Curle’s (1939) excavations at Freswick in the 1930s and Childe’s in the 1940s provide the best published example of Norse buildings in the Highlands, although the stratigraphy is complex, with evidence of rebuilding. Batey (1982; 1987) has reanalysed the material and records from these excavations. One of the buildings was constructed of stone walls with earth cores, with a long hearth, another appears to have been aisled. Deep midden deposits survive, and further survey and excavation by Colleen Batey and Chris Morris elsewhere on the links provided evidence of activity if not buildings in this period (Curle 1939; Morris et al 1995, 268ff; Graham-Campbell and Batey 1998, 196ff; Case Study Freswick Links).
At Brotchie’s Steading, Caithness, the deep stratigraphic occupation layers shows activity in 13th or 14th century, but there are no associated structures. On top of this occupation layer the first walls of a stone croft house were excavated. This is the first of four phases of rebuilding on the site, but it not certain if the earliest stone building dates to the medieval period or later (Holden et al 2008, 276, 289; Case Study Brotchie’s Steading).
The excavations at Borralie, northwest Sutherland also found structural evidence but final excavation reports with details are still awaited. The sites were chosen after a detailed survey of the area, combined with information of finds collected over the years, which suggested potential wealthy settlements at this period. Two bow-sided buildings were excavated, one underlying later 18th century buildings. Deep midden deposits with fish and animal bones were uncovered, as well as some pottery (MHG48619; Lelong and Gazin-Swartz 2006).
Nearby, the Smoo cave complex certainly had activity in the early medieval period and early centuries of the medieval period. This does not appear to have been full time occupation (there was little pottery or other domestic artefacts), but perhaps a base for fishing trips or even specialised use. There were boat rivets found, but they may have come from boat timbers used for firewood. Grain processing was occurring in the caves in the later Norse period, suggesting this may represent a staging point for nearby settlement (Pollard 2005, 44-45).
|Freswick||C||Structures by artefacts. Midden dates 11th-14th century||Extensive environmental evidence||Curle 1939; Morris et al 1995, 268ff;Graham-Campbell & Batey 1998, 196ff; Case Study: Freswick Links|
|Dunnet||C||artefacts||Midden and walls||MHG22344; Pollard 1996a|
|Roberts Haven||C||artefacts||Midden. Unstratified building nearby. Large quantities of fish bones||MHG1734; Morris et al 1994; Simpson and Barrett 1996|
|Brotchie’s Steading||C||AD 1220-1390||Deep occupation layer with Medieval redware.||MHG46260; Holden et al 2008; Case Study; Brotchies Steading|
|Ballachly||C||AD 1010-1160 |
|Possible building activity at chapel site||MHG1145; Laing et al 2013, 296-7. SUERC-21062; SUERC-21063|
|Kilearnan Hill||S||AD 1300-1490||Hearth built on prehistoric burnt mound. No obvious structure||MHG9986; McIntyre 1998; SUERC-1915|
|Glassknapper Cave||NWS||AD 890-1160||Cave, with midden material. Nearby Smoo cave also possibly with layers dating to medieval period||MHG29934; Pollard 2005; OxA-8210|
|Sangobeg||NWS||Pottery||Stone walling, hearth eroding from dunes, midden, fish bones. Overlies Iron Age burial||MHG29877; Brady et al 2007|
|Borralie||NWS||Pottery||Excavation of two bow-sided buildings with middens||MHG48619; Lelong & Gazin-Schwartz 2006|
For full details of dates, see Datasheet 2.1