Finds Recovered from the Site during August 2008

Posted by steven on 31/08/2008 at 10:39 AM

Follow the link to view some of the latest finds from the High Pastures site.....

During the month of August, we have continued to recover a steady stream of small finds from the High Pastures site, both in the surface trenches and underground in Bone Passage. I have included in this update a few of the more significant finds.

The image above shows a fine granite saddle quern recovered from Trench 15. The quern stone had been deposited in an upside down position, within a chaotic boulder fill above the course of the old streamway that once entered Bone Passage. The image below shows what remains of a small saddle quern manufactured from granite that has been subjected to damage by fire. The object had been deposited on top of a small setting of stones, upside down. This is the first complete saddle quern found at the site that has suffered such damage.

Trench 15 has continued to produce a steady trickle of interesting finds, which complements other material recovered from this core area of the site. Although no pottery has been found in these lower deposits in the trench, we have found items mixed in with the large deposits of animal bone that surrounds the mutiple hearth settings. These include antler and bone items including this antler tine point;

and these two bone points/awls, that were deposited on a working surface adjacent to a small hearth setting (see images below).

The points are manufactured on splinters of animal bone abd could have been used on a variety of everyday tasks including food preparation, working with leather/skins, or in the decoration of pottery.

Martin also recovered another soapstone (steatite) spindle whorl from the ash deposits surrounding one of the multiple hearth settings, adding to the four already found in this part of the site this year. The whorl (see image below) has quite a small hole through the centre and is quite light in weight, which questions the general interpretation that these objects are associated with the production of thread. If not used for spinning thread, then what could the purpose of these objects be, especially in the context of the High Pasture Cave site and their mode of deposition - which often includes several of the objects cached together?

Beyond the boundaries of Trench 15 the small finds are less frequent. However, we have recovered a number of well-preserved pottery sherds from water-washed gravel deposits in a natural depression at the north end of Bone Passage (Trench 17), adjacent to the ramp exit into the main stream passage. The pottery is quite fresh and has not suffered severe abrasion and was therefore most likely buried quickly; possibly during a catastrophic flooding event at the site prior to the construction of the stairwell. The pottery sherds, some of which are quite large and refit back together, includes a wide range of types - some of which are decorated. Some of the pottery was included in the last update on the Latest Finds page.

The images below show some of the smaller sherds, which may be Neolithic Hebridean Ware:

The excavations are almost complete in Bone Passage, but it is possible that a few more pottery sherds may be recovered.

Other finds recovered over the past month include haematite deposits including lumps with rubbing evident and partially processed deposits. We have also found several more coarse pebble tools, fragments of bone needles, two small flint flakes, two iron pin fragments and metalworking residues. However, one of the more intriguing objects recovered from the site during the past week was in Trench 20, where Tom Jamieson uncovered this fine bronze ring in burnt mound deposits.

The object was found in a dark, organic-rich burnt mound deposit, within the rock-cut feature in the possible entrance to the High Pastures site. Other finds from this deposit include a fragment of an iron pin and iron slag. The bronze ring is bevelled on both sides towards the central hole.

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