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The Ord

Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Site Name The Ord

Classification Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 5008

Site Number NC50NE 38

NGR NC 5776 0521

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NC50NE 38 5776 0521.

(NC 5776 0521) Enclosure (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1970)

On a slight ridge is a circular enclosure with an internal diameter of 43ft surrounded by a wall of turf and boulders 7ft across and now only 1 1/2ft high. Beyond the wall is a berm 19ft wide reaching to the edge of an enclosing ditch 21ft wide and about 6ft deep. The circle of the ditch is broken to the SSW where the entrance has been. It has passed between two walls now traceable only from the outer edge of the berm, diverging from 9ft apart to 13ft at their outer extremities. A turf dyke, comparatively modern, has crossed over the construction.

RCAHMS 1911.

The remains of a fine bell-cairn, the central mound of which has been almost entirely removed leaving a rim only. The 'entrance' in the SSW is almost certainly modern, to facilitate the removal of the central mound.

Visited by OS (W D J) 28 June 1963 and (A C) 13 December 1966.

Prominently situated on a ridge extending SE from the summit of The Ord is a circular earthwork comprising a platform 38.0m in diameter within a ditch, 1.8m deep, and outer bank. The platform and ditch have been brought to the level on the gentle SE slope; in consequence the outer bank is higher on the SE downslope. The ditch and bank are breached in the SW arc by a causeway and gap. Central to the platform is a circular bank of earth and stones measuring 19.5m overall diameter, 0.5m high, and with a consistent width of about 3.0m though it too has a gap in the SW corresponding to the causeway over the ditch. Two or three large stones set into this bank give an impression of the inner and outer wall face or kerb. The interior of the enclosure is level and stone-free though 0.5m higher than the platform outside. A ruinous enclosure wall of 18th/19th century date (associated with run-rig) crosses the bank and ditch in the NE and SW, and overlies the NW arc of the central enclosure, which it clearly post-dates.

The work is well constructed, perfectly proportioned and appears to belong to the broad class of ritual or burial monuments. The most likely hypothesis is that it is a robbed bell cairn, the 'central enclosure' being the rim of cairn material, and the 'causeway' a modern construction wide enough for a cart to enter. However, it could be a hengiform earthwork, the central feature being later, eg. a hut circle or a post-medieval enclosure. The latter is of regular width and height with possible facing stones, and the interior is free of stones; such 'neatness' of robbing (as of a cairn) is unusual.

The work was overgrown with heather and bracken at the time of investigation. It occurs within an area of settlement and field system (NC50NE 13); to the NW on The Ord are six burial cairns.

Resurveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (N K B) 13 September 1976.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (J B) 15 March 1979.

Re-investigation of this site, which remains as described by previous authorities, has engendered doubt as to its classification as a cairn or hengiform earthwork. The perfect proportions noted are illusory, and unquestionably the central enclosure has the appearance of a hut circle, evidenced by facing-stones and stone-free interior, rather than a too-neatly robbed cairn, although the entrance is obscure. The work probably falls into the category of homesteads defended by a ditch typified by the sites in Strath Naver (NC75NW 14), Borgie (NC65NE 1), and Strath Kildonan (NC82SE 11 and NC92SW 13).

Visited by OS (N K B) 30 July 1981.

Scheduled with NC50NE 13-14, 16, 17, 19, 22, 39, 46, 54-6 and 81-2 as The Ord, chambered cairns, cairns, settlements and field systems.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 14 February 2002.


Ground Survey (22 February 2010 - 18 March 2010)

NC 575 050 A topographic survey of the scheduled area

and a 100m buffer zone around the The Ord was carried

out 22 February–18 March 2010. The area contains a high

density of archaeological monuments, including Neolithic

funerary monuments and remains of Bronze Age settlements

and agriculture. Although the distribution of the major

features was known, this survey added detail and increased

the accuracy of information obtained in previous surveys.

The survey also identified several previously unrecorded

features. In total over 450 individual archaeological features

were recorded including a burnt mound, c35 hut circles, 14

rectangular buildings and over 300 clearance cairns.

Archive: RCAHMS

Funder: The Forestry Commission Scotland


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