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Roer Water

House (Prehistoric)

Site Name Roer Water

Classification House (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 852

Site Number HU38NW 3

NGR HU 33704 86579

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Shetland Islands
  • Parish Northmavine
  • Former Region Shetland Islands Area
  • Former District Shetland
  • Former County Shetland

Archaeology Notes

HU38NW 3 3370 8658.

A chambered structure was revealed by the removal of the thick layer of peat and heather from a small oval mound by Munro in July 1902. Subsequent investigation by Abercromby, in July 1904, revealed the internal plan. The enclosing wall was from 4' to 5' thick in parts. No trace was found of human occupation or interment. (Full description and measurements given).

R Munro and J Abercromby 1904.

This structure lies near the west end of the north side of Roer Water and about 300 yds from the shore of a bay and is constructed of granite blocks, such as cover the moor. Peat has again started to cover the structure especially on the south where all that remains above the peat is a curved setting of stones with an opening. The north portion is reduced to mere foundations except the small recess in the NW wall opposite the entrance, which is still roofed. This is classed under 'Early Domestic Structures'.

RCAHMS 1946, visited 1935.

This structure is at HU 3371 8659 (i.e. 40m from the Roer Water, not 300 yds as stated by RCAHM). It is generally as described by Abercromby, except that the entrance has been destroyed, and a shelter or lamb-pen has been built over chamber H. (See amended plan). The surviving remains, of a maximum height of 1.0m, suggest affinities with the Shetland Ne-BA house.

Visited by OS (RL) 19 May 1969.

(Scheduled as Roer Water, house). The monument consists of the remains of a prehistoric house, somewhat altered by later rebuilding, in a small valley in deep peat to the N of Roer Water. The remains were revealed by peat clearance and limited excavation in 1902. It is located at over 110m above sea-level on the barren moors of North Roe, consists of the ruined walls of a small house built of granite blocks. It is an irregular oval with two side-cells, one of which was lintelled. To the N of the remains is a cicular shelter, itself now ruined, built out of the remains of the prehistoric structure. The entrance was on the SE side, facing the nearby loch, but has been overlain by a later shelter. There are slight traces of walls running under the edges of the surrounding peat, which may represent contemporary fields.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 28 June 1994.


Field Visit (2 August 1935)

Indeterminate Structure, Roer Water.

This ruined structure is near the W. end of the N. side of the loch known as Roer Water and some 300 yds. from the shore of a bay of considerable size. It was partially excavated in 1902 by Dr. Robert Munro and further examined by Lord Abercromby in 1904 (1), but the excavation was not carried far enough to reveal the original character or purpose of the building. It is constructed of granite blocks such as cover the moor, and in 1902 was submerged in the peat to the extent of 2 or 3 ft. It seems to have had an entrance on the S.W., on the right side of which was a cell, while on the left a narrow passage led to a central chamber or enclosure of more or less circular outline, having an internal diameter of about 9 ft. 6 in. A sketch-plan of this is given in Fig. 604. From this opened a number of recesses, three of rounded and two of rectangular form. During the last thirty years the peat has again accumulated over the floor of the central enclosure, while the outer, or S., portion has been thickly grown over. The N. portion remains much as it was when described. The walls, except in the recess C, are reduced to mere foundations, and the fallen stones have spread to give the structure an average diameter of between 21 and 23 ft. It is important to note that this small recess, situated in the N.W. part of the wall opposite the entrance, is still completely roofed in and has a depth of at least 4 ft. It runs into a pointed extension of the fallen wall, and being only 1 ft. 4 in. in breadth and 4 in. in height (above the present floor) it has the appearance rather of a drain or flue than of a recess in the ordinary sense of the term.

Of the S. part of the structure, not shown in Fig. 604, all that now remains is a curved setting of stones pierced by an opening. The stones just show above the peat, and the opening is almost closed. Above the setting there is a face of peat some 3 ft. high, behind which is a depression with a central aperture leading into a considerable cavity, clearly the cell C of Abercromby's plan (2).

RCAHMS 1946, visited 2 August 1935.

(1) P.S.A.S., xxxviii (1903-4), pp. 548-56.

(2) Op cit., p. 554.2 August 1935.

Measured Survey (1935)

A sketch survey of the building at Roer Water was made in 1935. The sketch was redrawn in ink and later published (RCAHMS 1946, fig. 604).


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