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Sandwood Bay

Hut Circle (Prehistoric)

Site Name Sandwood Bay

Classification Hut Circle (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 4711

Site Number NC26NW 1

NGR NC 22665 65304

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Eddrachillis
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Sutherland
  • Former County Sutherland

Archaeology Notes

NC26NW 1 2266 6524.

(Area NC 227 655) A possible hut circle lies on the ridge above the outlet of Sandwood Loch to Sandwood Bay.

OS 6"map annotated by J E N Sloan, plus slide and letters, 9 and 16 August 1973.

NC 2266 6524. Exposed in eroded blown sand on a natural rocky terrace, is a homestead comprising a group of two, possibly three enclosures. As no other feature was located in the area, this site is presumably the one noted by the previous authority. The group comprises a main, sub-oval enclosure, with another adjoining it on the SE side. A third, much less substantial enclosure may have adjoined this second enclosure on the NE side. The major enclosure is 14.5m NNE-SSW by 6.0m internally. The majority of the inner face survives, defined by contiguous small slabs on e edge, 0.4m in average height. Little evidence of an outer face occurs except on the N side of the entrance; generally the inner face appears to have been simply backed by rubble. This rubble band now varies in width from 0.7m to 2.0m. The stone-lined entrance is in the NW; a further gap to the S is the result of disturbance. The interior is fairly level and, in common with the rest of the site, covered with sand and scattered stones, including numerous pot-boilers. The second enclosure is sub-rectangular and measures 11.5m by 7.0m internally. Constructionally it resembles the first with a distinct inner face on the S side, an in the SW and indistinct gap between the two enclosures may mark the entrance. A hearth-like setting of eight loose stones occurs in the interior; the looseness of the stones does not confirm them as a later feature as due to the erosion, several previously earthfast facing stones have slackened. The interior is level except in the SE where there is a depression caused by digging or perhaps erosion, which has largely destroyed the wall in this sector. Embedded in the blown sand in the central area the broken top of a rotary quern was discovered during field investigation; however, there is no evidence of cultivation associated with the homestead. The possible third enclosure is defined only by bands of rubble and partly by rock outcrop; its true nature cannot be ascertained from the indistinct remains.

The construction of the wall involving upright slabs retaining a rubble core is a common technique used in hut circles, and this homestead may be broadly contemporary; certainly its appearance is of considerable antiquity. Similar homogenous, nucleated homesteads occur elsewhere in Sutherland. Located in such an isolated position, it could be suggested that the homestead was constructed by seafarers utilizing the excellent beaching facilities of Sandwood Bay, which are rare on this coast. Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (J B) 20 June 1980.

NC 210 610 (centre) A field survey of parts of the John Muir Trust's Sandwood Estate was carried out by ACFA members in July 1998. The initial selection of sites was guided by JMT's conservation manager.

The coastal strip between Sandwood Bay and Port Beag was surveyed and 11 features were found, including Sandwood Bay Homestead (NC 2265 6524), a multi-period feature with an earliest phase comprising a small dun-like structure and enclosure.

A report on the above work has been produced.

J C Waterton 2000


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