Structure C and another possible workshop — Structure E
Structures C and E lie toward the east and south-east of the main trench respectively.
They are similar in construction and both directly overlie, and intervene in, the remains of the walls of the Structure A broch. They represent fairly substantial buildings built with a combination of stone uprights and coursed masonry, a style that has been seen as typically later Iron Age or even “Pictish” in the past.
Structure C appears to have been sub-oval, or circular, in plan in its original form, while Structure E was more straight-sided, with a rounded gable end.
Both structures have yielded evidence for formal hearths in their interiors and, in the case of Structure C, a set of stone-settings and laid clay features indicate the remains of a grain dryer.
In addition, there seem to be high-temperature hearth stones present and lots of heat-affected materials. This, and the presence of moulds, bog ore, and fragments of tuyeres (sockets used as the interface between furnace features and the bellows), indicate that the building had an “industrial” or craft-working role, at least during one stage in its life.
Archaeomagnetic dates obtained from these heat-affected features, which themselves seem to represent later activities in the building, indicate that it was abandoned some time before AD600.
The story of the very final acts inside this building is a very intriguing one. It seems there was a substantial episode of burning within the building.
Currently, this is interpreted as a deliberate act of decommissioning, which may have involved setting light to the building’s roof. Several iron items (surviving to us as rusted, corroded objects) were apparently left on the floor of the building as it was nearing the end.
Recent assessment of these indicates that they are several knife blades, one of which appears clad in mineralised organics and is probably a sheath.
Also, in the closing stages of the building a remarkable cache of twelve long-handled decorated combs, six of them carefully decorated with incised lines, were deposited in a pot and placed close to the entrance of the building.
These combs were themselves caught up in the burning episode, as their fire-cracked, warped and fragmented state reveals.
We may well encounter more special depositional acts this year.