Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk

Loch Paible

Community excavation

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Intertidal excavations, Loch Paible
Intertidal excavations, Loch Paible

For some years local residents have been finding and reporting worked bone, pottery and wooden objects eroding out of a peat layer at the mouth of Loch Paible. These are associated with the possible remains of stone buildings and structures. The channel that drains the Loch periodically changes it's course. Currently it is cutting into the site causing large lumps of peat, and the archaeology it contains, to break off and fall into the sea at every high tide. The area contains five of our high priority sites recorded in the Coastal Zone Assessment Survey of North Uist, and the rate of erosion has increased dramatically in recent years. Access Archaeology, the local archaeology society in North Uist, contacted us to see if something could be done to rescue information and artefacts from the site before it was too late. Supported by the Western Isles Council, the Loch Paible ShoreDIG was a community archaeological evaluation to find out more about the site.

The excavation revealed evidence of stone structures, ditches and pits. However, much of the archaeology had already been destroyed by erosion. Four radiocarbon dates from animal bone and worked wood produced dates of around 2000 years ago, which puts the site in the Iron Age. It looks like the archaeology is related to the nearby fortified headland of Dun Steingarry which also dates from this period.