Prehistoric Ironworking at Beechwood, Inverness

Related Articles

Related Articles

An example of the Beechwood smelting slag AOC Archaeology Group

Archaeological excavations by AOC Archaeology Group at Beechwood, Inverness, have uncovered new evidence of Iron Age metalworking which is allowing experts to re-evaluate the importance of iron and ironworking in prehistoric Scotland.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is currently investing up to £25m in the 215-acre former Beechwood Farm site to create Inverness Campus as a high quality location for business, research, learning and leisure in the Highland capital. Edinburgh-based AOC Archaeology Group was commissioned to help HIE evaluate and record by excavation any buried archaeological sites occupying the development area prior to the start of construction works.

 

The base of the smithing hearth at Beechwood

The 2011 dig revealed several timber roundhouses of possible Iron Age date (around 700 BC to AD 400) as well as evidence of earlier activity in the area stretching back thousands of years into the Neolithic period (3500 BC).

Work on the artefacts, which include Neolithic and Bronze Age pottery fragments, quernstones for grinding grain and significant quantities of iron slag, is in its early stages but is already providing tantalising hints of Beechwood’s important past.

The metalworking evidence from Beechwood is providing clues that there were two ironworking areas on site: one, a possible clay-lined ironworking hearth or furnace and a dump of waste material, and the other, a spread of debris from smelting and blacksmithing which appears to come from an area now lost to modern urban expansion.

Iron slag, the waste material left behind after smelting and blacksmithing, is not an uncommon find on archaeological sites but the survival of metalworking hearths or furnaces is much rarer.

Radiocarbon dates from charcoal found in pits and postholes associated with the iron slag suggest that this activity took place between 400 and 100 BC, making it Iron Age in date. This suggests that the metalworking at Beechwood may have been taking place at the same time as that at nearby Culduthel where a complex of well-preserved Iron Age furnaces and roundhouses was discovered in 2005.

This new discovery is just one of an increasing number of ironworking sites in the area found over the last fifteen years which is leading experts to speculate that north-east Scotland may have been an important focal area for iron production in later prehistory.

Background:

AOC Archaeology Group is committed to enabling the wider community to discover more about their Heritage.

From participation in excavations and surveys to dissemination of information about the sites we have excavated through lectures, workshops and publications, we actively encourage communities to discover our shared heritage. We also help communities develop their own heritage projects.

AOC offers a wide range of professional services tailored to your needs.

With over 40 highly qualified and specialist staff based in our offices across Britain, we can respond quickly to the needs and aspirations of our clients in any part of the country.

We are experts at balancing the interests of stakeholders with our professional responsibility to the shared heritage and offer a range of solutions for complex heritage situations, which are founded on realistic and achievable goals. This is all supported by a high quality financial and project management framework.

 

Article reproduced with kind permission from the

AOC Archaeology Group

HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Camulodunum – The First Capital of Britannia

Camulodunum was a Roman city and the first capital of the Roman province of Britannia, in what is now the present-day city of Colchester in Essex, England.

African Crocodiles Lived in Spain Six Million Years Ago

Millions of years ago, several species of crocodiles of different genera and characteristics inhabited Europe and sometimes even coexisted.

Bat-Winged Dinosaurs That Could Glide

Despite having bat-like wings, two small dinosaurs, Yi and Ambopteryx, struggled to fly, only managing to glide clumsily between the trees where they lived, according to a new study led by an international team of researchers, including McGill University Professor Hans Larsson.

Ancient Maya Built Sophisticated Water Filters

Ancient Maya in the once-bustling city of Tikal built sophisticated water filters using natural materials they imported from miles away, according to the University of Cincinnati.

New Clues Revealed About Clovis People

There is much debate surrounding the age of the Clovis - a prehistoric culture named for stone tools found near Clovis, New Mexico in the early 1930s - who once occupied North America during the end of the last Ice Age.

Cognitive Elements of Language Have Existed for 40 Million Years

Humans are not the only beings that can identify rules in complex language-like constructions - monkeys and great apes can do so, too, a study at the University of Zurich has shown.

Bronze Age Herders Were Less Mobile Than Previously Thought

Bronze Age pastoralists in what is now southern Russia apparently covered shorter distances than previously thought.

Legio IX Hispana – The Lost Roman Legion

One of the most debated mysteries from the Roman period involves the disappearance of the Legio IX Hispana, a legion of the Imperial Roman Army that supposedly vanished sometime after AD 120.

Popular stories

Legio IX Hispana – The Lost Roman Legion

One of the most debated mysteries from the Roman period involves the disappearance of the Legio IX Hispana, a legion of the Imperial Roman Army that supposedly vanished sometime after AD 120.

The Secret Hellfire Club and the Hellfire Caves

The Hellfire Club was an exclusive membership-based organisation for high-society rakes, that was first founded in London in 1718, by Philip, Duke of Wharton, and several of society's elites.

Port Royal – The Sodom of the New World

Port Royal, originally named Cagway was an English harbour town and base of operations for buccaneers and privateers (pirates) until the great earthquake of 1692.

Matthew Hopkins – The Real Witch-Hunter

Matthew Hopkins was an infamous witch-hunter during the 17th century, who published “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647, and whose witch-hunting methods were applied during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts.