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Date June 2014 - July 2014

Event ID 1013638

Category Recording

Type Excavation


NH 90260 83260 (NH98SW 12) As part of the Northern Picts Project surveys and excavations have been undertaken from 2012 to 2014 on six Atlantic roundhouses on the Tarbat Peninsula to track the nature of settlement in this landscape in the first millennium BC to AD.

The investigation of the thick-walled dry stone roundhouse Cnoc Tigh was undertaken in June and July 2014. Cnoc Tigh (also known as Castle Corbet) is located on a knoll at the edge of a raised beach (c12m OD), about 300m SE of the current shoreline overlooking the Dornoch Firth. The site is flanked to the NE by the deeply-cut ravine of the Allt a’ Chaoil-eag

which, with the steeply sloping raised beach, forms a small promontory. The roundhouse is visible from the Pictish monastery at Portmahomack, located less than 1km to the NE.

Excavation of a 15 x 10m trench across the N side of the roundhouse identified three phases of construction and remodelling of the dry stone walls. In its primary phase the roundhouse wall was only c1.2 m thick. The house had a c13m internal diameter with a 1m wide entranceway located

due W. The second phase of the house saw the construction of a boulder wall against the outer face of this primary wall, increasing the width of the walls to c2.8 m. In its final phase the walls were further widened by a rubble and earthen core laid against the Phase 2 wall, bounded by an outer face of boulders. In this final phase the roundhouse walls were c4m thick.

Internally two phases of occupation deposits were separated by a layer of windblown sand, an abandonment or re-flooring episode. A scarcement ledge was keyed into the inner face of the primary wall of the roundhouse. As the top of the ledge was located only 0.20m from the base of the wall this may have supported a timber floor at ground-level. Overlying the

roundhouse was the remains of a 19th/20th-century rubble enclosure. Apart from post-medieval glass and pottery within the enclosure rubble, no finds were identified at Cnoc Tigh.

Geophysics around the southern edge of the roundhouse did not reveal any archaeological activity. A cup-marked stone slab located on the S side of the knoll is potentially the former capping stone for a Bronze Age cist located at NH 9008 8324.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: University of Aberdeen Development Trust in partnership with the Tarbat Discovery Centre

Candy Hatherley, Oskar Sveinbjarnarson and Gordon Noble – University of Aberdeen

(Source: DES)

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