Excavations at the early and later medieval site of Ballachly, Dunbeath, Caithness, 2007-10

Lloyd Laing (Author)

Edward Oakley (Author)

Anne E Sassin (Author)

Imogen Tompsett (Author)

Industrial, Ditch, Boundary Enclosure, Flooding, Cobbled Possible Working, Ironworking, Stone Wall, Stone Building, Stonewalled Enclosure
Medieval, Norse, 1624, Post Medieval


Excavation and field survey at Ballachly, Dunbeath, Caithness in 2007-10 produced evidence which suggests the existence of a possible early medieval and later Norse site centred around the hillock known as Chapel Hill, on top of which is located an, as of yet, indeterminate unicameral stone building. The site, already known for its Early Christian inscribed stones, lay within a substantial stone-walled enclosure of late medieval to early post-medieval date possibly constructed to enclose an undeveloped burgh of barony, thought to be Magnusburgh, which was reported to have been licenced in 1624. Although most of the enclosed area did not yield evidence of occupation, two separate areas at the base of the hillock produced evidence for medieval industrial activity, including ironworking and a cobbled possible working surface. This activity post-dated a palaeo-channel, possible reused as a ditch, and substantial stone wall, forming a possible boundary enclosure, whose lower-lying area has since been heavily disturbed by flooding and subsequent agricultural activity. Evidence of the site's association with an early monastery was not substantiated, though the site's character still suggests a former centre of some importance.


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How to Cite
Laing, L., Oakley, E., Sassin, A., & Tompsett, I. (2014). Excavations at the early and later medieval site of Ballachly, Dunbeath, Caithness, 2007-10. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 143, 265-302. https://doi.org/10.9750/PSAS.143.265.302