As was reported here in September of 2011, a watching brief undertaken by Dr Claire Ellis of Argyll Archaeology during work to construct a micro hydro-electricity generation scheme at Kildalloig, Kintyre, identified a number of features that appeared to relate to prehistoric activity in the area. At the southern end of the section of the monitored pipeline, a series of interbedded pink, red and black ashes were identified. Occasional large fragments of charcoal were identified within this layer, as were very small fragments of burnt bone. Below the ash was a possible posthole filled with a grey silt and occasional fragments of charcoal. These deposits were considered to represent a dump of domestic ashes, even perhaps a hearth, though if the burnt bone was human, it was thought possible that the deposits could be the remains of a cremation burial.
As a result, a bulk sample taken from the interbedded ash layers was selected for post-excavation analysis, and the results have now been received. The bulk samples was subject to floatation and wet sieving, and charcoal and fragments of burnt bone were separated out from the mineral grains and rock fragments. The majority of the charcoal comprised hazel, many of the fragments in the form of small roundwood, in addition to a few fragments of birch and alder. The burnt bone fragments were too small to identify to species but they were confirmed as not being of human origin. The recovery of a mixed species of burnt bone from an ash is indicative of the preparation and cooking of probably domesticated animals over a domestic hearth. The possible posthole may therefore have held a stake from which a cooking pot was suspended.
A piece of hazel roundwood was sent for radiocarbon dating, and this revealed that the wood dated to 910 +/- 30 BP, calibrated to 1034-1189 AD. This date is unexpected, as in addition to the bone and charcoal, sieving had also recovered two small burnt flakes of flint from within the sample, and the recovery of small flint flakes within a sealed context would usually suggest that the deposit has its origins in the prehistoric period. This may suggest that flint was still being utilised in the medieval period, and in this case perhaps was used in the preparation of meat.
No other features were recorded within the pipe trench, so it is not possible to determine whether the hearth was an isolated feature, perhaps the remnants of a transitory camp, or whether it was part of a more substantial medieval structure. The deposits were located on a relatively small, flat terrace with a small but steep gorge bounding its southern extent. Although the site commands fine views eastwards and northwards, it is relatively sheltered from the prevailing winds, and coupled with the availability of a constant fresh water supply, would appear to be in an ideal location for either a temporary camp or a more permanent settlement.