Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk

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North Uist, Balelone (9358)

Current Priority
1
East
71950
North
874080
Site Type
Souterrain
Period
1st Millennium BC - 5th C AD

At Kilpheder, coastal erosion has revealed thin layers of kitchen-midden and traces of a slight single wall, which curves in a northerly direction for several yards and seems to represent part of the underground linings of one of the earth-houses indicated by the OS. Finds from the former site include potsherds, hammer-stones, iron slag and a single cut-marked bone. A potsherd and an oval pebble fragment were found. 1911.
At NF 7195 7408 a dune has been eroded by the sea, exposing a sand face c. 30.0m long. Midden material, a burnt layer about 1 1/2inches thick and building remains (probably of an earth-house) are exposed in the face. There are insufficient remains to justify survey action. The second earth-house was not located. Visited 1965. An 'Erd House' is recorded at this location on the 1st edition OS map. It is possible that this is the same site as 383. As previously described, a substantial midden layer was visible eroding out of the section at NF 71948 74082. Several pottery sherds were recovered and tentatively dated to the Iron Age. A possible souterrain was also visible within the section as coursed walls.

Update 03/12/2015

The site is not as described, there has been a big blow out of the dune, exposing a number of features in plan.

Reference to 'Whole site from NW' image uploaded shows the main features now evident which seem to include some not mentioned in the original SCAPE survey in 2005. Reference to older satellite images up to 15 years ago suggests that the coast edge has receded by at least 5m in that time, possibly up to 10m in places.

The midden can be seen in the centre of the image as a darker brown area. This is substantial and full of shells of all types, but the original description suggests this was at the coast edge when originally surveyed in 2005.

Below and to the W of this (right in the image) are the remains of a stone walled cellular structure eroding out of the seaward midden face. This has a curved back wall in coursed stonework with collapsed forward projecting walls either side, indicating an internal dia. of c. 4m. This is perhaps the 'possible souterrain' referred to in the first SCAPE survey.

A few m to the E of this at a higher level (left in image) is the outline of a cruciform plan stone setting c. 10 x 5m with the stone lines c. 1.5m apart. Modern beach sculpture or ??.

Towards the S end of the main midden is a single seemingly quarried slab c 1.5m long and 0.3-0.4 m thick lying on top of what appears to be another stone structure.

Further S from that, the midden reappears with suggestions of other stone walls nearby.

Condition and current recommendations:

Condition
Eroding
Action
Visit - assess condition of the site ;
Survey site - using several techniques to characterise site

Over to you...

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If you have completed a field survey of this site, you can submit your ShoreUPDATE record here.

Record 386 on map 7 in CZAS, North Uist (west), 2005

Other records:

NMRS
10127
SMR
MWE10127

ShoreUpdates

1 ShoreUpdate accepted and 0 pending.

Click on an update to expand it.

3rd December, 2015 by DavidNewman
Survey Information
User:
DavidNewman
Date:
Dec. 3, 2015
Tidal state:
mid
Site located?:
Yes
Condition Information
Proximity to coast edge:
intertidal
Coastally eroding?:
active sea erosion; active wind erosion (in dunes only); has eroded in the past
Is there a coastal defence?:
no
Other threats?:
stock erosion
Description:

At Kilpheder, coastal erosion has revealed thin layers of kitchen-midden and traces of a slight single wall, which curves in a northerly direction for several yards and seems to represent part of the underground linings of one of the earth-houses indicated by the OS. Finds from the former site include potsherds, hammer-stones, iron slag and a single cut-marked bone. A potsherd and an oval pebble fragment were found. 1911.
At NF 7195 7408 a dune has been eroded by the sea, exposing a sand face c. 30.0m long. Midden material, a burnt layer about 1 1/2inches thick and building remains (probably of an earth-house) are exposed in the face. There are insufficient remains to justify survey action. The second earth-house was not located. Visited 1965. An 'Erd House' is recorded at this location on the 1st edition OS map. It is possible that this is the same site as 383. As previously described, a substantial midden layer was visible eroding out of the section at NF 71948 74082. Several pottery sherds were recovered and tentatively dated to the Iron Age. A possible souterrain was also visible within the section as coursed walls.

Update 03/12/2015

The site is not as described, there has been a big blow out of the dune, exposing a number of features in plan.

Reference to 'Whole site from NW' image uploaded shows the main features now evident which seem to include some not mentioned in the original SCAPE survey in 2005. Reference to older satellite images up to 15 years ago suggests that the coast edge has receded by at least 5m in that time, possibly up to 10m in places.

The midden can be seen in the centre of the image as a darker brown area. This is substantial and full of shells of all types, but the original description suggests this was at the coast edge when originally surveyed in 2005.

Below and to the W of this (right in the image) are the remains of a stone walled cellular structure eroding out of the seaward midden face. This has a curved back wall in coursed stonework with collapsed forward projecting walls either side, indicating an internal dia. of c. 4m. This is perhaps the 'possible souterrain' referred to in the first SCAPE survey.

A few m to the E of this at a higher level (left in image) is the outline of a cruciform plan stone setting c. 10 x 5m with the stone lines c. 1.5m apart. Modern beach sculpture or ??.

Towards the S end of the main midden is a single seemingly quarried slab c 1.5m long and 0.3-0.4 m thick lying on top of what appears to be another stone structure.

Further S from that, the midden reappears with suggestions of other stone walls nearby.

Management Information
How visible are the remains? (above ground):
limited visibility (partial remains)
How visible are the remains? (in section):
limited visibility in section
How accessibile is the site?:
accessible on foot (no footpath)
The site is:
is not locally known
Comments and recommendations
Comments:

Overdrawing of Bing and Google satellite images dating back to 2004 shows head of beach moving steadily backwards between 5 and 10 metres in this area.

Recommendations:

Reassign to priority 1. Recommend expert visit to assess what appear to be exposures not referred to in original survey. More detailed survey and investigation.