Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The cliff-hanging cists of Arran

In March 2012, the landowner and a local resident spotted a short stone cist exposed in the cliff face of a disused quarry at Sannox on the Isle of Arran. They alerted the West of Scotland Archaeology Service, which prompted Historic Scotland to commission GUARD Archaeology to undertake a rescue excavation. 

View of the site before excavation [Credit: © GUARD Archaeology Ltd] 

A GUARD Archaeology team, led by Iraia Arabaolaza, were sent to investigate the site; not an easy task given the high exposed location of the cist. The first thing the team did was to clean the exposed section of the eroding face of the sand cliff using a mechanical cherry-picker. This revealed not just the one but two cists. The subsequent excavation of the cists required the GUARD Archaeologists to wear harness and be tied to a fixed point at all times. However, the team successfully recovered and recorded the archaeological remains and brought them back to GUARD Archaeology's laboratory in Glasgow for specialist analyses, which has only just now been completed.

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