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Rare Bronze Age Metal Work Site Found on Eigg

Rare Bronze Age metal working site found on Eigg
A Bronze Age metal working site, one of only about 30 known in Britain, has been excavated at Galmisdale on the island of Eigg. The site - in the shelter of a large earthfast boulder - was found by chance when an islander, Brigg Lancaster, was trying to bury his cat.

Digging deep, Mr Lancaster struck archaeological layers. Having some experience of metal working, he recognised the fragmentary remains as crucibles and clay casting moulds. A team of archaeologists from the Scottish Royal Commission happened to be surveying the island at the time and visited the site, which was later excavated by Trevor Cowie of the National Museum of Scotland.

Moulds for at least two socketed axes and a knife were found - dated typologically to about 1000-800 BC - as well as a blue glass bead, a small bronze offcut and quantities of charcoal. According to Mr Cowie, the site could represent the visit of an itinerant smith to a Bronze Age village, marked by hut circle remains nearby.

Also found at the foot of the boulder was a cache of over 40 flint flakes and tools thought to be of Neolithic or Early Bronze Age date, testifying to the importance of the boulder as an enduring feature of the landscape over several millennia. Excavations will probably continue this summer.

Meanwhile, among the discoveries made by the Royal Commission survey of the island was an Iron Age roundhouse giving access, perhaps once by steps, into an underground cave, possibly an oracle site. The cave, extremely difficult to reach in a cliff of scree, contained two 'double-decker bus-sized' slabs of rock facing one another - like the 'thighs of a mother goddess', according to the Commission's surveyor David Cowley - with some bits of walling between to create a squared-off area Iron Age underground ritual sites, such as Mine Howe in Orkney, recall the importance of the 'gods of the underworld' in Iron Age society.

from British Archaeology Feb 02
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
10th April 2002ce
Edited 30th August 2007ce

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