Reports on two pieces of recent fieldwork conducted on Gigha have demonstrated the high levels of archaeological survival that may be expected on this island. Both excavations were conducted by Clare Ellis of Argyll Archaeology in response to conditions placed on planning council by Argyll and Bute Council, on the advice of the West of Scotland Archaeology Service.
In the first of these pieces of fieldwork, a watching brief was maintained on the removal of topsoil from along the length of a new access road to Tigh an Rubha. WoSAS considered that monitoring was required due to the length of the proposed new access and because it ran through an area containing a number of recorded sites, providing evidence for settlement, burial and ritual activity, which suggested that the area had the potential to produce additional and previously-unrecorded buried remains. This interpretation proved to be correct, as monitoring revealed the presence of two groups of pits. Three of these were interpreted as fire-pits, as they were located in sheltered hollows within a generally fairly open landscape. The wind-blown sand below two of the pits had been affected by heat, while gravel below a third showed indications of having been exposed to in situ burning on more than one occasion. The largest pit was 1.50 m x 0.75 m, sub-rectangular in plan, 0.10 m deep and shallowed to nothing at its northern end; this feature was shared by all three pits, a consequence perhaps of the removal of charcoal. Fragmentary charcoal, in which cut twigs as well as roundwood was clearly visible, was the dominant fill of all three pits. The implication is that the same process was taking place in all three pits, perhaps the deliberate production of charcoal or perhaps the smoking of food. A further possible pit and a stakehole/posthole were excavated during the course of a topsoil strip for a new access road, though no artefacts were recovered. Post-excavation work to identify the species and nature of the wood burnt in the pits has still to take place, as has radiocarbon dating.
A spread of charcoal was also identified in the second piece of fieldwork conducted on Gigha by Argyll Archaeology. Dr Ellis was again appointed to undertake monitoring of the initial phase of ground disturbance during the construction of a fourth wind turbine and associated access road at Achamore Farm. Unlike at Tigh an Rubha, the charcoal spread at Achamore was not within a cut, and Dr Ellis suggested that it was more likely to result from recent agricultural activity. The land is fairly flat and despite the occurrence of linear ridges of bedrock the soil is relatively deep and moderately free draining. In addition to monitoring of ground disturbance, a quick walkover survey was carried out in the same field as the turbine, which revealed a series of clearance cairns and relicfield boundaries, attesting to the historic cultivation of the land. Apart from the small spread of charcoal no other features of archaeological or historical significance were observed during the controlled topsoil strip.