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Carding Mill Bay Fissure

Oban, Carding Mill Bay, Argyllshire.

NGR:NM 84700 29400
WGS84:56.40761, -5.49124
Length:Not recorded
Vert. Range:Not recorded
Altitude:Not recorded
Geology:Not recorded
Tags:Fissure, Archaeo

Fissure in small bay on SE of Sound of Kerrera about ½ mile from Oban along minor shore road to Gallanach.

Alternate Names: None recorded.

Notes: Conglomerate cliffs 50 - 60m high with narrow strip of land between base and sea. Underlying conglomerates, visible at tide level, steeply inclined bands of sandstone. Scree accumulated at foot of cliffs removed 1988, to provide space for house building, revealed traces of archaeological deposits indicated by large accumulation of shells. Unfortunately considerable quantity removed & used for infill of house site & parking area.

Inspection revealed human mandible (juvenile) adhering to cliff face & some human bone lying on undisturbed material. Main deposits at base of cliff & in V-shaped fissure. Some slight traces of material adhering to main cliff face & sides of fissure. in narrowest part, not reached by digger, material consisted of tightly packed stones & earth extending upwards to 4m, top approx. height as scree before removal.

Human bone lay on surface of undisturbed material, within fissure, on top of & between quantity of thin sandstone slabs. Slabs could not have fallen from conglomerate cliff above & most likely were imported from underlying sandstone on shoreline. Possible disturbed cist burial . Disturbance probably not recent as stones showed no sign of fresh fracture. Not complete skeleton, only small fragment of skull present. Position of bones indicated degree of articulation. Small flint, possibly of Bronze Age type recovered immediately beneath bones. Later discovery of single rim sherd of pottery, though not stratified within same layer but from adjacent layer may be related. Slightly below level of the cist stones & apparently unrelated, further human bone with number of slightly articulated vertebrae may represent earlier inhumation. Beneath skeletal remains fairly compact deposit of mainly limpet shells mixed with charcoal stained soil. 2 distinct layers of deposition separated by thin layer of highly crushed shell. Within deposits large number of bone artefacts recovered, mostly fragments of antler varying from about 2cm to 6.5cm in length, rounded on one or sometimes both ends, commonly referred to as 'limpet scoops'. Number of quartz fragments, possibly worked, also present. Very good charcoal samples retrieved from each of layers. At base of deposits oblong box-shaped portion of dark soil 56cm x 22cm x 14cm present. Shell midden material tightly packed against both sides but no shell beneath and feature must therefore be earlier. May represent 'ghost' remains of decayed balk of timber appearing artificially squared off. Not possible to remove build up of stones from narrowest part of fissure until most of midden material dealt with. These layers contained very little significant material except for some human bone including mandible & 4 pieces vertebra in definite articulation. No other skull material was present & no long bones. Final stages of excavation involved removal of material adhering to face of cliff face undesirable to remove earlier in order to avoid contamination. From this only significant material was small quantity of human bone & teeth. From this area initial find of human mandible emanated suggesting possible disturbed burial.

Material from site processed by SDD Historical Buildings and Monuments Archaeological Operations & Conservation Department but no results yet. Indications of further shell midden remains within a few metres.

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This entry was last updated: 2018-02-06 19:09:41

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