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Kinbrace Hill

Building(S) (Period Unassigned), Enclosure(S) (Period Unassigned), Field System (Period Unassigned), Hut Circle(S) (Prehistoric), Souterrain (Prehistoric)

Site Name Kinbrace Hill

Classification Building(S) (Period Unassigned), Enclosure(S) (Period Unassigned), Field System (Period Unassigned), Hut Circle(S) (Prehistoric), Souterrain (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 6636

Site Number NC82NE 1

NGR NC 866 295

NGR Description Centred NC 866 295

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/6636

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

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

Archaeology Notes

NC82NE 1 centred 866 295.

(Centred NC 866 295) Hut Circles & Enclosures (NR)

OS 6"map, 1962.

A settlement of hut-circles, field clearance heaps and field banks, stretching for about 400m along the lower west slopes of Kinbrace Hill in which it is possible to identify, by analogy with Fairhurst's excavations at Kilphedir (NC 91 NE25)(H Fairhurst and D B Talyor 1974), two periods of occupation. The first consists of simple huts associated with field clearance heaps, and dates from about 500 BC. The second consists of at least one strongly built hut, possibly a rebuild of one of the earlier type, associated with field walls and dating from about 130 BC.

The simple huts, most of which were found by field surveyor (Information from OS (E G C) 25 May 1961) whose visit occurred after heather-burning, number about twelve, and some are not true circles. They consist of earth and stone banks 0.5m in maximum height and 8m to 15m in diameter. At least six have entrances in the west, the others being in the SE.

The later type of hut occurs at NC 86812963 (Hut 'A') and was excavated by Curle in 1910 (A O Curle 1911). It is almost identical with Kilphedir Hut V being oval 9.1m by 10.6m internally with a paved entrance passage 4.5m long in the SE. The stone-faced walls vary from 2.4m to 7.3m in thickness and Curle identified a souterrain or mural gallery in the west wall. His excavation produced finds of coarse pottery and part of a lignite armlet which he donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS, Accession no HD 440-2). Adjoining the hut on the NE, and connected by a possibly secondary entrance, are the remains of a small oblong enclosure. As at Kilphedir, a bank approaches the hut entrance from the west at a distance of only a few feet from the hut. Another possibly hut of this type occurs at NC 86882968 (hut (B') where a large green mound, outside entrance on the SW, may indicate the presence of a souterrain. The irregularly shaped fields are enclosed by courses of stones, earth and stone banks, or low, spread turf banks whose average height is 0.3m but on the west side of the road, towards the north, they reach a maximum height of 1m.

At NC 86812962 is a turf mound with a 4m by 3m by 0.3m deep depression which RCAHMS (RCAHMS 1911) thought might be a kiln. At NC 86842928 is a slight depression 2m in diameter and 0.2m deep, banked on the SW side, which also resembles a kiln.

RCAHMS 1911, visited 1909; A O Curle 1911; H Fairhurst and D B Talyor 1974.

This settlement comprises fourteen stone-walled huts, but since the previous field investigator's visit, the area to the E of the road has been ploughed and afforested, mutilating and obscuring all features except huts 'A' and 'B'. 'A', as described above, is now covered by heather and turf.

'B' measures internally 14.0m SSW-NNE by 11.0m; it is set into the slope in the NE, where the floor is 1.5m below the top of the wall scarp. The wall is approximate- ly 3.0m thick in the NW, widening to 8.5m at the entrance in the SSW arc, at the west side of which the possible souterrain is located. The entrance unusually wide at 4.5m, is blocked by a small heather-covered mound of uncertain purpose, possibly a clearance heap.

The huts described below are on the W side of the road, unaffected by afforestation. 'C' is 9.0m in diameter within a wall, whose SW half has an inner face of almost contiguous slabs on edge. The wall appears to have been 2.1m broad. The probable entrance, now stone-choked, is in the W. 'D' and 'E' have internal diameters of 6.0m and 10.0m respectively, with walls approximately 1.8m wide. Both are entered from the W. 'F' is severely mutilated but appears to have measured about 10.0m in diameter within a turf overgrown wall about 1.8m wide. Several inner and outer upright facing stones are exposed including four portal slabs at the choked entrance in the SE indicating a wall thickness of 2.7m here. A compartment in the north of the hut may be an original feature or it could indicate later use or mutilation. A later wall overlies and obscures the NW arc. 'G' is a very ill-defined hut visible as a platform about 12.5m in diameter within a low, broken, turf covered wall. No obvious entrance is visible.

The two possible kilns mentioned appear to be the remains of clearance heaps. The first has been totally destroyed by forestry ploughing. The revealed contents are typical of a clearance heap. The second has another clearance heap close by it.

Only vestigal remains of the field system survive in the forest E of the road and the association between it and the huts is obscured. On the W side of the road there are one or two clearance heaps and some lynchets. There is an unusually well-preserved system of field walls surviving generally as single lines of boulders on edge. These appear contemporary with the huts but there is incursion of later walls associated with run-rig. There are cultivation plots visible, average size 25.0m by 15.0m.

Revised at 1/10,000

Visited by OS (J B) 14 January 1977

There are at least six hut-circles (A, C-E, G, H), one enclosure (F) and two buildings (J, K) set amongst a field-system on a gentle SW-facing slope concentrated between the public road and the railway line.

A. NC 8681 2963 This hut-circle is situated in a small overgrown clearing in a mature coniferous plantation on the E side of the public road. It measures 10.3m in diameter within a faced rubble bank 2.8m in thickness and 1.2m in height. The entrance is on the SSE and there may be a gap in the bank on the ENE, possibly access to an oblong enclosure abutting the exterior. There is a stretch of the western arc of the hut-circle bank which is disturbed and corresponds to Curle's description of the entrance to the souterrain discovered as the Inventory went to press (RCAHMS 1911). A lynchet runs past the SE side of the hut-circle.

(A D Curle 1911, KILD91 360)

B. NC 8688 2968 This hut-circle, previously identified by RCAHMS and the OS could not be located in a dense coniferous plantation.

C. NC 8677 2936 This hut-circle measures 8.5m in diameter within a stone-faced rubble bank 2.2m in thickness and 0.7m in height. The entrance is on the W and the interior is levelled into the slope. (KILD91 356)

D. NC 8681 2935 This hut-circle measures 6m in diameter within a stone-faced rubble bank 1.6m in thickness and 0.4m in height. The entrance is on the WNW and the interior is levelled into the slope. (KILD91 355)

E. NC 8675 2951 This hut-circle measures 9.7m in diameter within a stone-faced rubble bank 1.5m in thickness and 0.6m in height. The entrance may have lain on the W but this section of wall has been disturbed by robbing. The interior is slightly levelled into the slope. (KILD91 357)

F. NC 8669 2953 This enclosure is sub-circular with a bulge on the ENE side and measures 14.5m from ENE to WSW by 10m transversely within a stone-faced bank 2m in thickness and 0.6m in height. A hut appears to have been inserted against the interior of the NNW side. The entrance is on the SSE side. There are substantial boulders to either side of the entrance passage which has been lengthened by a thickening of the wall terminals externally.

(KILD91 258)

G. NC 8671 2956 This hut-circle exhibits two phases of construction. The earlier measures 13.6m from ENE to WSW by 10.5m transversely within a robbed bank spread to 3m in thickness and 0.3m in height. A later bank runs across the W of the interior, some 3m from the W side of the earlier structure, forming a hut-circle about 10m in diameter. A lynchet which has been slighted by rig runs into the NW of the structure.

(KILD91 359)

H. NC 8673 2966 This hut-circle measures 4.9m in diameter within a bank 1.9m in thickness and 0.2m in height. On the S side the bank is overlain by a field-bank.

(KILD91 473)

I. NC 8680 2944 About half of what may be a hut-circle protrudes from under the spoil on the W side of the public road. Two arcuate banks run out of the road embankment and terminate about 1.5m from each other. What may be a later bank bisects the interior of the possible hut-circle.

J. NC 8674 2956 This building appears to overlie the top of a substantial lynchet. It measures 8.9m from ENE to WSW by 3.7m transversely within a stone-faced bank 0.9m in thickness and 0.3m in height. The entrance is in the S side and the interior is slightly terraced into the slope.

(KILD91 441)

K. NC 8671 2960 This building measures 6.8m from WSW to ENE by 3.5m transversely within a stony bank 1.5m in thickness and 0.3m in height. There may be an entrance in the WSW end-wall.

(KILD91 474)

The field-system is composed of banks, lynchets and small cairns. To the N, substantial lynchets define at least three sub-rectangular plots. Fragmentary ridging is visible, slighting the lynchets in two places to the NW and NE of hut-circle 'S'. To the W and N of 'E' stony banks overlie a lynchet and appear to butt onto 'F'. To the N of 'E' there is a sub-rectangular plot, formed by a low stony bank. To the SE of the site there is a more irregular pattern of slighter lynchets and a scatter of small cairns measuring up to 7m in diameter and 0.6m in height. At the southern end of the site a sub-square plot defined by a low stony bank appears to overlie the slight lynchets echoing the sequence to the N of the site. Parts of a trackway can be seen NW and SSE of 'C'.

Visited by RCAHMS (DCC) 3 June 1991.

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