Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk

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West Ayre, Hillswick (5473)

Current Priority
1
East
427920
North
1177030
Site Type
Structure And Midden
Period
1st mill BC-1st mill AD

A quantity of artefacts of Iron Age type were found in a midden deposit at West Ayre. These included four bone weaving combs, pottery, bone implements as well as bone and shell. A comparison of the previous records would appear to indicate that this midden may have been associated with structures and that it has been eroding for almost a century. In 1980 further traces of midden deposits were found. The site was not located during this survey; this may have been due to the presence of dense vegetation along the shore edge.

22 May 2015:

A 6m long rectangular building and midden deposit visible in the eroding coast edge in a section visible to a height of 0.8m above a storm beach. Two walls of the building and a possible paved stone floor are visible. The northern wall is constructed of a large edge set stone with three courses visible on the inner face. The building is approximately 6m long, and the interior is filled with midden and cobbles. One large stone forms the only visible remains of the southern wall. The midden contains fishbone and shell, one piece of pottery was noted. This midden deposit continues to the north beyond the building, where a layer of mussel shell is visible. Further round the bay to the north, deep cultivation soil is visible in the exposed section. This site is on the coast edge in a high energy environment, a steeply-sloping storm beach has formed below this eroding face. There are large erosion scars on the coast edge to the north of the bay, while dumped material to the south of the site forms an ad hoc coastal defence for a modern track.

ShoreUPDATE 22/02/2018 Site still as described, though less midden deposit visible. Pottery recovered during Archaeology Shetland's section cleaning and recording project 2016 suggested a post-medieval date for the structure. Historic records indicate that this area was used as the drying beach for the nearby Stenness Fishing Station, suggesting that this may have been a shed / hut associated with this activity.

Condition and current recommendations:

Condition
Not located
Action
Visit - check condition; characterise site and obtain dating evidence ;
Monitor site to report fresh exposures

Over to you...

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Record NM323 on map Northmavine: Map 5 in Report on a Coastal Zone Assessment Survey of Northmavine, Shetland, 1997

Other records:

NMRS
468
SMR
SMR 395

ShoreUpdates

2 ShoreUpdates accepted and 0 pending.

Click on an update to expand it.

22nd May, 2015 by training1
Survey Information
User:
training1
Date:
May 22, 2015
Tidal state:
mid
Site located?:
Yes
Condition Information
Coastally eroding?:
active sea erosion; has eroded in the past
Is there a coastal defence?:
no
Description:

A quantity of artefacts of Iron Age type were found in a midden deposit at West Ayre. These included four bone weaving combs, pottery, bone implements as well as bone and shell. A comparison of the previous records would appear to indicate that this midden may have been associated with structures and that it has been eroding for almost a century. In 1980 further traces of midden deposits were found. The site was not located during this survey; this may have been due to the presence of dense vegetation along the shore edge.

22 May 2015:

A rectangular building and midden deposit visible in the eroding coast edge in a section visible to a height of 0.5m above a storm beach. Two walls of the building and a possible paved stone floor are visible. The northern wall is constructed of a large edge set stone with three courses visible on the inner face. The building is approximately 6m long, and the interior is filled with midden and cobbles. One large stone forms the only visible remains of the southern wall. The midden contains fishbone and shell, one piece of pottery was noted. This midden deposit continues to the north beyond the building, where a lens of mussel shell is visible. Further round the bay to the north, deep cultivation soil is visible in the exposed section. This site is on the coast edge in a high energy environment, a steeply-sloping storm beach has formed below this eroding face. There are large erosion scars on the coast edge to the north of the bay, while dumped material to the south of the site forms an ad hoc coastal defence for a modern track.

Management Information
How visible are the remains? (above ground):
not visible
How visible are the remains? (in section):
limited visibility in section
How accessibile is the site?:
accessible on foot (no footpath)
The site is:
don't know
Comments and recommendations
Recommendations:

The site would benefit from a small project to clean and record the features visible in the section and sample for dating.

Section cleaned and recorded by Archaeology Shetland in 2015.

The coast edge is vulnerable and significant change has occurred since the CZAS survey and the site is actively eroding. Reassign to priority 1.

22nd February, 2018 by jo
Survey Information
User:
jo
Date:
Feb. 22, 2018
Tidal state:
low
Site located?:
Yes
Condition Information
Proximity to coast edge:
coast edge
Coastally eroding?:
active sea erosion
Description:

A quantity of artefacts of Iron Age type were found in a midden deposit at West Ayre. These included four bone weaving combs, pottery, bone implements as well as bone and shell. A comparison of the previous records would appear to indicate that this midden may have been associated with structures and that it has been eroding for almost a century. In 1980 further traces of midden deposits were found. The site was not located during this survey; this may have been due to the presence of dense vegetation along the shore edge.

22 May 2015:

A 6m long rectangular building and midden deposit visible in the eroding coast edge in a section visible to a height of 0.8m above a storm beach. Two walls of the building and a possible paved stone floor are visible. The northern wall is constructed of a large edge set stone with three courses visible on the inner face. The building is approximately 6m long, and the interior is filled with midden and cobbles. One large stone forms the only visible remains of the southern wall. The midden contains fishbone and shell, one piece of pottery was noted. This midden deposit continues to the north beyond the building, where a layer of mussel shell is visible. Further round the bay to the north, deep cultivation soil is visible in the exposed section. This site is on the coast edge in a high energy environment, a steeply-sloping storm beach has formed below this eroding face. There are large erosion scars on the coast edge to the north of the bay, while dumped material to the south of the site forms an ad hoc coastal defence for a modern track.

ShoreUPDATE 22/02/2018 Site still as described, though less midden deposit visible. Pottery recovered during Archaeology Shetland's section cleaning and recording project 2016 suggested a post-medieval date for the structure. Historic records indicate that this area was used as the drying beach for the nearby Stenness Fishing Station, suggesting that this may have been a shed / hut associated with this activity.

Management Information
How visible are the remains? (in section):
limited visibility in section
Comments and recommendations
Recommendations:

Retain Priority 1 until the identification and date of this structure is confirmed.