MHG48619 - Possible Norse structure - Borralie, Durness


No summary available.

Type and Period (2)

  • STRUCTURE (Norse to Medieval - 800 AD? to 1559 AD?)
  • YARD (Norse to Medieval - 800 AD? to 1559 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Remains of structure and associated features visible in gully between dunes:
a) Subrectangular structure, 10.3 m long internally x 3.2 m wide. Substantial double-skinned boulder wall, 1 m wide with tumble along it in places. Structure is aligned roughly E/W and has distinct bow on N side toward E end, suggestion of bow on S side. Several burrows in interior, with clean sand visible in them. Interior is at higher level than yard (b) to N. Entrance appears to lead from building (a) into yard (b) near E end of both. N wall of building curves sharply to S just at E end - hint of end of building. E end of S side is overlain by dune.
b) Two parallel walls extending NNW from N side of (a). E wall is 12 m NNE/SSW, formed of subangular boulders, some upright; appears to form terrace with parallel wall 10.7 m to W, which measures 5.1 m long and has double skins evident. Entrance through E wall of (b) leads into adjacent field (c). N ends of both walls run beneath dune.
c) Wall represented by line of boulders with some smaller stones between them, intermittent in places but well-defined along edge of steep slope. Facing evident in places. Runs 15 m NNE from beneath dune, then turns WNW to run for 12 m - disappears beneath dune. 2 m to the E (b).
On top of ridge in gully (stabilised sandblow) between marram-covered dunes. Overlooking Loch Borralie, with mountains also visible to W.
Structure with associated yard and small field or paddock. Weathered bedrock visible in yard and field, but ground level in structure is higher, suggesting build up of sand within walls. Form of structure suggests Late Norse date.
Recommendations: Continue monitoring. <1> <2>

The feature was one of two subject to more detailed investigation by Glasgow University and Assumption College, Massachusetts, in June -July 2004 in the first season of what was intended to be the 5-year 'Strathnaver Province Viking-Medieval Archaeology Project'. Deposits in both structures were being damaged by burrowing. A limited geophysical survey involving both magnetometry and resistivity was undertaken and this was followed by a trial trench. Excavation of structure 46 established that it had been largely scoured out in the past by erosion, although a fire-spot and some occupation deposits did survive. Sherds of coarse pottery from these deposits, together with the isolated position and substantial bow-sided character of the structure, suggest that it pre-dates the post-medieval occupation of the area. <3>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred NC 3780 6719 (17m by 23m)
Map sheet NC36NE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish DURNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (4)

External Links (1)

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