An initial evaluation undertaken by Argyll Archaeology Ltd in 2008 on a proposed development site served to identify the presence of a possible dispersed cremation cemetery at Crunachy Farm, Bridge of Awe. Following on from this, a second phase of work recently completed by Christine Rennie of Guard Archaeology Ltd has identified many more features that serve to confirm the significance of the site.
Section across pit filled with cobbles and small boulders, photo copyright Guard Archaeology Ltd
During the most recent phase of the work, topsoil was removed under close archaeological supervision from a number of areas of ground where development is proposed. This process revealed a large number of significant archaeological features and deposits, which were subsequently excavated.
Section across pit rich in charcoal and burnt bone, photo copyright Guard Archaeology Ltd
Ten pits of varying sizes and depths were identified during the removal of topsoil from the course of the main access road and two of the side roads. When these pits were excavated, five showed the type of scorching associated with in-situ burning, and of these, three were filled with material that included small amounts of burnt bone. Where burnt bone was encountered, the entirety of the fill was retained for post-excavation analysis, though this has not yet been completed. In addition to the pits, four postholes were excavated on the roads. Two of these were in close proximity to pits, but no distinct pattern indicating structure(s) could be discerned.
Section across stone-filled pit, photo copyright Guard Archaeology Ltd
Topsoil was also removed from one of the house plots within the area proposed for development, a process that revealed a further seven pits. Of these, five were found to contain significant amounts of charcoal and had indications of in-situ burning, although burnt bone was noted in the fill of only one. While four of these seven pits were very shallow, with only their bases remaining, the other three were substantially deeper, and some phasing was evident where one pit was cut by another. At the north and north-west of the plot, irregular patches of charcoal and burnt bone were visible below the topsoil. On investigation, these were found not to be individual pits, but deposits of burnt material partially covered by alluvial/fluvial yellow silt. Where these patches were visible, the charcoal and bone deposits were 100% removed.
The recent phase of work at Crunachy Farm has served to confirm the results of the initial evaluation. Post-excavation analysis of the various samples has yet to be completed, and further phases of on-site fieldwork will also be required as the development progresses.