MHG39522 - Souterrain, Crosskirk


Souterrain converted from an entrance passage in the latter stages of site occupation.

Type and Period (1)

  • SOUTERRAIN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

Scheduled with adjacent chapel (ND07SW 1).
Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 30 June 1995.

This broch was excavated by Dr H Fairhurst and Mr D Taylor between 1966 and 1972. The wall survived to a max height of about 2m internally, and contained a rock-cut well. A rock-cut ditch encircled the tower, and the area between ditch and broch was fully occupied by secondary domestic structures. At conclusion of excavation broch was bulldozed over edge of cliff, and nothing remains of it or outworks apart from some walling in the cliff face. A modern cairn marks the site.
A full excavation report is pending.
Visited by OS (NKB) 13 11 1981; Info from R B Gourlay, Highland Region Archaeologist.

Evidence of occupation as late as the 8th century was found during the excavations.
E W MacKie 1975.

Broch (NR) (rems of) OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

The remains of this broch, unsafe through coastal erosion, was excavated by Fairhurst and Taylor 1966-1972 on behalf of DoE, before being demolished, earthed over and seeded with grass. The excavation revealed evidence of a secondary settlement within an outwork on E, and an extension of entrance passage east-wards, part of which was converted,in the last stages of occupation, into a souterrain. The outwork commenced in E in front of broch entrance, as a wall 15'thick with an earth core. Further to W where bedrock came near the surface, outwork continued as a terrace-like feature with a 'cell-like' structure behind. In front was a ditch, largely natural, which was 3m deep. In extreme W fence of flag-stones seems to have completed the defences. One of final episodes in the occupation of the site was a burial in the centre of a roughly circular dwelling. The body had been placed in a sitting position and was unaccompanied by grave-goods. As well as native pottery, bonework, querns, etc., finds included 2nd century Samian and a fragment of possibly Roman glass, now in NMAS.
H Fairhurst, D B Taylor and A Morrison 1966; H Fairhurst 1969; H Fairhurst and D B Taylor 1970; 1971; 1972. <1>

Bronze spiral finger-rings.
E W MacKie 1971

This broch survives as a grass-covered circular enclosure, 1.1m max height internally. Traces of outer wall face, 1.5m max height, are exposed in SW, and in N where the cliff edge has eroded. There thickness of wall is 5.5m. There is no evidence of original entrance but it may have been in S where the feature has been mutilated by excavation. Around E periphery of broch there is a shallow depression, and on SW side a bank, 0.5m max height, may have formed part of outer defences. No further information could be found regarding symbol stone found here.
Resurveyed at 1:2500. Visited by OS (N K B) 28 October 1964.

The broch at Crosskirk Bay, Reay, has an internal diameter of approx 30-32ft and a wall 14-15ft thick. It has been broken into from S, where there appears to have been an entrance to the left of which the sides of a chamber are visible in the wall. At the edge of the cliff, some 20ft of wall about 4 to 5ft high is exposed. On the landward side about 10ft from the broch are the remains of an outer bank or wall, now some 8ft wide at the base.
RCAHMS 1911; H Dryden 1871 (Soc of Antiqs Ms No. 21)

A rectangular symbol stone, 2ft 3ins high and 2ft 2ins wide, a facsimile of which is at Thurso Castle, is said to have been found at this broch and to have been given to King of Denmark by Sir George Sinclair.
J R Allen and J Anderson 1903; J Stuart 1856.

Class I symbol stone (lost) showed a crescent and V-rod and a horseshoe.
A.Mack 1997 p.141

Sources/Archives (190)



Grid reference Centred ND 0248 7012 (40m by 40m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND07SW
Civil Parish REAY
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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