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South Uist Projects and Environmental Research (Cardiff)

A view of the dune systems on the west coast of South Uist close to the Bornais settlement.

Introduction

The Western Isles of Scotland has an archaeological record that is exceptional. It has some of the best preserved examples of chambered tombs, brochs, castles and early churches in Britain and an unparalleled landscape of abandoned post medieval settlement. The machair landscapes of the coastline have sites with stratigraphic sequences that span millennia of occupation and which contain fragile remains that provide evocative pictures of past lives. The landscapes of machair and peat also preserve detailed information on early economies and environments that are of considerable importance to our understanding of the past landscapes of the British Isles.

Cardiff University has a long history of interest in the Western Isles that began with Professor Richard Atkinson’s excavations at Sollas on North Uist in 1957. In recent years they have had a long running research project on the island of South Uist that has been particularly important in exploring the human occupation of the island from the Neolithic through to the end of the medieval period. This has transformed our understanding of the nature of social relations in the Iron Age, provided data on the agricultural economy of both prehistory and the medieval period and given a valuable insight into the colonisation of the islands by the Vikings and the nature of later Norse settlements.  Much of this work has been done in close cooperation with the Department of Prehistory at Sheffield University and has been generously supported by funding from Historic Scotland.

 

Historic Scotland - Alba Aosmhor