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West Town, five hut circles 480m WSW of

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.3623 / 57°21'44"N

Longitude: -4.2973 / 4°17'50"W

OS Eastings: 261914

OS Northings: 832540

OS Grid: NH619325

Mapcode National: GBR H9R8.B94

Mapcode Global: WH3FW.Y6VS

Entry Name: West Town, five hut circles 480m WSW of

Scheduled Date: 27 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11813

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: hut circle, roundhouse

Location: Dores

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire

Description

The monument comprises five hut circles, likely to be domestic and associated buildings dating to the Late Bronze Age or Iron Age. The hut circles, visible as interrupted sub-circular rubble walls, are located within clearings along the side of a forestry track, surrounded by a coniferous plantation. They lie at approximately 230m above sea level, S of Loch Ashie and immediately to the W of Loch Duntelchaig

The first and most northerly of this group measures 15m in diameter and is sub-rectangular with a break or possible entrance in the rubble wall in its W side. Its loose rubble wall is up to 3.5m thick (where it may have been disturbed) and approximately 0.6m high. The easternmost element of the rubble wall was not easily identified on the ground. Moving S, the second and third hut circles are located in the same clearing within 2m of a small replanting scheme. The first of these (the westernmost of the pair) is roughly circular with a larger rubble wall up to 4m wide in places, its entrance being located in the SE quadrant. The second of this pair measures 8m by approximately 12m and contains two distinct spaces: one defined by the circular rubble wall with an entrance in the SE quadrant, the second as an apparent extension to the NW and with no obvious entrance or break on the rubble wall. The rubble walls of these two hut circles survive to a height of up to 1m. The fourth and fifth southernmost hut circles are in a separate clearing and measure 12.5m and 13m in diameter respectively. Both have entrances in their SE quadrants and survive to an approximate height of 0.5m. The immediate area contains other similar building forms, but these survive in a much poorer state or are difficult to interpret on the ground.

The area to be scheduled comprises five circular areas, each centred on a separate hut circle, to include the remains described and an area around them within which evidence for related activity may be expected to be found, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's archaeological significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument consists of the well-preserved remains of five later prehistoric roundhouses or hut circles, with upstanding remains dating to the first or second millennium BC. The hut circles retain well-constructed drystone walls and entrance features with some facing stones still evident. The group contains examples of at least two building styles: the circular type with walls spread up to 4m thick and an entrance in the SE quadrant; and the oval shaped type with internal subdivision or later addition. The proximity of these individual homesteads to each other suggests a relatively dense occupation of the area during later prehistory. The position of these hut circles within clearings and cleared access routes among a maturing, commercial conifer forest has allowed for their continued survival and stability. This is despite the more recent encroachment of new plantings, in some cases within 2m of the above ground remains. Because the field characteristics, survival and current condition of these hut circles is good, the monument is likely to yield good quality information on their construction and use, as well as about the prehistoric environment that surrounded them.

Contextual characteristics: This monument has the potential to reveal much about the nature of later prehistoric life, domestic living and the relationship between small agricultural communities along this low-lying natural routeway through the Great Glen. It is, therefore, the connections to and from the homesteads and their position in this landscape, that signifies their importance as much as their field characteristics. They form a distinct local group but are part of a wider distribution of these monument types across the highlands. Along with the remains of less complete hut circles, associated field and farm boundaries and burial monuments in the immediate area, this monument reflects an important sequence in the development of this part of Scotland.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it is well preserved, has marked field characteristics and it forms a representative group of later prehistoric domestic buildings with variations in their style and construction. It reflects the nature of later prehistoric Bronze- or Iron-Age settlement. The loss of this example would impede our ability to understand the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age in northern Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the monument as NH63SW 39. It is recorded in the Highland Council SMR as NH63SW0039.

References:

ISSFC 1888a, 'Excursion to Loch-Ashie and Dunlichity', TRANS INVERNESS SCI SOC FLD CLUB 2, 208.

ISSFC 1888b, 'The Lake District', TRANS INVERNESS SCI SOC FLD CLUB 1, 328.

Ross D W 1981, 'Easter Town, Dores parish, Settlement and field systems', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT, 19.

Aerial photographs:

RCAHMS, 1994 26384CN, West Town. Settlement; Field-system.

RCAHMS, 1994 C26128, West Town. Hut Circles; Field System.

Highland Regional Council, 1984 84/02/2/028. Settlement.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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