MHG45114 - Chapel, Kirk O'Moss


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Kirk o' Moss (NR) OS 6" map, (1959)

Kirk o' Moss, Moss of Kilmster: This is apparently site of chapel known as St Duthac's or St Dudoch's Kirk. The area is a green ridge elevated about 8'-10' above its surroundings, and about 400' long by 120' broad. On highest point and towards SSE end of this ridge is site of supposed church, lying E-W; plan cannot be ascertained but it appears to be a rectangle, 30' by 17'.
To S of this has been a rectangular enclosure, such as might have been a graveyard or garden, at SSE side of which are several small rectangular foundations in turf.
About 60' NNW of site of supposed church is another enclosure formed by a stone wall; within the enclosure is ruin of a small rectangular building. Both building and wall are possibly later than the remainder.
There are two or three low mounds of indeterminate character, but of some 25' diameter, at extreme NNW end of ridge; whilst about 250 yds W of Kirk Stones, on left bank of Kilmster Burn is a small green mound 22' - 23' diameter and 3' high with slight depressions several feet long and broad on top, called locally "Brigend's swine house".
Though plough ridges are visible on adjacent moorland, it must be long since there was any cultivation near spot.
It is related in Macfarlane (1906-8) that in former times people of Mirelandorn habitually visited this site before sunrise on Christmas to leave an offering of bread, cheese, and a silver coin.
RCAHMS 1911; W Macfarlane 1906-8.

Possibly a small Early Christian site with a history continuing into later medieval times. It is situated on a piece of ground 12 acres in extent, formerly cultivated and approached by a causeway through bog, of which traces were still distinctly visible (NSA 1845). A low bank runs along part of W end of ridge and links up with possibly modern banks in bog.
A D S Macdonald and L R Laing 1969.

Kirk o' Moss, possibly an Early Christian site, although there is no conclusive ground evidence, consists of ill-defined turf-covered foundations of at least 4 sub-rectangular buildings, three sub-rectangular enclosures, and about eight irregular mounds, in an isolated position on a slight rise on S edge of a drained marsh, probably formerly a loch.
The building on a low knoll, stated by RCAHMS (1911) and MacDonald and Laing (1969) to be possibly a church, measures about 13m NE-SW by 4m transversely, with an internal division c. 5.5m from its SW end. An annexe c3m square is attached to SE wall. Some stones show through turf and a few lie loose in SW compartment. NE compartment is built on a NE slope. To SE are traces of a sub-rectangular enclosure measuring c. 18m NW-SE by 13m transversely in which lie the faint remains of an indeterminate structure. SE side of enclosure is formed by NW wall of a building measuring c10.5m NE-SW by 4m transversely, with two internal dividing walls. Immediately SE of this are traces of what may be a similar building. To NW of the "church" is another stone-walled enclosure, roughly rectangular with curved walls, measuring c. 15m NW-SE by 13m transversely within a wall, best defined in SW and SE, about 1m thick. Within it, and built against its NW side is a ruinous building visible as a roughly rectangular hollow measuring c7m E-W by c5m transversely, with a few stones scattered inside and around it. No definite foundation stones are evident. RCAHMS (1911) note both the enclosure and building as possibly secondary structures, but no evidence for this opinion.
To NW of this building are four heavily turf-covered irregular mounds showing some stone content, measuring between 5m and 10m diameter and averaging 0.6m in height. Two similar mounds occur at distances of 30m and 70m SW of "church", and mound once known as "Brigend's swine house", 220m to W, is of same appearance. This mound occurs within a dry area (? a field) cut off from peat bog in SE by an ill-defined turf bank some 220m long running SW from the SW corner of a turf-banked sub-rectangular enclosure c30m by 20m just W of "church", and ending on edge of drained marsh which bounds the "field" elsewhere. Half way along the bank and impinging on it is another low mound c5m in diameter with several loose stones on its surface. All these mounds may be stances for shieling bothies, and are common in Caithness. Running NW from N edge of marsh is a similar turf bank which is lost in peat cuttings in NW. This seems to bound NE edge of a similar field in which traces of strip cultivation are visible. There is no trace of the causeway across marsh described by NSA (1845), although a grassy mound c15m diameter, which is probably largely natural, about 85m N of "church" would be a suitable starting place for one.
Surveyed at 1:10,000. Visited by OS (A A) 20 March 1972

(ND 2930 5629) Kirk o' Moss (NR) OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

The remains at Kirk o' Moss are as described by previous field investigator. Some of mounds are clearly remnants of shieling-like structures.
Visited by OS (J B) 18 March 1982

Structural complex, Kirk of Moss. Series of subrectangular and subcircular mounds.
R J Mercer, NMRS MS/828/19, 1995

Three enclosures, one of which contains an unroofed structure, are depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Caithness 1877, sheet xix). Four enclosures, of which one is sub-divided and another has an unroofed structure, are shown on the current edition of the OS 1:10,000 map (1994).
Information from RCAHMS (AKK) 6 December 1995

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Grid reference Centred ND 2928 5632 (100m by 100m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND25NE
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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