MHG40491 - Field system, The Ord


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Type and Period (1)

  • FIELD SYSTEM (Undated)

Protected Status

Full Description

Settlement (NR) (18 features shown). OS 1:10,000 map, (1970)

RCAHMS mention at least 18 hut circles and enclosures numerous mounds and walls. RCAHMS 1911. <1>

A total of 17 hut circles and enclosures were located.
Visited by OS (W D J) 19 June 1963.

A scattered settlement of 22 hut circles, 13 of which are oval, accompanied by a system of plots covering 43.3 hectares on ridge of The Ord. The plots are formed by low lynchets and banks, on which generally large clearance cairns are piled. R W Feachem 1973. <2>

On gently undulating N E & SE slopes of The Ord in open moorland, is a settlement of 18 huts (A-T) within an associated field system. In the main the huts are poorly preserved, frequently denuded, and overgrown with peat, heather or bracken. They fall into two broad categories; there are 11 huts of simple form, varying from 5.5-10m internal diameter within a tumbled wall of earth and stone up to 0.5m high, and spread to 2m-2.5m broad all round. In hut 'G' where inner and outer facing stones on edge are discernible, the precise wall thickness is 1.4m and this would appear to be the average for this type of hut. They are circular except 'G', which is oval, 8.5m by 7.4m internally. This example has an entrance in the NW where the position of a single portal stone suggests a splay; the other huts have their entrance in the SE arc,visible as a lowering in the wall. The position of the entrance to huts 'E' and 'L' is uncertain; in the former,stone clearance heaps overlie the east and west arcs.
The second category of hut includes D, J, N, R, S and T, and probably B. Four are oval oriented NW-SE, the others circular; all are of more massive construction with a thicker wall which appears to contain a greater ratio of stone to earth.
The internal dimensions vary from 9m diameter to 14.5m by 12m, the tumbled wall surviving to 0.8m mean height, and spread to 3m broad. (The actual wall width of hut 'J' is about 1.8m and this is probably the average). In at least four of the huts there is a distinct widening of the wall to about 4.5m spread at the entrance which in each case is in the SE arc on the longer axis. These entrances may be clubbed or splayed but vegetation obscures details. Hut 'N' within an 18th/19th century enclosure associated with run-rig is mutilated and overlaid in SE arc by the ruinous enclosure wall.
The field system is best-preserved in the extreme south, and for about 10 hectares in N, where well-defined lynchets and tumbled boulder walls incorporating clearance heaps delineate small irregularly shaped cultivation plots, average size 30m by 20m. The area between the hill summit and the bell cairn to the S (NC50NE 38) is occupied by post-medieval enclosures and run-rig with associated clearance heaps which has destroyed the original pattern of cultivation. The one example (hut 'E') of clearance overlying the wall indicates that not all huts and cultivation plots are contemporary.
(Of 18 features shown on OS 1:10,000, 3 are disproved as they are fortuitous arrangements of clearance and lynchets, and 3 (N, P and T) are new discoveries).
Surveyed at 1:10,000. Visited by OS (N K B) 28 July 1976.

Excavation and survey in March 1977 in advance of the erection of a new BBC transmitter near the summit of The Ord at NC 5737 0561, revealed a number of what appeared to be plough marks more likely to be of post-medieval rather than prehistoric date; and a ruined wall running from the adjacent chambered cairn (NC50NE 16). Four shallow gulleys found under the plough marks may only have been an earlier phase of rig cultivation. A single unworked flint flake was found on the surface of Layer 3. Part of the extensive field system between the summit and the road was examined. It comprised many small clearance cairns, terraces, and ruined dykes. Near the top of the survey area were the remains of 2 small hut circles with internal diameters of 5.2 and 8m.
Info from M J Yates, 1977 (see archive MS/180).

A further hut circle, 'U', visible as a low platform, was located at NC 5784 0517. The ill-defined hut measures 10.5m SE-NW by 8m within a low wall spread to 1.5m. The entrance in the SE has a large set stone on its S side.
All surveyed at 1/2500. Visited by OS (JB) 15 March 1979.

NC 580 051 'V': A well preserved oval hut circle with a turf covered rubble wall up to 3m wide and 1.1m high, enclosing an area of 10.2m EW by 11.8m NS, with a slightly 'clubbed' entrance on S.
'W': 20m to SE of 'V' are the denuded remains of a small oval hut circle measuring overall 10.5m NW-SE by 8.5m transversely with an indistinct wall up to 2.3m wide. The entrance probably lay on the SE.
'X': 20m to S of 'W', another denuded small hut circle measuring internally 5.8m EW by 7.0m NS within denuded walling up to 1.8m wide. A later clearance cairn overlies the inner edge of the wall on the N.
NC 576 056 'Y': Situated on a terrace, a small hut circle lies within a larger hut circle. The former measures internally 6m EW x 7.3m NS within a rubble wall 1.3m wide. The entrance lies on the S. The larger hut circle measures 15m in diameter over a denuded spread rubble wall up to 3m wide. Its entrance has been utilised by the smaller hut circle.
D W Ross 1987. <3>

Management plan agreed for this site in 2008. <4>

Topographic survey across this area recorded a number of elements of the field system associated with the hut circles, across the Ord.
On the N facing slopes, there are around 90 clearance cairns as well as several banks and lynchets. The cairns measure between 2.5m and 10m across and are up to 1.2m high. Some of the larger cairns may contain burials as the deep heather could obscure kerb-stones.
On the lower E facing slopes of the Ord, the field system is comprised 57 clearance cairns and 11 banks, mostly covered in deep heather. The cairns measure from 2.5m to 7.5m across and are up to 1m high. Eight of the banks are fairly short segments, 4m to 24m long. Three longer bank segments, 75 to 85m long are located within the S half of the site. One of these is aligned downslope, the other two run roughly across the hillside. The two longer banks to the north appear to confine an area containing 48 cairns.
On the upper S facing slopes, the field system is comprised of 31 clearance cairns, two large enclosures, banks, lynchets and areas of rig. This area is covered with grass, with patches of bracken and heather. A large enclosure is located at the W end of the site, defined by a well preserved stone and turf bank that encloses 1.15ha. Within the N half of theenclsoure are 8 large clearance cairns up to 11m across and 1m high. To the N is an area of rig 2.2m wide
aligned E to W. A patch of narrower rig aligned N to S was lies just outside the enclosure to the NE. A smaller enclosure covering 0.46 ha abuts the outside to the SE. Although apparently later the bank is less preserved. Abutting the smaller enclosure to the N is a lesser preserved bank running down slope. A second ill-preserved bank runs roughly parallel 50m to the E. These banks together with 6 smaller bank segments, and a series of lynchets are likely to be remains of an older field system. A second area of rig 3m wide is situated a gentle SE facing slope some 70m from The Ord summit.
On the lower S facing slopes of The Ord, the field system is comprised of 20 clearance cairns, two large enclsoures as well as banks, lynchets and areas of rig. A large sub-rectangular enclosure 280m long and up to 100m wide dominates the site. It is defined by a well-preserved stone and turf bank up to 0.7m high that encloses 2.5 hectares. Within the N end of the enclosure are 5 clearance cairn up to 6m across and 9m high. The south end of is covered by an extensive area of rig 3.5m wide aligned SE to NW, parallel with the sides of the enclosure. A smaller enclosure covering 1.07 hectares abuts the larger enclosure to the SE. This annexe contains two cairns to the E and traces of rig to the N. To the N of the larger enclosure are number of lynchets, banks and a few large clearance cairns up to 13m across and 1.6m high.
On the lower E facing slopes of The Ord, the field system is comprised of 19 clearance cairns as well as several banks. Five sinuous stone banks between 78m and 140m long are aligned along and down slope indicating the outline of two sub-rectangular plots measuring some 75m by 150m. With the exception of three outliers all cairns lie concentrated in a group to the N of hut circle MHG33748. These cairns measure from 3.5m to 8.5m across and are up to 0.8m high. The
upper N to S aligned bank appears to define the lower E limit of these cairns.
On a low ridge on the lower E facing slopes of The Ord, the field system comprises 38 clearance cairns and a bank segment. The cairns are confined within an oval area 90m wide by 160m. The cairns vary in size from 2.5m in diameter and 0.2m high to 9.5m across and up to 1.4m high. A 70m long bank segment along the NE side of the ridge defines the N extent of the cairn group. <5>

Sources/Archives (8)



Grid reference Centred NC 5739 0540 (30m by 30m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC50NE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish LAIRG

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