Archaeological monitoring conducted during the initial removal of topsoil from the site of a proposed new house at Killinochonoch Hill, Kilmichael Glassary, has identified evidence for a much earlier dwelling on the site. The work, undertaken by Dr Clare Ellis of Argyll Archaeology, took place as a condition of planning consent on the advice of the West of Scotland Archaeology Service. Following on from the initial discovery of the site, an archaeological excavation was conducted, which revealed the remains of a ring-ditch roundhouse. From this, a saddle quern, a stone door jamb, a number of stone tools, sherds of coarse prehistoric pottery and three pieces of flint were recovered.
The C-Shaped ring-ditch shown above measured some 1.60 m wide at its maximum extent, and was up to 0.30 m deep at each terminal. The ring-gully was only a few centimetres deep at the 'back' of the roundhouse, rising steeply up to this point from the west and more gently from the east. The ring-ditch had an uneven base comprising a series of shallow pits between 1.20 m and 0.65 m in diameter. Along its length the ring-ditch contained four lower fills, all of which contained fragments of charcoal. Stones, both unworked and worked, were recovered from the basal fills of the ring-ditch. These included a fragment of saddle quern, various grinders/pounders and palettes. A series of green waterworn boulders were set on the base of the gully in the western limb of the ring-ditch, while an inverted saddle quern was set at the end of this 'cobble' surface at the lowest point of the ditch circuit. Ten postholes (including two stakeholes) occurred within the ring-ditch, while around its exterior were fourteen concentric postholes. On the southern end of the structure were two parallel lines comprising three interconnected postholes, while at the 'back' of the structure was a shallow scoop infilled with a red silt containing charcoal.
The structure at Killinochnoch Hill is interpreted as a ring-ditch roundhouse, likely to date to either the Bronze or Iron Age. The ring-ditch was an internal feature with the roof structure being supported by posts located on its exterior; it is unclear at this initial stage of analysis which timbers were roof supports, whether posts have been replaced and whether ancillary structures were attached to the main structure. The diameter of the roundhouse would have been at least 6 m, and if the rafters extended beyond the supporting posts and rested either on the ground or perhaps a bank that encompassed the outlying pits, the internal diameter may have been over 8 m. The ring-ditch appears to have a porch on its south-eastern side.
The discovery of a ring-ditch roundhouse is not an unusual occurrence within a Scottish context, but the excavation of one in Kilmartin Glen is potentially extremely significant, as despite the plethora of funerary and ritual monuments present in the area, no other Bronze of Iron Age domestic structures have been recorded from the Glen and its immediate environs. The fact that it occupies a position which was considered an attractive one for construction of a modern dwelling indicates that despite the passage of several thousand years, it's all about location when it comes to houses!