The McVean Hoard

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A number of archaeological finds collected by the McVean family in Uig and handed to Museum nan Eilean for Treasure Trove are on loan to Uig Museum and currently on display.

Several of the artefacts were found at Mealista eroding from a midden on the beach.  There is a bronze-age barbed and tanged arrowhead made of flint (1800BC-800BC), which is large compared to others found in the Western Isles and may have been imported. Flint does not occur locally other than as beach pebbles left behind as glacial alluvial. There are also two small banded sandstone tools:  one is a flake and may have been used as a blade and the other may have been used as a crude scraper for the preparation of animal skin.  The bird beak may be simply the remains of someone’s meal but could have been used as a piercer to make holes in cloth and leather. The other bone shows no sign of any use.

The second set of finds consists of two stone tools and 15 fragments of pottery from Traigh na Cille on Pabbay Mor. The round tool has peck marks that run around the middle of the pebble; we cannot be sure what its function was. Perhaps it was used as a rubbing tool or the rough surface was created to hold rope in place as a weight. The oval shaped pebble has peck marks in the centre on both sides. Had the people who made it intended to pierce it and use it as a net weight? Again we cannot be sure of its function.  The pottery is from a cylindrical pot that tapered at its base. It is pierced with several holes; were these holes for a running repair, perhaps where a split in the fabric had occurred? Or were they used as hanging points, for suspending the pot over a fire? The pot was certainly used on a fire as you can see heavy sooty deposits on the surface. Dating the finds precisely is difficult, but they come from the late bronze/early iron age period (800BC – 600AD).

Under the law of Treasure Trove in Scotland, the Crown can claim, on behalf of the nation, any object or coin found in Scotland under the laws of Bona Vacantia. These laws apply to all newly discovered finds and to all old finds which have not been reported, whether they have been found by metal detecting, by chance, by fieldwalking or by archaeological excavation. Finders have no ownership rights to any finds they make in Scotland and all finds, with the exception of Victorian and 20th century coins, must be reported to the Treasure Trove Unit for assessment. Museum nan Eilean in Stornoway acts as the local liaison (more information here).

The objects are open for interpretation while they await formal assessment by the Treasure Trove team, so come along to offer your suggestions.  Thanks to Museum nan Eilean and especially Mark Elliot for arranging the loan.