Medieval archaeological features at Dunglass Burn, Borders Region, Scotland
Faunal Assemblages, Charcoal, Worked Bone, Beacon, Radiocarbon
Dunglass Burn; Cockburnspath; Scottish Borders; Scotland; UK
An assemblage of small archaeological features from an eroding coastal section on the Dunglass Burn, near Cockburnspath, in south-east Scotland is described. The immediacy of the threat from coastal storms necessitated a salvage excavation of the features, and because this approach may be increasingly needed given the impacts of global climate change, this approach is evaluated. One component of the assemblage is a series of four small, well preserved wood charcoal accumulations resting on bedrock. A fragment of Corylus (hazel) from one accumulation is 14C dated to 1010–1190 cal AD. These are interpreted as beacon fires used to guide fishing boats landing on this rocky coast. The second component of the assemblage is a collection of large mammal bones, which includes both wild and domestic animals. Some bones have been worked by human beings. An antler of red deer (Cervus elaphus) is 14C dated to 980–1160 cal AD. The stratigraphic and dating controls indicate that the two components are contemporary but no clear causal link between the fires and the
faunal remains can be established. The absence of archaeological features after c 1100 cal AD may reflect abandonment through increasing numbers or impacts of coastal storms, demonstrated from the sediment stratigraphy, but equally this part of the coast may have ceased to be used because of its catastrophic inundation by flood sediments descending the burn.