Evidence for two phases of occupation has been identified during evaluation trenching conducted by Dr Clare Ellis of Argyll Archaeology at Glenshellach, Oban. There has been a considerable amount of archaeological work conducted in Glenshellach over the last decade, asociated with the expansion of housing development into the area, of which the trial trenching conducted by Dr Ellis is the most recent phase. This work took place on the advice of the West of Scotland Archaeology Service, due to the high potential for both buried and upstanding remains to be present within the area proposed for development.
Prior to evaluation, it was known that part of the site was occupied by what appeared to be a post-medieval farmstead, the remains of which were visible as earthwork features. Six hand excavated trenches were dug over a four different structures within the farmstead complex. The pottery and abundance of bottle glass recovered from contexts associated with the farmstead indicate that the upstanding, visible features were extant in the 19th century. Interestingly, however, the farmstead does not appear to be depicted on the 1st Edition Ordnance survey map (1874), indicating that it had been abandoned by this time. A settlement named Glenshelach and comprising at least seven structure was depicted on Roy's Military Survey of Scotland, conducted in the period 1747-55, and this may coincide with the remains located and recorded during this evaluation. This suggests that the origins of the farmstead are likely to lie in the period before the widespread agricultural improvements of the late 18th and 19th centuries.
While the upstanding remains appear to be associated with the relatively recent past, evaluation trenching has also identified evidence for considerably earlier settlement. During trenching, it was noted that in many places on the site, the underlying bedrock lay below a thick deposit of silt-rich colluvium. Below this were identified a buried soil containing charcoal inclusions, postholes, and at least one ditch or gully, all buried beneath up to 0.80 m of hillwash. A rock cut ditch/gully and associated postholes may tentatively be interpreted as a roundhouse, while a possible curvilinear stone wall may also be some form of structure, again perhaps a roundhouse. It appears that significant prehistoric activity continued in this area following the abandonment of these features, as colluvium mixed with midden-like material caps at least one of teh stone structures. Although no dating evidence was recovered during the evaluation, the features appear typical of the prehistoric activity. Charcoal occurs in many of the feature fills, but it is unclear whether these are the remnants of domestic structures or relate to funerary practices. The features identified during trenching are buried by a significant depth of colluvium, but are not visible within it, indicating that at least some of the overlying material must have accumulated post-abandonment, as such a great depth of colluvium could not have been reworked by later cultivation.