation in the Neolithic and Bronze Age of Britain and Ireland. The Sutherland project develops upon a survey focused upon the Culbin Sands, near Findhorn, in 2014. For more details please see:

Maritime Havens in Earlier Prehistoric Britain, by Richard Bradley, Alice Rogers, Fraser Sturt, Aaron Watson, Diana Coles, Julie Gardiner and Ronnie Scott. 2016. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 82, 1-35.
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The Earlier Prehistoric Collections from the Culbin Sands, Northern Scotland: the Construction of a Narrative, by Richard Bradley, Aaron Watson and Ronnie Scott. 2016. In Ancient Lives: Object, people and place in early Scotland. Essays for David V Clarke on his 70th birthday, edited by Fraser Hunter and Alison Sheridan. Leiden: Sidestone Press, 233-43.
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