Industrial waste and bog ore
Analysed by Dawn McLaren (National Museums of Scotland)
A heap of unprocessed bog ore (almost 25 kilograms worth) was found inside the tiny Structure 2. Bog ore, as the name suggests, forms in bogs, marshes and peat mosses as water leaches iron from the soil to form compact layers and pockets of iron pan. Some of the pieces were broken, perhaps as they were being collected. Its presence suggests that people were smelting iron in the settlement. The steatite tuyère in Structure 1 also points to metal-working. There are several possible explanations for the heap of bog ore. Maybe it was being stored for smelting - either somewhere outside or in the part of the site that has been lost to the sea - or perhaps the people of Sandwick were waiting for a specialist smelter. Many small fragments were also found scattered around the settlement, especially in the layers of occupation debris and dumps of hearth waste covering the ruinous structure 1. These may have occurred naturally in peat which was cut, brought to the settlement and burnt as fuel.