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North Uist, Vallay Strand, Eileann Maleit

Aisled Roundhouse (Iron Age), Dun (Period Unassigned), Wheelhouse (Iron Age)

Site Name North Uist, Vallay Strand, Eileann Maleit

Classification Aisled Roundhouse (Iron Age), Dun (Period Unassigned), Wheelhouse (Iron Age)

Canmore ID 10095

Site Number NF77SE 5

NGR NF 7748 7388

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Western Isles
  • Parish North Uist
  • Former Region Western Isles Islands Area
  • Former District Western Isles
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NF77SE 5 7748 7388.

(NF 7748 7388) Aisled round house (L Scott 1948; Visible on RAF air photograph 540/509: pt II: 4050-1: flown 23 May 1951), Eileann Maleit, about 1/4 mile E of Cnoc a'Comhdhalach and 30 yards from the shore, on a tidal islet connected with the mainland by a causeway. There were attached structures also on the west but these cannot now be disentangled. The building has been quarried and reduced in height. (E Beveridge 1911 and L Scott 1948)

Some finds are in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS).

E Beveridge 1911; L Scott 1948; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1912 and 1922.

The remains of this aisled round house are as described and planned above. The causeway is submerged at high tide.

Surveyed at 1/10,560.

Visited by OS (W D J) 20 June 1965.

NF 7748 7388 Small scale excavations were carried out on the tidal islet settlement of Eilean Maleit, originally excavated by Beveridge in the early part of this century. The excavations were designed to test the hypothesis that the site represented a wheelhouse built into an earlier Atlantic roundhouse or broch. It was hoped that as at the nearby Sollas wheelhouse, Beveridge had left unexcavated deposits in situ.

Two of the wheelhouse bays were re-excavated and a section was excavated through the wall in an attempt to identify any pre-wheelhouse walling. It was quickly discovered that, in the re-excavated areas, Beveridge had removed archaeological deposits down to decayed bedrock, apart from those under the wheelhouse piers and a small truncated pit within one of the bays. The section through the wall confirmed that the wheelhouse was a secondary structure, revetting dumped occupation material and sealing an earlier structure when the wheelhouse was built suggests the passage of a considerable period of time between the occupation of the two structures. Finds were restricted to a small pottery assemblage and included two stratified sherds with applied wavy cordons from the wheelhouse wall core and the pit interior.

I Armit 1995.


Publication Account (2007)



This probable above-ground aisled wheelhouse (pron. 'Ellen Malitch'), with other small buildings clustered round it in North Uist, is another of the sites explored by Beveridge on his estate on Vallay in the early years of the 20th century and the report on which is brief by modern standards [2]. Limited re-excavation was under-taken in 1995 [6].

Beveridge’s work

The site is on s small island (Eilean Maleit) about 10m from the shore and connected to it by a causeway [6, Illus. 2]. The main building seems to have been a near-circular, free-standing aisled wheelhouse with a rubble-cored stone wall about 2.14m (7 ft) thick at the entrance and less elsewhere. The plan suggests that there were some intra-mural spaces but the nature of these must be uncertain without further excavation. The internal diameter was about 6.71 - 8.24m (22-27 ft) and that of the central area (inside the pier ends) 3.36 - 3.66m (11-12 ft). Five free-standing piers remained with lengths of from 1.07 - 1.83m (3.5 - 6 ft) and the two on the north side were founded directly on a shelf of rock. The width of the 'aisle' varied from 31 - 71cm (12 - 28 in) and there had probably been eight or nine piers originally. No central hearth was located. The entrance passage, 4.27m (14 ft) long, was on the north-north-west. There seemed to be an external stone hut on the north side, backing against the main wall and apparently reached through a wall cavity. There were also a number of presumably secondary structures on the north side.

The 1995 excavation

A re-survey of the structural remains showed a reasonably good correspond-ence with Beveridge’s plan, with the except that the enclosed area was markedly D-shaped rather than circular. Also the entrance appears to have been in the west-south-west rather than the north-west. Traces of a probable mural gallery about 1m wide can still be seen.

A trench inside the wheelhouse showed that it was a secondary construction, built inside the ruins of what is probably a broch, although few details about this primary building could be made out. No finds are recorded from the recent work.

Beveridge’s finds [2, pl. next p. 213: 6]. The pottery included many sherds, one apparently an Everted Rim vessel with neck-band decoration – that is, an applied cordon pressed into loops into the angle of the rim. Another sherd has a raised, running S-scroll and a third has an incised pattern of triangles and hatching over an applied zig-zag cordon; the last looks like a Balevullin vase. Also in the National Museums collection is a wall sherd with a zig-zag applied cordon with a pattern of incised lines above it, presumably from an elaborately decorated Balevullin vase; it is remarkably similar to vessels from the Broch of Ayre in Orkney (HY40 1), and of course from Foshigarry (NF77 6)

Fired clay: 1 spindle whorl made from a cut-down sherd [2, ibid.].

Stone: 1 schist disc 32mm (1.25 in) in diameter, 1 hammerstone, and 1 lump of pumice.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NF77SE 5: 2. Beveridge 2001, 212-13: 3. RCAHMS 1928, 68, no. 212: 4. Scott 1948 72-3: 5. Armit 1992, 58: 6. Armit 1998: 7. Crawford 2002.

E W MacKie 2007


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