Smerquoy/Muckquoy excavation diary — Entry Five

Chris Gee


This picture shows a section of the two cuts with fills excavated out. These cut features may have formed some enclosing feature around the Brae of Muckquoy. Georgie Ritchie is excavating a clayey area, which is cut by the ditch-like feature.

On Sunday, Dave, Georgie and myself began to investigate the soil marks which were exposed when we removed a small area of topsoil at Muckquoy, Redland, Firth.

Mary had already been and taken samples and the intention was to investigate the enclosing feature which showed up so clearly on the magnetometer results.

I was expecting a stone wall around the huge Neolithic site and it came as quite a surprise to discover what appears to be two parallel cuts, containing fairly dark, charcoal-rich material, into a deep silty fairly stone-free soil.

The inner cut is, about 1.4m wide and 0.30m deep and the outer about 0.50m wide and 0.25m deep. The sides on the outer cut are nearly vertical.

As we have only begun a small trench across these features it would not be possible to say with certainty that they go all the way around the large circa 100-metre diameter Neolithic filled mound, but they could, as they seem to correlate roughly with the enclosing features on the magnetometer results.


The “Smerquoy Hoose” on Monday, with the baulk removed and its interior cleared of rubble.

The date of these cuts is also uncertain at the moment, do they relate to the Neolithic activity on the site as indicated by the surface finds or were they cut later?

What would be the function of such a small cut with a slightly larger one on the inside?

What is their stratigraphic relationship with each other?

Were they there at the same time?

I have been wondering what the purpose of such small and narrow cuts could be.

Was there some kind of wooden fence around the site?

Are they drainage ditches?

The cuts are in a silty soil of considerable depth which, at this point, may be the fill of a feature, perhaps a depression in the topography or another cut, such as a larger ditch.

We hope to investigate some of these questions.

At Smerquoy, excavation over the last two days has revealed another doorway on the northern end of the west long wall, with a lovely flagstone paved area associated with it.

Secondary or later floor deposits in the south end of the house have been sampled and recorded should be excavated in the next day or so to reveal the primary floor level.

The paved area associated with a second door on the house.

The paved area associated with a second door on the house.



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