MHG56694 - Drove stance - Durness, Sutherland


A two compartment enclosure probably used as a drove stance at Durness, Sutherland.

Type and Period (1)

  • DROVE STANCE (19th Century - 1801 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A two compartment enclosure probably used as a drove stance at Durness, Sutherland.

The site was visited and photographed by D Glass in January 2012. A two -compartment enclosure situated on an island bounded by the Allt Srath Coille na Fearna on the west side and a flood channel on the east. The enclosure occupied the eastern part of the island above the flood level. The enclosing dykes had generally eroded to a height of 0.5 metres and 1.5 metres wide at the base but the dyke at the south end was better preserved and stood 1.5 metres high. The dykes were grass-covered. The east dyke was built on the edge of the island and contained stones, probably sourced from the bed of the adjacent flood channel. The other dykes appeared to have been built of turf but stones were visible at the southwest corner. There was an opening 1 metre wide at the east end of the south dyke. There was a possible opening connecting the two compartments at the east end of the dividing dyke. There was a possible opening in the west dyke at the junction with the dividing dyke. The southern compartment was slightly wider than the northern one: at the junctions with the dividing dyke there was a 1.5 metre step in the west dyke and a 1 metre step in the east dyke. The southern compartment was an approximate rectangular in shape and measured 35.5 metres from north to south and 23 metres east to west. The northern compartment was roughly triangular (constrained by the boundary of the island) and measured 21.7 metres by 41.3 metres. Traces of three ditches running north – south and spaced 5.9 metres apart were faintly visible in the southern compartment. They did not have the appearance of rig and furrow and might represent an attempt at drainage. The ground surface inside both compartments was uneven and the vegetation consisted of grasses, bracken and heather.

No documentary evidence of a drove stance at this location had been identified. The 1873 Ordnance Survey map did not show the enclosure but it depicted four tracks meeting at a ford approximately 150 metres to the north. One of these tracks continued south through Srath Coille na Fearna and its appearance was suggestive of a drove road leading south towards Glen Golly. The other three tracks led to Strath Dionard, Durness and the east side of Loch Eriboll respectively. The junction of the tracks could have been a suitable point at which to assemble droves of cattle brought from the settlements in these areas. Even before the enclosure was constructed, the island would have had natural advantages for confining cattle overnight. These factors, together with the size and layout of the enclosure, indicate that it was likely to have been a drove stance. <1>

Sources/Archives (1)



Grid reference Centred NC 3900 5223 (38m by 85m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC35SE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish DURNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

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