MHG12691 - Cladh Langdale Burial Ground & possible Chapel Site


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Type and Period (2)

  • CHAPEL (Post Medieval - 1560 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CEMETERY (Undated)

Protected Status

Full Description

Scheduled Novemer 2003 - HAW 11/2003

NC64NE 1 6991 4520.
Cladh Langdale (NAT) Burial Ground (NR) OS 6" map, (1962)
Cladh Langdale (NMRS/SMR no. NC64NE1; NC 6991 4520) is described as an ancient burial ground, apparently long disused by 1874 (Name Book, Sutherland, Book 20, 267); this impression of antiquity is also given by Pope a century earlier (1769, 325). It is also presumably the site of the chapel mentioned as existing at Langdale or Langwell (OPS, 708) and, like Cladh Rivigill, has a Norse name (the settlement is recorded as Langeval in 1269 (Waugh 2000, 17)). The burial ground is located high above the river Naver, on the north side of steep, birch-covered slopes. The elevated interior of the roughly rectangular burial ground, measuring 29.0m by 18.0m overall, is enclosed by a beautifully constructed dry-stone revetment. Unlike the burial ground at Skaill, it appears on the First edition map just as it does today. Two of the corners are square, but those on the south side are much more rounded in form. There is no obvious entrance into the graveyard, but there are two flat slabs which, although now slightly displaced, may have been low steps at the north east corner. A shallow ditch surrounds the graveyard wall; this is unlikely to be the effect of ploughing as it appears distinctly as a cut through the steeper slopes on the south west side of the burial ground. It is possible that the burial ground has been extended to the west - perhaps when the revetment was built - as this may explain both the irregularities in its shape and why the graveyard slopes more steeply in this direction. This same slope makes it difficult to envisage where the chapel would have been located, although Lelong noted the very faint traces of an oval or sub-rectangular building, aligned east-west and measuring 8m by 4m, in the centre of the graveyard (2000, 213). There are in fact numerous small depressions across much of the burial ground.

Eight recumbent slabs, including two groups of stones lying adjacent to each other, plus further more rounded boulder markers, have been identified within the graveyard. Only three slabs, which have fairly recently been uncovered by the tenants, are now visible. Joass, in the latter half of the nineteenth century, did not observe any markings on the graveslabs visible at that date (1865, 359) and this appears also to be the case today. Only one of the three slabs displays the quartz veins, which are such a prominent feature of the burial grounds at Skail and Rhifail. As at Cladh Rivigill, some of the smaller stones are clearly both head- and foot-stones. The name, Cladh Langdale, is still known locally, as is the tradition that the last burial to take place in the graveyard was that of a tinker child soon after the Clearances at the beginning of the nineteenth century (Eliot Rudie, pers. comm.). Donald Sage preached the last sermon in Strathnaver prior to the Clearances on the slopes of the strath above this site (Johnston 2001, panel 9). Just to the north, at Syre, a now lost Pictish symbol stone, bearing part of an incised horseshoe symbol, was found buried about 16 inches below the present ground surface in 1905 (NMRS/SMR no. NC64SE23; NC 69 44). The stone, located on a dry ridge, was still standing upright and three rough boulders had been packed around its base (Mackay 1906, 128). Information supplied by J Hooper : 05/12/02
An ancient burial ground, long disused by 1874, and presumably the site of the chapel mentioned by Authy 4 as existing at Langdale or Langwell. It is enclosed by a wall and none of the exposed tomb stones bear any markings of interest.
RCAHMS 1911, visited 1909; Name Book 1874; Orig Paroch Scot 1855.

A roughly rectangular enclosure formed by a dry-stone wall revetting an elevated area. Only a few small stones, without markings, survive. Visited by OS (J L D) 11 May 1960.

The burial ground measures overall 29.0 by 18.0m. Four recumbent slabs and a number of small boulder grave markers are evident, but none are inscribed. The name Cladh Langdale is still known locally.
Visited by OS (J M) 18 July 1978.

Sources/Archives (11)



Grid reference Centred NC 6991 4520 (200m by 200m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC64NE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish FARR

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Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

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