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West Strathan

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Site Name West Strathan

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Dun Buidhe 4

Canmore ID 5408

Site Number NC56SE 7

NGR NC 5645 6401

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/5408

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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NC56SE 7 5645 6401.

(NC 5647 6407) Possible cist found.

Information from G A David, Glasgow University, 28 June 1966

At NC 5645 6401 is an amorphous stony mound, heavily quarried, measuring about 17m in diameter and 1m high. About 1914 Mr MacLeod (Information from Mr John H MacLeod, Achintyhalavin, Strath Melness) dug into the

top of the mound for road metalling and discovered a small circular chamber with a dry-stone lintelled passage leading off it. He crawled in and found 'thirty to forty similar chambers with connecting passages' which were filled in shortly afterwards and some of the stones used for building. In the first chamber were a number of bones and ashes. It is uncertain what the remains represent.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (ISS) 30 June 1971

Local inhabitants still recall this mound as a 'Pictish tower with passages beneath, uncovered about 40 years ago and producing some objects'. It is known as 'Dun Bhuidhe'. The chambers could be interpreted as mural and basal passages of a broch.

Information contained in letter and map from T C Welsh to OS

12 July 1973

This bracken covered mound, situated on the edge of a river terrace, is as described by OS investigator (ISS, 1971), and is broadly as planned by Welsh except that the "outworks" to the NE and SW of the mound do not resemble outer defences as inferred, but are more likely bands of tumble. Mr J H MacLeod died in 1973 and no further information is available locally beyond that passed on by Mr MacLeod. The name "Dun Bhuidhe" in reference to the mound is not known locally; the croft 80.0m to the SW is named "Dunbuie"(sic) but the occupier states that the name emanates from a nearby hill (not published), and not the mound.

From ground evidence and taking into account Mr MacLeod's description of internal structures, it appears that the mound could be the remains of a broch, chambered cairn, or galleried homestead. Hearsay evidence tends to support the former classification, but the situation, whereas reasonable for a broch, is more typical of a chambered cairn. A low ridge containing some stone and overgrown with braken extends NNE from the mound and could indicate a twin-phase long cairn, but excavation is necessary to decide its true function.

Visited by OS (NKB) 16 September 1977

Further examination of the mound revealed the massive base footings of a wall up to three courses high forming an arc 6.0m long. These remains indicate the remains of a broch approximately 15.5m in diameter.

Visited by OS (NKB) 7 July 1981

Activities

Publication Account (2007)

NC56 1 DUN BUIDHE 4 (‘Dalvraid’, (‘West Strathan’: originally ‘Dunbuie’)

NC/5645 6401

A probable broch in Tongue, Suther-land, not recorded by the Commission but which is almost certainly the 'Dun Buidhe' (‘the burnt dun’) which its investigator placed 2.5 miles to the south-east where there is a hill called Dunbuie close by [1]. The name ‘Dun Buidhe’ has therefore here been transferred to this site and the name of the hill, ‘Dunbuie’, allocated to the alternative and incorrect position (NMRS site no. NC 56 SE 4: see also RCAHMS 1911a, 187, no. 544).

The site is situated in the steep, narrow valley of the Strathmelness Burn about a mile from the sea, and consists of a quarried heap of stones in which chambers are said to have been seen in about 1914 [1]. An examination in 1981 revealed what appeared to be the massive base footings of a curved wall up to three courses high and some 6.0m long, strongly suggesting that there is a broch on the site about l5.5m in diameter [1].

Source: 1. NMRS site no. NC 56 SE 7: 2. RCAHMS 1911a, 187, no. 544: 3. Horsburgh 1867, 277.

E W MacKie 2007

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