Eagle Hill Masthead

Journal of the North Altantic

    Aim and Scope
    Board of Editors
    Editorial Workflow
    Publication Charges

Co-published Journals
    Northeastern Naturalist
    Southeastern Naturalist
    Caribbean Naturalist
    Neotropical Naturalist
    Urban Naturalist
    Eastern Paleontologist
    Eastern Biologist

Eagle Hill Institute

About Journal of the North Atlantic


A Short History of Archaeology in the Uists, Outer Hebrides
Niall Sharples

Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 9 (2015): 1–15

Full-text pdf (Accessible only to subscribers.To subscribe click here.)


Site by Bennett Web & Design Co.
Journal of the North Atlantic N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 1 Introduction To help structure an essentially anecdotal and digressive account of the role the southern Outer Hebrides (Fig. 1) have played in the development of Scottish archaeology, I have classified the work undertaken on the basis of the nature of the research framework. This approach divides the history into three thematic units which roughly follow a chronological order: antiquarians and independent researchers, rescue and university research projects, and recent developments. Antiquarians and Independents The amount of work undertaken in the Hebrides in the 19th century is limited, but three figures of national significance were interested in the monuments and material culture of the region: Frederick Thomas, Alexander Carmichael, and Erskine Beveridge. Captain F.W.L. Thomas was the commander of the HMS Woodlark, and was employed to undertake a survey of Orkney, Shetland, and the Hebridean Isles for the Admiralty but spent much of his time examining the antiquities of these islands. His discoveries resulted in steady streams of short reports in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and a couple of significant papers. His paper on the stone architecture of the Western Isles (Thomas 1870) compared and contrasted ancient and contemporary stone structures on the islands and the adjacent mainland and includes the prophetic comment “the whole of South Uist would repay the archaeologist in search of prehistoric remains; barps, Pict’s houses, hypogea, mythological sites, duns, chapels, &c., are numerous, together with an idiosyncrasy of topography that can hardly be described” (Thomas 1870:168). The descriptions of contemporary life provided by Thomas are routinely referenced by scholars interested in the folk culture of the islands (Curwen 1938, Roussell 1934), and A Short History of Archaeology in the Uists, Outer Hebrides Niall Sharples* Abstract - The Scottish islands have played a role in the development of Scottish archaeology that seems disproportionate to the size of the islands. The archaeology of the islands is often considered to exemplify Scottish archaeology much to the annoyance of archaeologists working on the mainland where the archaeology is very different. This is particularly the case with Orkney where the archaeological record is exceptional in many ways and where the history of exploration has been extensive, but the Hebrides have also made a major contribution and one which has perhaps been overlooked. In this paper, I propose to give a brief introduction to the archaeology of the southern Outer Hebrides. The region has had an episodic record of archaeological interventions which includes work by some important figures in the history of Scottish archaeology and it has played a surprisingly significant role in some key archaeological debates and developments such as the nature of brochs, the distribution of chambered cairns, the early development of rescue archaeology, and the problem of unpublished archaeological backlogs. Special Volume 9:1–15 2010 Hebridean Archaeology Forum Journal of the North Atlantic *School of History and Archaeology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK; Sharples@cardiff.ac.uk. 2015 Figure 1. Map of the Outer Hebrides and location of the archaeological sites. Journal of the North Atlantic 2 N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 this is an important area for archaeological and historiographical research that I will not be able to explore here. This paper also records the unusually well-preserved wheelhouse at Usinish on the isolated west coast of South Uist, which is much referenced but seldom visited (Hothersall and Tye 2000). He made a major contribution to Archaeologica Scotica volume 7, which contains many of the key early papers on brochs. This posthumous paper (Thomas 1890) provided a detailed descriptive catalogue of the Duns of the Outer Hebrides, which included important folk tales associated with the sites. The paper concludes with an excellent discussion of the broch phenomenon, one that outlines the general characteristics of these monuments and speculates on issues such as roofing with a practical experience that is unusual today. Thomas was also in close contact with Alexander Carmichael, the folklorist and Gaelic scholar who lived on the Uists from 1864 to 1882 (Stiùbhart 2008), and he credits Carmichael for information on the Uist duns in his 1890 paper (Thomas 1890:402). Carmichael is most famous for his work on the oral traditions of the islands, but he had a significant reputation as an antiquarian and worked on a detailed description of the antiquities of Uist, which was never completed (Stiùbhart 2008). His discoveries included the identification of several important carved stones, which were relocated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in Edinburgh (Cheape 2008), most notably the important cross slab with runic inscription in the graveyard of Cille Bharra, Barra (Fisher 2001:107–108). Erskine Beveridge, a wealthy industrialist who inherited a linen mill in Dunfermline, is a more important figure in the history of research in the Uists. He made a significant contribution to the understanding of not only the archaeology but the history, folklore, and place-name studies of North Uist. Beveridge came to the islands in 1897 after a period of time exploring the islands of Coll and Tiree on the Inner Hebrides (Beveridge 1903), and he purchased the Vallay estate on the north coast of North Uist in 1901. He built a substantial mansion on the tidal island of Vallay, and this structure survives as an imposing roofless ruin to this day. In the following two decades, he excavated extensively across the estate, poking holes in almost every archaeological monument he could find. The work of the first decade was published in a single volume North Uist (Beveridge 1911, reprinted 1999). The second decade was disrupted by the First World War, but he returned to excavation in 1918, only to die prematurely in 1920. His later excavations were promptly written up by Grahame Callander, the Director of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, which inherited his archaeological collections and his draft reports (Beveridge and Callander 1931, 1932). Beveridge excavated at least 19 sites, including extensive efforts at Bac Mhic Connain, Cnoc a’Comhdhalach, Dun Thomaidh, Eilean Maleit, Foshigarry, and Garry Iochdrach. The sites are primarily documented by textual descriptions and photographs, and though measured sketches exist for many sites, detailed plans and records of the stratigraphic relationships were not made. Artifact collection was fairly thorough, and descriptions and photographs were published of the important objects. The published sketch plans suggest complex phasing existed at most of the sites, and chronological depth is indicated by the artifacts, but Beveridge was unable to conceptualize this historical complexity, and it is difficult to reconstruct without further excavation. Unlike his contemporary, Pitt Rivers, Beveridge appears uninterested in classification of either the architecture or the finds. There was little attempt to place the sites in a national or international context, or to use the evidence to write a narrative history of the occupation of North Uist. The publication of these sites brought the archaeology of North Uist to the attention of the research community of Britain and Europe, and the evidence produced by Beveridge was frequently drawn upon by archaeologists writing general histories and searching for comparanda. As a regional publication, the volumes on North Uist (Beveridge 1911) and Coll and Tiree (Beveridge 1903) were not to be surpassed for some time. The discussion of the chambered tombs was particularly important as it identified two very different traditions of tomb building on the island. These customs were later characterized as the passage-grave and gallery-grave traditions, and their contiguous presence was a significant problem to both the interpretive frameworks of Childe (1933) and Daniel (1941). The finds assemblages recovered from excavations and deposited in the National Museum were an important resource that was widely known and referenced by scholars interested in material culture throughout the 20th century. Hallén (1994) has recently re-analyzed the worked-bone assemblages from Foshigarry and Bac Mhic Connain and found much to say about the material. The first institutional work on the islands took place during the early months of the First World War when the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland undertook a survey of the monuments of the Outer Hebrides (RCAHMS Journal of the North Atlantic N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 3 1928). This report was published in 1928 but is a less-than-definitive catalogue of the ancient monuments as it was undertaken in a very short period of time when minds were concentrated on the forthcoming war. In the middle of the 20th century, research was largely undertaken by a disparate group of individuals— Sir Lindsay Scott, Thomas Lethbridge, Alison Young, Audrey Henshall, and Iain Crawford—who had connections with the developing profession of archaeology but were also slightly removed from it. Most of these people had access to a private income and were therefore relatively free to research where they wanted and to interpret as they wanted. Sir Lindsay Scott is probably the most established and conventional archaeologist of this group. He was a senior civil servant all his working life. During the Second World War he was second secretary in the Ministry of Aircraft Production under Lord Beaverbrook and responsible for meeting critical aircraft production targets during the Battle of Britain (The Times obituary June 1952). He retired immediately after the war and become President of the Prehistoric Society (1946–1950) before his untimely death in 1952. He seems to have been drawn to work on the islands because of his love for sailing, and it appears his yacht provided the base for his excavation projects. His first recorded work was on the Outer Hebrides in the 1920s, but his first significant project was at Rudh an Dunain, an exceptionally well-preserved chambered tomb on the remote west coast of Skye (Scott 1932). He moved to the Outer Hebrides to work on the chambered tombs at Clettraval in 1934 (Scott 1935) and Unival in 1935 (Scott 1947b), both of which are located on the edge of major hills on the west side of North Uist. The excavation of the Neolithic culminated in the 1938 excavation of the island settlement at Eilean an Tighe (Scott 1950). His work on the chambered tomb at Clettraval led to the unexpected discovery of a well-preserved wheelhouse inserted into the body of the cairn. After the war, his work focused on the Iron Age settlement of the islands. His final excavation was the wheelhouse at Tigh Talamhanta, Allasdale, on Barra (Young 1952). The Neolithic settlement at Eilean an Tighe (Scott 1950) was one of the first Neolithic settlements excavated in Britain that showed any above-ground structural evidence. The excavations produced roughly 4500 sherds of pottery and uncovered the remains of a series of structural features that included hearths and what Scott interpreted as ovens. Unfortunately these elements proved very difficult to interpret in terms of site function and significance, a characteristic that is common to all later Neolithic settlements on the islands, and Scott argued that the site was a pottery production center with furnaces used to fire the pots, an interpretation that was only finally rejected in the 1970s (Simpson 1976). Despite this misleading interpretation, Eilean an Tighe was one of only a handful of Neolithic settlements identified in Britain prior to the 1970s, and it was routinely referenced in discussions of early settlement (e.g., McInnes 1971). Scott used the evidence of the pottery and the unusual chambered tombs to argue for a strong regionally distinctive Neolithic culture that was well connected to communication routes along the seaboard of Scotland (Scott 1942, 1951), and this idea was taken up by Piggott (1954) in his influential synthesis Neolithic Cultures of the British Isles. Scott published two substantial papers on Later Prehistory in the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society: the first was titled the Problem of the Brochs (Scott 1947a) and the second examined wheelhous - es (Scott 1948). If these papers had been combined, they would have made an impressive book-length study of the Atlantic Iron Age. The paper on brochs triggered widespread debate and raised problems that are still of considerable significance today. Scott argued for the essentially domestic nature of the broch, suggesting that these structures should be considered as elaborate houses comparable to other circular British houses. This hypothesis assumed a widespread distribution of relatively lowwalled structures which challenged the elite “castle complex” interpretation of Childe (1935:197–206). There was an immediate response by Angus Graham (1947) who legitimately challenged some of the interpretations, but the idea of an overwhelmingly domestic function for brochs remains central to current interpretation today. Many of the issues that dominate recent debates (Armit 1990, 1992a, Barrett and Foster 1991, Parker Pearson et al 1996, Sharples 2003, 2006, Sharples and Parker Pearson 1997) were originally fleshed out in this paper; for example, the question of whether brochs represent just one aspect of the settlement pattern or provide the only settlements in the Middle Iron Age is still disputed (compare Sharples 2005a with Armit 1997). By publishing his principal papers on later prehistory (Scott 1947a, 1948) in the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, Scott was also placing the Hebridean Iron Age in a wider national and international context. Unfortunately, much of Scott’s argument was placed within a diffusionist framework that was then becoming oppressively dominant in British archaeology, and this context undermines the wider validity of his analysis for most modern archaeologists. Journal of the North Atlantic 4 N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 Scott was an excellent field archaeologist, and his work is of considerable importance simply as the first detailed field record of several important monument types, including wheelhouses and chambered tombs. His excavations were meticulous, and MacKie (2007:1146) claims he “brought modern scientific excavations to the Iron Age sites of Atlantic Scotland” . The analysis of the substantial ceramic assemblages recovered by his excavations was comprehensive, with detailed classifications of decoration, vessel form, rim, and base shapes all quantified in large tables and statistically analyzed (Scott 1948:117–120, table 1). While this approach is now thought to be simplistic, it did provide an essential building block that enabled the establishment of the Hebridean ceramic sequence by Alison Young (1966). A sequence that is still relevant today (Campbell 2002). It was unfortunate that he died while still active in the field. His excavations at the Neolithic settlement of Eilean an Tighe were brought to publication by his son (Scott 1950), and the excavations at Tigh Talamhanta, Allasdale, Barra, were completed by Alison Young (1952), who had been working as his assistant. This site was another upland wheelhouse, directly comparable to Clettraval, with free-standing stone walls that were penetrated by a souterrain, similar to that at Usinish. Young continued to work on the islands in the 1950s, and she excavated two key sites: the wheelhouse at A’Cheardach Mhor (Young and Richardson 1960), which will be discussed later, and Dun Cuier (Young 1956). The excavations at Dun Cuier have been the subject of some debate in recent years. The principal monument is a thick-walled, roughly circular structure that has been interpreted as a broch (Armit 1988), but which has some architectural peculiarities that challenge this identification (MacKie 2007:1108). These features include an unusual entrance, the absence of an intra-mural staircase, and the absence of any access between the wall chamber/ gallery and the interior. Dun Cuier does, however, have a scarcement, which suggests the wall was high enough to support an upper floor. The most important findings of the excavations were the recovery of a large assemblage of ceramics and a distinctive assemblage of worked-bone objects, including parallelepiped bone die and composite bone combs—the latter clearly providing a date in the second half of the first millennium AD. The site therefore provided evidence for the nature of Late Iron Age ceramics, and the material formed an important element in the Hebridean ceramic sequence outlined by Young (1966; see below). The early part of the Dun Cuier assemblage is very similar to the assemblage recovered from mound 1 at Bornais, which can now be accurately dated to the 5th century AD (Sharples 2012). Only a minimal amount of elaborately decorated Middle Iron Age ceramics were recovered, which suggests that this complex dry-stone structure was constructed in the 5th, or possibly 4th, century AD at its earliest. Tom Lethbridge was the keeper of Anglo Saxon Antiquities in the University Museum of Archaeology and of Ethnology, Cambridge. He was also attracted to the islands because of an interest in sailing and published several books on sailing in the North Atlantic that incorporated archaeology and tried to interpret it from a distinctive maritime perspective (Lethbridge 1950). Lethbridge’s career was characterized by a rather personal approach to archaeological interpretation, and his ideas became more and more idiosyncratic in the late 1950s and 1960s. He resigned his position at the Museum and became increasingly obsessed with hidden forces, which he could identify by dowsing. He developed a complicated methodology that enabled him to read the past and to predict sites by dowsing maps. The most dramatic result of this work was the “discovery” of distinctive chalk figures on the Gog Magog Hills just south of Cambridge. This late flowering of creativity has made Lethbridge a heroic figure in the alternative community but has tended to undermine his reputation as an archaeologist (Welbourn 2011). Lethbridge was invited to undertake the excavation of a wheelhouse in South Uist by another idiosyncratic character, the German anthropologist, photographer, and filmmaker Werner Kissling (Russell 1997, 2002). The purpose was to open up one of the mounds on the machair and reveal a wheelhouse that could be used to inform the locals about their archaeological past and provide an attraction that visitors to the island could view. After a brief survey of the south end of the island, the mound known as the Bruthach a’Sithean (Brae of the Fairy Hill) was chosen in the township of Cille Pheadair (Kilpheder). Excavations revealed a spectacularly well-preserved wheelhouse that had stone walls over 2.25 m high (Lethbridge 1952). There was clear evidence that these walls supported corbelled vaults around the central circular space that Lethbridge took to be unroofed, but which most archaeologists would now accept as having had a timber roof. The excavation was promptly published and provided the first well-excavated example of a wheelhouse on the machair that could be compared with the moorland wheelhouses of Clettraval and Tigh Talamhanta. Journal of the North Atlantic N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 5 Audrey Henshall visited the Uists in 1962 as part of her survey of the chambered tombs of Scotland, and the findings were published in Volume 2 (Henshall 1972). Her work emphasized the regional characteristics of the Scottish tombs and situated the Hebridean passage tombs within the Orkney, Cromarty, Hebridean group of northern Scotland. The presence of tombs derived from the Clyde tradition was acknowledged, and this finding was argued to indicate the widespread contacts of the region located on the western sea routes. The presence of Henshall's detailed corpus of tombs meant that the evidence from the Western Isles could be incorporated into wider discussions of the chambered-tomb phenomenon (Müller 1988), and the concentration of tombs on North Uist has been a feature for repeated speculative interpretation ever since (Armit 1996:94, Kinnes 1985:33, Sharples 1992:327). Iain Crawford was a freelance archaeologist who started out with ties to the University of Cambridge. He specifically set out to identify and explore an unfortified and indigenous settlement sequence that spanned the period from the Iron Age through to the post-medieval period in the west Highlands (Crawford and Switsur 1977:124–125). His research led him to Coileagan an Udail, a settlement complex at the end of a peninsula extending from the north coast of North Uist. This area benefited from having been explored but not systematically excavated by Beveridge, and the local estate papers were extensive and available for analysis. The site comprised two substantial tell-like settlement mounds as well as several smaller settlements in adjacent areas close to the coastline. The archaeological sequence turned out to be even more spectacular than was expected. The coastal sites produced important evidence for Neolithic and Early Bronze Age settlement, and the two larger mounds provided what was argued to be a continuous sequence of settlement from the Middle Iron Age (though earlier deposits are suspected on the south mound) through to the end of the 17th century (Crawford and Switsur 1977). The excavations at the Udal recovered well-stratified assemblages of ceramic, worked-bone, stone, and metal artifacts that provide key evidence for the chronological succession and cultural contacts of island societies. A very large bone assemblage and the systematic recovery of carbonized plant remains provide key evidence for the agricultural economy and how it changed over time. The extensive area of excavations and the presence of well-preserved buildings provided the opportunity to explore settlement patterning as opposed to individual structural detail. No previous excavation had been undertaken on such a scale or with such attention to detail, and the potential of this project was immense. However, the size and the complexity of the archaeological record created an impossible administrative problem. The excavation was a research project that was never well funded; the only state funding was tied to the rescue excavation of the Late Neolithic and Beaker settlement on the shoreline. As a result of the limited funding, no substantive publication has been made and researchers are reliant on a small number of short-interim publications and discussion papers (Crawford 1974a, 1981, 1986, 2002; Crawford and Switsur 1977; Selkirk 1996). These reports provide little more than tantalizing glimpses of the archaeological record and do not really allow for any substantive use of the material. The situation was made worse by the belligerent character of the excavator who restricted access to the material recovered by his excavations1 and who in his later years actively discouraged archaeologists from working on the islands.2 Rescue and University Research Programs The amount of pure rescue work in the Uists has been surprisingly little given the fragility of the environment and the prevalence of the archaeology. The coastal plain, which was the main focus for settlement activity for millennia, is under constant threat of erosion by the sea and the wind, which has led to the destruction of large numbers of monuments, and in some areas complete landscapes appear to have disappeared in the recent past. Both the coastal sand dunes and the peat deposits of the interior are significant resources for the local community and are routinely removed for a variety of purposes. Development may seem to be less of a threat than in the industrial heartlands of Scotland, but as we will see it does exist and plays a significant role in the discovery of archaeological remains. Strangely, this part of the history begins not with the problem of coastal erosion but instead with the Ministry of Defence decision to build a Rocket Range on the island of South Uist in 1955. This decision led to one of the earliest and most important rescue archaeology projects undertaken in Scotland—a pioneering attempt to undertake extensive excavations in advance of a major construction project. A team of experienced archaeologists—Horace Fairhurst, Richard Feachem, Allard Johnson, Alastair MacLaren, Kitty Richardson, Jack Scott, James Wallace, and Alison Young—was recruited for a summer season in 1956. The work continued into 1957, when Richard Atkinson was added to the team, Journal of the North Atlantic 6 N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 A successful end to the project might have stimulated the Ministry of Works to support further rescue excavations in the region. In the late 1970s, there was considerable pressure to undertake rescue excavation in advance of coastal erosion and the Hebrides featured in one of the most important polemical publications ever produced by archaeologists—Rescue Archaeology (Rahtz 1974). Ian Crawford provided, as a case study, a detailed description of the destruction of the Red Smiddy at Baleshare, which documented not only its relentless erosion by the sea but an extreme form of casual vandalism using a mechanical excavator (Crawford 1974b, Fairhurst and Ritchie 1963). Unfortunately, though the site was known to be a problem for decades, no substantial archaeological excavations were undertaken until 1984 when only the vestigial remnants of the site survived. It was completely obliterated in the 2005 storm, which exposed a new site that is now being examined (see Dawson 2015 [this volume]). There is a compelling case that there should have been more substantial excavations in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, but the response by Historic Scotland was limited. The National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland sponsored a salvage excavation of a corbelled cist at Rosinish on Benbecula in 1964 (Crawford 1977). This effort resulted in the identification of an important beaker settlement that was eventually excavated by Ian and Leckie Shepherd (Shepherd 1976, Shepherd and Tuckwell 1977) in 1974, 1976, and 1977. The settlement comprised a “structure” surrounded by a heavily manured infield containing large quantities of ceramics and evidence for the cultivation of barley. Underlying the ploughsoil were distinctive marks that indicated the field had been cultivated by simple ards. The site was of considerable importance in demonstrating how widespread and important cereal cultivation was in the Beaker period (Burgess 1980:219). As a response to the pressures of Crawford and others, a systematic coastal erosion survey was undertaken by Ian and Leckie Shepherd in 1978. This work complemented a survey of Lewis and Harris undertaken by Trevor Cowie of the Central Excavation Unit (unpubl. data). These surveys provided a detailed list of sites in the coastal zone which prioritized the level of threat and the sites which seemed most at risk, but they were not acted upon until 1983 when a further survey was undertaken by the Central Excavation Unit. This effort led to the excavation of five sites in 1984 (Barber 2003). However, the approach was limited to “tapestry excavation”, which involved cutting but it was abruptly terminated due to Ministry of Defence budget cuts which forced a significant redesign of the original plans. The principal buildings in the new plans completely avoided most of the excavated sites and it turned out that only the wheelhouse, Bruathach a’Tuath, would be destroyed due to an extension to the runway of the airport at Benbecula. The project resulted in the excavation of several important wheelhouse settlements: A’Cheardach Bheag (Fairhurst 1971) and A’Cheardach Mhor (Young and Richardson 1960) on South Uist, Machair Leathann, Sollas (Campbell 1991) on North Uist, and Bruathach a’Tuath on Benbecula. The project also exposed the first Viking house to be identified on the islands, at Drimore, on South Uist (MacLaren 1974). The accompanying survey undertaken by Roy Ritchie also located a variety of settlement mounds that were explored during later machair surveys (Parker Pearson 2012a, b), which included the presence of an important Beaker settlement. The original intention had been to publish the excavations in a single volume for the Ministry of Works Archaeological Reports Series, which had recently been started with the Jarlshof report (Hamilton 1956). The volume was to be edited by Stuart Piggott, and would include reports on all the sites and an introductory chapter by Roy Ritchie on the survey that preceded the excavations. However, it almost immediately proved to be impossible to coordinate the production of this volume, and it was critically undermined by the decision to publish the excavation of A’Cheardach Mhor as an article in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (Young and Richardson 1960). The submission of this report caused a heated debate in the Society of Antiquaries publications committee and an attempt was made to block the publication of the paper because the consequences for the integrity of the volume were clear. Piggott favored publication of A’Cheardach Mhor in the Proceedings, and as there was no sign of the immanent delivery of the other papers, the Ministry decided that it would be unfair to delay publication. The impetus for the volume collapsed and it was over a decade before any other reports appeared (Fairhurst 1971, MacLaren 1974) and another two decades before the excavations at Sollas were published (Campbell 1991), and some sites remain unpublished. If the monograph had been published in the 1960s, it would have made a major contribution to the understanding of the Iron Age in Britain. The excavations had assembled a substantial body of information about domestic architecture and material culture that would have been the envy of many regions. Journal of the North Atlantic N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 7 The Edinburgh program was largely based in Lewis (Armit 2006, Harding and Armit 1990, Harding and Dixon 2000, Harding and Gilmour 2000) and so is not the principal focus of attention for this paper; nevertheless, it is important to note the work undertaken by Ian Armit and his colleagues in North Uist. They undertook small-scale excavations at the chambered tomb of Geirisclett (Dunwell et al. 2003), the burnt mound at Ceann nan Clachan (Armit and Braby 2002), the wheelhouse at Eilean Maleit (Armit 1998), and Iron Age houses at Eilean Olabhat (Armit et al. 2008), all of which have provided useful evidence and important radiocarbon dates. The most-sustained and important piece of work in the region was at the Neolithic settlement of Eilean Domhnuill (Armit 1992b). This is a settlement of considerable importance to the understanding of the early prehistoric occupation of the Western Isles (Armit and Finlayson 1992). The site contains a stratified sequence of structural remains and paired rectangular buildings, surrounded by deposits rich with pottery (over 22,000 sherds) and stone tools, including decorated stone balls (Armit 1992b). The site is an island location, similar to Eilean an Tighe, joined to the mainland by a causeway. However, unlike Eilean an Tighe, the occupation levels have been repeatedly inundated due to a rising water table, which has resulted in the preservation of a substantial assemblage of organic materials. The rise in the water levels of the loch might explain the repeated presence of distinct chronologically separate occupation horizons and suggests the site might have been seasonally occupied (Armit 1996). The quality of the preservation makes this one of the most important Neolithic settlements in Britain. The SEARCH project began in 1988 and originated as a direct follow up to the Central Excavation Unit project of 1983–1984 (Branigan 2007, Sharples et al. 2004). A large portion of the post-excavation analysis that followed the CEU projects was done in the University of Sheffield, and this effort stimulated the development of a “major long-term program of integrated environmental and archaeological research in a marginal landscape” (Branigan and Foster 2000:1). This program was instigated by Richard Hodges and Dave Gilbertson and was intended to take most of the staff and students of the department at Sheffield to the Hebrides for a summer fieldwork season. Richard Hodges left the project to become Director of the British School in Rome before any meaningful fieldwork was underway, and leadership was passed to the Head of Department, Keith Branigan. The first field season was in 1988 when Branigan and Foster began a survey of Barra. Work soon back, cleaning, and recording the coastal exposures. This procedure was accompanied by systematic coring that defined the inland extent of the settlements. The most significant excavation was Hornish Point at the north end of South Uist (James and McCullagh in Barber 2003). This is a large settlement mound with the remains of a wheelhouse and several other structures exposed in the coastal section. A large part of the mound still survives, and the site has the potential to make a very important contribution to our understanding of later prehistory. The most intriguing find from the site was the dismembered remains of a young child carefully placed in a pit below the floor of the wheelhouse (Barber et al. 1989). The approach taken was rigorously scientific with the hypothetico-deductive method applied to the post-excavation process (Barber 2003:114). Economic and environmental evidence were very thoroughly examined and new techniques were explored, including phytolith and diatom analyses. The mollusc analysis was used to interpret site taphonomy rather than environmental history.3 Unfortunately, the impact of the work was diminished by the limited nature of the archaeological interventions. The tapestry excavation did not provide enough material to fully understand what were clearly complex settlements, and the fragmentary elements of most of the structures defied easy interpretation. The assemblages of animal bones and carbonized plant remains provided information that by the time of publication (2003) was better documented on other sites, but again the excavations produced relatively small assemblages which restricted interpretation. The chronology of the sites was problematic due to the use of marine shell for most of the radiocarbon dates. The results have been used to argue for misleadingly early dates for wheelhouses and elaborately decorated ceramics (Armit 1991). These exploratory excavations by the Central Excavation Unit were intended to be followed up with the full-scale excavation of one of the selected sites, but financial pressures prevented it from taking place. In the final decade of the 20th century, the responsibility for the monitoring of the rescue threat effectively passed to university-based researchers who, through the use of student labor, could deliver large-scale excavations at a relatively economic cost.4 From the late 1980s through to the early 2000s, the Western Isles were the focus of major research programs by two different teams: one from Edinburgh University worked in North Uist, Harris and Lewis, and a second team, from the Universities of Sheffield and Cardiff, worked in South Uist, Barra, and the southern isles5. Journal of the North Atlantic 8 N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 became focused on Ben Tangaval in the southeast corner of the island because the archaeology here was threatened by the construction of a road providing access to the causeway to Vatersay (Branigan and Foster 1995). The immediate threat was to a recent farmstead at Alt Chrisal, but it was soon realized that this was built on top of an important Neolithic and Beaker settlement. The excavations produced a substantial assemblage of ceramics comparable to those from Eilean an Tighe and Eilean Domhnuill, and the structural evidence from the main site was characteristically difficult to interpret. A second field team, including Andrew Fleming, John Moreland, and Marek Zvelebil, was dispatched to South Uist. Moreland and Fleming undertook a walk-over survey of the blacklands in the center of the island (Fleming 2011, Moreland 2011). Zvelebil began the excavation of a small wheelhouse on the machair at Cill Donnain that was suffering badly from wind erosion (Parker- Pearson and Zvelebil 2014, Zvelebil 1991). Running parallel with the archaeological work on Barra and South Uist were a series of environmental projects. These efforts were coordinated by Gilbertson and focused on an examination of the character and history of the machair environment (Edwards et al. 2005, Gilbertson et al. 1996, 1999; Kent et al. 1996, Powers et al. 1989) and the environmental history of the peatlands (Brayshay and Edwards 1996, Weaver et al. 1996). Other projects included an analysis of the site-formation processes of a recently abandoned Hebridean croft (Smith 1996, 2011), which was intended as a model for site-formation processes that could be applied to ancient settlements. The project was initially set up to run for five years, but Branigan and Foster continued their exploration of Barra and the islands to the south until 2000. Small -scale excavations were undertaken on a number of settlements (Branigan and Foster 1995, 2000). Foster concentrated on badly damaged and eroding prehistoric settlements, including a wheelhouse adjacent to the early prehistoric settlements at Alt Chrisal on Barra, a badly eroded broch at Dunan Ruadh, an unusual cellular structure at Bàgh Bàn on the island of Pabbay, and middens at Sheadar on Sanday and Chapel House on Mingulay. Branigan initially concentrated on upland sites which included a couple of kerb cairns on Vatersay and the trial trenching of an enclosure and a hut circle in the Borve valley and Scurrival Cave on Barra. The results were variable, but some sites produced important assemblages of animal bone which are categorically different from the assemblages from the main islands. Dating is unfortunately problematic for several sites as very few radiocarbon dates were acquired, and though pottery assemblages were relatively common, they only provide rough chronologies. Nevertheless, the material recovered suggests Early Iron Age sites exist, notably the small hut circle in the Borve valley. Barra and the southern islands were completely surveyed resulting in the identification of a large numbers of archaeological monuments (Branigan and Foster 2000). These structures included new examples of monuments already known on the islands, including wheelhouses, chambered tombs, and an unfinished broch, but perhaps of greater import were the identification and mapping of a wide range of previously unknown types of monuments. The identification of these new types of sites provided a much broader understanding of the Hebridean landscape and demonstrated the extensive nature of settlement evidence. It became clear that the picture of an Iron Age landscape where settlement was restricted to a small number of isolated monumental structures (Armit 1992a, 2005a, 2005b) was misleading. Instead we have to envisage a much more densely occupied landscape filled with many varied and different forms of settlement. In the last years of the project, Branigan focused his attentions on the pre-clearance settlements and has made a major contribution to the understanding of the post-medieval archaeology of the Western Isles (Branigan 2005). On South Uist, developments took a different course (Sharples et al. 2004). Mike Parker Pearson joined Sheffield University in 1990. He was enthusiastic about becoming involved in the work on South Uist and encouraged the participation of the author. We were interested in excavating sites on the machair as doing so seemed to be the only way to chart the chronological developments of the material culture, architecture, and economy. The organization of the Udal project was very influential on our efforts and though the specific objective—to provide a long-term archaeological narrative for settlement that spanned prehistory up to the Clearances—was very similar, the approach taken was quite different. We identified a variety of problems in the path taken by Crawford that had ultimately led to the nonpublication of the results and these encouraged us to develop a number of principles: • To excavate at least a couple of sites from each period and not to become focused on a single exceptional site. • To make no attempt to completely excavate these sites but to restrict our exploration to an area sufficient to provide an accurate and well-understood picture of the settlement and to recover enough material to enable detailed environmental and economic analysis. Journal of the North Atlantic N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 9 Locally Based Rescue Archaeology In recent years, the period of large university training programs seems to have come to an end. This shift is largely a result of the more limited role played by Historic Scotland in rescue excavation given the move to a polluter-pays approach to the funding of rescue archaeology. Developer-funded excavation excludes most university researchers in favor of commercial enterprises. These units have begun to make regular visits to the islands to undertake excavations related to the construction of causeways to Eriskay and Berneray and the upgrade of the main road through the islands. The latter projects have resulted in the discovery of two important Neolithic settlements at Rubh a’Charnain Mhor (Downes and Badcock 1998) and Barpa Langais (Holderness 2007), in the peatlands. These developments have also led to the establishment of a commercial archaeological unit on the islands. Uistarchaeology, as the enterprise is called, provides a range of archaeological services to the local community and external developers. The introduction of developer-funded archaeology and the limited fieldwork budgets available to Historic Scotland mean that natural threats, such as coastal erosion, are difficult to deal with (Wessex Archaeology 2008). State funding is increasingly difficult to obtain on the scale required to excavate the large complex sites, such as Dun Vulan, that are threatened by potentially devastating erosion (Parker Pearson et al. 2011). An alternative approach has been the creation of a charity, SCAPE, that seeks to research, conserve, and promote the archaeology of Scotland's coast. It publicizes and coordinates the successful Shorewatch scheme that encourages local communities to record and excavate threatened sites. Access Archaeology is a group on North Uist who have been excavating the wheelhouse at Sloc Sabhaidh, Baile Sear, as part of the Shorewatch project (Rennell and McHardy 2009). University involvement in the archaeology of the islands has not been completely excluded by these developments. In 2012, Southampton and Liverpool Universities excavated an important Neolithic settlement at An Doirlinn, South Uist, which was in danger of being completely destroyed by the sea (Garrow and Sturt 2013). This site was excavated as part of the AHRC-funded Steppingstones project that is designed to explore the arrival of the Neolithic along the western seaboard of Britain. Birmingham University have also undertaken survey and excavations on the adjacent island of Harris (Colls and Hunter 2010). • To involve other archaeologists who took responsibility for their sites and their materials and were not under our control. • To try to publish as much as possible as quickly as possible; individual sites were published serially, and at Bornais the rationale behind the publication strategy is to make the information available as quickly as possible. • Most importantly we made every effort to acquire support from Historic Scotland for the major excavations on threatened sites. This commitment has tied them into providing financial support for post-excavation analyses and publication, which would have otherwise been difficult to acquire. Since 1990, we have excavated a large number of sites that provide an exceptionally broad coverage of the island’s archaeology, from the Neolithic to the 19th century (see below). The most-significant excavations are the broch at Dun Vulan (Parker Pearson and Sharples 1999), the Iron Age to Norse sequence at Bornais (Sharples 2005b, 2011; Sharples and Smith 2009; Sharples et al., in press), the Norse settlement at Cille Pheadair (Brennand et al. 1998; Parker Pearson et al. 2004b), the post-medieval settlement at Airigh Mhuillin (Symonds 1997), and the Late Bronze Age settlement at Cladh Hallan (Parker-Pearson and Zvelebil 2014; Parker Pearson et al. 2000, 2005). These excavations have proved remarkably interesting and productive. Indeed, the amount of material recovered has proved logistically difficult, and our publications have been less frequent than we would have liked. There have also been a number of small-scale excavations that examined chambered tombs (Cummings 2011), beaker settlements (Hamilton and Sharples 2011, Sharples 1998a, 2009, 2011), and many post-medieval structures (Raven 2011b). The machair plain was systematically surveyed, and over 241 settlement mounds were identified (Parker Pearson 2012a:12). A survey of the chambered tombs of South Uist considered their location and provided a phenomenological interpretation as well as detailed descriptions of the surviving remains (Cummings et al. 2005, 2011). Several PhDs were completed through the course of the project including a detailed consideration of the Neolithic settlement (Henley 2005, 2011) and the Medieval occupation (Raven 2005, 2011b) of the Uists. The last field season for the project was in 2004 when the excavations at Bornais were completed. Journal of the North Atlantic 10 N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 Armit, I. 1998. Re-excavation of an Iron Age wheelhouse and earlier structure at Eilean Maleit, North Uist. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 128:255–271. Armit, I. 2005a. The Atlantic roundhouse: A beginner’s guide. Pp. 5–10, In V. Turner, R.A. Nicholson, S.J. Dockrill, and J.M. Bond (Eds.). Tall Stories? 2 Millennia of Brochs. Shetland Amenity Trust, Lerwick, UK. Armit, I. 2005b. Land-holding and inheritance in the Atlantic Scottish Iron Age. Pp. 129–143, In V. Turner, R.A. Nicholson, S.J. Dockrill, and J.M. Bond (Eds.). Tall Stories? 2 Millennia of Brochs. Shetland Amenity Trust, Lerwick, UK. Armit, I. 2006. Anatomy of an Iron Age Roundhouse: The Cnip Wheelhouse Excavations, Lewis. Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK. Armit, I., and A.R. Braby. 2002. Excavation of a burnt mound and associated structures at Ceann non Clachan, North Uist. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 132:299–358. Armit, I., and B. Finlayson. 1992. Hunter-gatherers transformed: The transition to agriculture in northern and western Europe. Antiquity 66:664–676. Armit, I., E. Campbell, and A. Dunwell. 2008. Excavation of an Iron Age, early historic, and medieval settlement and metalworking site at Eilean Olabhat, North Uist. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 138:27–104. Barber, J. 2003. Bronze Age Farms and Iron Age Farm Mounds of the Outer Hebrides. Society of Antiquaires of Scotland (Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports 3), Edinburgh, UK. Available online at http://www. sair.org.uk. Accessed September 2008. Barber, J., P. Halstead, H. James, and F. Lee. 1989. An unusual Iron Age burial at Hornish Point, South Uist. Antiquity 63:773–778. Barrett, J.C., and S.M. Foster. 1991. Passing the time in Iron Age Scotland. Pp. 44–56, In W.S. Hanson and E.A. Slater (Eds.). Scottish Archaeology: New Perceptions. Aberdeen University Press, Aberdeen, UK. Beveridge, E. 1903. Coll and Tiree. T & A Constable, Edinburgh, UK. Beveridge, E. 1911. North Uist: Its Archaeology and Topography. William Brown & Co, Edinburgh, UK. Beveridge, E., and J.G. Callander. 1931. Excavation of an earth house at Foshigarry and a fort, Dun Thomaidh, in North Uist. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 65:299–357. Beveridge, E., and J.G. Callander. 1932. Earth houses at Garry Iochdrach and Bac Mhic Connain in North Uist. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 66:32–67. Branigan, K. 2005. From Clan to Clearance: History and Archaeology on the Isle of Barra c. 850–1850 AD. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Branigan, K. 2007. Ancient Barra: Exploring the Archaeology of the Outer Hebrides. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Stornoway, UK. Branigan, K., and P. Foster. 1995. Barra: Archaeological Research on Ben Tangaval. Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, UK. Conclusion The 20th century was a period when the archaeology of the islands was controlled by outsiders, initially a group of rich idiosyncratic amateurs and more recently groups of university-trained academics. These have imposed their own views of the archaeological history of the islands and have dictated the nature and medium of the debate (the English language). It is clear that circumstances are changing and that archaeology is becoming a more devolved process. Archaeological contractors have become settled on the islands, and the archaeological work is being driven, as it is throughout Britain, by development. There is a regional archaeologist, a post established in 1998, who controls the development process, and local communities are much more involved in the work undertaken. These groups want the recovered material to be displayed in local museums and the sites presented to the public. Cultural tourism will become increasingly important and has already resulted in the public presentation of many sites and the creation of a series of locally published guidebooks to the archaeology of the islands (e.g., Branigan 2007; Parker Pearson et al. 2004a, 2008). The 21st century will provide a whole new set of problems and opportunities, and the archaeology of the Western Isles should continue to provide an important resource for a range of interest groups that includes the local communities as well as the wider community of academics throughout Europe and North America who find this region immensely interesting. Literature Cited Armit, I. 1988. Broch landscapes in the Western Isles. Scottish Archaeological Review 5:78–86. Armit, I. (Ed.). 1990. Beyond the Brochs: Changing Perspectives on the Later Iron Age in Atlantic Scotland. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, UK. Armit, I. 1991. The Atlantic Iron Age: Five levels of chronology. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 121:181–214. Armit, I. 1992a. The Later Prehistory of the Western Isles of Scotland. British Archaeological Reports (British Series, 221), Oxford, UK. Armit, I. 1992b. The Hebridean Neolithic. Pp. 307–321, In N.M. Sharples and A. Sheridan (Eds.). Vessels for the Ancestors: Essays on the Neolithic of Britain and Ireland. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, UK. Armit, I. 1996. The Archaeology of Skye and the Western Isles. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, UK. Armit, I. 1997. Cultural landscapes and identities: A case study in the Scottish Iron Age. Pp. 248–253, In A. Gwilt and C. Haselgrove (Eds.). Reconstructing Iron Age Societies. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Journal of the North Atlantic N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 11 Branigan, K., and P. Foster. 2000. From Barra to Berneray: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in the Southern Isles of the Outer Hebrides. Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, UK. Branigan, K., and P. Foster. 2002. Barra and the Bishop’s Isles: Living on the Margin. Tempus, Stroud, UK. Brayshay, B.A., and K.J. Edwards. 1996. Late-glacial and Holocene vegetational history of South Uist and Barra. Pp. 13–26, In D. Gilbertson, M. Kent, and J. Grattan (Eds.). The Outer Hebrides: The Last 14,000 Years. Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, UK. Brennand, M., M. Parker Pearson, and H. Smith. 1998. The Norse settlement and Pictish cairn at Kilphedir, South Uist. Unpublished Report, Department of Archaeology and Prehistory, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. Burgess, C. 1980. The Age of Stonehenge. Dent, London, UK. Campbell, E. 1991. Excavations of a wheelhouse and other Iron Age structures at Sollas, North Uist, by R.J.C Atkinson in 1957. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 121:117–173. Campbell, E. 2000. The raw, the cooked, and the burnt: Interpretations of food and animals in the Hebridean Iron Age. Archaeological Dialogues 7:184–198. Campbell, E. 2002. The Western Isles pottery sequence. Pp. 139–144, In B. Ballin Smith and I. Banks (Eds.). In the Shadow of the Brochs: The Iron Age in Scotland. Tempus, Stroud, UK. Campbell, E., and A. Heald. 2007. A “Pictish” brooch mould from North Uist: Implications for the organisation of non-ferrous metalworking in the later first millennium A.D. Medieval Archaeology 51:172–178. Cheape, H. 2008. “Every treasure you chanced on”: Alexander Carmichael and material culture. Pp. 115–134, In D.U. Stiùbhart (Ed.). The Life and Legacy of Alexander Carmichael, The Island Book Trust, Ness, Isle of Lewis, UK. Childe, V.G. 1933. Scottish megalithic tombs and their affinities. Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society 3:120–137. Colls, K., and J. Hunter. 2010 Defining the archaeological resource on the Isle of Harris. An assessment of the impact of environmental factors and topography on the identification of buried remains. SHIMA The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures 4.2:15–40. Crawford, I. 1974a. Scot (?), Norseman and Gael. Scottish Archaeological Forum 6:1–16. Crawford, I.A. 1974b. Destruction in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Pp. 183–212, In P.A. Rahtz (Ed.). Rescue Archaeology. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, UK. Crawford, I.A. 1977. A corbelled Bronze Age burial chamber and Beaker evidence from the Rosinish machair, Benbecula. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 108(1976–1977):94–107. Crawford, I.A. 1981. War or peace: Viking colonisation in the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland reviewed. Pp. 259–269, In H. Bekker-Nielsen, P. Foote, and O. Olsen (Eds). Proceedings of the Eighth Viking Congress, Aarhus, 24-31 August 1977. Odense University Press, Odense, Denmark. Crawford, I.A. 1986. The West Highlands and Islands: A View of 50 Centuries: The Udal (North Uist) Evidence. Great Auk Press, Cambridge, UK. Crawford, I.A. 2002. The wheelhouse. Pp. 111–128, In B. Ballin Smith and I. Banks (Eds). In the Shadow of the Brochs: The Iron Age in Scotland. Tempus, Stroud, UK. Crawford, I.A., and R. Switsur. 1977. Sandscaping and C14: The Udal, N. Uist. Antiquity 51:124–136. Crone, A., 1993. Excavation and survey of sub-peat features of Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age date at Bharpa Carinish, North Uist, Scotland. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 59:361–382. Cummings, V., C. Henley, and N.M. Sharples. 2005. The chambered cairns of South Uist. Pp. 37–54, In V. Cummings, and A. Pannett, A. (Eds.). Set in Stone: New Approaches to Neolithic Monuments in Scotland. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Cummings, V., C. Henley, and N.M. Sharples. 2011. The chambered cairns of South Uist. Pp. 118–133, In M. Parker Pearson, (Ed.). Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Curwen, E.C. 1938. The Hebrides a Cultural Backwater. Antiquity 12:261–289. Daniel, G.E. 1941. The dual nature of the megalithic colonisation of prehistoric Europe. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 7:1–49. Dawson, T. 2015. Eroding archaeology at the coast: How a global problem is being managed in Scotland, with examples from the Western Isles. Journal of the North Atlantic Special Issue XX:XX [TO BE FILLED IN]. Downes, J., and A. Badcock, 1998. Berneray causeway. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1998:101. Dunwell, A.J., M. Johnson, and I. Armit. 2003. Excavations at Geirisclett chambered cairn, North Uist, Western Isles, 1996-7. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 133:1–33. Edwards, K.J., G. Whittington, and W. Ritchie. 2005. The possible role of humans in the early stages of machair evolution: Paleoenvironmental investigations in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Journal of Archaeological Science 32:435–449. Evans, J.G. 1971. Habitat changes on the calcareous soils of Britain: The impact of Neolithic man. Pp. 27–73, In D.D.A. Simpson (Ed.). Economy and Settlement in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Britain and Europe. Leicester University Press, Leicester, UK. Fairhurst, H. 1971. The wheelhouse site A’Cheardach Bheag on Drimore machair, South Uist. Glasgow Archaeological Journal 2:72–106. Fairhurst, H., and W. Ritchie. 1963. Baleshare Island, North Uist. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1963:31. Fisher, I. 2001. Early Medieval Sculpture in the West Highlands and Islands. Royal commission of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK. Fleming, A. 2011. The blacklands survey: Cill Donnain and Gearraidh Bhailteas townships. Pp. 74–82, In M. Parker Pearson (Ed.). Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Journal of the North Atlantic 12 N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 Foster, K., and J. Pouncett. 2000. The excavation of Iron Age and later structures at Alt Chrisal T17, Barra, 1996–1999. Pp. 147–190, In K. Branigan and P. Foster (Eds.). From Barra to Berneray. Sheffield University Press, Sheffield, UK. Garrow, D., and F. Sturt. 2013. An Doirlinn, near Orosay. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland New Series 14:193–194. Gilbertson, D., M. Kent, and J. Grattan. 1996. The Outer Hebrides: The Last 14,000 Years. Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, UK. Gilbertson, D.D., J.-L. Schwenninger, R.A. Kemp, and E.J. Rhodes, 1999. Sand drift and soil formation along an exposed North Atlantic coastline: 14,000 years of diverse geomorphological, climatic and human impacts. Journal of Archaeological Science 26:439–469. Graham, A. 1947. Some observations on the Brochs. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 81:48–99. Hallén, Y. 1994. The use of bone and antler at Foshigarry and Bac Mhic Connain, two Iron Age sites on North Uist, Western Isles. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 124:189–231. Hamilton, J.R.C. 1956. Excavations at Jarlshof, Shetland. Ministry of Works Archaeological Reports No 1, London, UK. Hamilton, M., and N.M. Sharples. 2011. Early Bronze Age settlements at Machair Mheadhanach and Cill Donnain, South Uist. Pp. 199–214, In M. Parker Pearson (Ed.). Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavations in South Uist. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Harding, D.W., and I. Armit,.1990. Survey and excavation in west Lewis. Pp. 71–107, In I. Armit, (Ed.). Beyond the Brochs: Changing Perspectives on the Later Iron Age. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, UK. Harding, D.W., and T.N. Dixon. 2000. Dun Bharabhat, Cnip: An Iron Age Settlement in West Lewis. University of Edinburgh Department of Archaeology (Calanais Research Series 2), Edinburgh, UK. Harding, D.W., and S.M.D. Gilmour. 2000. The Iron Age Settlement at Beirgh, Riof, Isle of Lewis: Excavations, 1985–1895. Vol. 1: The Structures and Stratigraphy. University of Edinburgh Department of Archaeology (Calanais Research Series 1), Edinburgh, UK. Henshall, A.S. 1972. Chambered tombs of Scotland, volume 2. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, UK. Henley, C. 2005. The Outer Hebrides and the Hebridean world during the Neolithic: an island history. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Cardiff, Cardiff, UK. Henley, C. 2011. Loch a’Choire Neolithic settlement, South Uist. In M. Parker Pearson, (ed.) Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist. Oxbow, Oxford, UK. Holderness, H, 2007. A865 Road improvement scheme, North Uist Western Isles: watching brief and excavation. Discovery and Excavation 8:202. Hothersall, S., and R. Tye. 2000. The lost wheelhouses of Uist: Guide to Some of the Excavated Wheelhouses of North and South Uist. Robert Tye, South Uist, UK. Kent, M., R. Weaver, D. Gilbertson, P. Wathern, and B. Brayshay, 1996. The present day machair vegetation of the southern Outer Hebrides. Pp. 133–146, In D. Gilbertson, M. Kent, and J. Grattan (Eds.). The Outer Hebrides: The Last 14,000 Years. Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, UK. Kinnes, I. 1985. Circumstance not context: the Neolithic of Scotland as seen from outside. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 115:15–57. Lane, A. 1983. Dark-age and Viking-age Pottery in the Hebrides, with Special Reference to the Udal. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. University College London, UK. Lane, A. 1990. Hebridean pottery: Problems of definition, chronology, presence, and absence. Pp. 108–130, In I. Armit (Ed.). Beyond the Brochs: Changing Perspectives on the Later Iron Age in Atlantic Scotland. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, UK. Lethbridge, T.C. 1950. Herdsmen and Hermits: Celtic Seafarers in the Northern Seas. Bowes and Bowes, Cambridge. Lethbridge, T.C. 1952. Excavations at Kilpheder, South Uist, and the problem of brochs and wheelhouses. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 18:176–193. MacKie, E.W. 2007. The Roundhouses, Brochs, and Wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c.700 BC– AD 500: Architecture and Material Culture. Part 2: The Mainland and Western Islands. British Archaeological Reports (British Series 444), Oxford, UK. MacLaren, A. 1974. A Norse house on Drimore machair, South Uist. Glasgow Archaeological Journal 3:9–18. McInnes, I.J. 1971. Settlements in later Neolithic Britain. Pp. 113–130, In D.D.A. Simpson (Ed.). Economy and settlement in Neolithic and Beaker Britain and Europe. Leicester University Press, Leicester, UK. Moreland, J. 2011. The mountains survey: Loch Aoineart. Pp. 83–117, In M. Parker Pearson (Ed.). Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist. Oxbow, Oxford, UK. Müller, J. 1988. The chambered cairns of the Northern and Wetsern Isles. Architecture, structure, information transfer, and location processes. Edinburgh University, Archaeology, Occasional Paper 16, Edinburgh, UK. Parker Pearson, M. 2012a. The machair survey. Pp. 12– 73, In M. Parker Pearson (Ed.). Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist. Oxbow, Oxford, UK. Parker Pearson, M. (Ed.). 2012b. Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Parker Pearson, M., and M. Zvelebil, 2014. Excavations at Cill Donnain: A Bronze Age Settlement and Iron Age Wheelhouse in South Uist. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Parker Pearson, M., J. Mulville, and N.M. Sharples. 1996. Brochs and Iron Age society: A reappraisal. Antiquity 70:57–67. Parker Pearson, M. and N.M. Sharples, with J. Mulville, and H. Smith. 1999. Between Land and Sea: Excavations at Dun Vulan, South Uist. SEARCH Monograph 3. Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, UK. Journal of the North Atlantic N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 13 Roussell, A. 1934. Norse Building Customs in the Scottish Islands. Levin and Munksgaard, Copenhagen, Denmark. Russell, M.W. 1997. A Poem of Remote Lives: The Enigma of Werner Kissling 1895–1988. Neil Wilson Publishing, Glasgow, UK. Russell, M.W. 2002. A Different Country: The Photographs of Werner Kissling. Birlinn, Edinburgh, UK. Scott, W.L. 1932. Rudh an Dunain chambered cairn, Skye. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 66:183–213. Scott, W.L. 1935. The chambered cairn of Clettraval, North Uist. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 69:480–536. Scott, W.L. 1942. Neolithic culture of the Outer Hebrides. Antiquity 16:301–306. Scott, W.L. 1947a. The problem of the brochs. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 13:1–37. Scott, W.L. 1947b. The chamber tomb of Unival, North Uist. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 82:1–48. Scott, W.L. 1948. Gallo-Belgic colonies. The aisledroundhouse culture in the north. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 14:46–125. Scott, W.L. 1950. Eilean an Tighe: A pottery workshop of the second millennium BC. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 85:1–37. Scott, W.L. 1951. The colonization of Scotland in the second millennium BC. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 17:16–82. Selkirk, A. 1996. The Udal. Current Archaeology 13:84– 94. Sharples, N.M. 1992. Aspects of regionalisation in the Scottish Neolithic. Pp. 322–331, In N. Sharples and A. Sheridan (eds), Vessels for the ancestors: essays on the Neolithic of Britain and Ireland. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, UK. Sharples, N.M. 2003. From monuments to artefacts: changing social relationships in the Later Iron Age. Pp. 151–165, In J. Downes, and A. Ritchie (Eds.). Sea Change: Orkney and Northern Europe in the Later Iron Age AD 300-800. Pinkfoot Press, Balgavies, Angus, UK. Sharples, N.M. 2005a. Life histories and the buildings of the Atlantic Iron Age. Pp. 106–119, In V. Turner, R.A. Nicholson, S.J. Dockrill, and J.M. Bond (Eds.). Tall Stories? 2 Millennia of Brochs. Shetland Amenity Trust, Lerwick, UK. Sharples, N.M. (Ed.). 2005b. A Norse Farmstead in the Outer Hebrides: Excavations at Mound 3, Bornais, South Uist. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Sharples, N.M. 2006. The first (permanent) houses: An interpretation of the monumental domestic architecture of Iron Age Orkney. Pp. 281–305, In V.O. Jorge (Ed.). Approaching ‘Prehistoric and Protohistoric Architectures’ of Europe from a “Dwelling Perspective”. ADECAP (Journal of Iberian Archaeology 8), Porto, Portugal. Sharples, N.M. 2009. Beaker settlement in the Western Isles. Pp. 147–158, In M.J. Allen, N.M. Sharples, and T. O’Connor (Eds.). Land and People: Papers in Memory of John G. Evans. Prehistoric Society and Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Parker Pearson, M., P. Marshall, J. Mulville, H. Smith, and C. Ingrem. 2000. Cladh Hallan: Excavation of a Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age settlement. Unpublished report, Department of Archaeology and Prehistory, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. Parker Pearson, M., N.M Sharples, and J. Symonds, with J. Mulville, J. Raven, H. Smith, and A. Woolf. 2004a. South Uist: Archaeology and History of a Hebridean Island. Tempus, Stroud, UK. Parker Pearson, M., H. Smith, J. Mulville, and M. Brennand. 2004b. Cille Pheadair: The life and times of a Norse period farmstead. Pp. 235–254, In Hines, J., Lane, A. and Redknap, M (Eds.). Land, Sea and Home: Proceedings of a Conference on Viking-period Settlement at Cardiff, July 2001. Maney (Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph 20), Leeds, UK. Parker Pearson, M., A. Chamberlain, O. Craig, P, Marshall, J. Mulville, H. Smith, C. Chenery, M. Collins, G. Cook, O. Craig, J. Evans, J. Hiller, J. Montgomery, J-L. Schwenninger, G. Taylor, and T. Weiss. 2005. Evidence for mummification in Bronze Age Britain. Antiquity 79:529–546. Parker Pearson, M., N. Sharples, J. Symonds, H. Robbins, and A. Badcock. 2008. Ancient Uists: Exploring the Archaeology of the Outer Hebrides. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Stornoway, UK. Parker Pearson, M., J. Mulville, N.M. Sharples, and H. Smith. 2011. Archaeological remains on Uist’s machair: Threats and potential. Pp. 55–85, In D. Griffiths (Ed.). Aeolian Archaeology: The Archaeology of Sand Landscapes in Scotland. Scottish Archaeological Internet Report (Monograph 48), Edinburgh, UK. Piggott, S. 1954. The Neolithic Cultures of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. Powers, A.H., J. Padmore, and D.D. Gilbertson. 1989. Studies of late prehistoric and modern opal phytoliths from coastal sand dunes and machair in northwest Britain. Journal of Archaeological Science 16:27–45. Rahtz, P.A. (Ed.). 1974. Rescue Archaeology. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, UK. Raven, J. 2005. Medieval landscapes and lordship in South Uist. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK. Raven, J. 2011a. Duns, brochs, and crannogs of South Uist. Pp. 134–159, In Parker Pearson, M. (Ed.). Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Raven, J. 2011b. The shielings survey: central South Uist. Pp. 160–179, In Parker Pearson, M. (Ed.). Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. RCAHMS 1928. Ninth Report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, Edinburgh, UK. Rennell, R., and I. McHardy, 2009. Baile Sear Community Archaeology Project: Sloc Sabhaidh, Baile Sear, North Uist. Season 3 (2008) data structure report. Unpublished report, SCAPE Trust, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, UK. Journal of the North Atlantic 14 N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 Stiùbhart, D.U. 2008. ALexander Carmichael and Carmina Gadelica. Pp. 1–39, In D.U. Stiùbhart (Ed). The life and Legacy of Alexander Carmichael. The Island Book Trust, Ness, Isle of Lewis, UK. Symonds, J. 1997. The Flora MacDonald project. Current Archaeology 152:304–307. Thomas, F.W.L. 1870. On the primitive dwellings and hypogeal on the Outer Hebrides. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 7:153–195. Thomas, F.W.L. 1890. On the duns of the Outer Hebrides. Archaeologia Scotica 5:365–415. Weaver, R., M. Kent, D. Gilbertson, P. Wathern, and B. Brayshay. 1996. The acidic and upland vegetation of the southern Outer Hebrides. Pp. 147–162, In D. Gilbertson, M. Kent, and J. Grattan. (Eds.). The Outer Hebrides: The Last 14,000 Years. Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, UK. Welbourne, T. 2011. The Man who Saw the Future. OBooks, Alresford Hants, IK. Wessex Archaeology 2008. Allasdale Dunes, Barra, Western Isles, Scotland: Archaeological Evaluation and Assessment of Results. Wessex Archaeology, Salisbury, UK. Young, A. 1952. An aisled farmhouse at Allasdale, Isle of Barra. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 87:80–105. Young, A. 1956. Excavations at Dun Cuier, Isle of Barra, Outer Hebrides. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 89:290–327. Young, A. 1966. The sequence of Hebridean pottery. Pp. 45–58, In A.L.F. Rivet (Ed.). The Iron Age in Northern Britain. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, UK. Young, A., and K.M. Richardson. 1960. A Cheardach Mhor, Drimore, South Uist. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 93:135–173. Zvelebil, M. 1991. Cill Donnain. Unpublished report, Department of Archaeology and Prehistory, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.. Endnotes 1Numerous scholars tried to gain access to the Udal material but few achieved it. Alan Lane became involved in the project in its early years and was allowed to undertake a Ph.D. on Late Iron Age and Norse ceramics from the Udal under the supervision of James Graham Campbell at University College London (Lane 1983). This study provided the basis for the identification of Norse settlement throughout the Western Isles (Sharples and Parker Pearson 1999). However, the decision to publish a short article on this work (Lane 1990) was met with considerable hostility and a threat to take legal action. 2Professor Keith Branigan received a letter from Crawford when Sheffield University announced they were starting work on South Uist and Barra which—apart from advising them that they were not qualified to undertake such a project—banned them from visiting the Udal if Crawford was not present. Sharples, N.M. 2011. The Beaker-period and Early Bronze Age settlement at Sligeanach, Cill Donnain. Pp. 215–258, In Parker Pearson, M. (Ed.). Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Sharples, N.M. 2012. A Late Iron Age Farmstead in the Outer Hebrides. Excavations at Mound 1, Bornais, South Uist. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Sharples, N.M., and M. Parker Pearson. 1997. Why were brochs built? Recent studies in the Iron Age of Atlantic Scotland. Pp. 254–265, In A. Gwilt, and C. Haselgrove, (Eds.). Reconstructing Iron Age Societies. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Sharples, N.M., and M. Parker Pearson. 1999. Norse settlement on the Outer Hebrides. Norwegian Archaeological Review 32(1):41–62. Sharples, N.M., and R. Smith. 2009. Norse settlement in the Western Isles. Pp. 103–130, In Woolf, A. (Ed.). Scandinavian Scotland: Twenty Years After. Committee for Dark Age Studies (St Johns House Papers 12), St Andrews, UK. Sharples, N.M., M. Parker Pearson, and J. Symonds. 2004. The archaeological landscape of South Uist. Pp. 28–47, In R.A. Housley, and G. Coles. (Eds.). Atlantic Connections and Adaptations: Economies, Environments and Subsistence in Lands Bordering the North Atlantic. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Sharples, N.M., C. Ingrem, P. Marshall, J. Mulville, A. Powell, and K. Reed. In press. The Viking occupation of the Hebrides: evidence from the excavations at Bornais, South Uist. In J.H. Barrett, and S.J. Gibbon. (Eds.). Maritime Societies of the Viking and Medieval World. Boydell and Brewer, Woodbridge, UK. Shepherd, I.A.G. 1976. Preliminary results from the Beaker settlement at Rosinish, Benbecula. Pp. 209–219, In C. Burgess, and R. Miket, (Eds.). Settlement and Economy in the Third and Second Millennium BC. British Archaeological Reports (British Series 33), Oxford, UK. Shepherd, I.A.G., and A.N. Tuckwell. 1977. Traces of Beaker-period cultivation at Rosinish. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 108:108–113. Simpson, D.D.A. 1976. The later Neolithic and Beaker settlement at Northton, Isle of Harris. Pp. 221–231, In C. Burgess, and R. Miket (Eds.). Settlement and Economy in the Third and Second Millennium BC. British Archaeological Report, Oxford, UK. Simpson, D.D.A., E.M. Murphy, and R.A. Gregory. 2006. Excavations at Northton, Isle of Harris. British Archaeological Reports (British Series 408), Oxford, UK. Smith, H. 1996. An investigation of site formation processes on a traditional Hebridean farmstaed using environmental and geoarchaeological techniques. Pp. 195–206, In D. Gilbertson, M. Kent, and J. Grattan (Eds.). The Outer Hebrides: The Last 14,000 Years. Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, UK. Smith, H. 2011. The ethnohistory of Hebridean agriculture. Pp. 379–400, In Parker Pearson, M. (Ed.). Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. Journal of the North Atlantic N. Sharples 2015 Special Volume 9 15 3The Western Isles played an important role in the development of the discipline of snail analysis when John Evans took samples from Northton on Harris (Simpson et al. 2006) and several other sites as part of his Ph.D. work. The evidence from Northton was crucial to his influential interpretation of the environment in the Neolithic (Evans 1971). 4The excavations at the Udal could also be classed in this framework as much of the work was undertaken by students from Cambridge and the Institute of Archaeology London. 5Other universities became involved in the southern Hebrides, including Bournemouth, Southampton, and Winchester, as a result of the career developments of the original student participants.