Farr Church, Bettyhill, Sutherland

Cist:  OS Grid Reference – NC 71455 62258 

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 6360
  2. Chealamay

Getting Here

The cist in its new home

Dead easy.  From the top of the hill at Bettyhill, take the road east out of the village along the A836 Thurso road.  At the bottom of the hill, on your left, you’ll see the white building of Farr church Museum.  Walk to it and instead of going in the door, walk past it and round the back, or north-side of the church where, up against the wall, you’ll see this small stone-lined hole in the ground.  Y’ can’t really miss it.

Archaeology & History

Originally located 7½ miles (12.1km) to the south at Chealamy (NC 7240 5017), in the prehistoric paradise of Strathnaver, it was uncovered following road-building operations in 1981 and, to save it from complete destruction, was moved to its present position on the north-side of Farr church museum.  It was fortunate in being saved, as it was covered by a large boulder which the road operators tried to smash with a large jack-hammer; but in breaking it up, they noticed a hole beneath it.  Thankfully, old Eliot Rudie of Bettyhill—a well respected amateur historian and archaeologist in the area—was driving past just as it had been uncovered by the workmen.  He recognised it as being a probable cist and so further operations were stopped until it was investigated more thoroughly.

The relocated cist

The cist—measuring some 4 feet long by 3 feet wide and about 1½ feet deep—contained the burial of what was thought to be a man in his mid- to late-twenties.  The remains were obviously in very decayed state and it was thought by archaeologist Robert Gourlay (1996), that the body itself had been “deposited in the grave (when it was) in an advanced state of decomposition.”  Also in the cist they found a well-preserved decorated beaker, within which Gourlay thought “probably contained some kind of semi-alcoholic gruel for the journey of the departed to the after-life.”

References:

  1. Gourlay, Robert, Sutherland – An Archaeological Guide, Birlinn: Edinburgh 1996.
  2. Gourlay, Robert B., “A Short Cist Beaker Inhumation from Chealamy, Strathnaver, Sutherland”, in Proceedings Society Antiquaries Scotland, volume 114, 1984.
  3. Gourlay, Robert & Rudie, Eliot, “Chealamy, Strathnaver (Farr) Beaker Cist”, in Discovery Excavation Scotland, 1981.

Acknowledgments:  To that inspiring creature Aisha Domleo, for her bounce, spirit and madness to get me up here; and for little Lara too, for meandering to the church museum where this cist can be seen; and to Eliot Rudie, who pointed it out to us.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  58.529396, -4.209269 Farr Church

Fiscary Cairnfield, Bettyhill, Sutherland

Cairnfield:  OS Grid Reference – NC 7279 6232

Getting Here

Tumuli on 1878 map

From Bettyhill, go out of the village along the A836 Thurso road for just over a mile.  You go uphill for a few hundred yards and just as the road levels-out, there’s the small Farr Road on your left and the cattle-grid in front of you.  Just before here is a small cottage on your left.  In the scrubland on the sloping hillside just below the cottage, a number of small mounds and undulations can be seen.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

Although this place was highlighted on the first OS-map of the area in 1878, I can only find one modern reference describing this somewhat anomalous cluster of sites.  It’s anomalous, inasmuch as it doesn’t have the general hallmark of being a standard cairnfield or cluster of tumuli.  For one, it’s on a slightly steep slope; and another is that amidst what seems to be cairns there are other, more structured remains.  As I wandered back and forth here with Aisha, I kept shaking my head as it seemed somewhat of a puzzling site.  As it turns out, thankfully, I wasn’t the only one who thought this…

One of the ‘cairns’ from above
Profile of a typical cairn

In R.J. Mercer’s (1981) huge work on the prehistory of the region, he described the site as a whole as a field system comprising “enclosures, structures, cairns and field walls” and is part of a continual archaeological landscape that exists immediately east, of which the impressive Fiscary cairns are attached.  In all, this ‘cairnfield’ or field system is made up of at least 23 small man-made structures, with each one surviving “to a height of c.0.5m and are associated with 11 cairns from 2-6m is diameter.”

In truth, this site is probably of little interest visually unless you’re a hardcore archaeologist or explorer.

References:

  1. Mercer, R.J., Archaeological Field Survey in Northern Scotland – volume 2: 1980-1981, University of Edinburgh 1981.

Acknowledgments:  To the awesome Aisha Domleo, for her images, bounce, spirit and madness – as well as getting me up here to see this cluster of sites.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  58.530344, -4.186397 Fiscary cairnfield

Fiscary (4), Farr, Sutherland

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NC 72858 62620

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 6437

Getting Here

Approaching Fiscary 4, north

Approaching Fiscary 4, north

A mile east of Bettyhill on the A836 road, watch for the large piles of rocks up on the hill on your left (north).  Turn left on the tiny road past the first house for 150 yards and then on the track past the sheep-fanks through the gate and up the small hill.  The cairn is the smallest of the pile of rocks in front of you.

Archaeology & History

Of the four giant cairns clustered here at Fiscary, a mile east of Bettyhill, this one has received the least attention.  It is found amidst a massive cluster of archaeological remains running from the 19th century all the way back into the neolithic period. Quite impressive!

Sitting on top of the cairn the view is impressive: looking 360º with the Orkney islands s to the northeast, Durness and the rising mountains west and southwest, and endless craggy moorlands peppered with lochans driving in all directions to the south countless miles away.  This panorama of wilderness is something to behold…

Looking west out to sea

Looking west out to sea

Looking southwest

Looking southwest

The tomb itself, with the acceptable scatter of fallen rocks to the edges, is nearly 50 yards in circumference, measuring more than 12 yards east-west and nearly 14 yards north-south, with the Earth covering the older rocks to the edges with more and more vegetation as the years pass.  It stands about 5-6 feet high with the typical internal mass of thousands of stones making up the cairn.  No known excavations have ever been made here.

In the otherwise superb Royal Commission (1911) survey of Sutherland, they only had scant information to say about this tomb, telling that,

“The fourth cairn…measures 28′ to 30′ in diameter and is about 6′ high.  There are no signs of chambers visible and the cairn has been a good deal dilapidated.”

Even when R.J. Mercer (1981) came to give this area greater attention, he passed by the Fiscary 4 cairn with equal brevity, noting simply its dimensions, elevation above sea level and the fact that it is a “circular cairn on crest of hill.”

The tombs of Fiscary 12 and 3 are very close by some beginning some 257 yards (235m) to the east.  I cannot recommend this entire complex highly enough!

References:

  1. Henshall, Audrey S., The Chambered Cairns of Sutherland, Edinburgh University Press 1995.
  2. Mercer, R.J. & Howell, J.M., Archaeological Field Survey in Northern Scotland – volume 2, University of Edinburgh 1981.
  3. o’ Reilly, Kevin & Crockford, Ashley, What to See Around Bettyhill, privately printed 2009.
  4. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland. HMSO: Edinburgh 1911.

© Paul Bennett,  The Northern Antiquarian 2016

 

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  58.533039, -4.185383 Fiscary 4

Fiscary (3), Farr, Sutherland

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NC 73222 62484

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 6446
  2. Pict’s House

Getting Here

Fiscary 3 giant cairn, looking west

Fiscary 3 giant cairn, looking west

Along the A836 road from Bettyhill to Thurso, a mile east of the village keep your eyes peeled to your left (or to the right if you’re coming the other way!), looking north, and you’ll see some very large piles of stones a few hundred yards away. Go through the gate onto the rough grasslands and the first one you reach is the cairn in question. Y’ can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

On 1878 OS-map as Picts House

On 1878 OS-map as Picts House

Close to the Fiscary 1 and Fiscary 2 tombs, this is the third and southernmost of the three giant cairns on this moorland hillside and is the second largest of the trio.  Curiously it was the only one highlighted by the Ordnance Survey lads in their cartographic analysis here in 1873—they somehow missed the others—when they told it to be a ‘Pictish House’, or broch.  A few years later when the Royal Commission (1911) fellas got their noses up here, they said that this,

“which is the most easterly, is circular in form, is about 68ft in diameter, and 15ft 6in to the apex, on which a small pile of stones has recently been erected.  The cairn does not appear to have been excavated, but the stones in several places have been pulled out, probably in attempts to discover the chambers or in pursuit of rabbits.”

Looking into its centre

Looking into its centre

Long stone at southern edge

Long stone at southern edge

Considering the size of this giant cairn and its close association with is neighbours 150 yards northwest, I’m surprised at the lack of attention it’s been given.  Within the collapse of stones on its southern-side we find an elongated stone which seems to have stood upright at some point in the past, either at the very edge of the cairn, or just inside it.  It may even have been a covering stone to a collapsed entrance, but without an excavation we’re not gonna know for certain.

The fact that this cairn is on the slopes south of the crowning cairns of Fiscary 1 and Fiscary 2 implies that this was built some centuries later than them.  Also notable here is that the view to the north is blocked and we are instead only looking across a panorama east, south and west.

Folklore

Looking across into the east

Looking across into the east

Local tradition told that this was a Pict’s house, or broch (it may well have been) and is shown as such on the first Ordnance Survey account of the region in 1878.  Otta Swire (1963) told that this landscape was once peopled by giants who made the land and played a part in the creation of some of the giant tombs around here.  One time local school-teacher at Bettyhill, Alan Temperley (1977) also told us how the fairy folk lived close to the giant tombs of Fiscary.

References:

  1. Gourley, Robert, Sutherland: An Archaeological Guide, Birlinn: Edinburgh 1996.
  2. Henshall, Audrey S., The Chambered Tombs of Scotland – volume 1, Edinburgh University Press 1963.
  3. Henshall, Audrey S., “The Distant Past,” in The Sutherland Book (edited by Donald Omand), Northern Times: Golspie 1991.
  4. Henshall, Audrey S., The Chambered Cairns of Sutherland, Edinburgh University Press 1995.
  5. Lelong, Olivia C., “Writing People into the Landscape: Approaches to the Archaeology of Badenoch and Strathnaver,” University of Glasgow 2002.
  6. o’ Reilly, Kevin & Crockford, Ashley, What to See Around Bettyhill, privately printed 2009.
  7. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland. HMSO: Edinburgh 1911.
  8. Sutherland, George, Folk-lore Gleanings and Character Sketches from the Far North, John o’ Groats Journal: Wick 1937.
  9. Temperley, Alan, Tales of the North Coast, Research Publishing Company: London 1977.

Acknowledgments:  HUGE thanks to Aisha Domleo and for getting me up here.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  58.531911, -4.179048 Fiscary (3)

Fiscary (2), Farr, Sutherland

Chambered Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NC 73112 62604

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 6445
  2. Carn Chaoile

Getting Here

A mile east of Bettyhill along the A836 road, watch out for the large piles of rocks up on the hill on your left (north).  Go through the gate, past the Fiscary 3 cairn and 150 yards northwest you’ll reach the crowning cairn on the hilltop itself – the Fiscary 2 cairn.

Archaeology & History

Fiscary 2 cairn, looking NW

Fiscary 2 cairn, looking NW

The second of the three giant chambered cairns on this moorland hillside is the largest (only just!) of them all.  Positioned right on top of the small hill, this great mass of rocks stands out from the roadside a quarter-mile to the south quite blatantly, yet it somehow evaded the eyes of the early Ordnance Survey lads in their visit here in 1873 (though the nearby Fiscary 3 cairn was plotted).  Odd…

Aisha against the size of the cairn

Aisha against the size of the cairn

When I came here with Aisha and her clan a few weeks ago Nature was blasting us with full gales and so half her bunch returned after a short while, leaving us to get thrown about in the winds!  Even just trying to stand upright on this and its associated tomb proved difficult.  But despite this and the low grey clouds—typical of northern Scottish weather—it was obvious that the views from here would be superb, seeing far into the distance with a 360º view.  I have little doubt that other important prehistoric sites would be speaking with this giant neolithic cairn, but there is nothing in the archaeology accounts to help us on such matters.

The giant tomb is almost linked to its companion—Fiscary 1—by a low scatter of rocks running between them, with only a yard or two separating their disturbed masses.  Several archaeology students have posited that the two seemingly separate sites were, many thousands of years ago, perhaps one elongated chambered tomb, just like the ones found nearby at the Coille na borgie and Long Skelpick cairns; but it seems unlikely in this case…

Fiscary 2 Cairn, looking SE

Fiscary 2 Cairn, looking SE

Fiscary-2 on 1908 OS-map

Although Adam Gunn (1893) mentioned the “four large cairns” at Fiscally (the fourth and smallest is 262 yards to the west), the first real description I can find of the place comes from an article by a local man called Cathel Kerr (1892) who told us it was “about 220 feet in circumference, and 15 or 16 in height”; but most of his article dealt with his excavation into the adjacent Fiscary 1 tomb, which he noticed was connected by a stone platform that ran between the two sites.  This was the first mention of such a connecting platform—and a curious feature it is indeed.  When the Royal Commission lads came here in May 1909 they also noted this connecting platform.  They found that the cairn itself,

“does not appear to have been excavated.  It is circular with a diameter of about 52ft and is some 10ft high to the top of the modern pile of stones on its apex.  It presents a peculiar feature.  At the north end is clearly visible a broad platform of stones extending to a distance of 25ft from the base of the cairn and, though largely overgrown with turf, traceable by the outline of stones almost entirely around it.  This platform has been described as a neck connecting the two cairns (Fiscary 1 and 2, PB), but in reality it stops 7ft distant from the adjacent cairn.”

Henshall's ground-plan of Fiscally 1 & 2

Henshall’s ground-plan of Fiscally 1 & 2

Holding onto her hat at Fiscary 2

Holding onto her hat at Fiscary 2

Indeed, this “platform” seems to have been either deliberately constructed with the hilltop cairn positioned on top of it, or has been set around the tomb.  It’s difficult to say with any certainty.

The great Audrey Henshall (1963; 1995) wrote extensively about this ancient monument in her works, finalizing her site entry in The Chambered Cairns of Sutherland (1995).  After describing in some detail the archaeological association this site has with Fiscary 1, she turned her attention here and wrote:

“The larger south cairn (Fiscary 2, PB) is bare, steep-sided, and has been little disturbed.  The diameters are between 19.5 to 21.5m, and the height is 5.5m measured from the NW.  The edge is clear for about half of the circuit.  The surrounding platform is quite low and is partly covered with peat and deep heather which in places obscure the edge.  The platform varies in width from 4.8 to 7.3m.  On the SE side the cairn edge is clear and there is no sign of the platform.  It appears on the NE side where it is largely free of heather, and the cairn material merges into its stones.  This part of the platform is edged by a rough kerb which fades away westwards into the spread of stones which links the two cairns.  In the area between the cairns the stones are mainly covered by peat on which grow turf and heather.  The spread of stones appears to be thin, but on the NW side of the cairn, where there is evidently a drop in ground level, breaks in the peat cover show that here the stone spread has considerable depth.  Round the W side the platform is heather-covered, and along the SW part, where the hill drops away steeply, there is a rough kerb at a lower level than elsewhere, within which the surface of the platform rises to the base of the cairn.  The S end of the platform, which here is bare stones, seems to turn sharply towards the S edge of the cairn, though the actual edge of the platform is indefinite.”

The likelihood is that this cairn is the oldest of the cluster of three found here, most likely constructed in the neolithic period.  Its position in the landscape would indicate that the site would have been built to commemorate the spirit of a local tribal elder, a King or Queen.  It’s a superb site and I’ll be visiting it again very soon indeed!

Folklore

Bouncy elven sprite rushes by

Bouncy elven sprite rushes by!

Otta Swire (1963) not only told that this landscape was once peopled by giants who made the land and played a part in the creation of some of the giant tombs around here.  The one time local school-teacher at Bettyhill, Alan Temperley (1977), also told us that the fairy folk lived close to the giant tombs of Fiscary.

References:

  1. Gourley, Robert, Sutherland: An Archaeological Guide, Birlinn: Edinburgh 1996.
  2. Gunn, Adam & Mackay, John, Sutherland and the Reay Country, John Mackay: Glasgow 1893.
  3. Henshall, Audrey S., The Chambered Tombs of Scotland – volume 1, Edinburgh University Press 1963.
  4. Henshall, Audrey S., “The Distant Past,” in The Sutherland Book (edited by Donald Omand), Northern Times: Golspie 1991.
  5. Henshall, Audrey S., The Chambered Cairns of Sutherland, Edinburgh University Press 1995.
  6. Kerr, Cathel, “Notice of the Excavation of a Chambered Cairn in the Parish of Farr, Sutherlandshire,” in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 26, 1892
  7. Lelong, Olivia C., “Writing People into the Landscape: Approaches to the Archaeology of Badenoch and Strathnaver,” University of Glasgow 2002.
  8. o’ Reilly, Kevin & Crockford, Ashley, What to See Around Bettyhill, privately printed 2009.
  9. Sutherland, George, Folk-lore Gleanings and Character Sketches from the Far North, John o’ Groats Journal: Wick 1937.
  10. Temperley, Alan, Tales of the North Coast, Research Publishing Company: London 1977.

Acknowledgments:  To the beautiful Aisha Domleo, for her images, bounce, spirit and madness – as well as getting me up to see this cluster of sites. 

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  58.532963, -4.181047 Fiscary 2

Fiscary (1), Farr, Sutherland

Chambered Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NC 73102 62629

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 6445
  2. Carn Chaoile
  3. SUT 29 (Henshall)

Getting Here

Fiscary 1 cairn - from Fiscary 2

Fiscary 1 cairn – from Fiscary 2

A mile east of Bettyhill on the A836 road, watch for the large piles of rocks up on the hill on your left (north).  Go through the gate, past the Fiscary 3 cairn and 150 yards northwest you’ll reach the crowning cairn of Fiscary 2 on the hilltop itself.  Fiscary 1 is just a few yards in front of you.

Archaeology & History

Although this is the smallest of the Fiscary cairns, it is the one that has had been investigated more than the others in this cluster—and you can tell as it’s been dug into.  However, saying that, when Aisha and me were here a few weeks ago, the wind was blowing with such strength that we could give it little more than a cursory overview, as we were both getting blown about like a pair o’ puffters in the gale that was raging in from the sea!  Twas quite overwhelming…

Fiscary 1 to the rear

Fiscary 1 to the rear

One of the first things you notice is how this cairn is inextricably linked, both physically and otherwise, to its close partner on the hilltop only yards away: the Fiscary 2 cairn.  Fiscary 2 reaches outwards towards where we now stand—slightly below the larger tomb immediately north (the airt of Death itself): almost as if an ancient Queen and Her King were resting still hand-in-hand in their respective burial sites.

Aisha on top!

Aisha on top!

…And although such romance may seem nothing more than that, recall that we are probably looking at two giant archaic monuments whose birth emerged in the neolithic: when time was measured by night, not day; when the Moon was Prima Mater’s aide and portender; and patriarchy had yet to be borne…. Giant hilltop cairns were the places of our ancient shaman-kings, queens and tribal elders, whose integral relationship with the cycles of the world to which we are (still) bound, were culturally very different in some fundamental ways, before rites of passage were disposed of…. But I’m moving away from the modern history of the Fiscary tomb…. Soz!

Around the time when some of the indigenous northerners up here were seeing the fading lights of their animistic cosmology disappear into the emergence of ‘history’, when the traditional tales were ebbing, Fiscary 1 was at least being written about—albeit in a detached way, as a museum piece, a piece of architecture.  It’s the way things have become.  The tomb was excavated by a local man called Cathel Kerr in the latter half of the 19th century, although he reported that it had already been dug into a few years earlier.  Kerr told that some of the stones had been taken by an unnamed local for building purposes (not good!).  “It had been opened from the top” he said—continuing:

“and there was abundant evidence around the cairn, that large slabs of stone had been removed from the interior.  A little observation showed that there was the appearance of an internal chamber… The…cairn is about 150 feet in circumference and about 9 or 10 feet in height, and between it and (Fiscary 2) there is what seems to me to be a neck of stones joining the two cairns… Most of the neck joining the two cairns is covered over with turf, but a very slight observation reveals the fact that underneath it the mass of stones is continuous.  The apparent depth of stones is from 3 to 4 feet. It is most unlikely that this neck could have been formed by stones falling from the top of the cairns.

“The chamber, when opened, proved to be tripartite.  The entrance is from the west or northwest side, between two upright stones, with a large heavy slab thrown across them.  The passage is only 3 or 4 feet long, and about 3 feet high, and nearly the same in width.  This leads into a small chamber measuring about 6 feet by 3 feet.  In front of it, on the north side, a large upright slab projects, and helps to form part of the end of the inner chamber and a division between the two on the south side.  In all likelihood the stone corresponding to that one has been removed, so that there is nothing to mark the division between the chambers on that side.  The larger chamber measures 6 feet 4 inches by 7 feet 9 inches.  The sides are made up of large upright slabs and masonry, built up between the slabs.  The corners are all rounded and there is the appearance of vaulting by the stones overlapping one another.  The height of this chamber at present is about 5 feet.  The end of the chamber is made up by two upright stones, with nearly 2 feet of an entrance between them, leading into the innermost chamber.  This chamber is a very irregular oblong; indeed the ends are rounded.  On an average it is 5 feet 9 inches long, by 33 inches wide, and 3 or 4 feet in height.  It had the appearance of being covered over with slabs, some of which stood on edge inside; but of this I am not very sure, as the roofing of all the chambers has been interfered with.

“Inside there lay on the floor a large quantity of broken stones and black earth.  Underneath there was what seemed a mixture  of ashes and earth, with numerous pieces of charred wood, but no charred bones as far as I could see.  Underneath that layer there was ordinary gravel.  I found some fragments of bones on the innermost part, and some in the larger chamber.  They do not appear to me to be of very great antiquity.  A small vitrified mass was found on the floor.”

When the Royal Commission (1911) lads turned up to see the site in 1909 they reported—in a rather exaggerated manner—that the cairn “is now completely destroyed” and then in the next sentence said,

“The chamber is half filled-up with debris and only two or three large slabs remain, the others having disappeared.  Its diameter has been about 46ft, and its height 4ft to 5ft.”

If the Royal Commission believe that’s an example of something being “completely destroyed”, they should turn their eyes and attention to sites like the Nixon’s Station cairn on top of Ilkley Moor which, when I was young, was larger than any of the Fiscary cairns; but somehow under the watchful eyes of the regional archaeologists in the 1980s and ’90s, was levelled to the ground – i.e., properly destroyed!

Audrey Henshall's ground plan

Audrey Henshall’s ground plan

In more recent years the cairn has received the honourable attention of the great Audrey Henshall (1963; 1995) who, in her updated site profile of Fiscary 1, told us not much more about the site than her predecessor Kerr.  Contextualizing the place with its partner Fiscary 2 and the platform upon which it rests, she wrote:

“The paired cairns appear to be independent structures 8.5m apart, though a platform extending beyond the base of the south cairn, which has no internal features exposed, spreads to the base of the north cairn, which contains a ruined chamber… The north cairn is of bare angular stones with turf and heather only encroaching over the edges.  Its limits are well-defined and give a roughly square plan with short diameters of 16.5m… Kerr exposed the roofless tripartite chamber, and most of the structure which he recorded was visible in 1955 (Henshall 1963).  Less could be seen in 1992 as the chamber had been largely filled by loose stones…”

Much like the situation as it is today.  More recently a small pile of stones has been added to the top of the cairn, from whence the view is excellent to the north, east and west.  The larger Fiscary 2 cairn blocks the view directly south.

Folklore

Otta Swire (1963) not only told that this landscape was once peopled by giants who made the land and played a part in the creation of some of the giant tombs around here.  The one time local school-teacher at Bettyhill, Alan Temperley (1977), also told us that the fairy folk lived close to the giant tombs of Fiscary.

References:

  1. Eliade, Mircea, The Myth of the Eternal Return, RKP: London 1955.
  2. Gourley, Robert, Sutherland: An Archaeological Guide, Birlinn: Edinburgh 1996.
  3. Gunn, Adam & Mackay, John, Sutherland and the Reay Country, John Mackay: Glasgow 1893.
  4. Henshall, Audrey S., The Chambered Tombs of Scotland – volume 1, Edinburgh University Press 1963.
  5. Henshall, Audrey S., “The Distant Past,” in The Sutherland Book (edited by Donald Omand), Northern Times: Golspie 1991.
  6. Henshall, Audrey S., The Chambered Cairns of Sutherland, Edinburgh University Press 1995.
  7. Kerr, Cathel, “Notice of the Excavation of a Chambered Cairn in the Parish of Farr, Sutherlandshire,” in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 26, 1892
  8. Lelong, Olivia C., “Writing People into the Landscape: Approaches to the Archaeology of Badenoch and Strathnaver,” University of Glasgow 2002.
  9. o’ Reilly, Kevin & Crockford, Ashley, What to See Around Bettyhill, privately printed 2009.
  10. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland. HMSO: Edinburgh 1911.
  11. Sutherland, George, Folk-lore Gleanings and Character Sketches from the Far North, John o’ Groats Journal: Wick 1937.
  12. Temperley, Alan, Tales of the North Coast, Research Publishing Company: London 1977.

Acknowledgments:  Huge thanks to beautiful Aisha Domleo again, for help with some of the photos – and adding your elegant spirit and energy to the place – as well as getting me up here in the first place! 

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  58.533190, -4.181226 Fiscary 1

Baile Mhargaite Enclosure 1, Bettyhill, Sutherland

 

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  58.519653, -4.236361 Baile Mhargaite Enclosure 1

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – NC 69843 61228

Also Known as:

  1. Bail Margait
  2. Margaret’s Town

Getting Here

Baile Mhargaite 1 enclosure, looking NW

Baile Mhargaite 1 enclosure, looking NW

Take the A836 road west out of Bettyhill, down the road and cross the river on the tiny bridge.  From here, go over the gate on the right-hand side of the road and follow the edge of the river towards the sea. Crossing the large extensive sands, you’ll reach a large sand and gravel rise ahead of you. Once on top of this natural feature, walk NNE for 550 yards (0.5km) until you reach one of many extensive sandy expanses in the grasses (and pass tons of archaeological remains as you walk!).  You’ll get there!

Archaeology & History

Arc of south, west & north walling

Arc of south, west & north walling

On this naturally raised sand-and-gravel platform at the edge of this beautiful sandy coastline in the far north of Scotland, walking in search of this particular enclosure, you’ll meander past a whole host of prehistoric sites and remains – some of which are plain to see, others hiding almost just above ground level, barely visible.  But if you’re an antiquarian or historian, this plateau is a minefield of forgotten history!

The site is shown on the 1878 Ordnance Survey map of the region as a “hut circle”, which it may well have been—but this is a large hut circle and was more probably a place where a large family would easily have lived.  When I visited the place the other week, there were no internal features visible.  It is a large ring of stones made up of thousands of small rocks whose walls are low and scattered, barely a foot above present ground-level in places, and barely two-feet at the very highest.  It has been greatly ruined or robbed of other architectural elements and an excavation is in order.  My initial evaluation is that this structure is at least Iron Age in origin.  In Angus Mackay’s (1906) venture here in the early 1900s, he suggested that this and the other “circular rings” were “cattle folds.”

Aerial view, looking straight down

Aerial view, looking straight down

Looking down from the broch above

Looking down from the broch above

The enclosure measures, from outer-edge to outer-edge of the walling, 16.5 yards (15.1m) east-west by 18 yards (16.5m) north-south, and has a circumference of roughly 52.5 yards (4mm); although an accurate measure of its circumference is hampered by the scatter of spoilage from the collapsed walls stretching outwards.  Only the western walled section remains in reasonably good condition.

Looking south, thru the enclosure

Looking south, thru the enclosure

Close by are many cairns, some of which are prehistoric.  A chambered cairn  on the same ridge less than 200 yards away, with another enclosure of the same type yards away, clearly shows that people have lived and used this raised section of land for thousands of years.  We know that people were still living here at the end of the 18th century which—for me at least—begs the question: what ancient traditions, customs and lore did these people know about, which may have dated back into truly ancient history?  …And then the english Clearances destroyed them…

References:

  1. Mackay, Angus, “Notes on a Slab with Incised Crescentic Design, Stone Mould for Casting Bronze Spear-Heads, a Cup-Marked Stone, Holy Water Stoup, and other Antiquities in Strathnaver, Sutherlandshire,” in Proceedings of the Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 40, 1906.
  2. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland. HMSO: Edinburgh 1911.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Baile Mhargaite Cist (01), Bettyhill, Sutherland

Cist:  OS Grid Reference – NC 69908 61102

Getting Here

Get yourself to the Baile Mhargaite Enclosure 1 and walk less than 150 yards southeast.  Keep your eyes keenly peeled on the ground as you can easily miss this one!

Archaeology & History

One of Baile Mhargaite's cists

One of Baile Mhargaite’s cists

The only archaeological note I can find of this small singular prehistoric grave is in the Canmore entry, which is far from clear as to the position and situation of many sites hereby.  They described this small sand-filled grave (which they describe as ‘Cist b’) as being “on a gravel ridge and is oriented N-S. It measures 0.8m by 0.6m.”  That’s it!

Looking down on the tomb

Looking down on the tomb

But saying that, it is a small single little thing amidst a huge mass of material.  It may well have been covered by a larger cairn at an earlier date, as there are many such monuments on this elevated sandy plain and the slight surround of smaller stones at, and just beneath the surface may validate this.  It is also possible that this was the spot where “beaker fragments…found in a cist at Bettyhill” came from, but the archaeological records (Abercromby 1912; Mitchell 1934) are not accurate.  Two other cists close by are the other potential candidates!

References:

  1.  Abercromby, John, A Study of the Bronze Age Pottery of Britain and Ireland – volume 1, Clarendon: Oxford 1912.
  2. Mitchell, Margaret E.C., “A New Analysis of the Early Bronze Age BeakerPottery of Scotland,”in Proceedings of the Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 68, 1934.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  58.518699, -4.235258 Baile Mhargaite Cist (1)

Baile Mhargaite, Bettyhill, Sutherland

Broch: OS Grid Reference – NC 69742 60973

Highlighted on 1878 OS-map

Highlighted on 1878 OS-map

Also Known as:

  1. Ca an Duin
  2. Canmore ID 5786
  3. Invernaver
  4. Lochan Druim An Duin
  5. Sandy Dun

Getting Here

Baile Mhargaite broch from below

Baile Mhargaite broch from below

Take the A836 road west through Bettyhill and downhill, turning right and going over the small bridge at the bottom. From here, go over the gate on the right-hand side of the road and follow the edge of the river towards the sea. Crossing the large extensive sands, you’ll reach a large rise ahead of you and, to the left (west) a burn tumbles down from the hills above. Walk up it and head to the rocky rise on the level 50 yards past the burn. You’re here!

Archaeology & History

Once you’ve clambered the rocky hill to reach the broch, you’ll be damn impressed. This is a real beauty – although from the outside it looks nothing of the sort. The outer wall is a veritable jumbled mass of rocks piled on top of each other in a manner that looks as if human hands once fumbled them in some sort of order, long since fallen away. Around the western side of the structure, faint remains of steps lead up towards more ordered-looking walling ahead of you. Before you walk up the remains of steps, notice the more structured walling, about three feet high to your right, curving around the large structure you are already inside the edges of.

Whether you walk up the stepped remains or simply up the outer walling, once you see the internal stone walling of this high cliff broch, you’ll be impressed. It’s a big bugger – and in damn good condition when you consider that it’s probably 2000 years old, or more! A large round walled structure, about three feet high all round, well sheltered from the wind and rains, measures some 30 feet across.Arc of outer western wall

The internal living quarters

The internal living quarters

Eastern section of the broch

Eastern section of the broch

The site is still known by some local people as a “Pictish Tower” and was described as such on the 1878 Ordnance Survey map (see above) and its Gaelic name is Ca an Duin(Mackay 1906).  The probability of the brochs as being Pictish in origin is more than likely.  Tradition up here speaks of them as such – and we know that such traditions go back many centuries in these isolated areas.  An early mention of this Pictish Tower was given in James Horsburgh’s (1870) essay, but it wasn’t described in any real detail until the Royal Commission (1911) fellas looked at the site.  They wrote:

“On the summit of the hill which rises to the W of the gravelly plateau opposite Bettyhill, and on the N side of the track which leads from Strathnaver to Torrisdail, is situated a broch.  It is called the “Sandy Dun”.  The wall is probably erect for a considerable height, but the interior is largely filled up with blown sand.  The entrance is from the SW.  The interior diameter is 29 feet and the thickness of the wall 12 feet.  Near the top of the wall in the interior is a projecting ledge, about 10 feet wide, running all around.  The slabs which form it are an integral part of the structure and the wall is thicker below than above.  The outer face of the wall is much ruined…”

Gazing NE from inside the broch

Gazing NE from inside the broch

Although some of the internal walling has been taken away since the 1911 survey, the interior of the site has been cleaned up by local people and it is presently in a very good condition indeed.  The broch may have been built onto an earlier fortified structure, rising above the stunning prehistoric settlements and necropolis on the sandy plateau immediately below. It would make sense – as many earlier Neolithic and Bronze Age remains look up at the prominent rock pinnacle it’s built upon from the sandy plain below, almost as if it was a natural temple in the animistic traditions of the earlier peoples.

If you visit this gorgeous region, the Baile Mhargaite broch should definitely be on your list of sites to see.

Folklore

Old lore told that this broch was attacked by outside invaders many centuries ago.   Mr Horsburgh (1870) told that,

“an old woman hid a croc of gold previous to the dun being attacked, and measured the distance from it with a clew of thread.”

References:

  1. Horsburgh, James, Notes of Cromlechs, Duns, Hut-circles, Chambered Cairns and other Remains, in the County of Sutherland“, in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 7, 1870
  2. Mackay, Angus, “Notes on a Slab with Incised Crescentic Design, Stone Mould for Casting Bronze Spear-Heads, a Cup-Marked Stone, Holy Water Stoup, and other Antiquities in Strathnaver, Sutherlandshire,” in Proceedings of the Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 40, 1906.
  3. MacKie, E W., The Roundhouses, Brochs and Wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c.700 BC-AD 500 – volume 2, British Archaeological Report: Oxford 2007.
  4. o’ Reilly, Kevin & Crockfird, Ashley, What to See Around Bettyhill, privately printed 2009.
  5. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland. HMSO: Edinburgh 1911.

Acknowledgements:  Immense thanks go to Aisha Domleo and Unabel Gordon for their help getting me up here.  This site profile would not exist without their encouragement.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  58.517348, -4.237922 Baile Mhargaite Broch

Skelpick Long, Strath Naver, Sutherland

Chambered Cairn: OS Grid Reference – NC 72245 56745

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 6276
  2. Long Skelpick
  3. Skelpick Burn

Getting Here

The huge cairn, looking east

The huge cairn, looking east

From the delightful village of Bettyhill, take the A836 road west. A mile out, just as the tiny road bridge crosses the sea-river, take the tiny road on your left. Go past the roadside lochan until you reach the first Skelpick house several miles down. Walk across the fields on your left (east) until you reach the wobbly wooden tidgy-widgy-bridgey that crosses the Skelpick Burn. Across on the other side – you can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

The overgrown northern face

The overgrown northern face

As you wander down the poetic geoscapes of Strathnaver, meandering back and forth along the tributaries and Her tiny primal forest remains, on the edges of Her marshes, rivulets and rocky moorlands, tomb after tomb raise themselves to the eyes and feet of the wanderer.  They’re everywhere it seems!  But this one, above all others, hits the eyesight with an unexpected magnitude.  This is a giant–one helluva giant!–and typical of the structure and status of many of the immense prehistoric chambered tombs in this remote northern region of our entrancing heathen isles.

Rising out of the moorland heather to a height of sixteen feet in parts, tens of thousands of rocks make up this elongated artificial ridge, running like a spine NNW-SSE down the direction of the glen, pointing to the lowest dip in the distant southern horizon several miles away.  And although overgrown when we visited the site, at each extremity the elongated cairn has curious stretches of stones projecting out of its sides, like a pair of horns at each end.  Weird!

The long cairn, heading south

The long cairn, heading south

The giant cairn, heading north

The giant cairn, heading north

Once you get on top of the cairn, its northern end is the most impressive section. Wider than the rest of the monument, this is where, some ten feet below the top of the rock-pile, a large internal opening was covered over, hiding an impressive chamber (two birch trees mark the spot).  This is in incredibly good condition when you remember that you are looking at something that was built in the neolithic period some 6000 years ago!

Spider guards chamber of bones

Spider guards chamber of bones

Little Lara at the entrance

Little Lara at the entrance

On my first visit, I sat inside the shelter of the chamber for around an hour, either inside the main ‘tomb’ section, or beneath a huge intact covering stone 12 feet outside the entrance (hiding from both rain and midges) that stretches from one side of the cairn to the other; noting, on its underside, two cup-marks: one is definitely crustacean in nature, whilst the other may be man-made (though we cannot discount it too having a crustacean origin). But we can safely say that this long stone was dragged some considerable distance from the coast to its present position and positioned into this giant cairn.  This covering stone rests precariously on a collection of many small well-placed rocks, themselves held up on two rigid solid standing stones, deeply embedded god-knows-how-deep in the solid Earth. They stand about 3 feet high in their present position above the ground.

Central stone in chamber

Central stone in chamber

Gordon gives idea of its size

Gordon gives idea of its size

The well-preserved ‘tomb’ section at the northern end of the cairn was opened sometime in the middle of the 19th century by James Horsburgh (1870)—although its description as a ‘tomb’ could be questionable here, as no funerary remains have ever been found inside it.  Horsburgh described the site as a,

“long cairn, 80 or 90 yards in length, which I opened and came upon a polygonal-shaped chamber, 11 feet in diameter, the sides consisting of large stones 6 feet high, one of them 7 feet by 4 and 1½ feet thick, placed at a distance from each other of 3 or 4 feet, the intervals being built up with long square stones.  The roof had been formed with very large flags overlaying each other.  The chamber had been opened from the top and the whole inside was filled with stones and rubbish, so that I only cleared it out.  Before I commenced operations, however, there was no appearance of it having been meddled with, and I dug it by chance where the cairn appeared to be highest.  Nothing whatever was found in it.”

This lack of funerary remains may simply be due to the collapse of stones destroying any evidences at the time Horsburgh dug into the cairn—or it may have had other functions instead.  Shortly after Horburgh’s analysis, John Stuart (1870) came to visit the site in his grand tour of the megaliths of the region, telling that,

“on the waterside is a long cairn with a chamber at its north end, of about 12 feet across, formed of six slabs, with the space between them carefully filled up with masonry.  Some of the slabs are of great size.  A passage leading to another chamber is blocked up.  The walls of the chamber begin to converge at a height of 6 feet, and were probably covered by flags.”

Stuart's 1874 ground plan

Stuart’s 1874 ground plan

Skelpick Long on 1878 map

Long Skelpick on 1878 map

Highlighted on the first Ordnance Survey map in 1878, it was Mr Stuart (1874) who gave us our earliest ground-plan of Long Skelpick, as illustrated here.  But since then the site has been described by a number of antiquarians and archaeologists.  However, the most detailed account is given in the legendary Audrey Henshall’s (1995) updated site profile.  I make no apologies for reproducing her lengthy account of this cairn almost in its entirety, as it is an astonishing megalithic monument.  She wrote:

“…The cairn is 72m long overall, including the horns which define a forecourt at each end… The cairn is about 20m wide across the chamber, narrowing to 14m wide at a little south of centre, and expanding slightly to about 16m wide at the south end.  At the north end the forecourt is difficult to define, though the ends of the horn are clear.  Between them there is loose rubble which rises steeply to merge with the cairn material covering the passage, and which northwards merges into the downward slope of the ground.  The passage entrance is hidden beneath this stony material; presumably there is deliberate blocking immediately in front of the entrance…but this has been covered by cairn material removed from the chamber area when it was investigated. The forecourt is about 13.5m wide by about 7m deep.  The chamber is exposed in a deep hollow in the cairn, but south of it the cairn remains to a height of 3.4m (measured from the chamber floor), and from here to near the south end it continues as a ridge of bare irregular stones.  Except for a few superficial hollows, it appears to be undisturbed, neither robbed nor substantially distorted, and it retains the steep pitch of its long sides.  The cairn gradually diminishes in height southwards to about 2.8m high at about 12m north of the south forecourt.  At this point there is a transverse hollow across the cairn 2.7m wide and about 0.7m deep, which may be an original feature (though in this area a relatively recent deep hollow has been made into the cairn from the east side reaching almost to the median line).  The cairn has clearly been robbed from the south end to within 1.7m of the transverse hollow, presumably to build the square enclosure just to the south.  The southeast horn is clear and the southwest horn can just be traced though it has probably been truncated.  Between them, the edge of the forecourt is rather vague except for two laid slabs near the centre which appears to be part of an edging wall-face.  The south forecourt has been about 10m wide and probably about 3.5m deep.  The west edge of the cairn is clear though overgrown with heather, except for 20m at the north end where it is overlaid with bare stones evidently thrown down when the chamber was opened, and north of this the cairn merges into the natural slope.  All along the east side the cairn merges with the slope of the ridge and has deep heather growing almost to the crest, so that the cairn edge is difficult to trace.

“The axis of the passage and chamber is nearly NNW to SSE, skew by about 13° by the axis of the cairn.  The entrance can only be seen from the roofed passage.  A pair of transverse stones set 0.56m apart forms the portal at the outer end of the passage. They are over 0.7m and 0.4m long, 0.25m and 0.18m thick, and 0.7m and 0.65m high.  The original blocking, a neat stack of six horizontal slabs reaching to within 0.2m of the roof, is in place between them, with the south edges of the stones flush with the south faces of the portal stones.  To the north of the slabs there can just be seen loose stones, smaller than those of the cairn material.

“The passage os 1.8m long and 1.15m wide at the outer end increasing to 1.3m wide at the inner end.  A slab forms most of each wall.  The slabs are 1.36m and 1.31m long by 0.5m and 0.45m high with two or three courses of walling above them, though this is displaced inwards and in a precarious state.  Walling fills the short gaps at the ends of the stones, though missing from the NE corner.  At the inner end of the passage a pair of portal stones forms the entry into the ante-chamber.  They are 0.94m and 0.78m long by 0.26m and 0.44m thick, and 0.86m and 0.77m high, set 0.8m apart.  At the outer end of the passage a lintel rests on the east portal stone and passes a little above the west portal stone, and the north edge of the lintel projects a little north of their outer faces.  The lintel is 0.8m wide by 0.3m thick, 0.7m above the floor, tilted slightly down to the south.  The next tow lintels rise in inverted steps, each overlapping the upper surface of that to the north with the third lintel 1m above floor level.  The fourth lintel is missing and a gap of 0.5m is spanned by rubble; it is likely that a substantial stone at the top of each side wall is an end portion of this lintel, the centre part of which has broken away.  The innermost lintel is lower, 0.86m above the floor, resting directly on the east portal stone and on a corbel stone over the shorter west portal stone at the chamber entrance.  The lintel is over 2m long, 0.65m wide and 0.75m thick in the centre, and the face to the chamber is triangular.

“The chamber walls are constructed of spaced orthostats linked by panels of walling.  All the orthostats are intact.  The walling is of quite large quarried rectangular slabs, in general 0.07m to 0.02m thick, and where well-preserved can be seen to have been carefully built.  At a height of about 0.7m the walling changes to courses of large corbel stones, often 0.23m to 0.4m thick, up to 0.9m wide, and 1m or so long.  They are laid with their long axes running back into the cairn and their inner ends generally slightly oversailing; their appearance is rougher and heavier than the walling below.  There is a considerable amount of displaced stone on the chamber floor, but all vertical measurements are taken from approximately floor level.

“The ante-chamber is about 2.5m long by 2.5m wide at the south end.  The east wall consists of an orthostat 1.3m long by 0.36m thick, and 1.1m high, with a horizontal upper surface.  The spaces between it and the outer and inner east portal stones of the chamber are filled with walling about 1.15m high, and above this and the orthostat are two courses of corbel stones giving a total height of 1.7m with a considerable overhang, at the southeast corner as much as 0.5m though possibly there has been some displacement.  Only a short length at the south end of the west wall is visible.  An orthostat set close to the west outer portal stone was visible in the 19th century…but this is hidden by rubble.

“The entrance between the ante-chamber and main chamber has been spacious, 1.06m wide and probably about 1.4m high.  The portal stones are 0.85m and over 1.06m long, 0.42m and 0.25m to 0.4m wide, and 1.1m and 0.9m high, and their upper edges slope down into the cairn.  The lintel above them is somewhat displaced with its wider face tilted down from south to north.  Its east end rests on a corbel stone supported by displaced walling to the southeast of the portal stone, and its west end rests on displaced walling on the shoulder of the west portal stone and on the panel of walling to the southwest.  The lintel is about 3m long by 1m wide and 0.35m thick.

“The main chamber is 3.5m long by about 3.25m wide.  There are five orthostats in the wall.  That on the axis has a horizontal upper surface and the others are rounded and rather irregular in shape.  From the northeast, clockwise, they are 0.7m, 0.77m and 0.84m (at maximum 1.14m), over 1.3m and 0.86m long and, as far as can be seen, they vary from 0.1m to 0.4m thick.  They are all of similar height, between 1 and 1.22m; the tallest is the northwest orthostat.  Most of the linking walling remains.  Between the east portal stone and the east orthostat only the upper courses are visible; between the east and southeast orthostats there are six neat courses of walling and above them three courses of corbel stones oversailing by 0.3m at a height of 1.7m (though the lowest courses of walling at the north end have been pulled away and the upper part of the wall is in danger of collapse).  The walling between the southeast and the south orthostats has fallen away, but was intact in 1955… Between the south and southwest orthostats walling remains almost level with their tops and butts against the face of the latter, the south end of which is hidden.  The last two panels of walling on the west side of the chamber survive to half the height of the adjacent orthostats.

“Part of the chamber was evidently visible in 1800 (Cardonnel …) and subsequently it must have been filled in.  Horsburgh investigated the main chamber in 1866… His descriptions and measurements are fairly accurate except that he gave the height of the orthostats as 6ft and one as 7ft (1.8m and 2.1m); this seems to be an exaggeration as the present floor level, also extending down the passage, appears to be at approximately at the original level.  He estimated that the roof height of the main chamber had been 10ft (3m)…

Old lichen upon the cairn-stones

Old lichen upon the cairn-stones

Of mosses and lichens hereon...

Of mosses and lichens hereon…

Much of the length of the cairn is very overgrown in a living repertoire of medicinal mosses and lichens which, of themselves, are centuries old in places.  Their profusion is a great indicator, not only of the cleanliness of the air betrayed in the cities of homo-profanus, but also a telling sign that visitors to this distant realm are few and far between.  Tis a beautiful site in a spectacular ancient arena…

…to be continued…

Folklore

There is great superstition amongst some locals even today that this immense cairn should not be tampered with and it is said to be haunted.

References:

  1. Gourley, Robert, Sutherland: An Archaeological Guide, Birlinn: Edinburgh 1996.
  2. Henshall, Audrey S., The Chambered Tombs of Scotland – volume 1, Edinburgh University Press 1963.
  3. Henshall, Audrey S., “The Distant Past,” in The Sutherland Book (edited by Donald Omand), Northern Times: Golspie 1991.
  4. Henshall, Audrey S., The Chambered Cairns of Sutherland, Edinburgh University Press 1995.
  5. Horsburgh, James, Notes of Cromlechs, Duns, Hut-circles, Chambered Cairns and other Remains, in the County of Sutherland“, in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 7, 1870
  6. Lelong, Olivia C., “Writing People into the Landscape: Approaches to the Archaeology of Badenoch and Strathnaver,” University of Glasgow 2002.
  7. Mackie, Euan W., Scotland: An Archaeological Guide, Faber: London 1975.
  8. o’ Reilly, Kevin & Crockford, Ashley, What to See Around Bettyhill, privately printed 2009.
  9. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland. HMSO: Edinburgh 1911.
  10. Stuart, John, “Report to the Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Appointed to Arrange for the Application of a Fund Left by the Late Mr A. Henry Rhind, for Excavating Early Remains,” in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 7, 1870
  11. Stuart, John, “Notice of Excavations in Cairns in Strathnaver, Sutherlandshire,” in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 10, 1874.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to the beautiful Aisha Domleo for not only getting me up here, but also for the use of photos in this site profile.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  58.480084, -4.192504 Long Skelpick