Ancient Monuments

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Seal Cottage, middens 350m WSW of, Oronsay

A Scheduled Monument in Kintyre and the Islands, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 56.0118 / 56°0'42"N

Longitude: -6.2396 / 6°14'22"W

OS Eastings: 135845

OS Northings: 687985

OS Grid: NR358879

Mapcode National: GBR BDZT.NRM

Mapcode Global: WGYFW.4504

Entry Name: Seal Cottage, middens 350m WSW of, Oronsay

Scheduled Date: 9 January 1996

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6288

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: shell midden

Location: Colonsay and Oronsay

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Kintyre and the Islands

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises two large, partially excavated, mesolithic shell middens which are situated in a commanding position amongst dunes on the SE coast of Oronsay. In mesolithic times, the high tide would have almost reached the base of the mounds.

The southernmost midden, 'Caisteal nan Gillean I', now stands 17.7m above mean sea level and, prior to excavation in 1881-2 which removed its summit, may have been up to 2m higher. In 1979 a series of small test pits were dug and auger samples taken over the site; dating evidence suggested that there was a short sequence of occupation. There were indications of a possible structure on the S andW periphery of the site.

The second mound, 'Caisteal nan Gillean II', lies 50m to the NE. It too had been partially excavated in 1881, but further excavation took place in 1970-1 demonstrating that areas of undisturbed midden deposits survived. Radiocarbon datesrange from 4340-3900 BC.

The area to be scheduled is oval on plan and measures 100m from SW-NE by 60m transversely, to include the middens and an area around in which associated remains may survive, as marked in red on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to provide information about the activities of Scotland's first settlers, specifically their exploitation of coastal resources.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NR 38 NE 8 and 15.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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