33038: TRAIGH NA BERIE, LEWIS – Settlement


MIDDEN (Undated)
FINDSPOT (Undated)
Multi-period settlement complexes, including putative Mesolithic (probably Bronze Age). Sites dug by Lacaille 1909.


NB 09937 36351

Full description:

NB13NW 4 100 359.

(Centred NB 105 358) The Sands of Bere (Traigh na Berie) are the site of extensive settlement, ranging from Mesolithic (with a working floor and a stone industry close to Late Larnian in character) to the broch period (with a broch – NB13NW 3 – and abundant typical pottery and heavy stone implements). Lacaille suggests that the Mesolithic way of life continued to the broch times.
Hut circles and great areas of kitchen middens are also revealed by shifting sands.
One of the middens, on a sandhill about 600 yards from Berie and noticeable for its large content of oyster shells, also produced slag and two small Samian sherds.
Excavations in the sandhill about 1909 produced a number of hut-circles and probable souterrain, and another hut-circle and an apsidal setting of stones at least 6ft in diameter internally, were seen. An area of extensive middens at the western extremity of the Traigh na Berie produced bronze needles, pins and wire, and was the site of more hut-circles and, probably, the principal working floor.
A selection of the finds is in the NMAS.
A D Lacaille 1937; 1954; RCAHMS 1928; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1914; 1938; 1960.

At NB 1021 3569 on a rocky knoll is the large midden of oyster shells. There is no trace of the apsidal setting of five stones, nor of the alleged souterrain or other hut-circles, but to the W, at NB 1013 3567 is a hut-circle, a roughly circular setting of stones on a slight knoll, now very eroded.
Surveyed at 1/2500.
At NB 0987 3615 are several set stones in the summit of a dune, forming no intelligible pattern, but this may be one of the other alleged hut-circles described, of which there is otherwise no trace.
Centred at NB 0987 3632 are large deposits of midden material, mainly shells, but amongst which sherds of coarse pottery were picked up during field investigation. This is the area of Lacaille’s settlement, but beyond a few set stones which are probably the amorphous remains of two of his hut-circles, there is little trace of it.
The modern belief that bones in the middens denote burial places, may account for the tradition of graves in the area.
Visited by OS (R L) 28 June 1969.

The mound at NB 1021 3569 was dug into by a Mr Malcolm MacLeod, Vigen, Miavaig, Lewis, who was promised to backfill it. It was seen by Mr Stevenson, who states a wheelhouse was definitely exposed. Typical wheelhouse pottery, a bone whistle, and a mould for an H-shaped object have been given to the NMAS from this site.
Information from R B K Stevenson (NMAS) to OS.

Hut-circle illustrated by Lacaille is at NB 0993 3636.
Information from Dr J Close-Brooks

RMS FC 247 Skevomorphic pin with kidney ring, of type current in Ireland from the Viking period to the 12th century.
L R Laing 1973.

no. 3
When visited by Lacaille earlier this century a circular structure, approximately 7m in diameter, and associated features were visible in an eroding sand hollow. The main structure was defined by a wall one stone in width (and possibly, thererfore, sand-revetted). In recent years they have been obscured by blown sand and the complete circuit of the structure photographed by Lacaille is no longer visible (Lacaille 1954, fig. 136). Lacaille records finding a chipped stone assemblage associated with these structures. This site is clearly unstable in the medium term, suffering periods of deflation and accretion.
Two hut circles were identified by magnetic survey in locations corresponding with the surface features. Auguring of a transect across the site demonstrated the surviving presence of archaeological deposits at a depth varying from 0.3 – 0.45m below the present machair surface. The deposits appear to survive to a depth of at least 0.2m although outside the structures, the presence of buried soils is variable, confirming the piture of recent deflation removing areas of previously preserved deposits. The evidence suggests, however, that significan deposits still survive within these structures.
References: part of NMR NB 13 NW 4 wrongly located in original NMR entry
Armit 1992, 40

NB the original number (NMRS NB 13 NW 4/4101, SMR no. 149) which covered the whole complex of sites located by Lacaille has now been allocated solely to these two hut circles. The other major site, ‘Beadan’s Beehive’, which is a wheelhouse at NB 1023 3568 (SAM) is given the SMR no. 7424. MML 21.11.2000


The Stone Age in Scotland, Publisher: Oxford University Press, The Stone Age in Scotland. 299-304
‘Some aspects of the bronze ringed pin in Scotland’, Editor: O’Connor, A and Clarke, D V (eds.), Some aspects of the bronze ringed pin in Scotland. 339, No. 39
1913-14. ‘Donations to and purchases for the Museum and Library, with exhibits’, Proc Soc Antiq Scot. Part No 48. 11
RCAHMCS. 1928. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Ninth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles, Publisher: HMSO The RCAHMS 9th Report and Inventory: Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles. 29, No. 98
1936-7. ‘A stone industry at, potsherds and a bronze pin from Valtos, Uig, Lewis’, Proc Soc Antiq Scot. Part No 71. 279-96 illust.
1937-8. Donations to and purchases for the Museum and Library’, Proc Soc Antiq Scot. Part No 72. 130
1957-8. ‘Donations to and purchases for the Museum and Library, Proc Soc Antiq Scot. Part No 91. 200
1970. ‘Roman finds from non-Roman sites in Scotland’, Britannia. Part No 1. table V
1971-2. ‘Donations to and purchases for the Museum and Library’, Proc Soc Antiq Scot. Part No 104. 316
1973. ‘People and pins in Dark Age Scotland’, Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc. Part No 50. 71, No. 61
1976-7. ‘Donations to and purchases for the Museum and Library’, Proc Soc Antiq Scot. Part No 108. 385
1987. ‘Lewis, Uig, various sites’, Discovery and Excavation, Scotland. 38
1994. ‘Archaeological field survey of the Bhaltos (Valtos) peninsula, Lewis’, Proc Soc Antiq Scot. Part No 124. Nos 1, 3, 12, 17-20, 35; 73, 74, 75, 80, 81, 83 illus 6 (no.3), 10 (no.18), 11 (no.20)


Information provided by Western Isles Council Sites & Monuments Record, January 2006.

Record Location

Record Type:
Historical or Archaeological Site
Type Of Site:
Settlement; Midden; Findspot; Souterrain
SMRRecord ID:
Record Maintained by: