Baile Sear, North Uist - August 2005  The SCAPE Trust
Coll Archaeology Association: Trip to Ornsay
Members of the Coll Archaeology Association Shorewatch group visited the island of Eilean Ornsay with its owner, Donald MacLennan.

The visit resulted in the discovery of many archaeological sites that were previously unrecorded. Amongst the finds were a probable Dun; several fine examples of rock-cut basins; a possible shell mound; and the remains of several stone structures.

The group has found rock-cut holes and basins all around the coast of Coll. There are several theories as to their origin. Some believe them to be prehistoric, related to the cup marks found in many places. Others think that they are bait holes, used for grinding shellfish such as limpets in order to attract fish. Another theory is that they were used for offerings in order to help the safe return of people out at sea.

Probably the best example of a rock-cut basin found around the coast of Coll and surrounding islands to date
Although some of the holes may be natural, such as this large basin washed by the tide, many others are in locations and are of shapes which show that they are definitely man-made.

In this picture, the group is examining a stone-lined trough found by Donald. This may be the remains of a 19th century kelp kiln used for burning seaweed.

A large basin washed by the tide
Having received permission from Donald, the group intends to spend time on the island surveying and recording these recent discoveries and looking for new ones.

This work will include an aerial photographic survey by one of the group's members using a powered model glider fitted with a digital camera. To see some of these images from an earlier survey, please click the link below.
Some Coll Archaeology Association members at a kelp kiln on Ornsay
Coll Remote Aerial Photography project
  © The SCAPE Trust