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The University of Southampton
ArchaeologyPart of Humanities

Research project: Udal Archaeology Project

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The Udal is a group of related sites in the machair of North Uist, Outer Hebrides, that was excavated by lain Crawford over a 35 year period from 1961 to 1996.

The site has what may be an unbroken succession of settlements from the Neolithic period to the present day, a rare phenomenon for an archaeological site anywhere in the world. The buildings and finds at the Udal became engulfed in calcareous shell-sand so were unusually well protected.

An immense assemblage of finds was recovered, thanks to Crawford's pioneering use of flotation and bulk-sieving. The wealth of material includes over 250,000 sherds, a similar quantity of animal bones and dozens of bone artefacts.  The largest quantity of material is from Udal North, a sand hill or tell which was occupied from about AD 550 to 1700.

A project for the publication of the Udal excavations is currently under way.  It is directed by Beverley Ballin Smith and funded by Historic Scotland, the Western Isles Council, with additional support from the Hunter Trust, the RCAHMS and GUARD Archaeology Ltd. One of the first publications of the project will be of the animal remains from Udal North.

Photo: Beverley Ballin Smith
Late Iron Age and Viking bone pins
Photo: Dale Serjeantson
Udal North in the Outer Hebrides
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