Last Friday, it was reported that an inhumation had discovered at Machrins on the west coast of Colonsay. The remains, which are described as being in surprisingly good condition, were reported to WoSAS by Mr Kevin Byrne. The burial is located on the machair, and has been exposed by sandblow. The body is aligned head to south and feet to north, face up and with the face towards the east, and there is some suggestion that it may lie within a setting below an occupation level. The site is a mound, and over the years has revealed stones, shellfood, burned material etc. The discovery of the remains has been reported to Historic Scotland, who are responsible for administering the Human Remains Call-off Contract, which provides funds for the excavation of human remains uncovered in situations such as this.
This burial is located in an area of Colonsay that is rich in recorded archaeological material, with a particular abundance of sites and artefacts relating to Norse occupation having been identified. For example, a Norse antler comb was found in 1992 (see WoSAS Pin 13124), while a Norse pin was found in 1995 (WoSAS Pin 43438). These objects may be related to the settlement of four single-roomed houses, likely to date from around 800 AD, which were excavated by the RCAHMS in 1977-78. (WoSAS Pin 3517). A long cist burial was also excavated at that time, and was found to contain the remains of a flexed inhumation, which had been accompanied by a dog and various grave goods. Further burials of potentially Norse date have also been recorded from the vicinity, WoSAS Pin 2516 and WoSAS Pin 2497 relating to discoveries made in the late 19th / early 20th centuries. In addition to the strong evidence for Norse occupation in the area, the site of Cille Chiarain or Kilkerran, St Chiarain's Chapel, is also recorded as lying in the vicinity (WoSAS Pin 2502). Although no traces of the chapel itself have been identified, sources from the 1920s and 30s indicate that human remains had been found in a neighbouring bunker on the golf course. It is hoped that work conducted on the most recent remains under the Human Remains Call-off Contract may serve to provide further information on the archaeology of this area.