Clachan Harbour, Raasay: Searching for submerged and intertidal prehistoric deposits

The SAMPHIRE team stopped for a day to investigate one of Scotland’s rare intertidal archaeological sites to contains peat deposits and traces of Mesolithic occupation. The site at Clachan Harbour, Raasay was originally reported to a local archaeologist by a community member who cut peat in the area and found a number of in situ Mesolithic tools. Subsequent work was carried out by Scotland’s First Settlers Project and other pre-development survey and test excavation prior to the construction of the modern pier. This work showed that this shown to be one of the only locations in Scotland where sediments which were dry land in prehistoric times had subsequently become intertidal due to the rising sea levels since the Mesolithic times. However no diving survey had been done in the area to see if these deposits continued underwater and if so this would be even more important. The SAMPHIRE project allows us to look at all submerged heritage and this includes historic and prehistoric sites and after working on a possible 19th Century historic shipwreck the previous day, the SAMPHIRE team switched gears and took the day to investigate and survey the intertidal deposit of prehistoric peat, water-logged woodland (tree branches and stumps) and to undertake underwater survey. The divers investigated the deposits by digging a series of test pits below the tidal zone while the terrestrial team dug some test pits to look more closely at the complex stratigraphy on the site.

At the end of a long day of survey the team were delighted to bump into some friends from last year’s fieldwork, Andy Holbrow and Andy Venters. They are scallop divers who previously helped us to identified a number of previously unknown shipwrecks and you can read more about their contributions in our report from last year .