shielings

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Historic environment Scotland

Legend

Post-medieval shielings – temporary huts – were identified for the first time

A "state-of-the-art" archaeological project has discovered about 1,000 sites of interest on Arran, including prehistoric settlements and medieval farms.

The island of the Firth of Clyde was scanned with the help of an airborne laser scanner.

The technique, called lidar, created a 3D record of the Earth's surface.

Archaeologists from Historic Environment Scotland (HES), who carried out the work, said that it was the largest survey of its kind ever conducted in Scotland.

Among the discoveries was a cursory monument, a Neothlic ceremonial structure described as an exceptionally rare find on the west coast of Scotland.

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Historic environment Scotland

Legend

Airborne surveys made it possible to study the landscape in a relatively short time

Dave Cowley, Head of Rapid Archaeological Mapping at HES, said, "This study showed us that the number of ancient monuments on Arran is twice as much as we have known before.

"This new 3D technology has allowed us to do a quick archaeological study, over weeks rather than months or years, and to discover sites that would otherwise have been impossible to find otherwise.

"We were able to see how the Arran areas were densely populated and the medieval and post-medieval shieling sites discovered revealed how the shepherds used the mountain areas."

Mr Cowley said that the development of this technology was an exciting time and that Arran was "only a first step".

He added: "As this technology becomes more widely available, we expect to discover tens of thousands of ancient sites in the rest of Scotland – at a pace unimaginable a few years ago."

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Historic environment Scotland

Legend

The remains of a circle of huts stand out clearly from the results of the digitization

The images are available online on Canmore – National Register of the Historic Environment of Scotland.

Shona Nicol, head of the HES analysis team, believes that Scotland is at the forefront of using this technology.

"It's great to see HES use the growing amount of remotely sensed data that is becoming available, which will help keep Scotland at the forefront in this area," she said.

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Historic environment Scotland

Legend

Details of the mining work revealed by the investigation