MHG12273 - Township, Handa Island


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • TOWNSHIP (Post Medieval - 1560 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NC14NW 2 centred on 141 477

Handa was abandoned due to the potato famine in 1845; the last inhabitants sailed for America about 1848.
Scots Magazine 1960.

NC 142 477. An area of depopulation containing the remains of several rectangular buildings and enclosure walls. Mr Munro (A J Munro, Boatman, Tarbet) stated that the people were evicted from the island in 1829. Visited by OS (W D J) 12 July 1960.

The ruins of a deserted township as described. The remains of a corn-drying kiln occur at NC 1418 4776.
Surveyed at 1:10,000.
Visited by OS (J M) 4 June 1980.

This township comprises one roofed and seven unroofed buildings as depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Sutherland 1878, sheet xxx). There is also a large, rectilinear enclosure and what would appear to be a head dyke. The site comprises one roofed, six unroofed buildings and two enclosures as it is depicted on the OS 1:10,560 map (1963).
Information from RCAHMS (SAH) 14 August 1995

Site inspection of the township was carried out by Highland Council Archaeology Unit in 1999. This comprises 6 individual buildings arranged in linear fashion, with a modern pathway running through the settlement between the buildings. Each building has enclosures associated with it, extending down the slope to the south towards the bay.

The enclosures are defined by large boulders, which may have been topped with turf. It is however, also possible that smaller stones were also used, but that these have been robbed away to construct dykes for stock enclosure after the settlement had been abandoned. The eastern end of the settlement is more reduced than the west, and this is closer to a later, main dyke. The obvious implication is that the stone was re-used for this dyke. A corn-drying kiln is located fairly centrally to the settlement and is reasonably well preserved.

One building retains evidence of a chimney built into a central gable. In general, doorways have been blocked up, sometimes quite roughly but sometimes also quite finely. Whether this work was done before or after abandonment of the settlement, to enable the use of the buildings as stock enclosures is open to question. The settlement is south facing, and overlooks a wide bowl which leads down to the sandy beach. The prevailing wind often blows sand up over the area of cleared and enclosed fields in front of the settlement. Although the fields are now scrubby and overgrown, drainage ditches are evident.

A head dyke runs across to the south of the settlement. In the east, it is overlain by the later sheepfold, and in the west it encloses a large area of the south-facing bay. A branch of the dyke heads west to Traigh na h-Airigh, where it runs right to the shore. There is a clear distinction between the improved and unimproved land. <1>

Sources/Archives (15)



Grid reference Centred NC 1420 4773 (270m by 87m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC14NW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (2)

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