Archaeological research in Caithness has, to date, tended to focus on later prehistory (e.g. Iron Age) and historic (e.g. medieval and later) periods and where investigation of earlier prehistory has been carried out this has focused on the chambered cairns of the county. However, recent LiDAR survey has shown that these visible remains are simply the tip of the iceberg, and has identified extensive and previously unrecorded traces of prehistoric settlement and agriculture in a previously unrecognised component of the Caithness landscape. The unrecorded archaeological remains include traces of what can be termed the Hut-circle Landscape, usually made up of Bronze and Iron Age settlement and subsequent veneers of Late Iron Age and later occupations and land-use. The only hut-circle excavated in Caithness, lying in the Caithness hinterland around Loch Shurrery, dates from the 4th century BC (further information here). However, significant clusters of agricultural remains and associated structures surrounding chambered cairns would suggest the possibility of domestic activity relating to the period of their use, in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. As such, this project offers the opportunity to investigate the daily lives of the people who built some of prehistoric Europe’s most sophisticated burial chambers.

Hut Circle

This hut circle, on the Yarrows Archaeological Trail, is one of the best-preserved examples in Caithness.