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Achnahaird Bay

Bank (Earthwork)(S) (Period Unassigned), Building (Period Unassigned), Hut (Period Unassigned), Hut Circle(S) (Prehistoric), Lazy Beds (Post Medieval)

Site Name Achnahaird Bay

Classification Bank (Earthwork)(S) (Period Unassigned), Building (Period Unassigned), Hut (Period Unassigned), Hut Circle(S) (Prehistoric), Lazy Beds (Post Medieval)

Canmore ID 116406

Site Number NC01SW 33

NGR NC 0229 1266

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Lochbroom
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Ross And Cromarty
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty


Field Visit (10 August 1994)

NC01SW 33 0229 1266

There are a number of features on the E side of Achnahaird Bay, S of the outflow from Loch a' Chaoruinn, comprising two hut-circles, a building, a small hut, lazy-beds and several lengths of bank.

The hut-circles stand above the shore, about 150m apart. That to the S (ACHIL94 458; NC 0229 1266) measures 7.4m in diameter within a wall 1.1m thick and 0.7m high. Facing stones survive on both sides of the wall, particularly the inner one. The entrance is on the W. The hut-circle to the N (ACHIL94 459; NC 0229 1281) is oval on plan, measuring 7.3m N-S by 6.3m transversely within a wall 0.9m thick and 0.4m high. It has been terraced up on the W, where the ground level within is about 0.5m above that without, and a ramped approach leads to the entrance, which is on the SW. Short stretches of stony bank run off to the SW, NE and SE, the latter two apparently forming an enclosure which abuts the low cliff to the E of the hut-circle.

The building and the hut stand 20m apart in heather-covered ground above the shore and about 150m NNW of the second hut-circle. The building (ACHIL94 461; NC 0227 1295) measures 6.7m E-W by 3.7m within a faced-rubble wall 0.7m thick and 0.5m high which has an entrance on the S. The remains of a possibly earlier building extend 3.6m to the W. The hut lies 20m to the S at NC 0227 1293 (ACHIL94 460). It has rounded ends and measures 4.2m E-W by 2.2m transversely within walls 0.6m thick and 0.3m high.

Stretching from the head of the bay, along the shore past the structures described above, and then inland to Loch a' Chaoruinn, there are a number of banks and drystone dykes, some of which form subrectangular enclosures. These banks clearly do not all belong to the same phase, and many of them may be of nineteenth century date. One bank, however, which at its N end cuts a bank associated with the N hut-circle, is overlain farther S by lazy-bed cultivation. This dyke may be that noted on Morrison's 1775 survey of Coigach (SRO, E746/189) as a 'proposed stone dyke from loch [ie Loch Vatachan] to seaside'. The lazy-beds are situated on ground rising gently from the raised beach. Two areas were identified, to the N and S of the S hut-circle, together amounting to about 1.5ha.

The 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Cromartyshire (Detached) 1881, sheets ib and iiia) shows many of the banks and drystone dykes, as well as the building (ACHIL94 461) which by then was unroofed.

(ACHIL94 458-61)

Visited by RCAHMS (SDB) 10 August 1994

Excavation (March 2012 - October 2012)

NC 0230 1265 Achnahaird Hut Circle, Achiltibuie (Wedig 4) This hut circle lies close to the shore at the S tidal limit of Achnahaird Bay. The site is surrounded by lazy-bed cultivation ridges and heavily overgrown with bracken. Latterly the interior has been used as a feeding stance for livestock. The remains consist of a well defined earth ring-bank with occasional glimpses of stone wall-facing, c10m in overall diameter. A possible entrance faces to the W. A second, less well preserved hut circle lies by the shore c150m to the N.

Trench 1, which was placed just off centre of the structure, contained a quadrant of a rubble-stone hearth with heat reddened stone surrounded by areas of char and ash. The rake-out from the fire spread across a compacted sandy earth floor forming a well defined occupation horizon. Below this was a layer of clean sand (abandonment) which sealed an earlier, and similar, occupation horizon which lay directly on the levelled summit of a sand dune.

Trench 2 was placed across a well preserved section of stone wall, revealing an inner face built of laid boulders and slabs and a boulder outer face c2m to the N. The later phase of occupation butted up to the internal foot of this wall. The earlier phase of occupation ran under this wall to butt up to the remains of an earlier wall, consisting of orthostatic facing stones with a rubble fill. The later phase roundhouse wall was built within the earlier phase utilizing the earlier wall in its construction.

Trench 3 was located amongst lazy-bed cultivation and contained post glacial soils and an old ground surface, sealed below the lazy-bed cultivation.

Trench 4 was placed across a possible W-facing entrance to the later phase house. This feature proved to be a recent break in the perimeter. However, a truncated posthole, complete with packing stones, could belong to the initial phase of occupation.

Trench 5 was placed across a boundary wall, which appeared to form an enclosure around the site. The wall was found to have no organized structure, but to be a linear gathering of boulders and stones from the surrounding landscape.

Small finds included a possible burnisher, several light use pounders and many fragments of pebble potboilers.

Website (accessed October 2014).

Archive: Inverness archive (intended)

Funder: Heritage Lottery Fund and Highland Council

Anna Welti, Lochbroom Field Club, 2013

(Source: DES)


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