by Karen Clarke (NOSAS)
As part of a NOSAS trip organised by Beth Beresford to explore the exceptional archaeology of the Scottish Island of Skye Martin Wildgoose, and George Kozikowski guided us through Uamh an Ard Achadh (Cave of the High Field or High Pasture Cave). Situated on the Broadford to Torrin road, it has been the focus of late Bronze and early Iron Age archaeological research. Our guides were key members of the excavation team. Since reading Martin Wildgoose’s excellent article in Skye Magazine 2011/2012 and hearing his colleague Steven Birch speak on the subject (both of which are major references for this blog and an article in the forthcoming NOSAS Newsletter) visiting this unique location has long been on my wish list. It certainly proved to be one of the high-lights of an excellent weekend exploring diverse terrains across Skye with timelines extending over thousands of years as described in Martin Wildgoose’s recent blog post for NOSAS.
I am neither a geologist nor an archaeologist but enthusiastic about both disciplines and will try to do the cave justice from a civilian perspective. I remain mindful that High Pasture Cave (HPC) was a burial place where the remains of three humans and a number of animals including, cattle, deer and a high ratio of pigs were placed. With respect to HPC’s location within the wider landscape Martin Wildgoose emphasised how it lies within a natural amphitheatre as shown in my photograph.
Martin Wildgoose’s sketch depicts how it might have appeared c600BC. Note the pathway to the cave entrance, also the horseshoe shaped midden (rubbish tip) which contained deposits of discarded shells and other detritus.