A clutch of radiocarbon dates ranging between around 1200 BC to 900 BC, were recovered from the structures clustered to the north-east of the Neolithic hall. This is where the pit containing the Late Bronze Age hoard (dated to 1118-924 BC) was found. Which indicates that the hoard was buried in the middle of a large contemporary settlement. Five circular or sub-circular houses were revealed during the excavation, from which these radiocarbon dates were extracted, though as these were found right at the eastern limit of the excavation, this village undoubtedly extended beyond (underneath the road leading to Carnoustie High School). So we have a remarkable archaeological context for the hoard. Analyses of the artefacts and ecofacts from this settlement will provide information about the lifestyle of the people who buried the hoard.
But that’s not all!
Because the radiocarbon dates also revealed that the site was occupied sometime between around 700 to 1000 AD during the early medieval period. These dates came from features across the central eastern part of the site and while the only structure that we can just now confidently date to this period is a curious linear stone structure which yielded a radiocarbon date of 769-888 AD; this evidence clearly demonstrates that there was a Pictish settlement here too. Which was not expected!
So now that we have radiocarbon dating evidence for Early-Mid Neolithic occupation of the larger rectilinear hall (Structure 8) at Carnoustie, what does the latest batch of radiocarbon dates tell us about the context of this settlement?
The other large rectilinear hall (Structure 13) which lies just to the south-west of the larger hall has yielded calibrated radiocarbon dates ranging between 3938-3033 BC, which indicates that it was contemporary with the larger hall and may even have carried on after the larger hall was abandoned.
But perhaps the most surprising aspect to be revealed by the latest batch of radiocarbon dates is that many of the other features have yielded Neolithic dates too. These include structures 10 and 12 that extend beyond the southern corner of the site and the numerous groups of pits that lie to the east and south west of the two Neolithic halls, which have produced calibrated radiocarbon dates from across the fourth millennium BC. So it is clear that the two Neolithic halls lay within a much bigger settlement area.
What’s also apparent from the radiocarbon dates is that the Late Bronze Age settlement contemporary with the hoard lay clustered in that part of the site north-east of the larger hall. But more about this later…