Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Achalipster, deserted settlement and souterrain

A Scheduled Monument in Wick and East Caithness, Highland

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »
Street or Overhead View
Contributor Photos »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 58.4237 / 58°25'25"N

Longitude: -3.2992 / 3°17'57"W

OS Eastings: 324215

OS Northings: 949111

OS Grid: ND242491

Mapcode National: GBR L66G.KFM

Mapcode Global: WH6DK.9J6M

Entry Name: Achalipster, deserted settlement and souterrain

Scheduled Date: 7 July 1975

Last Amended: 10 May 2016

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3666

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: souterrain, earth-house; Secular: kiln

Location: Watten

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Wick and East Caithness

Traditional County: Caithness


The monument is a deserted agricultural settlement with a prehistoric souterrain, a stone-lined subterranean chamber or passage, located partially below the buildings. The monument is located on the north facing slope of Hill of Achalipster, approximately 500 m east of Strath Burn and lies at 95 m above sea level.

The settlement consists of two rows of stone buildings surviving to wallhead height in places, likely to date to the 19th century but perhaps built upon an earlier settlement.  At the east end of the eastern row stands a kiln barn; a building used to dry and store cereal. The barn is open to the stone-built circular kiln and contains features such as steps leading to the kiln drying platform, the kiln fire box and flue and an alcoved area for storing dried cereal. Further buildings adjoin the kiln barn and run to the west where a small yard links to the western row of buildings. Underlying the central building of the eastern row is the remains of a souterrain, generally understood to have been used for storage purposes. Likely to date to the middle to late Iron Age (500 BC-500AD), the curving underground structure is visible on the surface  as a depression  and exposed stone lintels. Northwest of the two rows of buildings, an enclosure, marked by low earthworks and stone and turf walls, indicates the area of the infield used for growing crops as well as for livestock corralling.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular polygon, to include the remains described above and an area in which evidence for their construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the attached map. The scheduling excludes the post-and-wire fences and field drains to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because it is a distinctive example of an agricultural settlement with 19th-century structures and related remains. It is a well-preserved site with upstanding remains and distinctive features . Particularly notable is the kiln barn with firebox, flue, integral steps to the drying platform and a storage alcove. Other well preserved aspects of the site include agricultural storage structures with internal stone partitions and evidence for cruck frame supports as well as a domestic building with an open fireplace. Beneath the 19th-century settlement there is evidence of an Iron Age souterrain indicating a potentially extended development sequence for the site. The monument has the potential to inform research into the development of agricultural settlements and practices of the time. Its loss would significantly detract from our ability to understand this monument type and interpret the contemporary economy and society that lived and worked in them, both in the Highlands and throughout Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE IDs 8683, 8684 and 86657 (accessed on 05/05/2016). (Roy Military Survey of Scotland, 1747-55, Highlands maps. Webpage accessed on 27/01/2016)

Coleman and Hunter, R and F (2002). The excavation of a souterrain at Shanzie Farm, Alyth, Perthhsire , Tayside and Fife Archaeological Journal, vol. 8. Pages: 77-101.

Dixon, P (2011). Of bannocks and Ale: cereal processing in Scotland, c. 1100-1750 , Ruralia, vol. 8, 2011. Pages: 155-172.

Hay and Stell, G D and G P (1986). Monuments of Industry, Edinburgh.

Miket, R (2002). The souterrains of Skye . In Ballin Smith and Banks, B and I In the Shadow of the Brochs: The Iron Age In Scotland. Stroud, Tempus Publishing.

Mudie, G (2007). Excavations on the site of a late Iron Age roundhouse and souterrain, Glen Cloy , Scottish Archaeological Journal, vol. 29. Pages: 1-29.

Stell, G (1981). Crucks in Scotland: a provisional list , BAR, vol. 42. Page: 84.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.