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Learable Hill,stone rows,circles,cross-marked stone & settlements

A Scheduled Monument in East Sutherland and Edderton, Highland

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Latitude: 58.1893 / 58°11'21"N

Longitude: -3.8858 / 3°53'8"W

OS Eastings: 289224

OS Northings: 923827

OS Grid: NC892238

Mapcode National: GBR J7S2.LRC

Mapcode Global: WH4C5.8FVB

Entry Name: Learable Hill,stone rows,circles,cross-marked stone & settlements

Scheduled Date: 18 December 1934

Last Amended: 30 September 1997

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1803

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: cross-incised stone; Prehistoric ritual and funerary: stone rows; Secular

Location: Kildonan

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: East Sutherland and Edderton

Traditional County: Sutherland


The monument consists of 4 groups of stones arranged upright in rows, 2 stone circles, a cross-marked stone, 4 hut circles and the deserted township of Learable. One of the stone circles and the cross-marked stone were first scheduled in 1934, but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains on the hillside: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The stone rows are situated on the SE spur of Learable Hill. None of the rows appears to be complete and many of the stones are buried by the peat. The southernmost group consists of 6 rows of stones c.22m in length, set in a fan-shaped arrangement with the apex of the fan to the NNW pointing to the brow of the spur. The second group comprises 3 parallel rows of stones aligned WNW-ESE and measuring c.12m in length. To the S of this group are 2 parallel rows of stones, aligned E-W and measuring c.38m in length. They are accompanied to the NE by 3 shorter rows of stones.

A cross-marked stone stands on the SE spur of Learable Hill. It is c.1.6m high and c.1m in breadth. It faces E-W and has a plain Latin cross inscribed on its upper W face.

An elliptical stone circle lies on level ground c.90m WNW of the cross- marked stone. The circle is made up of 7 stones, none higher than 0.5m, and there is at least one recumbent stone. The circle measures 20m from NE to SW by 17.5m transversely. A second stone setting. perhaps the remains of a circle, lies c.550m NNE of the one described above. It is made up of 3 boulders, one of which is decorated with cup and ring marks. Another boulder with about 16 cup marks lies c.40m SE of the circle.

A cairn lies c.30m W of the cross-marked stone. It measures c.11.8m in diameter and is c.0.8m high. This cairn was excavated in 1886 and was found to contain a cinerary urn, some jet beads and a Middle Bronze Age razor. The excavation was never back-filled and a large cap stone has been tipped into it.

Some 250mm NNW of the second stone circle and cup marked rocks lie 4 hut-circles, a field system and an extensive spread of small cairns. A number of linear clearance banks are also visible amongst the small cairns including the interrupted NE, NW and SW sides of a large sub-rectangular field which encloses an area of 110m by 110m. 3 of the hut circles lie within this field while the fourth lies by itself c.250m to the E. Towards the top of the hill there is a row of 3 drystone shooting butts running along the contour.

Some 200m W of the cross-marked stone, stone circle and stone rows lie 3 more hut circles and an associated minor field system. The field system comprises small cairns, clearance dykes and terraces.

The depopulated township of Learable lies c.300m NE of the stone rows and comprises 24 buildings with associated enclosures and 2 corn-drying kilns. It is enclosed by a ring-dyke which encompasses some 40 hectares. The first reference to the lands of 'Leryboll' is in 1548 and the settlement was cleared in 1815.

The area to be scheduled includes all of the features described above and an area around and between them in which evidence is likely to survive relating to their construction and use. Other structural remains are also likely to survive in this area, buried below the peat. The area is irregular on plan with maximum dimensions of 1170m N-S by 950m E-W as marked in red on the accompanying map extract. The boundary runs for the most part around unenclosed moorland but to the E it does follow the line of the deer fence. The water tank located near the central east edge of the area is excluded from scheduling to facilitate its maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the remains of a remarkable complex of both prehistoric and medieval or later settlement. It has the potential to provide important information about prehistoric domestic, ritual and funerary architecture and about the domestic architecture, economy and land use of medieval and later settlement in this part of the Highlands. The importance of the monument is greatly enhanced by the variety of structures contained within a compact area, allowing comparisons of constructional techniques and date ranges between classes of structure.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The sites contained within the scheduled area are recorded in the RCAHMS as NC 82 SE 3, 6, 20, 20.01, 20.02, 20.03, 20.04, 20.05, 20.06, 20.07, 20.08, 20.09, 20.10, 20.11, 20.12, 20.1316, 12, 9, 2, 5, 4, 1.


RCAHMS, (1911) Sutherland, 122-3, No. 347.

RCAHMS, (1993) Strath of Kildonan: An Archaeological Survey.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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