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ROUGH ISLAND - GARBH EILEAN

Map of Rough Island Sites

Rough Island is as its name suggests is the most rugged of the three main islands, with sheer monumental cliffs of columnar basalt ranging along the entire northern side and to a lesser extent along the western and southern sides. There are landing places in the north-east corner and midway along the southern coastline the cliffs are minimal where the central valley of Airighean na h-Annaid cuts down from the northern highland at Glaic na Crotha. A landing can be made there between sheltering rock formations or directly onto the rocky foreshore. There is a beach on the eastern side, a narrow strand of cobbles that connects the island to House Island, but access is not easy since the cliffs here are only a little less than sheer, however a zigzag path, little more than a narrow sheep track, provides the normal route onto the high plateau.

Note about plans: Where a plan of a site exists, in most cases following the link under Recording opens the plan in a separate window so that you can have it in front of you while you are reading the description. Where there are several adjacent sites on a single plan, the plan opens on a new page in the current window.    

RI 1 Island Map NGR NG 4172 9813
Interpretation: Cairn. Positive.
Location: A commanding position on the high ground at the south-eastern corner of the island above the east and south-eastern cliff faces at a point that is commonly traversed by climbing up from House Island route that zigzags the south-eastern cliff face and the high west facing defile out onto the high peak plateau. The location is not marked on the early maps, but it does appear on the recent OS editions.
Description: A small unstructured pile of around eight blocks form the standing cairn, but they have possibly been displaced to the south by 0.60m. from their original position and now appear to the side of a few widely spaced embedded stones that give the appearance of a possible rectangular cist chamber of approximately 1.60x0.80m. orientated east to west, however the form is not distinct and may just be a fortuitous formation of random half buried rocks.
Provisional date: Assuming that this is not a relatively recent construction a Bronze Age date may be considered.
Recording: A stone by stone measured ground plan drawn. (PJF).
Photographic record: None.

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RI 2 Island Map NGR NG 4166 9825
Interpretation: Sheiling overlying a mounded earlier site-possibly a wheelhouse. Positive.
Location: The high land of Airighean na Carnaiche Moire, to the north-west of the peak, which forms the south-western corner of the island.
Description: A massive grassy mound 15m. in diameter around its base standing approximately 2m. high above the surrounding landscape of wet peat and rocky outcrops. Exposed, especially around the eastern side, is a mass of stonework some of which is clearly structured with radial walling that could be the piers of a wheelhouse. In the central area is a sheiling 5x3.5m. orientated east to west with longitudinal bowed walls standing several courses high in places. Possibly some of this walling is an adaptation of the earlier structure rather than an entirely new construction reusing the robbed material, but this cannot be determined without some excavation. Most of the visible structurally intact walling appears to be around 0.75m. wide.
Provisional date: The sheiling can be dated within the 19th and early 20th centuries. If the lower structure is a wheelhouse then a late Iron Age date can be assumed.
Recording: A stone by stone measured plan was drawn. (V+J).
Photographic record. Black and White. Film 3. Print 65.

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RI 3 Island Map NGR NG 4160 9823
Interpretation: Shelter. Tentative.
Location: Approximately 65m. to the south-west of site RI 2 on the Airighean na Carnaiche Moire highland plateau. The site has long been recognised and is marked on the recent OS edition and on the early maps.
Description: The structure is not well defined and the monument may have suffered from some stone robbing. The present form appears to be circular of 3m. diameter but with only stonework visible on two sides.
Provisional date: Early modern.
Recording: A stone by stone measured plan drawn. (V+J).
Photographic record: None.

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RI 4 Island Map NGR NG 4162 9826
Interpretation: Peat dryer. Tentative.
Location: Almost equidistant between RI 2 and 3, but a little to the north.
Description: This area of upland although gently sloped from high points to the south-west and north has much level ground and even depressed areas supporting a peat rich soil. This has been taken advantage of and there are many areas of relic peat cutting in evidence. The appearance of peat dryers is therefore not surprising, however this particular example is not clearly defined and its identification as such a structure is extremely tentative. The structure comprises of a number of large stone blocks of up to three quarters of a metre in size ranged in a generally linear arrangement. There is the suggestion of a slight bank and several blocks forming an enclosed area. The whole setting is 4x 2m. which is comparable to more certainly identified examples found during the survey of Mingulay (Foster 2000).
Provisional date: Early modern.
Recording: A stone by stone measured plan drawn. (V+J).        
Photographic record: Black and White: Film 3. Print 20/21.

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RI 5 Island Map NGR NG 4150 9833
Interpretation: Shelter. Positive.
Location: On a south east facing crag edge of Airighean na Carniche Moire overlooking the valley that divides off the southern corner of the island.           
Description: A 4.5m. diameter circular banked earth and embedded stone wall, 0.60m wide and 0.30m. high, butted to an outcrop of bedrock with a possible entrance to the north.
Provisional date: Early modern.
Recording: A measured field plan drawn. (V+J).
Photographic record: Black and White. Film 3. Print 67.

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RI 6 Island Map NGR NG 4161 9834
Interpretation: Shieling: Positive.
Location: On the south-west slope of the lesser northern high land of the Airighean na Carniche Moire triangle. The site is marked on the recent OS edition, but on the early maps it appears to be positioned further to the east.
Description: The site consists of a mass of tumbled stonework so disorganised that the shape could originally have been either circular or rectangular. There is a possibility that the disorganisation is due to an earlier site being dismantled to construct a smaller shelter in the centre which has since collapsed. The overall measurements are a possible 5m. diameter circular structure with an internal structure of 1.5x2m in a rectangular shape. 
Provisional date: Early modern with a possible earlier predecessor.
Recording: A stone by stone measured plan drawn. (V+J). 
Photographic record: Black and White. Film 3. Print 66.

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RI 7 Island Map NGR NG 4162 9843
Interpretation: Shieling. Positive.
Location: On a level area on the west slope of the northern high land and overlooking the valley that divides off the Airighean na Carniche Moire triangle. The site is marked on the old maps and the recent OS edition.
Description: A well rounded sub-rectangular structure 6x4m. orientated north-east to south-west of earth and stone wall between 0.60m. and 0.30m. thick apparently built on a mound that spreads a further metre around the outer edge of the walls. The building is sub-divided into two compartments, a larger one 3x2.5m. to the north-east and a smaller room of 2x1.5m. to the south-west with the main entrance and connecting doorway on the southerly sides. 
Provisional date: Early modern.
Recording: A measured field sketch drawn. (V+J).
Photographic record: None.

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RI 8 Island Map NGR NG
Interpretation: Windbreak shelter. Tentative.
Location: Lost on a shelf on the southern slopes of the southern highlands.
Description: A short length of single stone walling which could also be a relic field wall.
Provisional date: Early modern.
Recording: None.
Photographic record: None.

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RI 9 Island Map NGR NG 4174 9882
Interpretation: Kelp burners hut.
Location: At the base of the great northern erosion slope at the point where the grassy slopes become raw stone scree. on a level place just above the foreshore and the landing place that is afforded by the protecting reef and sea planed shelf. The site is marked on the Harvie-Brown map but not the first edition OS, it is however on the recent edition.
Description: A substantially upstanding building, probably at its full original height, of 1.80m. at the north end and 1.20m. at the southern end, in most places. The superstructure is of battered dry stone walling with a massive squared north end 1.25m thick set against the slope and a rounded southern end 0.75m. thick into which a double cupboard has been constructed. The side walls are 0.80to 0.90m. thick. Overall measurements are 5x3.75m. orientated north to south with the entrance at the northern end of the east wall. The twin cupboards occupy most of the southern wall in width and half the area in elevation from the ground surface, are 0.30 and 0.45m. deep respectively, separated by a column composed of a single large stone supporting several smaller ones.
Provisional date: 19th century.
Recording: A measured ground plan and elevation section drawn. (V+J).
Photographic record: Black and White. Film 4. Prints 88-90.

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RI 10  Island Map NGR NG 4186 9875
Interpretation: Kelp burners sheiling on mound. Positive.
Location: On a break in slope on the shoulder of the north-east slope between the upper cliffs and the lower foreshore cliffs. The building is prominently sky-lined from several directions and overlook the medieval settlement area RI 14 and the northern landing place. The site is located on both early maps and the recent OS edition.
Description: Structurally very similar to the hut RI 9. A 5m. square plan with rounded corners both externally and internally. The metre thick uncoarsed drystone walls survive up to 1.20m. high in places. The 0.60m. wide entrance is at the north end of the east wall and there are two cupboards set in almost opposite corners to the south-east and the south-west. They are 0.25 to 0.30m. deep, 0.50 to 0.60m. wide, surmounted by single lintel slabs. The building is situated on top of a 7.50m. diameter grassy mound which has several stones showing around north-eastern corner at the base which could indicate a possible kerb cairn that has been reused. The prominent location would appear to be suitable for such a monument.
Provisional date: 19th century and possible Bronze Age.
Recording: A measured ground plan drawn. (V+J).
Photographic record: Black and White. Film 3. Prints 29/30.
Notes: The interpretation of the sheiling as a kelp burners hut is based only on the similarity with the more positive example RI 9 found down on the northern foreshore. RI 10 is a stiff climb from the kelp burning area and other similar constructions can be found in the area of Airighean na h-Annaid on the opposite side of the island and far removed from the kelping grounds.

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RI 11 Island Map NGR NG 41919867
Interpretation: Sheiling. Positive.
Location: At the northern end of the east coast erosion slope just beyond the raw scree.
Description: This is the southern structure in a row of three apparently associated monuments. The plan is a 3.5m. diameter circular building with low earth and stone walls up to a metre thick that also include a large natural boulder from the adjacent scree slope. The entrance is most likely to be on the east side where the wall structure is barely seen.
Provisional date: Early modern.
Recording: A measured ground plan drawn. (V+J).
Photographic record: Black and White. Film 3. Print 33.

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RI 12   Island Map NGR NG 4191 9868
Interpretation: Sheiling. Positive.
Location: One metre to the north of sheiling RI 11.
Description: Apparently a two element building with a 0.50m. thick wall of piled stone arcing westwards from a southern entrance 0.55m. wide to butt against a large natural boulder. From the south entrance an straight thick east wall of a metre width and 5.5.m length turns west at its northern end to a west entrance formed with the large natural boulder. This formation appears to create a small separate annex at the northern end.
Provisional date: Early modern.
Recording: A measured ground plan drawn. (V+J).
Photographic record: Black and White. Film 3. Print 33.

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RI 13 Island Map NGR NG 4191 9868
Interpretation: Enclosure.
Location: One metre north of the sheiling RI 12.
Description: An elongated horseshoe shaped metre wide earthen bank 22x7m. in plan orientated north-west to south-east with a 3m. wide entrance at the south-east end. There appears to be a lazy bed formation running down the centre.
Provisional date: Early modern.
Recording: A measured ground plan drawn. (V+J).
Photographic record. Black and White. Film 3. Print 34.

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RI 14 Island Map NGR NG Centred 4195 9876
Interpretation: Settlement.
Location: At the northern cliff edge of Toll a Roimh at the north-eastern corner of the island. The site appears to be marked on the early maps but is absent from the latest OS edition.
Description: The site consists of barely discernible building foundations and enclosure wall foundations composed of earth with a few stones. The site is in a generally eroded state and a large water filled hollow has been eroded out of the thin peat soil at the edge of the cliff. Several structures were however possible to locate. At the south-east corner is an oval building or enclosure of 8.5x4m. with a low bank 0.50m. wide. Apparently superimposed at its southern end is a double cell circular 3m. diameter building with a doorway to the north east. curving away to the south-west from the north end of the larger structure is a metre wide bank that runs into a faintly seen 2.10m. diameter ?cellular building. North of this and possibly connected to the northern end of the curving bank are a further two indistinct circular structures of around 2m. diameter. To the north of this entire complex is another  possible oval or sub-rectangular building of around 7.80x3m.    
Provisional date: Medieval-Early Post-medieval.
Recording: A measured field sketch drawn. (V+J).  
Photographic record: Black and White. Film 3. Print 73.

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RI 15  Island Map NGR NG 4187 9873
Interpretation: Roundhouse. Tentative.
Location: Set back towards the cliffs and from the ridge at the north-east corner of the island on whose skyline the sheiling RI 10 is located.
Description: A small circular 4m. external diameter hut with thick up to metre wide stone and earthen walls with an 0.65m. wide entrance to the east. The wall at the west rear side appears to utilise naturally fallen boulders. The walls appear to be more substantial and materially embedded than the usual shelter hence its tentative identification as an earlier hut or roundhouse rather than an early modern structure.
Provisional date: Prehistoric or medieval.
Recording: A measured ground plan with major stonework drawn. (V+J).
Photographic record: Black and White. Film 3. Print 75.

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RI 16 Island Map NGR NG 4187 9872
Interpretation:
Rock shelter. Positive.
Location: Immediately to the south of the roundhouse RI 15 which is constructed almost against the side or the large boulder that forms the shelter roof.
Description: A stray massive boulder from the nearby scree zone has come to rest on other large rocks leaving a small cavity underneath. This cavity has been floored with flat stone slabs and the exposed sides and any extra gaps around the outer edge have been filled with stone and a small length of walling protects the exposed northern side. The entrance is to the east. The internal floor area is an irregular oval of 3x2m. in diameter with a roof height of approximately a metre. A few small scraps of undateable hand made pottery were recovered from amongst the sheep droppings.
Provisional date: All periods.
Recording: A measured stone by stone plan was made of the boulder, associated stonework and the interior space and stonework. A measured elevation of the entrance face was also drawn. (V+J).
Photographic record: Colour Print. Film 4. Print 96 (interior). Black and White. Film 3. Print 76.

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RI 17 Island Map NGR NG 4188 9872
Interpretation:
Rock shelter. Positive.
Location: Immediately on the slope below the east entrance of shelter RI 16.
Description: Another massive boulder has made a fortuitous small cavity under its bulk, but much less of a useable space than at RI 16 has been created and nothing more than a small space much frequented by sheep is available for occasional shelter of storage.
Provisional date: All periods.
Recording. Photographic only.
Photographic record: Black and White. Film 3. Print 74.

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RI 18 Island Map NGR NG 4188 9873
Interpretation:
Midden. Positive.
Location: Directly spilling down slope from the east entrance of the roundhouse RI 145.
Description: A spill of limpet shells being eroded out of the slope by passing sheep. Several small fragments of undatable handmade pottery were also collected.
Provisional date. Prehistoric or Medieval.
Recording: Photographic only.
Photographic record: Black and White. Film 3. Print 74.

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Archaeology Index Page Page 2 of Rough Island - Sites 19 - 31