Following a visit from Archaeology Scotland last October to conduct test excavations on a previously un-recorded historic site within the Stronafian Community Forest, we have now received confirmation that the Adopt a Monument team will return in October this year to conduct a more detailed 7 to 10 day investigation. This will hopefully provide a clearer picture of what the “Grey Stones” (Na Clocha Liatha) site was used for and when, although the team are already in no doubt that the feature is a manmade structure of historic origin.

After the initial investigation, contact was also established with the National Museum of Edinburgh (NME), with a view to interpreting the findings from Dorothy Marshalls excavation of the ancient Auchategan village in the 1970s, which is located around 500 metres to the south. The finds from this site were gifted to NME and have been in storage ever since. We have requested that these artifacts be made available for further investigation using modern analysis techniques, and there is a good possibility that the finds will be loaned to the Castle Museum in Dunoon for an exhibition in 2024.

Although some radiocarbon dating was done on the bog iron, there were no conclusive results on the time frame of the building it was found in. Some hazel nut shells were found in the cracks of the paving outside a Neolithic hut, but were they from this period or had they fallen in during the dig? Advances in technology could support us in dating these original finds to give us further insight into the timeframe of the village buildings and the foods the Neolithic people ate. We could do some ‘use analysis’, such as examining the 400 pieces of Neolithic pottery to find out what these containers were used for. We could look at pollen plugs to find out what they could grow for eating and useful materials.  These could give us an insight into the climate they lived in and possibly compare it to the present conditions we enjoy today.  These are some examples of ways to help us learn more about the lives of the people that used the forest before us.

The following excerpt of a recent email from the NME curator sheds more light on the finds from Auchategan:

“I’ve now had a chance to scout through the boxes from Auchategan that we have. We have four boxes stored here. We don’t have a detailed inventory, but from looking through them they contain the following:
•       Furnace material, slag and bog iron.
•       Stone tools, including pounders, pot lids, a hone stone, greenstone axes, and various implements produced from pitchstone, quartz and flint.
•       A fragment of a bead/belt slider produced from a jet-like material (lignite or cannel coal I think).
•       Pottery, including a large amount of Neolithic pottery.
•       And… *drumroll please* a small box of Hazelnut shells!

From what I could tell, most, if not all, of what was illustrated in Marshall’s paper is in the boxes we have so we’d need to do a more detailed assessment to work out what might be missing. It’s possible that some of the material from the Bronze Age cairn is absent (e.g., the
pottery) and it doesn’t appear we have any human remains or bone from the site, though it is entirely possible the remains were discarded/reburied.”

So, we have learnt a great deal over the past year, but we now need input from the community on how we should proceed. Using this feedback, we can consider what investigations can be made and apply for the appropriate funding. And when we achieve some more information on the village,  we would also like to know how our community would like that to be interpreted e.g., information boards about the site and lives of the people, links to information on the web, coloured gravel to show outlines of dwellings, identification of post holes, reconstructions of a dwelling or actual re-excavation of some of the dwellings of the site for display etc.

As such, we would like to ask the community these questions:

What would you like to know about the lives of the Neolithic/bronze age/iron age/medieval people who lived at Auchategan?


How would you like to learn about their lives?

All feedback and suggestions can be sent to:

archaeology @

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