Excavations at Upper Suisgill, Sutherland
Poststructure Hillwash, Millennium Settlement, Cereal, Earth Bank, Round House, Pottery
Upper Suisgill, Sutherland, Scotland, UK
later prehistoric, early medieval
A narrow section across an area between two souterrains was excavated in advance of road realignment; part of one of the souterrains was also exposed. The excavation revealed deposits up to c 1.8 m deep in places, largely made up of material washed downhill on to the site.
Early-mid first millennium BC: Period I – ard tillage; II – construction and reconstruction of a round timber house, and the erection of a stone-faced earth bank; III – tillage; IV – the construction, and destruction by fire, of a post-built structure; beginning of water scouring of the site and start of hillwash deposition.
Settlement was re-established later in the millennium on the surface of the hillwash deposits (Period VI). This was subsequently covered by more hillwash. Recent settlement was represented by uncharacterized activity at the south edge of the excavated area and by two post-medieval buildings (associated with a settlement to the SE) the later of which was probably demolished during 19th-century road building.
Quantities of pottery of 10 fabrics and three main styles (I, flat rims; 2, splayed rims; 3, everted rims) were found. Carbonized plant material was recovered, including many grains of six-row (mainly naked) barley, a little wheat, and oats, possibly domesticated. The pollen analysis of a peat column taken from a bog 2 km from the site showed a notable forest decline at c 4500 BP, followed by a pinebirch regeneration, followed, shortly before 1700 BP, by a further decline.