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Latitude: 58.4959 / 58°29'45"N
Longitude: -4.3401 / 4°20'24"W
OS Eastings: 263705
OS Northings: 958787
OS Grid: NC637587
Mapcode National: GBR H6N8.GPW
Mapcode Global: WH388.9QHB
Entry Name: Stone rows, 665m S of road junction of A836 and minor road to Skerray
Scheduled Date: 16 November 2022
Source: Historic Environment Scotland
Source ID: SM13762
Schedule Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: North, West and Central Sutherland
Traditional County: Sutherland
The monument comprises a setting of multiple stone rows in peat and heather moorland at around 90m above sea level Bronze Age (around 2500BC – 800BC). The setting comprises at least 15 roughly parallel rows of edge-set slabs spread over a slightly dished area of about 29m from north to south by 27m east-west. The rows lie between 1m and 1.5m apart, with the longest visible row of six stones extending for 16m in a line from north northwest to south southeast. This setting of multiple stone rows is in an area of peat and heather moorland about 1.4km east of Dallcharn and 500m southeast of the A836 road.
The setting is located on a rounded knoll with a generally south facing aspect overlooking an area of peat cutting, the edge of which lies 17m to the south but only 8m at the west-northwest, where a small cutting has encroached upon the knoll. The visible remains are obscured by well-established heather and peat at least 0.5m in depth. The edge-set slabs, of which 33 are visible (although 56 are recorded), are generally aligned with the direction of the rows, though some are square or triangular on plan. The largest slabs measure up to 0.6m in length, 0.4m in width and up to 0.4m in height.
The scheduled area is circular, measuring 50m in diameter centred on grid reference NC 63705 58787. It includes the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.
Source: Historic Environment Scotland
The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s) (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17):
a. The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past or has the potential to do so particularly the design and construction of stone rows in Caithness and Sutherland and the landscape context of these monuments.
b. The monument retains structural or other physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past as a setting of stone rows dating to the Bronze Age (2,500 – 800BC). Study of the form, layout and construction techniques has the potential to increase our understanding of this monument and other similar monuments.
c. The monument is a rare example of a setting of stone rows, one of only around 100 known from Scotland.
d. The monument is a particularly good example of a setting of stone rows and is therefore an important representative of this monument type.
e. The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past as prehistoric stone row, one of a suite of monument types from the Bronze Age. Study of these monuments in relation to each other and their landscape context has the potential to increase our understanding of prehistoric social and religious life.
f. The monument makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the historic landscape by increasing our understanding of the distribution of stone rows in northern Scotland - this monument is now the westernmost setting of stone rows. Its location on a prominent knoll has similarities with other stone rows and study of them together can increase our understanding of the spatial location, layout and form of these monuments.
Assessment of Cultural Significance
This statement of national importance has been informed by the following assessment of cultural significance:
Intrinsic characteristics (how the remains of a site or place contribute to our knowledge of the past)
The monument is a setting of multiple stone rows situated on a prominent knoll in peat and heather moorland. The monument was surveyed by Historic Environment Scotland in 2022, and at that time 33 stones were visible but other stones may be hidden by heather and peat. An unpublished survey of the monument suggests that it is formed of at least 56 stones although again still more may be buried in the peat (Graham 2021). The surveyed setting comprises at least 15 roughly parallel rows of edge-set slabs spread over a slightly dished area of about 29m from north to south by 27m transversely. The rows are between 1m and 1.5m apart. The longest visible row of six stones extends for 16m in a line from north-northwest to south-southeast. The stones are generally aligned with the rows, though some are square or triangular on plan. The largest measures up to 0.6m in length, 0.4m in width and up to 0.4m in height.
The stone rows of northern Scotland share several characteristics: they consist of small, unworked stones that generally stand less than 0.5m in height, are upright, in rough lines and are generally orientated so that they align lengthwise on the row's axis. Some stone rows appear to have a cairn, prehistoric burial or a high point as a focus for one end of the setting. There is no certain evidence of either at this monument, however, it is overlooked to the north by higher land and this may have played a role in selecting this location.
The remains of the stone row can help us understand more about possible ritual practice, the construction, use and abandonment of this monument type. Because of the overlying heather and peat, there is good potential for the survival of additional buried stones. Archaeological deposits, including artefacts such as pottery, and environmental remains such as charcoal or pollen are also likely to survive within, beneath and around the intact elements of the monument.
Scientific dating from another stone row, Battle Moss stone row (scheduled monument SM5061), indicates that such monuments date from the Bronze Age (2500 to 800BC). The archaeological investigations at Battle Moss indicated the site was constructed over a period of time with stones gradually added to the site. The function of these sites is not well understood. Scientific investigation of this site could allow us to develop a better understanding of its chronology, including when it was constructed, its state of completeness and any possible development sequence.
Contextual characteristics (how a site or place relates to its surroundings and/or to our existing knowledge of the past)
Stone rows are found primarily in northern Scotland and the Hebridean Isles. The National Record of the Historic Environment records 38 examples of prehistoric stone rows mainly in the Highland region, and all but seven of these are in Caithness and Sutherland. There are two recorded stone rows within 5km to the east of this monument: Borgie Bridge (Canmore ID 5745) and Dail na Drochaide (Canmore ID 6237). Some stone rows previously identified have not been located in recent years, for example Upper Dounreay (Canmore ID 7852) and Duim Na Ceud (Canmore ID 7885), while Allt Breac (Canmore ID 7036) near Helmsdale has been largely destroyed by road building. This monument is therefore significant as a complex, upstanding, well-preserved example with numerous stones still in their original locations.
The stone rows sit on a pronounced knoll on gently sloping moorland with extensive views to the south but overlooked by higher ground to the north. Other stone rows, such as at Borlum (Canmore ID 91620) or Learable Hill (scheduled monument SM1803) are located in a similar topographic setting suggesting that the landscape setting was important.
Many of the stone rows are also located in areas with broadly contemporary domestic and agricultural monuments such as field systems, clearance cairns and hut circles such as Broughwhin, cairn and stone row (scheduled monument SM429) and Kinbrace (Canmore ID 6760). This suggests that these monuments may have been a part of wider Bronze Age landscape of occupation, agriculture and ceremony. There is potential to study such sites together to understand their functions within the wider landscape and has the potential to enhance and broaden our understanding of prehistoric life in the area. local communities and possible chronological development in the area. They offer the potential to study ritual practices and draw comparisons with evidence from other prehistoric monuments around the locality and more widely in Caithness and Sutherland.
Associative characteristics (how a site or place relates to people, events, and/or historic and social movements)
There are no known associative characteristics that contribute to this monument's national importance.
Source: Historic Environment Scotland
Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number CANMORE ID 371240 (accessed on 29/07/2022).
Baines and Brophy, A and K. (2006) Battle Moss, Highland (Wick parish), excavation', Discovery Excav Scot, vol. 7, 2006. Dorchester. Page 103.
Baines, Brophy and Pannett, A, K and A. (2003) Yarrows Landscape Project/Battle Moss Stone Rows (Wick parish), multiple stone rows; kerb cairn; lithic scatter', Discovery Excav Scot, vol. 4, 2003. Pages 94-5.
Barber and Heald, J and A. (2015). Caithness Archaeology: Aspects of Prehistory.
Whittles Publishing, Dunbeath.
Burl, A. (1993). From Carnac to Callanish: The Prehistoric Stone Rows and Avenues
of Britain, Ireland and Brittany. Vale University Press, London.
Carnes, A (2014). The Evolution of Neolithic and Bronze Age Landscapes from Danubian Longhouses to the Stone Rows of Dartmoor and Northern Scotland. Archaeopress, Oxford.
Davis, A. (1986). 'The Metrology of Stone Rows: A Reassessment'. Glasgow
Archaeological Journal, volume 13. Pages 44-53.
Freer and Myatt, R and L J. (1982-5). 'The multiple stone rows of Caithness and
Sutherland: Volumes 1-4'. Caithness Field Club Bulletin.
Graham, S (2021). Unpublished field survey.
Brophy K (2020). Megalithic overkill - Rethinking the multiple stone rows of Caithness and Sutherland (accessed 15/09/2022): Megalithic overkill - Rethinking the multiple stone rows of Caithness and Sutherland - YouTube
Caithness: Battlemoss Excavation http://www.caithness.org/history/archaeology/battlemoss/battlemossbackground.htm (accessed 15/09/2022).
Scottish Archaeological Framework. Highland Archaeological Research Framework; The Stone Rows of Caithness and Sutherland (accessed 17/08/2022). 6.6.4 The Stone Rows of Caithness and Sutherland – The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (scarf.scot)
Source: Historic Environment Scotland
Other nearby scheduled monuments