Ancient Monuments

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Risga, shell midden and related structures on south east side of island

A Scheduled Monument in Fort William and Ardnamurchan, Highland

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Latitude: 56.6696 / 56°40'10"N

Longitude: -5.9007 / 5°54'2"W

OS Eastings: 161109

OS Northings: 759893

OS Grid: NM611598

Mapcode National: GBR CCT2.V9Q

Mapcode Global: WGZCW.BMDC

Entry Name: Risga, shell midden and related structures on SE side of island

Scheduled Date: 30 November 2000

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM7829

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: shell midden

Location: Ardnamurchan

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Fort William and Ardnamurchan

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises a shell midden of early prehistoric date visible as a grass-covered mound, with associated hearths and possible structural remains.

The monument lies on a raised beach platform at the SE end of the island of Risga. It comprises a shell midden measuring at least 30m by 10m, first excavated in 1920-21 and more recently in 1993. During the 1920-21 excavation, a number of stone, bone and antler implements were recovered.

Artefacts recovered during the more recent excavation include flakes and blades of quartz, flint and bloodstone. A number of features were also uncovered in the midden, including a hearth, several pits, and stone-packed sub-circular foundation trenches which may represent the remains of structures.

Shell middens with associated artefactual assemblages such as this date to the Mesolithic or the very early Neolithic (around 4500-3500 BC). They were created through the gradual deposition of domestic refuse and are composed primarily of shells and bone, giving detailed insight into the diet of Mesolithic communities in Scotland.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material is likely to survive. It is irregular on plan, a maximum of about 57m due E-W by 50m N-S and bounded to the SE by high water mark and to the NW by a low rocky bluff, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to contribute to our understanding of late Mesolithic settlement and economy. Although there have been two phases of excavation on the site, considerable deposits survive undisturbed.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NM 65 NW 22.


Atkinson, Banks and Pollard, J. I. and T. (1993) 'Risga (Ardnamurchan parish): shell midden', Discovery Excav Scot, 45.

Cole, J. M. (1964) 'New aspects of the mesolithic settlement of South-West Scotland', Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc, 3rd, Vol. 41, 82-3.

Cole, J. M. (1971) 'The early settlement of Scotland: excavation at Morton, Fife'. Proc Prehist Soc, Vol. 37, 2, 305.

Lacaille, A. D. (1954) The Stone Age in Scotland, London, 229-39.

Mercer, J. (1974) 'New C14 dates from the Isle of Jura, Argyll', Antiquity, Vol. 48, 65-6.

Sieveking, Longworth and Wilson, G de G, I. H. and K. E. (1976) Problems in economic and social archaeology, 376-7, 381.

Stevenson, R. D. (1978) Risga: The Mesolithic industry, (Unpublished B. Sc dissertation, Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow).

Jardine, W. G. (1971) 'Oronsay, shell midden', Discovery Excav Scot, 6.

Jardine, W. G. (1973) 'Oronsay, shell middens', Discovery Excav Scot, 9.

Renfrew, C. (ed.) (1974) British prehistory: a new outline London 91-2.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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