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North Uist, Coileagan An Udail

Cairn(S) (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Cist(S) (Period Unassigned), Midden(S) (Period Unassigned), Settlement (Period Unassigned), Wheelhouse(S) (Iron Age), Unidentified Pottery (Bronze/iron Age)

Site Name North Uist, Coileagan An Udail

Classification Cairn(S) (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Cist(S) (Period Unassigned), Midden(S) (Period Unassigned), Settlement (Period Unassigned), Wheelhouse(S) (Iron Age), Unidentified Pottery (Bronze/iron Age)

Alternative Name(s) The Udal

Canmore ID 10319

Site Number NF87NW 1

NGR NF 8242 7843

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NF87NW 1 8242 7843.

(NF 8242 7843) '... a ritual complex, of an orthostatic circle with associated cists amounting to a graveyard clearly extending well beyond the limits of this excavation,' was partially explored in 1964. It lies some 400ft due NW of the main mediaeval settlement at Udal (NF87NW 2). The complex appears to have been systematically robbed (so far as excavated at present) by the depositors of a large midden heap which abutts on to the ritual enclosure. Pottery fragments and the structures themselves indicate a Bronze-to-Iron Age dating. Excavation was abandoned as the discovery did not relate directly to the mediaeval settlement.

I A Crawford 1964.

Further evidence, but not yet conclusive, indicates a Neolithic-Iron Age burial complex.

Information in telecommunication from I A Crawford (School of Scottish Studies) to OS.


Publication Account (2007)

NF87 6 THE UDAL (‘Coileagean an Udail’)


These are four aisled wheelhouses, probably dug-out, in North Uist [7, 232-3]. They appear to have been built into a slope and therefore to have been partly dug-out and partly free-standing. The site at Udal is one of the most remarkable in north-west Europe and consists of several mounds containing structure and occupation layers spanning the last three or four millennia. It was excavated for many years in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s by Iain Crawford but full details of the discoveries are not available yet, and several interim reports have to be relied on.

Judging from the small scale plan available [7, 122] three of the wheelhouses at Udal form a fairly tight cluster, like Foshigarry (NF77 6). Some further architectural details can be gleaned from Crawford’s comments and table [7]. Four C-14 dates are listed in his table of dates [7, Table 15] and they all fall into the first and second centuries AD. A piece of 3rd century Roman pot in a late wheelhouse context was also found [7, Table 17].

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NF 87 NW 1 and 2: 2. RCAHMS 1928, 273, no. 89: 3. Crawford 1965: 4. Crawford 1966: 5. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, 1966, 29: 6. Armit 1992, 51-2: 7. Crawford 2002.

E W MacKie 2007


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