Multi-Period Archaeology at Torvean, Inverness

Kiln footprintAs part of the development for the new Inverness West Link Road, redevelopment of the golf course at Torvean, on the southwest side of Inverness, was required. Staff from AOC’s Inverness office undertook programmes of trial trenching evaluation and targeted excavation on behalf of Capita and the Highland Council.

The Torvean area is known to have been settled since the medieval period, with evidence for prehistoric occupation known from Neolithic, Bronze Age and Pictish finds during the 19th century. While the fieldwork included excavation of multiperiod archaeological sites, one of the most substantial individual sites excavated was this grain-drying kiln.

What first appeared as a 7m-8m long, keyhole-shaped pit (right) soon proved to contain a substantial clay-lined kiln bowl with deep deposits of charred barley grain. Burnt structural timbers also survived, providing evidence that the kiln had been roofed, with burnt timber wattle and withy fragments as evidence for the grain drying rack inside the kiln. The site had also been re-lined with clay and used a second time after the initial catastrophic fire.

AOC’s team of specialists will analyse the timber, burnt grain and structural evidence to compile a more detailed understanding of the structure and its period of use.

Torvean kiln

(L) mid-excavation, showing the rich black and orange burnt layers inside the kiln; (centre) burnt wooden post lining the clay bowl; (R) burnt grain from inside the kiln bowl