MHG7954 - Hut circle and shell Midden - Camus a Charraig (Mellon Udrigle)


A hut circle and shell Midden at Camus a Charraig (Mellon Udrigle).

Type and Period (2)

  • HUT CIRCLE (Neolithic to Late Iron Age - 4000 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • SHELL MIDDEN (Undated)

Protected Status

Full Description

A hut circle and possibly associated shell Midden at Camus a Charraig (Mellon Udrigle).

NG 895 957. 'In a recently eroded sandy area I have discovered what appears to be remains of a prehistoric beehive house, similar to those on Forvie Sands, Newburgh, Aberdeenshire. An intact rubbish heap exists against S wall, composed largely of shells.'
Info contained in letter from F White, 24 July 1962.

NG 8914 9569. In a depression in sand dunes overlooking Camus a'Charraig, there is a well-preserved hut circle, measuring 12.5 m internal diameter. The walls, 2.1m thick, consist of red sandstone orthostats 0.7m max. height forming both inner and outer wall faces, with rubble infilling. The entrance is in SE, adjacent to a midden heap of limpet and cockle shells, against the outside wall. Vague traces of possible internal cells are visible.
Surveyed at 1/2500. Visited by OS (N K B) 15 March 1965.

The hut circle was Scheduled by Historic Scotland in 1995.

NG 891 956. A fragmentary rubbing stone was found in S terminal of SE entrance of a hut circle by the beach at Mellon Udrigle. It was formally not claimed as Treasure Trove (TTNC 95/23) and will be donated to the Highland Council Museum Service. <1>

Two undated colour slides of the site are in the HER Slide Library. <2> <3>

Previous site visits have noted an amount of tipping of rubbish into the circle, but it is now clean, possibly due to its higher profile through Archaeology Week visits etc.
Wester Ross Project - Cathy Dagg, 23/3/04

189150 895686 Mellon Udrigle MWS001: The hut circle was visited and subject to plane table survey by A Welti, J Buchanan, A MacInnes and others in 2009 as part of research for a dissertation on hut circles in Wester Ross. This was part of a degree course overseen by Aberdeen University. The HC sits on level machair turf in a crofting environment, close to a sandy beach and the sea. The site is invaded by rabbits. There are several erect orthostats and the entrance passage is lined with facing stones. There seem to be vestiges of internal stone piers dividing the internal space. The HC has average inner diameter 13m, outer diameter 17.2m, wall thickness 2m with max wall height 0.7m. Entrance is definite with SE orientation and entrance terminals seem to be extended. The HC was buried in the sand until 50 or so years ago, and shieling building in and around it has not taken place. <4> <5>

[Note: a database was set up as part of research for the dissertation and was subsequently expanded as an extension of the We Digs Project (see website link below). The full access database can be made available to enquirers/researchers if requested - contact HER for details].

A Welti carried out a further visit to the site in 2013. The site is a roundhouse of approximately 10m internal diameter set among sand dunes above the beach at Camus a’ Charraig. It was covered with sand until around 50 years ago when a storm removed the sand. The site may have suffered some disturbance and dilapidation since the loss of sand cover. The N arc of the structure is built up, with built stones showing in the banking together with a lot of tumble. There has been some recent dumping at the base of this bank from land clearance ready in advance of the construction of a fence. On the S side is a level area of flat turf between sand dunes, invaded by rabbits. The structure is slightly recessed into this area. There is a shell midden at the SE entrance. Plane table survey had been carried out in 2009 after detailed recording of the structure as part of the Wester Ross Roundhouse Survey (DES 2010, 174). The structure seems to have some internal compartments, with radial dividing walls. These could indicate ‘wheelhouse’ construction. There are several possible fallen orthostats with related postholes lined with small packing stones. Further investigation of this site is planned subject to funding and permission from both Historic Scotland and the landowner.
Update submitted to Canmore 2013 by A Welti.

Drone photography of the site was carried out by J Buchanan in 2016. <6>

GIS spatial data amended in 2018 to location as shown on 2009 Aps. <7>

Inverness Museum archive files contains a NMS conservation work request form for the joining of two broken parts of a rubbing stone from Mellon Udrigle. This was aquired 1995, and is likely to be the fragmentary rubbing stone from this site. The file is labelled with the Acc. No. 1998.954. <8>

Sources/Archives (8)



Grid reference Centred NG 8914 9569 (29m by 29m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG89NE
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish GAIRLOCH

Finds (1)

  • GRAIN RUBBER (Neolithic to Late Iron Age - 4000 BC? to 560 AD?)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (3)

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