MHG12261 - Possible Souterrain, Gleann Leireag


No summary available.

Type and Period (2)

  • SOUTERRAIN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • (Alternate Type) DRAIN (Post Medieval - 1560 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NC13SE 6 1535 3119.

NC 154 313. A lintelled passage, locally regarded as a refuge, about 10m long, internally 87 cms high and 80-90 cms broad. The dry-stone walls bend slightly at N end to meet a low mound, but collapse prevents further investigation. Pointed out by D MacAulay of Glenleraig. Information contained in letter from T C Welsh, 4 July 1971; T C Welsh 1971. <1>

This passage is situated at NC 1535 3119 in bottom of a small damp gully. It runs, with a slight inclination from its entrance (or ? Vent) in SSE, for 7m to NNW, then turns to NW for 4m where it appears to end in face of a low, natural slope. Access to it cannot be gained, but where one or two lintels have been displaced it can be seen to be about 0.9m wide between dry stone walls which increase in height from 0.6m at entrance to 1m towards its end. Its purpose is uncertain. It seems too wet to have been a refuge, and is more like a rather sophisticated drain, probably associated with the nearby depopulated village.
Visited by OS (A A) 8 August 1974.

The purpose of the passage as described by OS field surveyor remains uncertain. Its position within a gully, which extends from a drained area of cultivation associated with a deserted township (NC13SE 4) to Allt Mharthain, may indicate that it is a drain, and there is some evidence for a drainage channel between it and the cultivation, nevertheless is is not clear why its construction should be so sophisticated when gully itself provides a good natural outlet to burn, and at some distance from cultivation. The damp nature of ground would tend to preclude classification as a souterrain, though mode of construction is reminiscent of such a structure.
Visited by OS (N K B) 3 August 1980.

Visited by the Assynt's Hidden Lives project in December 2009. Situated on a slope in scrub woodland is a lintelled passage, running north from an entrance near a stream. Access is not easy, but wall faces are clearly visible in the interior and although they are very moss covered some stones are visible from the outside. The passage is less than 10m long and about 1.5m wide, and c.0.75m high inside at the lowest point, although the interior is chocked with rubble.
The lintels are of quarried, shaped stone and are mostly intact, although some collapse is apparent.
A stream runs through the passage, to join the nearby burn.
6m to the NE is a sub-rectangular ruin, perhaps an enclosure, incorporating some bedrock outcrops and measuring 20m N/S and 10m E/W. The association of this enclosure to the souterrain cannot easily be demonstrated; the construction style is not markedly different from that of many of the buildings and enclosures in the the surrounding township. <2>

Surveyed in detail by the Assynt's Hidden Lives project.
The souterrain, situated in on the north bank of Allt Mhathain, which bisects Glenleraig township, is difficult to inspect in detail; the interior is partially blocked with rubble collapse, and cannot easily be accessed. The entrance to the passage is visible from the S as a large lintel laid over low walls, which are a single stone in width and two courses high at the entrance. The entrance apace measures 0.55m by 0.9m, though the passage widens to over 1m in width further to the N. The passage curves to the NW for at least 11m, and at a point of collapse further to the N the capping stones c.1.5m in length have collapsed to show the interior space, which is 1.2m wide at this point. Water is running through the structure, which is situated at the base of a small hollow overlooked by higher ground.
No structures obviously associated with the souterrain are apparent, although to the NE of the passage there is a sub-rectangular enclosure with an entrance in the S wall. The enclosure is drystone, and makes use of a large bedrock outcrop on the E side. This construction style is similar to other enclosures/buildings in the township, although there is no more reliable indication of date. <3>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred NC 1535 3119 (40m by 40m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC13SE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish ASSYNT

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (1)

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