This walk led by Gordon Wilson on 21
October 2001 shows the many interesting archaeological and historical
features of this part of Caithness. Unfortunately Gordon died in
March 2002 but he left an indelible impression in the minds of those he
took out on his walks for Caithness field club, Rangers and other
organisations. He delved into many books, collected and checked
old maps and chased down facts and then tested his own theories on those
out for the day with him.
the car at the steps and cross over the A99. You will need a map
or the services of someone who knows the area. But many of the features
are quite easy to find although Gordon's explanations will be sadly
This list shows some of the places that
Gordon packed into the walk. Take a packed lunch and wear
good shoes or boots. Warm clothes and waterproofs essential but
you never know it might be a sunny day. This is a great chance to
see a huge number of places in this area that is more and more being
recognised as unique in the range and diversity historic and prehistoric
Dam and waterways to mill
Early Lime Kiln
Ruined cairn - burial?
Cairn of Get - horned?
Chambered cairn - unexcavated
Bronze Age cist
Garrywhin Fort - Cattle Stockade?
Hut Circles (Stone Age)
Cairn (Bronze Age)
Standing Stones - part of Stockade?
Cairn and stone rows - fan shaped
Two cists in cairn
Cairn and Stone Rows - also fan shaped
Hut Circles (Iron Age)
Dun (Bronze Age)
Lime kiln - recent
Chambered Cairn - ruin
Hut Circle (Bronze Age)
Pre - clearance Settlement
Quarry with possible pier for loading rafts
Archaeology Walk Questions and a few
thoughts from Gordon Wilson
Melted water from the Ice Age appears to have played a role in
fashioning the rugged ridge and valley landscape.
Loch Watenan lies in a rock basin whose size was probably increased by
These areas have clusters of Chambered Cairns, Stone Rows, Standing
Stones and Burial Cists.
Most have been excavated by Rhind 1853 - Anderson 1865. No records
remain of their excavations.
NEOLITHIC PERIOD 8000 - 4000BC
What purpose did they serve?
Why did some have horns added?
Were Long Cairns the result of Round Cairns being added to? - Many built
on hillsides have the tail lying 10% off their true line.
Were they cleared out and refurbished over the years?
What was buried - all or parts - just bones?
For how long were they in use and how often were they cleared out?
When was it decided to end the use of burial chambers?
Why have many been found sealed but by no means full?
Why were some completed but not used?
Bronze Age Burial Cists were often placed in the length of the cairn.
Standing Stones (Neolithic)
What was their purpose?
Some appear higher above ground because of diggers looking for buried
treasure beneath them.
Stone Rows (Neolithic)
Parallel rows and Fan Shaped rows
Many up to 60 metres long - some with tall stones -others with small
stones - Were they of religious basis or some kind of calendar?
Small round with no horns.
First recorded in 1851 by smart and was fairly well preserved.
although the roof had fallen in - it was in fact similar to the Cairn of
No records remain. There were later excavations by Rhind and Anderson in
It had been roofed by large lintels - two inner compartments were
discovered but were disturbed by debris from fallen roof.
Finds - Traces of two skeletons lying in dark soil. There were also
appreciable remains of burnt bones, broken pottery and wood ash.
No records remain today.
The site was visited by Nicolson in the 1900ís. No records of new
Bronze Age Hut Circles appear on the
Hill Fort and at several other
areas. Also more noticeable Iron Age Hut Circles with portal stones
Two Iron Age Brochs - both ruinous but with their shapes quite obvious.
A Pre-Clearance Settlement to the east of Loch Watenan lies in deep
Clearance Settlements can be seen on the final walk back.