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Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Achorn

Classification Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 8216

Site Number ND13SW 4

NGR ND 1375 3057

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

ND13SW 4 1375 3057.

On the left bank of the Achorn Burn, about 1/3 mile W of Balcraggy Lodge, are the foundations of what appear to have been a number of connected circular galleried buildings. There seem to have been at least four large circular enclosures with diameters of from 30 to 40ft. The outer walls, built of large blocks, have been about 7ft in thickness. No actual pillars or covering slabs of galleries are visible, but the character of the building is similar to that of the galleried structures found in this region. In several places, protruding through the turf, are rectangular settings of flagstones similar to those found in connection with the brochs.

RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910.

ND 1375 3057. Generally as described by the RCAHMS. The site is in a very confused state with a great amount of stone lying SE of the old sheepfold, and it is difficult to make an accurate survay. There appears to be four circular features from 10.0 to 12.0m in diameter, and several small compartments have been formed between these features. The outer wall of the westernmost circle is approximately 2.0m wide. This is most probably the remains of a 'wag' or 'wags'.

Visited by OS (W D J) 24 June 1960.

'Wags' or settlement as described above.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (R L) 14 March 1968.

(ND 1375 3057) Settlement (NR)

Visited by OS (R L) 14 March 1968.

The turf-covered remains of a nucleated settlement occupying two main levels on the SE flank of a rise protected on the S by the gorge of the Achorn Burn. It appears to comprise at least four circular to oval enclosures or hut circles and an oblong structure bounded along the N side by a tumbled wall, but the complex has been severely robbed of stones, presumably to build the early modern sheepfold which overlies the NW part, and also the nearby deserted croft, and it seems likely that the settlement extended a short distance to the W of the sheepfold. The walls are generally reduced to a scatter of turf-covered rubble stone, in which wall faces of slabs on edge are exposed intermittently. The individual enclosures are so reduced that the position of entrances, interconnecting or otherwise, is uncertain. There is no trace of stone pillars and little evidence of large flat slabs resembling lintels to indicate that any of the five elements were of the aisled construction common to this part of Caithness (ND13SW 5 is typical). A feature of the site is a number of 'box-like' compartments formed of slabs on edge, which occur within the walls of the enclosures, and which appear to be contemporary with the settlement.

The complex is difficult to interpret due to extensive mutilation, but it seems to be of different character to the typical Caithness 'wag'. The dwellings show no trace of having been aisled and the interiors are relatively free of debris; the circular or oval structures are more akin in size to hut circles than circular 'wags', and the number of elements (five at least) is unusual, as most wags have two or at best three elements.

Visited by OS (N K B) 22 December 1982.


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