Project Eliseg 2011

In September 2011, Project Eliseg’s second season concentrated on the west side of the mound and explored an area of possible antiquarian disturbance.

The monument was made from three different types of contrasting stone were employed: large slate slabs, the igneous boulders and the mudstone slabs. All seem to be derived from the immediate locality.

The main body of the cairn consisted of angular/sub-angular slabs of mudstone and it appears the cairn is multi-phased. Phase 1 may be interpreted as a kerbed platform cairn. The kerb comprised of large slate slabs and rounded igneous boulders. Behind this kerb is a tightly packed deposit containing angular slabs of mudstone.

The edge of the cairn was well defined by a substantial kerb made up of two different types of stone, large slate slabs and contrasting rounded igneous boulders. A small rectangular stone cist was exposed and recorded but not excavated. Whilst clearing this feature for recording all associated deposits were sampled for further processing. The processing of these deposits revealed evidence of charcoal and a fragment of cremated cranial bone. While undated, it appears to be a Bronze Age burial cist.

In the upper, second phase, a large slab of blue/grey slate was removed from just in front of the south-facing section of the trench revealing the end of a large cist of unknown date. The section was cleaned and a small sample was removed and found to contain small quantities of fragmented bone. Unfortunately the material recovered was too small to assert whether from human or animal.

Excavation confirmed that there was no surrounding ditch associated with the mound and that the dipping in the subsoil was natural confirming the conclusions drawn in 2010.

The area of antiquarian disturbance was distinguishable from the main body of the cairn material by a shallow scoop within the cairn containing small fragmented stones. The fill of this feature contained quantities of post-medieval ceramics.

The most recent episode of cairn construction comprised of a capping of greyish/blue rounded river cobbles, perhaps associated with the remodelling of the cairn at the time when the pillar was re-erected in 1779. This later interpretation is supported by the partial sealing of the area of antiquarian disturbance by this context.

The top-soil removed at the outer end of Trench A revealed a range of post-medieval ceramics and other finds consistent with manuring and other farming activities.

Despite the inconclusive and incomplete nature of the 2011 excavations, Project Eliseg has for the first time revealed important new information about, and raised public awareness concerning, a long-neglected and extremely important historic monument.