Archaeology at Coultorsay Warehouse Site


Our new warehouse project is starting to look as if it might unearth some interesting stories.  We are of course obliged to undertake an archaeological investigation of the site to make sure that anything of historical interest is properly recorded before the diggers move in. In the vast majority of such developments, nothing of particular note is found – but on Islay anything is possible.

Our new warehouse site at Coultorsay just to the south of the distillery is to be accessed via a new road that is being constructed from the entry point at Port Ban, almost exactly half way between the villages of Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte.  All of which means that a significant amount of land has to be assessed by Guard Archaeology who have been assigned to the work.

The team from Guard have opened up around 8% of the total area of the site by digging a series of appropriately spaced exploratory trenches.  These are very early days, but the results have been encouraging in that while sites of interest meriting further investigation have been found, these are not in positions that will significantly interrupt the building work.

It is too early to say exactly what the archaeologists have discovered, but their investigations are now centring on three different places.  The first is located close to the access road above Port Ban, where shards of pottery and worked flints have been found in association with areas of charcoal and post holes.

A second small site close to the main warehouse complex shows a series of post holes which could be part of a circular construction of some kind.  The third area under investigation is much larger, and shows signs of what might be quite extensive activity.  Some of the excavations are revealing shards of burnt bone as well as charcoal – which bodes well for any radiocarbon dating work.  Discovering bone on pre-historic sites in Scotland is unusual because acidic soil conditions have often dissolved it.

It is still too early to assign dates to these sites, but informal indications suggest that they are prehistoric, i.e. probably more than two thousand years old.  We hope to bring you updates on progress with the investigations as they unfold over the next weeks and months.

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