MHG8333 - Hut circle, Torrachilty Forest


A well-preserved hut circle measuring 16 m in diameter, previously afforested. Following targeted excavation in 2011 it is now thought to be the remains of an early Iron Age animal fold.

Type and Period (2)

  • HUT CIRCLE (Late Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 1250 BC to 560 AD)
  • (Alternate Type) SHEEP FOLD (Early Iron Age - 550 BC? to 1 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NH45NW 12 442 588

Listed. No details given.
D W Ross, 1991.

A well-preserved hut circle is situated on a N-facing terrace in Torrachilty Forest, above and to the S of the Black Water. The hut circle measures 16m in diameter over a substantial turf covered stony bank spread to between 2.5m and 3m in thickness and up to 0.6m in height. It is built against a rising slope on the W and a dip has formed within the interior. A forestry Forwarder track has entered the hut circle on its SSE and run over the banks at both the WNW and NNW, causing erosion both within the structure and upon its banks. No entrance is visible, although it was likely on the SE. Previously afforested, several rotting tree stumps remain in situ within the interior. An archaeological evaluation is required to clarify the nature, age and extent of any buried archaeological deposits present within and round the hut circle, and to establish the extent of damage caused by both tree growth and Forwarder track. <1>

Rathmell Archaeology was appointed to conduct the evaluation. Work was planned to start in August 2011, beginning with a detailed survey. The survey would be followed by hand excavation of four targeted areas. <2>

A targeted evaluation of the feature, was carried out by Rathmell Archaeology in August 2011 at the request of the Forestry Commission Scotland. The feature had been chosen to be the subject of a study to measure the impact of forestry operations on archaeological features. Four trenches were hand excavated. In addition a survey of the immediate area around the feature was carried out to assess and characterise any other features. The evaluation and survey concluded that because of a lack of internal features it was probably not a hut circle but rather a medieval-post-medieval animal fold related to shieling activities and that it did not lie within a landscape of additional identifiable sites. A sample was taken from a hearth for dating purposes. <3>

A subsequent post-excavation assessment detailing the anlaysis of the sample taken from a hearth deposit concluded that the enclosure saw its last phase of use in the early Iron Age, a much earlier date than that suspected by the excavators. However, the lack of internal features which would be consistent with the origin of the feature being a hut circle from a roundhouse still led to the conclusion that the site was not domestic in nature and probably related to animal husbandry, albeit early Iron Age, rather than medieval to post-medieval, in origin. <4>

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred NH 4419 5881 (153m by 138m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH45NW
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish CONTIN

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (1)

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