Outer Hebrides

Western Scotland
Western Scotland burial sites
Cnip cemetery site, Isle of Lewis
Cnip cemetery site, Isle of Lewis
IMG_7434
The bay Traigh na Beirigh (Reef Beach) from the site.

Cnip

CnipTo date seven Viking Age burials have been discovered in the sand dunes above an excellent location to beach ships near the village of Cnip. In 1979 a female (35-40) burial was found accompanied by a pair of P51(early 10th century) non-matching oval brooches, 44 coloured glass beads, antler comb, iron knife in leather sheaf, whetstone pendant, bird-bone needle case and two iron needle fragments, iron sickle, Irish bronze ringed pin (10th century), and an Insular bronze belt buckle and strap-end. A boy (6) with a pendant and bead was discovered in 1991, whilst a further five burials were uncovered in 1994: two unaccompanied males (35-45 and 40+); a female (35-45) buried with a bone pin and iron plate;  an infant (6-9 months) was buried with an amber bead and bone pin; and another infant (at or close to birth) was buried with a rivet-head. Radiocarbon dating of the burials excavated in 1991 and 1994 suggest a late 9th/early 10th-century date. Isotope analysis of all of the burials suggests that none of them had spent their childhoods in Scandinavia – some were local and some had lived elsewhere in Britain and Ireland. The burials were within 20m of a Bronze Age cairn which was visible during the Viking Age, possibly just as a sandy mound. The viewshed map demonstrates that visibility of/from the site is centred on the bay. For the nearby burial at Bhaltos see below.

GPS: N 58° 13.233, W 006° 56.503
NGR: NB 0994 3639

R.D.E. Welander, C. Batey and T.G. Cowie, 1987, ‘A Viking burial from Kneep, Uig, Isle of Lewis’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 117: 149-74.

A.J. Dunwell, T.G. Cowie, M.F. Bruce, T. Neighbour and A.R. Rees, 1995, ‘A Viking Age cemetery at Cnip, Uig, Isle of Lewis’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 125: 719-52.

J. Graham-Campbell, 2006, ‘Valtos’, Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde 32: 64-66.

J. Montgomery and J.A. Evans, 2006, ‘Immigrants on the Isle of Lewis – combining traditional funerary and modern isotope evidence to investigate social differentiation, migration and dietary change in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland’, in R. Gowland and C. Knüsel (eds), Social Archaeology of Funerary Remains. Studies in Funerary Archaeology 1. Oxford: Oxbow, 122-42.

IMG_7462
Tràigh lar beach from Nisabost burial site, Isle of Harris
IMG_7461
Tràigh lar beach and Clach Mhic Leòid standing stone from burial site

Nisabost

Nisabost

In 1994 the burial of a male (30-40) was discovered just above high water mark in sand-dunes at Tràigh lar beach, Nisabost. The body was accompanied by a whetstone and an iron knife. The burial was 2.5 m from an unaccompanied burial. The beach is on the north coast of Harris and would be an excellent place to land a boat. As with most of the beach burials the site is to one side of the beach and bay, rather than being central. The large Clach Mhic Leòid standing stone, though distant, is clearly visible on a hill north of the burial site.

GPS: N 57° 51.631, W 006° 59.511
NGR: NG 04000 96587

Currently the best description of this burial is at http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/ (Canmore ID 335605)

Fig1
Standing stones at ‘Ardvonrig’, Barra
IMG_7529
North Atlantic Ocean from the site.

Ardvonrig

Ardvonrig

In 1862 a mound with a large standing stone on top of it on the coastal side of the village of Bovre was opened to reveal a burial containing a pair of 9th century-type oval brooches, an iron weaving sword/batten, comb, ringed pin, bronze needle case, penannular brooch, drinking horn, and a knife. Although the name ‘Ardvonrig’ may refer to anywhere on the peninsula the association with a standing stones means that the burial must have been at or near one of the two existing standing stones, probably the one which is now laying down which is approximately 240cm long, roughly matching the description of the one in the original report (as outlined in my article listed below). As the standing stones are only 11m apart this burial belongs in the ‘within 25m’ category, and the location is exactly known if my argument regarding the recumbent standing stone is accepted. The shore (Stong Mòr) is close to the site but not visible, although water is. There is a clearly visible cairn 42m from the larger standing stone.

GPS: N 56° 58.948, W 007° 30.729
NGR: NF 6527 0144

A.G. Edge & J. Williams, 1863, in ‘Exhibitions and Donations’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaeries of London 2nd Series, 2: 229-231.

K. Gordon, 1990, ‘A Norse Viking-age grave from Cruach Mhor, Islay’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 120: 151-160.

S. McLeod, 2015, ”Ardvonrig’, Isle of Barra’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 145: 299-305.

IMG_7427
General location (on ridge below road) of Bhaltos burial, Lewis
IMG_7422
Tràigh na Clibhe beach from the site.

Bhaltos

In 1915 a burial under a sand mound and in a cabbage patch was found 137m due west of Bhaltos (Valtos) School by school children. It contained a pair of 9th century oval brooches, Irish brooch, Irish buckle, Irish penannular brooch, amber bead, and copper-alloy chain. If the description of the burial being found 137m (150 ft) due west of the school is accurate, it would place the burial on a natural terrace within a steep hill below a road, by which the beach can be reached. Although it has been suggested that the site was north of the road, the original report associates the burial with a mound known as ‘The Castle’ which was close to the sea, suggesting that the burial was south of the road. The burial belongs in the ‘approximate location known’ category. The site overlooks the bay and Tràigh na Clibhe (beach of the fort).

GPS: N 58° 13.166, W 006° 57.897

D.J. Macleod, 1916, ‘An account of a find of ornaments of the Viking time from Valtos, Uig, in the Island of Lewis’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 50: 181-3.

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