Ancient Monuments

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Struidh, enclosure and underground chamber north east of Sron na h-Iolaire

A Scheduled Monument in Caol and Mallaig, Highland

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Latitude: 56.9323 / 56°55'56"N

Longitude: -6.1224 / 6°7'20"W

OS Eastings: 149294

OS Northings: 789897

OS Grid: NM492898

Mapcode National: GBR CB8D.GFC

Mapcode Global: WGZBL.X0QZ

Entry Name: Struidh, enclosure and underground chamber NE of Sron na h-Iolaire

Scheduled Date: 23 February 2004

Last Amended: 24 February 2005

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM10992

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: enclosure (domestic or defensive)

Location: Small Isles

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Caol and Mallaig

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument comprises a small circular building and an underground chamber, both probably of prehistoric origin although used at later periods. It may have been associated with unknown prehistoric ritual activities. The monument was scheduled in 2004, but there was an error in the location of the scheduled area depicted on the map; the present scheduling rectifies this.

The monument is almost hidden on a partly vegetated slope of large boulders, some of them house-sized, which have fallen from high cliffs to the W. A grassy platform of smaller stones forms a level area on which stands a roughly circular stone-built enclosure, 5.3m by 6.3m internally within walls up to 1.7m thick and 1.0m high. It is not apparent if this was a roofed structure or not. A narrow entrance on the NE is flanked by two larger stones in the outer wall face, and the grassy platform is widest at this point, extending 4m beyond the outer wall. In the SW part of the interior is a sunken entrance to an underground chamber which has been excavated among the boulders. There are no signs of a stone stairway down into this entrance, which is lined with drystone masonry, standing up to 4 courses high on the NW side, and gives access to a large, low space roofed almost entirely by a single huge block. This space measures approximately 5.7m from E-W and up to 2.2m across. The highest roof clearance is on the N side, at 1.4m, from which the roofing slab slopes down towards the SE. The narrow W end of the space has been walled off, and there are signs that the void continues beyond.

On the cliffs directly above the site a prominent rib of basaltic rock has the Gaelic name Sron na h-Iolaire - the eagle's ridge or beak - and would have provided an excellent marker for anyone approaching by sea. Although hidden, the site is not hard to locate once its existence is known.

The area to be scheduled is circular, 55m across and centred on the middle of the circular enclosure, to include the enclosure, the platform on which it stands, the underground chamber and an area around them in which evidence relating to their construction and use is likely to survive. The area is marked in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a possible prehistoric ritual site with no exact parallels. The combination of circular dwelling and part-natural cave is known elsewhere (notably at Usinish in South Uist), but there the circular structure is much larger and more apparently residential. The monument thus has the potential to provide important information about prehistoric ritual use of "hidden places", a loose theme which links souterrains and a variety of other underground structures of uncertain function.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NM48NE 58.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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