Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Skail, homestead

A Scheduled Monument in North, West and Central Sutherland, Highland

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Latitude: 58.3965 / 58°23'47"N

Longitude: -4.2025 / 4°12'9"W

OS Eastings: 271363

OS Northings: 947452

OS Grid: NC713474

Mapcode National: GBR H6ZJ.RQL

Mapcode Global: WH4B1.F710

Entry Name: Skail, homestead

Scheduled Date: 6 March 2003

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM10501

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: homestead

Location: Farr

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: North, West and Central Sutherland

Traditional County: Sutherland


The monument comprises a prehistoric homestead, visible today as a substantial turf-covered earthwork. The monument is situated on the NE slope of a steep valley, some 300m W of the River Naver and about 700m N of the hotel at Skail. The site sits at about 50m OD and has commanding views to the N, S and E overlooking Strath Naver.

This small defended settlement occupies the summit of a steep-sided spur connected to the hill-slope to the W by a narrow saddle. It comprises the scant remains of an encircling wall, which surrounds a sub-oval fairly level area measuring c.20m NW-SE by 15m NE-SW with a slight counterscarp 0.3m high on the W arc.

This once-substantial stone wall has been robbed away but may represent the base of what was originally a thick-walled roundhouse; alternatively, this wall may have enclosed an area containing smaller buildings.

On the W side, across the saddle at the only practical point of access, is a substantial defensive ditch, 1.2m deep and up to 9m wide. The entrance was most probably located on the SW side. A gully extending into the summit area from the SE may be a later feature.

The monument appears to date to the later Iron Age, from around the time of Christ up to about 500 AD. Previously classified as a possible broch, more recent research suggests that it is more accurately described as a homestead.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found. It is circular in plan with a diameter of 60m, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to contribute to an understanding of prehistoric settlement and economy. Its archaeological potential is significant given its good state of preservation and its importance is increased by its proximity to other monuments of broadly contemporary date in the general vicinity.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NC74NW 20.


McCullagh R P J and Tipping R (1998) THE LAIRG PROJECT: THE EVOLUTION OF AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE IN NORTHERN SCOTLAND 1988-1996, STAR Monograph Series No. 3, Edinburgh, 67-72, fig. 119.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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