MHG45711 - Wag of Forse, settlement 800m WSW of Forse House


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • FIELD SYSTEM (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)

Protected Status

Full Description

Re-scheduled 2/2003 - see info in secondary file - HAW 4/2003

ND23NW 1 2048 3520.
Dun and Settlement (NR) OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

Wag of Forse: An Iron Age site with successive periods of occupation including a dun (Young 1964; MacKie 1965) and wags, apparently only part of complex which extends along E edge of a rocky outcrop. It was partly excavated by Curle (1941; 1948) in 1939 and 1946-8.
The sequence of occupation appears to consist of huts of 3 periods, overlaid by a dun, which was succeeded and partly destroyed by wags, both elongated and round. The site is partly bounded by a turf wall on substantial stone base with, at least on W, an external, V-shaped ditch, the period of which is unknown.
MacKie (1965) likens the dun, with its massive double entrance to the pre-broch gatehouse forts of Shetland. It measures 47ft in internal diameter within a wall 4 to 5ft thick, rising from a heavy scarcement. Just inside entrance a flight of stairs leads off to the ruined wall-head (recalling entrances to some of the Caithness brochs, including that at Yarrows - ND34SW 1).
Excavation finds, most of which were donated to NMAS, included several saddle-querns but only one, broken, rotary quern. From the original hearth in hut 'C' (see plan) came a pot with LBA-EIA parallels (1965). The most sophisticated pottery came from a small round wag, not shown on plan, in area 'H'. No metal was noted.
A O Curle 1941; 1948; 1950; A Young 1964; E W MacKie 1965.

A partially excavated Iron Age occupation site, consisting of a dun and galleried dwellings, as described and illustrated by Curle. Excavated material overlies some of the dwellings and the outer turf-covered wall, rendering their identification virtually impossible.
There are undoubtedly more huts beneath the tumble, and also to S (see ND34SW 7 and 12) where numerous large slabs protrude through the turf. There was an associated field system, evidenced by a low bank running from the outer rampart, but this has been destroyed by much later field walls and cultivation, and cannot be accurately determined. Resurveyed at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (N K B) 11 May 1967.

If the primary structure is a dun it is unique although stair in the entrance section has analogies in the Keiss brochs (ND36SE2 & 3).
The secondary longhouses are unusual in the British Iron Age but may bear comparison with the wooden longhouses with internal rows of roof-posts of northern European Iron Age.
'It is quite possible that at Forse we have a rare fragment of evidence for the arrival in NE Scotland of prehistoric settlers direct from the continent, an influx of people who may have laid the foundations of the Pictish nation of proto-historic times. Certainly the dun appears to be earlier than the Caithness brochs and to have contributed some elements of its architecture to them.
E W MacKie 1975.

The entrance block in the circular ring-fort differs from that of the blockhouse forts in that the structure does not project forwards beyond the curve of the wall, which externally it does not interrupt, and it is of one build with the wall.
R G Lamb 1980.

No change to previous reports except that the protruding slabs noted to S by the previous field investigator do not appear to have any archaeological significance.
Visited by OS (J M) 24 March 1983.

Classified by Close-Brooks as broch and settlement.
J Close-Brooks 1986.

AP : Wag of Forse Complex. (3) (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG11837.

AP : Wag of Forse Complex. (4) (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG11838.

AP : Wag of Forse. (1) (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG11835.

AP : Wag of Forse. (2) (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG11836.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)/Aerial Photograph). SHG3580.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)/Aerial Photograph). SHG3581.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)/Aerial Photograph). SHG3582.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)/Aerial Photograph). SHG3583.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)/Aerial Photograph). SHG3911.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)/Aerial Photograph). SHG3912.

Wag of Forse. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG11431.

Wag, Forse, general view (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG9585.

Curle, A O, 1941, 'An account of the partial excavation of a "wag" or galleried building at Forse, in the Parish of Latheron, Caithness', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 75 1940-1, p.23-39, 23-39 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG160.

Curle, A O, 1948, 'The excavation of the "wag" or prehistoric cattle-fold at Forse, Caithness, and the relation of "wags" to brochs, and implications arising therefrom', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 80 1945-6, p.11-25, 11-25 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG1667.

Curle, A O, 1950, 'The "wag" of Forse, Caithness: excavations 1947-48', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 82 1947-8, p.275-85, 275-85; plan (Text/Publication/Article). SHG1612.

Young, A, 1964, 'Brochs and duns', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 95 1961-2, p.171-98, 188 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG293.

MacKie, E W, 1965, 'The origin and development of the broch and wheelhouse building cultures of the Scottish Iron Age', Proc Prehist Soc Vol. 31 1965, p.93-146, 97, 113, 133 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG1703.

MacKie, E W, 1975, Scotland: an archaeological guide: from the earliest times to the twelfth century, 223-4 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2472.

Lamb, R G, 1980, Iron Age promontory forts in the Northern Isles, 39 (Text/Publication/Monograph). SHG310.

Close-Brooks, J, 1986, Exploring Scotland's Heritage: The Highlands, 153-4, No. 85 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2053.

Sources/Archives (20)



Grid reference Centred ND 2048 3520 (30m by 30m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet ND23NW
Civil Parish LATHERON
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (3)

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.