MHG17907 - Probable longhouse, Cnocbreac, The Glebe, Durness (Loch Croispol)


The remains of a probable 18th or early 19th-century longhouse, depicted as an unroofed building on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map.

Type and Period (2)

  • BUILDING (Undated)
  • LONGHOUSE? (Built, 18th Century to 19th Century - 1701 AD? to 1850 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NC36NE 78 3920 6735

What may be an unroofed building is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Sutherland 1878, sheet v). No structure is shown at this location on the current edition of the OS 1:10,000 map (1991).
Information from RCAHMS (FO) 14 August 1995.

The location of this feature has been amended following feedback from Graham Bruce, a local researcher. <1>

The structure is located about 400m north of the junction of the A838 and the track leading to the Old Balnakeil Manse within a small valley which stretches from the ridge, which the main road goes along, to Loch Croispol about 1km to the north. Immediately to the west of the site there is a small hillock, a clearly identifiable feature in the valley, being particularly steep on the west side. This green hillock of exposed outcrops of limestone probably gives the valley its name, Cnocbreac being Gaelic for the speckled knoll, an apt description. Cnocbreac was a township up until the mid 1830’s and this structure probably represents one of the township buildings. To the west of the knoll is the burn which drains the valley. Its principal source is Fuaran Fheoraidh, a spring about 200m SE of the site. Aligned north – south, the site is at an altitude of about 25m. Given the prevailing winds are from the SW, it is a relatively sheltered spot. The approach from The Manse track is along a grass covered 60m track, built up like a causeway which crosses a well drained, arable field, although all the land is now used for sheep grazing. Being on Durness Limestone, the land is fertile, despite the rocky nature of much of the area.
The structure has been reduced to little more than heavily grazed grass-grown banks which define the four walls of the main structure. A less well defined small structure is attached to the west side. Three stones on the west side help define the wall line and one in the attached structure. Roughly rectangular, the structure is externally 5.1m on the north end, 4.85m on the south, 13.53m to the east and 13.8m on the west. The small annex on the west is 1.4m by 2.9m. An area of tumble divides the structure in two, probably representing an internal wall. Wall thickness is generally 0.8m; height at the NW corner is about 0.4m which is the highest point, although the internal area of tumble has a height of about 0.6m.
7.0m north from the NW corner is the end of a tumbled dyke, represented by two large boulders and a number of small stones. It aligns east – west and is 6.0m long. From the west end a line to the north along the lower part of the hillock may define the back edge of a garden area.
This is almost certainly the two compartment structure shown as an unroofed building on the First Edition of the 6inch OS map. <2><3>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred NC 39168 67369 (13m by 23m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC36NE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish DURNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

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