MHG61703 - Early BA hut circle - NE of Cnoc Freiceadain, Caithness


An early Bronze Age hut circle to the northeast of Cnoc Freiceadain, Caithness.

Type and Period (1)

  • HUT CIRCLE (Early Bronze Age - 1727 BC to 1528 BC) + Sci.Date

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

An early Bronze Age hut circle to the northeast of Cnoc Freiceadain, Caithness.

A hut circle identified in LiDAR data gathered by AOC Archaeology in 2011 as part of the mitigation for the visual impact on the archaeological landscape associated with the proposed Baillie Hill windfarm, Caithness. It is one of three possible hut-circles in close proximity. <1>

The site was visited and recorded by topographic survey in 2015 as part of the 'Hidden Bronze Age Landscape of Caithness Project' undertaken by AOC Archaeology Group and members of the Castletown Heritage Society with local volunteers. The project ran as a series of four week long field schools training volunteers in techniques of field survey, systematic soil sampling and targeted excavation. Fieldwork in week one of the fieldschool (22-27/06/2015) focussed on using LiDAR data in the field, use of GPS to create simple maps of archaeological sites and ground-truthing sites through LiDAR. In week two (13-18/07/2015) participants learned how to create accurate plans using manual taped offset and plane table survey and total station and GPS surveys. Site 2: A well preserved hut circle set in rough grazing with mixed grasses, soft rush and gorse on gentle undulating SE facing slope, lying approximately 40m S of site 1. It has an outer diameter of 13.2m and a bank of earth and stone measuring 1.4m thick and an obvious SE facing entrance. Abutting the northern bank of the hut circle is an L-shaped bank extending 17m northwards which may be a possible enclosure relating to the hut circle. In week three the hut circle was one of three subject to magnetometry survey. Fieldwork in week four of the project concentrated on the excavation of almost two full quadrants (Trenches 4 and 5) of the hut circle. It was found that the core of the bank was composed of distinctive burnt mound material implying the existence of the earlier feature on the site. Two radiocarbon dates obtained from this material gave date ranges 2341-2138calBC and 2455-2146calBC, (Calibrated to 2σ). A number of internal cut features including postholes forming a possible post ring and an oval pit were also recorded. Internal to the suggested post ring lay features possibly relating to a central hearth. These comprised two narrow and shallow linear cuts set at perpendicular to each other that might have been sockets for orthostats forming the edge to a hearth. No in-situ burnt deposits were identified within these features possibly implying that the fire was in some way raised above the natural subsoil, possibly on a stone slab. The largest internal cut feature was a large oval pit measuring 1.21m by 0.85m and 0.42m deep oriented NW to SE. It had near vertical sides and a flat base and was filled with two deposits. The basal fill was a dark red clayey silt with black clay lenses. The upper fill was a silty clay with lenses of re-deposited natural subsoil. Cut into the upper fill of the pit was a posthole with in-situ packing stones, part of the internal post ring. A radiocarbon date obtained from this material gave a date range of 1727-1528calBC (Calibrated to 2σ). A 1m by 3m sondage was excavated across the entrance in order to investigate the features in this area. A series of cuts, deposits and structures were identified suggesting that this area had been remodelled and altered on several occasions. The largest feature within the hut circle, the oval pit may be associated with the burnt mound rather than the hut circle. The clay rich basal fill may be the remnants of a clay lining to a cooking trough associated with the burnt mound. Supporting this is the later post hole of the ring beam cut into the upper fill of the pit, suggesting that the pit had been infilled by the time the hut circle was constructed. Two possible ard marks were also identified underlying the hut circle showing the prior agricultural use of the area. <2>

Sources/Archives (2)



Grid reference Centred ND 0177 6602 (20m by 20m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND06NW
Civil Parish THURSO
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (5)

External Links (1)

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