MHG39414 - Ard Marks, Sandside


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • ARD MARKS (Undated)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NB Gourlay monitoresd this site over several seasons, reports of findings in the file for Knoc Stanger MHG748 (NC96NE0008) - HAW 2/2003

In 1751 a torrent 'cut out a new channel through the sand between Reay and the shore, 16ft deep which discovered the remains of a town. The ends of seven houses, built with stone, were seen in a line, and the remains of several others with some pieces of pavement. The stones being of good quality were carried off, and the banks soon falling prevented any further search. Pieces of earthenware were found among the ruins.' This description may indicate the former site of the township of Reay, but see NC96SE.
NSA (by F Cook - 1840) 1845.

Supposed Site of (NAT). Ancient Town (NR): Stone Cists, Urns, Human Remains, Bronze Pins, etc, found here (NAT)
OS 6"map, Caithness, 2nd ed., (1872)

These remains were found at Cnoc Stanger (MHG748), but there is now no trace of them. 'Mr Sutherland (J Sutherland, St Mary's cottage) has told me that he has found in sand in vicinity of Cnoc Stanger bodies buried in every conceivable position - some erect, some leaning backward, some forward, others in a crouching position, with and without cists - also some urns with burned bones, bronze pins and needles, etc. After a strong NE wind sand drifts so much as to sometimes lay bare human skeletons. Skulls are frequently found; two very large ones with other bones may be seen in Sandside House'.
Name Book 1873.

c20m S of Knock Stanger (MHG748) in face of eroded stream bank, about 1m below present ground level and c12m above stream, remains of dry-stone structures can be seen.
Visited by OS (J L D) 1 May 1960.

Settlement (NR) (site of) OS 6"map, (1967)

Excavation of an area of settlement S of Cnoc Stanger (MHG748) was carried out 1980 by team from Edinburgh University directed by Mercer, following recognition of a structure eroding out above river in June 1978 (Info from R Gourlay, HRA).
This proved to be lower of 2 successive, circular, thin-walled enclosures lying between 2nd and 3rd, and 4th and 5th layers (reading downwards) of 16 layer deposit overlying boulder-clay. At lower level charcoal lay on boulder-clay surface, and from 6th layer downwards ard-marks were preserved in some of cultivated soil deposits. The other layers were of sand or turf.
Lower of two enclosures, of which only a short arc was revealed, was estimated to measure 20m diameter. Only basal course survived, set to produce an even outer face, with inner face left ragged. Walled and paved areas were identified within structure, latter bearing substantial occupation deposits which produced pottery, shell, bone and charcoal.
The later enclosure was similar in size and shape but different in construction, being of horizontally coursed flagstone, as opposed to beach stones. It lay slightly E of earlier enclosure, and walls, being only c1m thick, could never have stood to a great height. Possible post-holes at edge of SW sector were suggestive of an entrance.
The enclosure overlay last surviving phase of cultivation on site and was apparently overwhelmed by an early phase of dune formation. No close parallels for these enclosures are known although there are similarities to Wag of Forse. The conclusion is that areas could not have been roofed but that roofed and paved structures existed within them, possibly as lean-to's against walls. It is hoped to continue the excavation in 1981.
Info from TS of R J Mercer excavation report, May 1981.

See 1996 PSAS article for 1981-2 excavation work at Cnoc Stanger by R. Mercer. <1>

Sources/Archives (6)



Grid reference Centred NC 9590 6510 (60m by 60m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC96NE
Civil Parish REAY
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

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