The results of a recent excavation designed to test a lunar alignment theory for a prehistoric standing stone in Argyll have been received. Several features had been identified on the ground that were interpreted as a viewing platform and markers for the alignment. Archaeological excavation, conducted by Clare Ellis of Argyll Archaeology Ltd, was undertaken to elucidate the date and function a number of features originally identified by Thom et al (1990) as being located within a possible alignment centred upon a standing stone known as Barnashaig, on the Tayvallich estate in Knapdale, Argyll.
Prior to the archaeological excavations, which were carried out at the base of the standing stone and across other nearby monuments, it had been postulated that the standing stone was aligned with the third quarter rising moon in September and which would have been observed around 1700 BC. It was suggested that a stone platform leading eastwards from a 'pile' of stones may have functioned as a viewing platform from which to forewarn those observing the alignment of its imminent approach. However, excavation revealed that the structure under question was a tear-dropped shaped shieling, a stone built structure within which those tending grazing stock in the 18th or 19th century AD would have found shelter through the summer months. A second large 'pile' of stones, which comprised an oval platform surrounded by a stone and earthen bank, was radiocarbon dated to around the middle Iron Age, 354-50 calBC (SUERC 64478); the structure is thought most likely to be the remains of a hut-circle. The structure was re-modelled and probably re-used in the Early Historic period, around 654-769 calAD (SUERC-64482). No date was obtained for the erection or utilisation of the standing stone. During the excavation it was demonstrated that there were no anthropic remains associated with two large boulders present on the site, and hence it has not been possible to determine whether the location of these within Thom's alignment was fortuitous or deliberate.