MHG11834 - Souterrain and roundhouse, Cyderhall Farm


No summary available.

Type and Period (3)

  • HUT CIRCLE (Early Iron Age - 550 BC to 1 AD) + Sci.Date
  • SOUTERRAIN (Early Iron Age - 550 BC to 1 AD)
  • PIT (Early Iron Age - 550 BC to 1 AD) + Sci.Date

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Dornoch Heritage Soc site 37

Gravel quarrying operations SW of Cyderhall farm exposed and truncated remains of stone souterrain & associated roundhouse.
The souterrain was aligned NW-SE and its walling survived to a length of 7m on NE side and 2.5m on SW. The walls were of large roughly dressed sandstone blocks up to 0.25m by 0.5m by 0.84m high. The maximum surviving height of the walls was 1.5m. Four opposite pairs of postholes were encountered at floor level. A round pit 1.5m in diameter and 1.03m deep had been cut into floor of souterrain. The structure had either collapsed or been deliberately pulled down and interior had been filled with dumps of sandy gravel.
Associated with souterrain was a sunken roundhouse, two thirds of which had been cut away by quarrying, and a gully leading off from it. Three phases of use of roundhouse were identified.
Phase 1 had an inner arc of postholes c 0.65m deep and 0.60m in diameter, with an outer arc of smaller postholes. These indicate the original diameter of roundhouse was 9m. A gully 7m long led off from house to NW. Three opposite pairs of postholes were discovered at basal level inside gully. The roundhouse had burned down.
Phase 2 may be associated with abandonment of gully and the construction of souterrain. Six shallow external postholes are thought to relate to modification of roundhouse. This structure also burned down. The turf roofing material collapsed on top of roof timbers, including ring beam and rafters, which were preserved due to their carbonisation.
Phase 3 had been disturbed by site machines, major surviving feature being a hole 1.1m in diameter and fully 1.6m deep cut through floor, with dark gravelly silt spreads defining the floor area. Outside main excavation area bottom of a clay-lined grain pit was located just by machine-cut section through roundhouse. Organic survival was poor and the finds consisted of one sherd of pottery, an unretouched flint flake and part of a leaf-shaped arrowhead. <1>

A small quantity of animal bone from this site was still in the possession of the finds specialist in June 2011. The location fo the rest of the finds is presently unknown. <2>

The animal bones from this site were deposited with Dornoch HistoryLinks Museum in August 2011. It is not known whether any of the other finds are located there. <3>

An image of the first page of the bone report by Catherine Smith can be viewed on the Dornoch HistoryLinks museum website. The report notes that the animal bone comprised a total of 176g of poorly preserved fragments. All of the fragments that could be identified to species came from cattle, mostly teeth. Several fragments had been calcined or burnt. <4>

The first page of the botanical analysis by Sheila Boardman can also be seen on the Historylinks Museum website. It describes five samples from a pit (context 202) which were analysed prior to radiocarbon dating. The samples were all taken from the base of the pit (context 200) where a dense deposit of charred grains had been noted during excavation. Three other samples were also scanned for botanical remains: these came from the phase 1 roundhouse (contexts 337 and 350) and from below the souterrain floor (context 122). They produced wood but no other botanical remains. <5>

A search for "Cyderhall" in the Dornoch Historylinks Image Library retrieves images, plans and other information about the excavation. <6>

The site was published in PSAS in 1992. Abstract:
"The excavation of a newly discovered souterrain on the northern shore of the Dornoch Firth yielded evidence of internal timber supports and a pit dug through the floor. The partial remains of an associated roundhouse and gully represented three occupation levels. Radiocarbon dates ranged from 270+50 BC to 390±50 BC uncal."
The full article can be accessed on the Archaeology Data Service website. See link below to PSAS 1992 article. <7>

Sources/Archives (8)



Grid reference Centred NH 7529 8830 (100m by 100m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH78NE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish DORNOCH

Finds (3)

  • VESSEL (Undated)
  • LEAF ARROWHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2401 BC)
  • BARLEY GRAIN (Early Iron Age - 550 BC to 1 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (6)

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