The excavation of the mound at Kirkapol has been completed and the ground returned to its previous state. Many Tiree residents and visitors joined the professional archaeologists in the dig, and they made some wonderful findings. Dr John Holliday has written a short report on the excavation for An Iodhlann’s website. You can read it here.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has granted An Iodhlann £10,000 to organise the excavation of what is thought to be a Bronze Age, or even Viking, grave at Kirkapol. The excavation will be led by professional archaeologists who will be looking for assistance from local volunteers. Watch this space for more information…
You can now find the location of your ancestors’ headstones via the graveyard maps on our Tiree Graves website. The maps are in the right-hand column of the website under the heading ‘MAPS IN PDF FORM’. You can zoom in on the maps to find your ancestor’s headstone number.
Following the success of Archaeology Week in April-May this year, a group from the Association of Certificated Field Archaeologists (ACFA) are returning to the island on the 4th-8th of October. Dr Colleen Batey is also returning on the 18th-25th October to give public lectures and a school talk. Next year, our Chairman, Dr John Holliday, will be working with Dr Heather James on a community project to dig a possible Viking boat-grave at Kirkapol.
A sea mine recently discovered under gravel on the Sandaig shore, is now on display outside An Iodhlann. When a Bomb Disposal Team dug up the mine on the 3rd of August, it was found to be empty of explosive, safe and reasonably intact. We have positioned it so that its innards are visible, as well as the locations of detonation horns and the hole where a time-sensitive self-destruct mechanism was installed. Hundreds of pebbles and shells are fused onto its surface. Tens of thousands of similar mines were laid around the Hebrides and the North Sea during the first and second world wars.
Catriona Smyth has completed her monumental survey of the Soroby and Kirkapol graveyards, producing a database of transcribed inscriptions (where legible) and photographs of all the stones, translations of any Gaelic inscriptions and cemetery maps showing the locations of all stones. This is all now available online via An Iodhlann’s website or by visiting www.tireegraves.org.uk.
Archaeology Week, organised by An Iodhlann with help from the Tiree Windfall Fund, came to a close at the start of May. A group of members of the Association of Certificated Field Archaeologists (ACFA) were accompanied by Dr Heather James from Northlight Heritage, an archaeological charity in Glasgow. The party spent four days in the field accompanied by a number of local volunteers, and discovered some fascinating prehistoric sites: triangular enclosures, the remains of a building near the Ringing Stone and a corn-drying kiln. On the south-east slopes of Ben Hynish they found lambing enclosures, a Bronze Age kerb cairn, a possible Neolithic stone circle and cairn, and a small building complex.
An evening of talks was very well attended: Dr Colleen Batey was particularly interested in a site at Vaul known today as Boidhegeir (from Old Norse borg geiri ‘the farm of the fort’). Dr David Caldwell was attracted to the idea that Island House was built on the site of the ‘lost’ medieval castle of Isleborgh, which has been puzzling historians for years. Dr Stuart Jeffrey created a digital three-dimensional image of the Ringing Stone and a recording of its sound.
The experts also examined some artefacts held in An Iodhlann, identifying brass lace endings, a medieval brooch, medieval horse buckles, and high-quality medieval pottery. Dr James also visited Tiree High School to introduce archaeology to some enthusiastic pupils.
The programme of events for A’ Bhuain – Tiree Homecoming 2016 has been updated and published in An Tirisdeach. The finalised dates are Sunday 22nd May to Friday 27th May. For tickets and further information, visit www.tireehomecoming.com or contact Jessie Gray on +44 (0)1879 220 630 or Rosemary Omand on +44 (0)1879 220 960.