MHG1263 - Settlement, Achorn


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Type and Period (1)

  • SETTLEMENT (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)

Protected Status

Full Description

'Wags' or settlement as described above.
The turf-covered remains of a nucleated settlement occupying two main levels on SE flank of a rise protected on 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 N side by a tumbled wall, but complex has been severely robbed of stones, presumably to build the early modern sheepfold which overlies NW part, and also nearby deserted croft, and it seems likely that the settlement extended a short distance to 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 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 five elements were of the aisled construction common to this part of Caithness (ND13SW 5 is typical). A feature of site is a number of 'box-like' compartments formed of slabs on edge, which occur within 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.

(ND13753057) Settlement (NR) Visited by OS (R L) 14 3 1968.

Surveyed at 1:2500. Visited by OS (R L) 14 March 1968.

Generally as described by RCAHMS. The site is in a very confused state with a great amount of stone lying SE of old sheepfold, and it is difficult to make an accurate survay. There appears to be four circular features from 10-12m in diameter, and several small compartments have been formed between these features. The outer wall of westernmost circle is approx 2m wide. This is most probably the remains of a 'wag' or 'wags'.
Visited by OS (W D J) 24 June 1960.

On left bank of Achorn Burn, about 1/3 mile W of Balcraggy Lodge, are 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 30-40ft. 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.

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred ND 1373 3060 (228m by 96m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND13SW
Civil Parish LATHERON
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

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