MHG39273 - Sheepfank, Ach Chairn


A sheepfank depicted on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map which probably incorporates building material from an adjacent broch.

Type and Period (2)

  • FANK (18th Century to 21st Century - 1701 AD to 2100 AD)
  • SHEEP FOLD (18th Century to 21st Century - 1701 AD to 2100 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A sheepfold has been built on the site of a broch. Visited by OS (F D C) 2 May 1957.

The remains of a broch are situated above a sheepfold.
Visited by OS (W D J) 7 April 1960.

The nearby stone-built fank probably accounts for much of the brochs depletion. A later, rectangular footing, 12m by 5m, occupies easterly part of broch. Revised at 1:10,000.
Visited by OS (J M) 20 November 1978.

This fank was surveyed in September 2009 by Ian Mchardy in connection with the erection of a new agricultural building to the south which would involve the destruction of one of the fank walls. Unfortunately the wall had already been dismantled before the survey but the remainder of the fank was surveyed and the stones from the dismantled section were examined.
The fank was found to be rectangular in plan measuring approximately 30m by 40m. It is divided into two internally and the western half is further divided into four compartments. The walls of the fank are mostly of drystone construction using boulders and very regularly shaped rectangular blocks of metamorphic quartzite-type stone, mostly dressed to shape, and are between 5 and 8 courses (1.5 to 1.8m) high. The wall has a pronounced batter in cross section, being around 1m wide at the bottom and narrowing to around 0.4m at the top. The stone is not immediately local: some of the stones could be glacial erratics but others may have come from the quartzite quarry at Laid or possibly from further afield.
The south-west corner of the fank has a noticeably curved construction and it is suggested that this may have formerly been part of a blackhouse which was later modified to form the fank. There is a clear concentration of massive stones towards the west of the fank, which would be consistent with these having been robbed from the nearby broch. The general size of the stones in the demolished section of wall at the southern end of the fank was still substantial, but smaller than those in the western or uphill areas of the fank.
Isolated sherds of 18th or 19th-century non-diagnostic ceramics recovered during topsoil stripping to the south of the demolished wall probably relate to the use of the fank, although they could also relate to the occupation of the putative blackhouse. <1>

Sources/Archives (1)



Grid reference Centred NC 36378 61963 (48m by 39m) (Centred)
Map sheet NC36SE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish DURNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

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