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Castle Mestag, fortified sea-stack, Stroma

A Scheduled Monument in Wick and East Caithness, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 58.6698 / 58°40'11"N

Longitude: -3.1402 / 3°8'24"W

OS Eastings: 333967

OS Northings: 976333

OS Grid: ND339763

Mapcode National: GBR L5MT.68L

Mapcode Global: WH6CG.QCW1

Entry Name: Castle Mestag, fortified sea-stack, Stroma

Scheduled Date: 9 October 2001

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM9763

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: fort (includes hill and promontory fort); Secular: fort (non-pre

Location: Canisbay

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Wick and East Caithness

Traditional County: Caithness

Description

The monument comprises the remains of what appears to be a small fortification set on a detached rock stack at the SW tip of the island of Stroma.

The stack on which the fortification sits is sheer-sided and there is no surviving sign of a former land-bridge connecting it to the larger island. Its top slopes down from ESE (adjacent Stroma) to WNW, and the remains of the structure are on the higher, eastern, end.

They consist of a length of drystone (or possibly clay-bonded) masonry running along the SE side of the cliff edge, with a shorter stretch at right angles on the NE side. The latter stands up to 1.5m high. The NW and SW sides of the stack, which are more exposed to the open sea, are grassed over and do not show any masonry. If the structure's plan was ever a complete rectangle, it would have measured about 5m NW-SE by 8m externally.

The exact nature, purpose and date of this monument are impossible to define with precision, but its extremely exposed location suggests some dedicated or desparate purpose. It may be a later prehistoric fort or an early ecclesiastical establishment, perhaps a hermitage, but it is most probably an unrecorded minor medieval fortification. There is no known associated tradition or history.

The area to be scheduled consists of the entire top of the stack, an irregular sloping area of ground about 30m NW-SE by 15m, to include the remains described and an area to seaward of them in which associated remains are likely to survive. The area is marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as an unexplained but potentially important survival of human use of a remarkably exposed location. It is most probably a cliff-castle in the Norse-medieval tradition of the Northern and Western Isle, but this identification is by no means certain.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as ND 37 NW 0003.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

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