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Cateran Ecomuseum

The Shanzie Souterrain

An Iron Age underground structure.

Souterrain (from the French ‘sous terrain’, meaning ‘underground’) is the archaeological name for a type of underground structure associated mainly with the European Atlantic Iron Age that may have been used for storage. Over 500 have been found in Scotland, of which around 20 are on the Isle of Skye.

One of these can be found at Shanzie near Alyth where excavations unearthed a structure 35 metres long and roughly c-shaped. Whilst the souterrain itself has been sealed, you can see the mound that remains from the road.

Finds during the excavation included several types of late prehistoric pottery; a fragment of Roman pottery; an amber ring, the amber of which probably originated in the Baltic; a pair of tweezers; a brooch or clasp; two copper alloy rings; and a fragment from a quern stone. The souterrain had been broken into during the medieval and Victorian periods.

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