The Search for the Norse on Tiree
A collaborative project between Dr Colleen E Batey of Archaeology, Dr John Holliday of An Iodhlann (Tiree Heritage) and Dr Heather James of Northlight/Calluna Archaeology has been searching for the Norse on Tiree. With a strong place name record recently published by Holliday and a small number of antiquarian burial finds on the island and a couple of Viking-age silver hoards, it is clear that the Vikings settled on Tiree, and indeed died there. But where were they living? With support from the KE fund in the University of Glasgow, Colleen (whose specialist research area is the Norse in Scotland) was able to work in the partnership to bring together local information sources about early discoveries and examine the large local heritage collection. Following from lectures and work with the local schools, a small-scale excavation was undertaken on the so-called “Giants Grave” (in the hope that it might be a Viking grave), this engendered local interest and a small volunteer workforce of all ages! The site turned out to be a Bronze Age burial cist, complete with dis-articulated skeleton: but at least scientific study will enable specific dating and through isotopic work on the teeth, help to identify the origins of this early member of the Tiree community. The search for the Norse continues….