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Cnoc Na Moine

Field System (Period Unassigned), Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Cnoc Na Moine

Classification Field System (Period Unassigned), Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 7324

Site Number NC96NW 2

NGR NC 942 651

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Reay
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Caithness
  • Former County Caithness

Archaeology Notes

NC96NW 2 942 651.

In the region of NC 940 642 Mercer notes the following features: Three platforms (254, 255, 269); Stone rubble (256); Ten hut circles (257, 261-6, 270-2); Three structures (258-9, 268); Clearance cairn (?) (260); and Double enclosure (267).

R J Mercer 1981.

In the area centred on NC 942 651 on the lower E-facing slopes of Cnoc na Moine is a settlement of unknown date comprising eleven possible hut circles and enclosures (A - L), together with signs of cultivation typified by short stretches of low, wasted walling and a small number of scattered clearance heaps.

The eleven features are:

'A' (Mercer no 257) An indistinct, subrectangular structure, 5.0 by 3.0m internally, bounded by a wall of large stone blocks; there is the suggestion of an internal division in the N corner. An abutting annexe in the SE is 2.0 by 1.0m internally. The entrance is not evident.

'B' (Mercer no 260) The obscure remnants of a possible hut circle, defined by intermittent large stones protruding through the heather around the perimeter. Over all it measures approximately 7.0m NW-SE by 5.5m. No entrance is evident.

'C' (Mercer no 262) An ill-defined possible hut circle, 3.5m in internal diameter bounded by a band of large stones and boulders protruding through the heather. The entrance position could not be determined.

'D' (Mercer no 263) A sub-oval enclosure 8.5m N-S by 4.0m bounded by a spread wall 0.3m high. Entrance probably in the W.

'E' (Mercer no 264) The ill-defined remains of a hut circle, 7.0m N-S by 6.0m internally. It is most clearly defined in the S by a heather-covered spread bank 0.2m high, but is very obscure in the N and E. The entrance is in the SE.

'F' (Mercer no 265) An ill-defined probable hut circle about 4.0m N-S by 3.0m internally. Details of the interior are obscured by stone and bracken.

'G' (Mercer no 266) A small, probable hut circle, 3.0m N-S by 2.5m internally, defined by an orthostatic wall. The entrance appears to be in the N. A wall of intermittent orthostats encircles the hut close by from the N round to the W.

'H' (Mercer no 268) and 'J' 'H' is an irregular possible hut circle measuring 6.5m E-W by 4.5m internally. It is defined by a vague spread of rubble most definite in the E. There are indications of a possible subdivision in the ENE. No entrance is apparent. Some 25.0m to the S stands 'J', in a similar condition, measuring 7.5m E-W by 5.5m with the entrance probably from the E. Indications of subdivision occur in the interior.

'K' (Mercer no 269) A presumed hut stance scooped deeply into the E-facing slope. Internally it measures 7.0m N-S by 6.0m, with remnants of a wall surviving around the E half. No entrance is apparent.

'L' (Mercer no 272) is an indistinct heather-covered area of ground disturbance about 10.0m in overall diameter. There is evidence of two arcs of banking and four orthostats forming no pattern. It is probably the remains of a hut circle or similar structure. A later field wall crosses the site.

Of the remaining features noted by Mercer, nos 254-6 were not identified and 267 was masked by high bracken. Nos 258 and 259 are probably field clearance heaps, being stony mounds 3.0m and 4.0m in diameter respectively. No 261 is a mound of large stones and boulders about 5.0m in diameter and 0.4m high. It is almost certainly a clearance heap, but there is the possibility of it being a burial cairn. No 270, described as a hut circle, is evident as an arc of stone, 7.5m long, together with some amorphous ground disturbance; it is most unlikely to be a hut circle. No 271 is an ill-defined area of peat and heather-covered stone measuring approximately 11.0m NW-SE by 10.0m transversely and 0.4m high. The central 3.0m is relatively clear of stones, but whether this is an original feature or the result of quarrying is uncertain. The feature is too amorphous to enable classification.

The evidence of cultivation and association with the footings of buildings leave little doubt that this is an area of settlement, but of what period remains unknown. The pattern of cultivation, as far as can be judged from the limited remains, is prehistoric, and the amount of peat growth, and reduced nature of the buildings certainly suggest an early date, but none of the buildings can be identified with certainty as hut circles. They are small, appear crudely built, and do not display in general the regularity of form of the typical Highland round house. The amorphous nature of some of the structures may be caused by mutilation and re-use of the original features over an extended period, possibly to early-modern times. The area of clearance 200m to the SW (see NC96NW 1) may be associated.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (J B) 22 August 1981.

This settlement was noted during a pre-afforestation survey of Sandside Estate. None of the eleven structures, previously recorded on the E slope of Cnoc na Moine, are typical of Highland hut-circles as they are small and crudely-built. The most visible structure measures about 10m in overall diameter and is defined by two arcs of bank and four orthostats. The remainder are visible only as bracken-covered mounds, some rubble and some larger stones.

C Dagg 13 October 1998; NMRS MS 1008/3, no.7


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