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2014 RCAHMS Special Survey

Event ID 1112485

Category Project

Type Project


Special Surveys:

Finavon Hill.

This fort was surveyed as a result of the recent recognition by RCAHMS staff of a previously unrecorded phase of construction. The apparent ‘horn-work’ at the east end is now interpreted as the original eastern end of a timber-laced wall that ran around the crest of the summit and was both broader and shorter than the later long, narrow enclosure excavated by Gordon Childe.

Flannan Isles.

In June, a member of staff visited the Flannan Isles in collaboration with independent researchers and the University of Edinburgh PhD student Mark Thacker, recording the lighthouse, chapel and a group of bothies used by seabird hunters. On the same trip, the remote group of roofed shieling huts at Both a’ Chlair Beag, Lewis, was surveyed.

Moncreiffe Hill.

The fort on Moredun Top, the highest summit on the ridge known as Moncreiffe Hill, was surveyed by RCAHMS in 1953 and again by Oxford Archaeology North in 2012. Our most recent survey has identified at least six prehistoric phases of use of the summit as well as evidence for extensive quarrying, undocumented antiquarian excavation and the role of the summit as part of an 18th/19thcentury designed landscape.

St Kilda In August, fieldwork was undertaken on St Kilda to complete a corpus of plans of the early 19th century blackhouses, to study the character of the pre-Improvement township and to inform collaboration with the National Trust for Scotland over research and management.

Strathearn forts.

Continuing a partnership with the University of Glasgow’s SERF project, surveys were undertaken of three forts in Perth and Kinross – at Jackschairs Wood and the Law of Dumbuils, near Forgandenny, and at Kay Craig, Auchterarder. All three had previously been subject to recent excavation by the SERF team, but the 2014 surveys have allowed interpretation of each of the sites to be further developed. New detail has included the identification of possible timber round-houses overlying the defences at Jackchairs Wood.


In August, a small team visited the island of Swona, in Orkney, with University of the Highlands and Islands lecturer Keir Strickland and photographer Carolyn Lefley. Over 30 sites were recorded including numerous skeos –drystone buildings used for the drying of fish.

Tarbat Peninsula.

In February, staff undertook the survey of three small sites in the Highlands: a dun at Morangie, a promontory fort at Castlehaven, and Cnoic Tigh dun. All three sites are included within the PhD research of Candice Hatherley of the University of Aberdeen. At Morangie, the survey revealed the extensive removal of stone, presumably for nearby dykes and farmsteads in the 18th and 19th centuries, and paralleled at more well known sites such as Dun Alascaig, nearby. At Castle Haven, at least two phases of construction were recorded – a pair of ramparts and ditches protecting the promontory, and a second consisting of a building standing within a stone-walled enclosure. At Cnoc Tigh, an alleged castle and broch, conforms to the plan of a dun, much obscured by clearance, trenching, and the construction of a later fold.

Torr Alvie, Highland This fort, south of Aviemore and first recognised by NOSAS in 2011, was surveyed in March 2014 by RCAHMS in conjunction with members of the local community. Two phases of enclosure were identified, the later represented by a heavily robbed stone wall which is overlain on the NE by a monument to the Duke of Gordon, and the earlier, which is only visible on the S and is defined by a bank-and-ditch drawn across the ridge.

RCAHMS (DES 2014, 205-8)

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