A watching brief undertaken by Dr Claire Ellis of Argyll Archaeology during work to construct a micro hydro-electricity generation scheme at Kildalloig, Kintyre, has identified a number of features that appear to relate to prehistoric activity in the area. The work was required as a condition of planning consent because the proposed route of the buried pipeline would pass reasonably close to the location of a cist, found during ploughing on Ballimenach Farm in 1961. Although excavated at the time, the cist was subsequently reburied, meaning that there was some potential for it to be re-identified during construction of the hydro scheme; it was also considered possible that additional examples may survive in the vicinity.
Prior to the watching brief, the route of the proposed pipeline was subject to a walkover survey. This identified a small piece of grey / white flint with the cortex still attached, which was recoevered froma mole hill close to the reported location of the cist. The flint flake had no sign of retouching, and had not been burnt, indicating that it was unlikely to have derived from the practise of liming. Flint does not occur naturally on the Kintyre peninsula, the nearest sources being Arran or County Antrim. Following this, the route of the pipeline was amended to run further from the reported site of the cist and the find-spot of the flint flake.
Three features were identified during the course of monitoring work. At the northern end of the pipeline, adjacent to the coast, a thin spread of charcoal was recorded on the surface of beach cobbles. The spread measured 0.50 x 0.20 m and was some 0.40 m below the ground surface. The red silt sub-soil between the cobbles showed possible signs of being heat affected, and the feature was interpreted as some form of open camp fire. It is possible that the fire was set upon the gravel terrace prior to modern farming practices, as there was no sign of it within the current plough soil.
On the steep slope above the lower terrace, a buried soil comprising black silt with occasional charcoal fragments was recorded beneath a dark brown reddish silt. The buried soil was up to 0.18 m thick and contained a few fire cracked rocks (up to 12 cm long), a few rounded pebbles and one flake of green pitchstone.
At the southern (upper) end of the portion of the monitored pipeline, a series of interbedded pink, red and black ashes were identified, comprising a unit up to 0.14 m thick. Occasional large fragments of charcoal were identified within this layer, as were very small fragments of burnt bone. The ash layers are possibly bounded by stone on their south side. Below the ash was a possible posthole filled with a grey silt and occasional fragments of charcoal. These deposits may represent a dump of domestic ashes, even perhaps a hearth. However, if the burnt bone proves to be human the deposits could be the remains of a cremation burial.