MHG753 - Hut Circles - Reay


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • HUT CIRCLE (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2400 BC to 560 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

(A: NC 9728 6512 & B: NC 9726 6510) Hut Circles (NR)
OS 6"map, (1967)

2 hut circles excavated by McLeod 1955 having been exposed by sand-blow in area of rising ground which has been stripped of its turf cover.
A: 40ft diameter within wall 3ft 9ins wide with an unusual entrance, 3ft 4ins wide in W. S element of entrance overlapped N by 2ft 8ins. Across inner end lay dry-stone wall, 1ft lower than main wall, 8ft long and 2ft 8ins wide, tapering to 1ft towards S wall and probably merging with it. In centre of circle was paved area, circular with flattened S edge, partly surrounded at a distance of just over 1ft by set stones on W and N with a flag-lined and covered ash-pit on E.
B: was only partly cleared. It had been larger than A, but only N arc was intact, remainder having been extensively robbed. Two stone pounders had been found earlier on this site and excavation exposed quantities of limpet and whelk shells within hut. Spreads of these shells occurred on surface around and beyond huts. A spindle whorl was picked up nearby.
A G MacLeod 1959; Info from the 'John O' Groats Journal' (A G MacLeod) 6 and 13 September 1957.

3 huts or enclosures half-buried in sand, were located.
A: is 12.5m diameter within a stone wall 2m wide and 0.1m high in places with an entrance 1m wide in NW. Coursed stone walling enclosures a small compartment in NE interior, and a small enclosure measuring about 6x 5m abuts circle on E.
B: is oval measuring 14.3m N-S by 12.6m E-W within a fragmentary wall 2.0m wide and barely traceable . Neither entrance nor internal features was noted.
C: is 10.5m diameter within a wall of uncertain width. Abutting this circle on E is an enclosure measuring 10.3 by 7.3m formed by a barely-visible course of stone walling. (This may be the 'circular building' uncovered in 1926 - see NC96NE 13b).
These structures lie on a sand and gravel bed c1.2m below the present turf level. Other stone foundations, too vague to interpret also occur, and an erect slab NE of 'C' may be the remains of a cist. This site is comparable with NC66NE 3 at Bettyhill, Sutherland. Visited by OS (J L D) 7 April 1960

Only huts 'A' & 'B' could be identified. 'C' has probably been re-covered by sand
A is 13m in diameter and 0.8m in maximum height with an entrance in the west.
B: is 14m in diameter and 0.9m in maximum height with no obvious entrance though this may have been in NW where inner face of the dry-stone wall is broken. Large deposits of limpet and cockle shells are in the vicinity.
Surveyed at 1:2500. Visited by OS (N K B) 25 November 1964.

Hut 'A' is as described by previous OS field surveyor The internal and external structures noted by authority 3 are now difficult to trace. Hut 'B' is very obscure and details of it cannot be ascertained with any accuracy. A depression in the dune 22.0m NE of 'B' is possibly the site of 'C'. No contemporary cultivation is evident. The upright slab noted by OS field surveyor (J L D), 7 April 1960, measuring 0.6m by 0.3m and 0.35m high stands at NC 9731 6511.
Revised at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (J B) 17 August 1981.

Hut circle 'C' in the OS account above from 1960 does not have a grid reference and is not shown on the closest-in-date OS mapping (Epoch 5a 2500 dated 1966). On the old SMR 1:10,000 map NC96NE it has been drawn immediately to the rear of the old drill hall at approximate NGR 297363 965064 though it is not at all clear what this is based on. There is a reference to the Norse burial from 1926 which was close by what may have been a circular building (posited to be Hut circle 'C') but as it is not clear from the published account where that Norse burial was this can be nothing more than supposition. The 1981 OS account suggests that 'C' is to the northeast of 'B'. However, on the old SMR map 'A' is to the northeast of 'B'. It would appear that the old SMR map has transposed the original lettering used by the OS. If 'C' is the hollow 22m to the northeast of OS 'B' (old SMR map 'A') then it would be somewhere in the region of NGR 297309 963143. [IS-L 05/12/2018]

A granite pounder from Reay Sands listed in the NMS catalogue (Acc. No. AK 265). It is possible that this one of the two poundersreferred to above as found at Hut B prior to the 1950s excavation work. <1>

Sources/Archives (2)



Grid reference Centred NC 9731 6509 (119m by 76m) (4 map features)
Map sheet NC96NE
Civil Parish REAY
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (2)

  • POUNDER (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2400 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Undated)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

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