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Breckness Broch: The Excavation of an Iron Age well

By Beverley Ballin Smith, Torben Ballin and Catherine Smith


Catalogue - click here to return to paper

SF 1 From broch ditch.

Two joining body sherds with a high percentage of angular grits, possibly camptonite with some sandstone. A reduced ware, possibly slipped and burnished. Some surface loss.
MT 11 mm Wt 35 g.

SF 2 From midden east of broch tower.

Three small body sherds.
a) with very large grits, one 22 x 15 x 7 mm. Interior reduced, exterior buff pink, slipped and burnished.
MT 14 mm Wt 11 g.
b) Thinner version of a) with a high percentage of angular grits. May have been burnished.
MT 7 mm Wt 7.5 g.
c) Sandy sherd with small but visible grits. Slipped, with oxidised exterior, orange in colour.
MT 8 mm Wt 5 g.

SF 3 From well.

Large body sherd, heavily gritted with large grits. Slipped both externally and internally.
Grass fired.
MT 12 mm Wt 53 g.

SF 4 From well.

Two joining body sherds. Heavily gritted with small grits. Much loss of external surface.
MT 6 mm Wt 12 g.

SF 5 From well.

Sandy body sherd with visible grits. Both surfaces slipped and burnished. Oxidised exterior, reduced interior.
MT 8 mm Wt 22 g.

SF 6 From well.

Finely gritted body sherd with sandy orange interior. Grey/pink exterior with some surface loss. Slipped. Possibly higher fired than the rest of the assemblage.
MT 8 mm Wt 3.5 g.

SF 7 From well.

Base sherd, grey, with visible grits. Mica dust present in slip. Burnished
MT 7 mm Wt 2.5 g.

SF 8 From well.

Irregular body sherd with heavy grits, smoothed and blackened interior, and buff/yellow exterior. Smoothing marks present on the thick slip which does not mask the grits.
MT 10 mm Wt 18 g.

SF 9 From well.

Large sherd with visible camptonite(?) grits. Broken at slab join. Thick slip on both surfaces, with mica dust. Some grits exposed, and smoothing marks on exterior.
MT 13 mm Wt 50 g.

SF 41 From ditch fill.

Abraded rim fragment with soothing on exterior. Heavily gritted. Two additional fragments.
MT 11 mm Wt 41 g.

SF 44 From ditch fill.

Heavily gritted body sherds (2). Thick external slip. Internal sooting.
MT 11 mm. Wt 43 g.


SF 10 From well.

Bone point. Sliver of long bone, broken across the shaft, but with a worn and smoothed point. Some surface loss.
ML 75 mm Wt 7 g.

SF 11 From well.

Antler gouge or borer cut from a large tine with a tapering point. Some surface loss. Tool smoothed and polished to more than half its length. The butt-end is also smoothed.
ML 112mm MD 21-24 mm Wt 38.5 g.

SF 12 From well.

Borer or gouge from a young sheep (?) long bone. Cut marks present on the highly polished shaft. Part of the shaft is cut away to form the intact point.
ML 117 mm Wt 12.5 g.

SF 43 From ditch fill.

Fragment of bone point, whittled to shape.
ML 74 mm Wt 7 g.


SF 13 From well.

Pot lid of micaceous siltstone, chipped around the edges, but predominantly on the upper (?) surface.
MD 76 mm MT c 6 mm Wt 70 g.

SF 14 From well.

Micaceous sandstone cobble, ground and facetted at both ends, with secondary flaking at one end due to hammering. May have also been used as a rubber due to polish on and faint striation marks one face.
ML 115 mm MW 65 mm MT 57 mm Wt 760 gm.

SF 15 From well.

Large micaceous sandstone cobble with both ends used as pounders. Some secondary flaking due to its use as a hammer. Some polish on one face.
ML 188 mm MW 84 mm MT 60 mm Wt 1.89 kg.

SF 42 From midden east of broch.

Flat bead with off centre hole.
MD 11 mm MT 5.5 mm MD of hole 3.5 mm Wt 2 g.

ORGANIC REMAINS all from well

SF 16 Charcoal fragments

Wt 2.5 g.

SF 17 Cowrie shell

SF 18 Dog whelk fragment

SF 19 Lobster/crabshell fragment

SF 46 Coral fragments


SF 20 Fish bones (4)

SF 21 Shaft of antler beam.

ML 153 mm MD 26 mm Wt 75 g.

SF 22 Piece of antler cut from beam, with cut marks on its surface.

ML 121 mm MW 18-21 mm MT 8 mm Wt 20 g.

SF 23 Cattle bones (3)

SF 24 Red deer bones (55)

SF 25 Sheep/goat bones (38)

SF 26 Pig bones (1)

SF 27 Dog bones (2), fox (29)

SF 28 Cat bones (14)

SF 30 Bird bones

SF 31 Bird bones

SF 32 Probably sheep bones (17)

SF 33 Large ungulate (18)

SF 34 Unattributed bone

SF 35 Unidentified long bone fragments (24)

SF 36 Small ungulate bones (120)

SF 37 Large ungulate ribs (18)

SF 38 Rabbit bones (17)

SF 39 Burnt bone fragments (6)

SF 40 Seal fragment (1)


SF 29 Human remains (8 bone fragments of mainly one individual, a young adult)

SF 45 Human tooth (1)

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