Ancient Monuments

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Uamh Ghrantaich,hut circle,souterrains and shielings,Glen Usinish

A Scheduled Monument in Barraigh, Bhatarsaigh, Eirisgeigh agus Uibhist a Deas, Na h-Eileanan Siar

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Latitude: 57.2812 / 57°16'52"N

Longitude: -7.2401 / 7°14'24"W

OS Eastings: 84354

OS Northings: 833331

OS Grid: NF843333

Mapcode National: GBR 89JG.SP9

Mapcode Global: WGW4X.R8K0

Entry Name: Uamh Ghrantaich,hut circle,souterrains and shielings,Glen Usinish

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1993

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM5800

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: hut circle, roundhouse; Secular: shieling

Location: South Uist

County: Na h-Eileanan Siar

Electoral Ward: Barraigh, Bhatarsaigh, Eirisgeigh agus Uibhist a Deas

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument consists of a group of remains including a hut circle, two souterrain-like structures with associated enclosures and a large number of shielings, all situated near the foot of a rocky slope on which there are a number of caves or rock shelters.

A hut circle, some 6m in diameter, lies within a small enclosure formed of drystone masonry. 30m to the NW lies the first souterrain, Uamh Ghrantaich, which lies at the foot of a steep rocky slope. This souterrain consists of three oval cells linked by passages. The outermost cell is now unroofed, but the rest of the structure remains underground. The outer chamber was about 3.0m across, the middle 2.0m and the inner 2.5m. The outer linking passage is about 0.7m high and 0.9m wide, and 4.6m long with a sharp bend, the inner one being only 0.6m high and 0.5m wide, and 1.6m long. The plan of this souterrain is strongly reminiscent of shielings nearby. The second (nameless) souterrain lies some 30m NW of a wheelhouse and third souterrain, Uamh Iosal (already scheduled). It lies at the foot of a gully and has been formed by providing a lintelled passage 0.8m high by 0.5m wide and 1m long, giving access to a chamber roofed by a large rock slab 5.2m by 2.2m by 1.1m and walled by a combination of natural boulders underlying the slab and stretches of drystone walling. This souterrain opens out of a ruined circular enclosure or structure some 5m by 4m. A similar enclosure lies nearby. To the NE, N and NW of the latter souterrain, stretching as far as Uamh Ghrantaich, are a large number of ruined shieling huts, averaging 2m by 3m and heavily overgrown with bracken. On the hill slopes are a number of small potential shelters formed by large rock slabs but not, apparently, modified by manmade structures.

Although resembling Iron Age souterrains, it is distinctly possible that the underground elements of this monument are of a later date, perhaps contemporary with some of the shielings, which in their present, ruined, form are unlikely to be earlier than 1700 AD, although probably overlying earlier examples. The nearby wheelhouse suggests a very long-lived settlement in this area, although in later centuries this has been seasonal rather than permanent.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in plan, some 310m NW-SE by 180m NE-SW, to include all of the above features. On its SW boundary it excludes but is adjacent to the already scheduled area at Uamh Iosal. The area to be scheduled is shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

This monument is of national importance as a fascinating complex of remains covering as much as two thousand years in time, and one of the few localities where the possibility of a continuous succession of occupation from the Iron Age through to the early modern period can potentially be investigated. The souterrains are good examples of a monument form occurring well away from its normal distribution, and offer the potential for investigating the possibility of independant invention at a different date from mainland examples. The shielings in themselves are important as one of the largest groupings in the Western Isles, and with very little evidence for disturbance they could offer a key sequence, allowing investigation of how (or if) such structures developed over time.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monuments as NF83SW 4, 5 and 6.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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