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From Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist

By: Michael Parker Pearson (Editor)

480 pages, b/w illus

Oxbow Books

Paperback | Jan 2012 | #199684 | ISBN-13: 9781842174517
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £34.99 $43/€39 approx

About this book

South Uist in the Outer Hebrides has some of the best preserved archaeological remains within Britain and even further afield. Three distinct ecological zones – grassland machair plain, peaty blackland and mountains – each bear the imprint of human occupation over many millennia. The machair strip, long uninhabited, is filled with hundreds of settlement mounds, occupied from the Beaker period 4,000 years ago until a few centuries ago. The blacklands bear the traces of past farming practices as well as the remains of medieval settlements, more recent blackhouses and lochs containing duns, brochs and crannogs. In the hills lie the upstanding remains of shielings, Iron Age wheelhouses and Neolithic chambered tombs.

The results of large-scale excavations of Bronze Age houses (Cladh Hallan), an Iron Age broch (Dun Vulan), Viking settlements (Bornais and Cille Pheadair) and post-medieval blackhouses (Airigh Mhuillin), combined with extensive surveys and small-scale excavations that have identified hundreds of new sites, are being brought together in a series of volumes to provide an invaluable record and assessment of South Uist's archaeology covering the last 6,000 years. The large set-piece excavations are to be published in separate monographs. The results of the surveys and small-scale excavations are presented here.

"This volume deserves wide readership. It helps define a continuing research agenda for South Uist, thus raising the archaeological profile of these islands. The strength of this book is that, by bringing together the results of survey and excavation, it successfully provides a detailed account and assessment of the archaeology of South Uist which will be invaluable for future researchers."
– Gary Robinson, Archaeological Journal (Vol. 169)


1. Introduction (Mike Parker Pearson and Helen Smith)

Part I: Survey
2. The machair survey (Mike Parker Pearson)
3. The blacklands survey: Cill Donnain and Gearraidh Bhailteas townships (Andrew Fleming)
4. The mountains survey: Loch Aoineart (John Moreland)
5. The chambered cairns of South Uist (Vicki Cummings, Cole Henley and Niall Sharples)
6. Duns, brochs and crannogs of South Uist (John Raven)
7. The shielings survey: central South Uist (John Raven)
8. Upland settlement in southern South Uist (Rachel Grahame)

Part II: Excavation
9. Loch a’ Choire Neolithic settlement (Cole Henley)
10 Early Bronze Age Settlements at Machair Meadhanach and Cill Donnain (Mike Hamilton and Niall Sharples)
11. The Beaker-period and Early Bronze Age settlement at Sligeanach, Cill Donnain (Niall Sharples)
12. Excavations of an Iron Age islet settlement in Upper Loch Bornish (Pete Marshall and Mike Parker Pearson)
13. Excavations on Aisgernis and Frobost machair (Mike Parker Pearson)
14. Excavations at Cille Donnain church (Mike Parker Pearson)
15. Excavations at Medieval Gearraidh Bhailteas (Garryvaltos), Milton (James Symonds)
16. Excavations at A Beinn na Mhic Aongheis (the Hill of the Son of Angus), Bornais (Mike Parker Pearson, Pete Marshall and Helen Smith)
17. Excavation of early modern, early historic and prehistoric sites in Kirkidale (John Moreland)

Part III: Historical and Geographical Studies
18. Locheynort (Loch Aoineart) in the historical period (Gill MacLean)
19. The ethnohistory of Hebridean agriculture (Helen Smith)

Part IV: Conclusion
20. Settlement, agriculture and society in South Uist before the Clearances (Mike Parker Pearson)

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