MHG785 - Enclosure or possible Fort - Cnoc an Ratha


No summary available.

Type and Period (2)

  • FORT (Early Iron Age to Pictish - 550 BC? to 900 AD?)
  • (Alternate Type) ENCLOSURE? (Unknown date)

Protected Status

Full Description

ND05NE 2.00 052 577
ND05NE 2.01 ND 0522 5773 Cairn (Possible)
(ND 0528 5770) Supposed Remains of (NAT) Fort (NR)
OS 6"map, Caithness, 2nd ed., (1907)

A fort occupies N end of an eminence rising from moor of Brawlbin, about 3/4 mile SSE of Shurrery church. It is an irregular oval on plan (q.v.), following contour of the hill, except on SW where a straight base crosses the ridge from side to side. It measures some 340ft N-S by a max of 300ft transversely within a stone wall some 6 to 7ft in thickness and 2ft high externally. An angle in wall on W suggests position of an entrance, and a large slab protruding across wall in NE may indicate position of another. The main entrance, however, appears to have been from SE, immediately S of a large circular enclosure which abuts on outer wall towards S end of E side. This entrance appears to have been 4 ft width. The circular enclosure is entered from E and measures 27ft x 32ft within a ruinous stone wall some 7.5ft thick. The interior of this enclosure has been excavated to a depth of several feet at back so as to bring the floor to level of entrance on lower slope of hill.
RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910.

For most of its circuit the wall appears as a revetment against the scarp of the summit, although on W side it appears as a rubble mass 0.3m high and about 1.6m thick. The scooped hut abutting on SE side is apparently an integral part of the enclosure, as is probably the 'bee- hive' structure noted on ND05NE 2.1. The enclosure is not suggestive of a fortification but rather a settlement of uncertain period.
Visited by OS (J L D) 10 April 1962.

This structure, once known as Cnoc an Ratha, consists of a wall of slabs about 7ft thick surrounding an area of 300 by 230ft. The two entrances have the lining of slabs which is characteristic of hill-forts in NE and there is no reason to suppose that it is anything other than such a fort. A secondary circular enclosure measuring c30ft idiameter formed by a now ruinous and grass-grown wall about 7ft thick impinges on SE sector of outer face of fort wall.
R W Feachem 1963.

A hill-fort now largely destroyed by afforestation.
I Ralston 1975.

(ND 0525 5774) Enclosure (NR), (ND 0528 5770) Hut Circle (NR)
OS 6"map, (1963)

The wall and the whole of interior of this enclosure have been deep ploughed and planted with conifers, so that in places the wall is barely traceable. Where best preserved in SW it survives as a partially heather-covered rubble spread some 2m broad and 0.7m high on external face.
The hut circle at ND 0528 5770, undisturbed by the forestry, is levelled into slope, its interior 2m below fort and 9.5m in diameter. The back-scarp attains an average height of 1.8m and the front scarp is 1m high. The entrance noted by RCAHMS is no longer recognisable. Though enclosure and hut circle are virtually abutting each other, hut circle would appear to post-date the enclosure wall or be contemporary with it.
Although the wall cosntruction is broadly similar to forts on Ben Freiceadain (ND05NE 18), Garrywhin (ND34SW 3), and other examples in Caithness, Cnoc an Ratha does not have a wholly defensive character about it; it lacks strength, both in position and in costruction, the wall not continuing to follow the contour on the S and creating an area of 'dead' ground on this side.
Revised at 1:10,000. Visited by OS (N K B) 15 September 1981.

GR corrected to above - HAW 8/2004

The site is included in the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland online database. See link below for site entry. <1>

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred ND 0525 5774 (115m by 136m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND05NE
Civil Parish REAY
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (0)

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