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The Archaeology of the Western Isles (Outer Hebrides)

One of the two composite skeletons, formerly mummified; this one has a male head on a female torso
CladhHallan under excavation, showing the terraced row of three Late Bronze Age-Iron Age roundhouses

Archaeological investigations on the island of South Uist have led to insights into the domestic architecture and organisation of space in Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age roundhouses (CladhHallan), of Iron Age brochs (Dun Vulan), and of Norse period (Viking) longhouses (CillePheadair).

The final stages of analysis are now underway of the very diverse excavated assemblages. Amongst the many studies being undertaken is analysis of mummified human remains from CladhHallan, created by using body parts from several different individuals to create “composite” skeletons (Cox Willis).

The analysis of major assemblages of faunal remains (Mulville, Madgwick) and ceramic residues (Craig) is shedding light on changes and continuities in the domestic economy of the island from the Bronze Age to the Medieval period. The carbonised plant remains from the sites under investigation provide further information on environment and economy (Smith).

The ceramic and small finds assemblages have contributed to our knowledge of the full pottery sequence for the Bronze Age and Iron Age, and ceramic mould fragments have provided significant new information about early metallurgy (Cowie).

Landscape surveys of the island, and smaller scale excavations, were published in 2012; further monographs are in preparation.


Related outputs

  • Parker Pearson, M. (ed.) 2012. From Machair to Mountains: archaeological survey and excavation in South Uist. SEARCH monograph 4. Oxford: Oxbow.

  • Parker Pearson, M., Sharples, N.M., Symonds, J., Robins, H. and Badcock, A. 2008. Ancient Uists: exploring the archaeology of the Outer Hebrides. Stornoway: Comhairle nan EileanSiar.

  • Parker Pearson, M., Sharples, N. and Symonds, J. with Mulville, J., Raven, J., Smith, H. and Woolf, A. 2004. South Uist: archaeology and history of a Hebridean island. Stroud: Tempus.

  • Parker Pearson, M. and Sharples, N. with Mulville, J. and Smith, H. 1999. Between Land and Sea: excavations at the broch of Dun Vulan, South Uist. SEARCH monograph 3. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

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