Arc-Eòlas Loisgte
The Missing Burnt Mound Sites

There’s always something new to find in Staffin. In January 2021, an assessment was undertaken to identify all the known archaeological and heritage assets in the ecomuseum.

During the assessment, many hut circle sites were discovered. These are circular depressions in the ground, often surrounded by the remnants of a stone wall, which shows where a round house once stood. There were also many chambered cairns found. These are the remains of burial monuments, usually built during the Neolithic.

Chambered Cairn
Cadha Riach, a chambered cairn built during the Neolithic. Photo credit: Dan Lee 2019.

However, there was no evidence found of Burnt Mound sites. Evidence of this Bronze Age site type is well attested in the archaeological record of the Western Isles, Mainland Scotland, and Orkney, so it would be surprising if no sites existed in northern Skye.

Burnt Mounds are archaeological sites made up of a mound of heat-shattered stone and charcoal, normally with an adjacent trough and hearth. They are believed to be the by-product of heating large amounts of water, possibly for bathing or cooking.

Liddle Burnt Mound, archaeological site on South Ronaldsay, Orkney Islands, by Unukorno, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This mystery just goes to show how many archaeological and historical treasures there are still left to find on the Isle of Skye. If you’d like to learn more about Staffin’s archaeological sites, please check out our archaeological assessment of the area at this link.

Always remember when exploring to practice good stewardship for future generations. Take everything out that you bring in, stick to the paths, and keep dogs on a lead.