Atlantic roundhouse

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View from inside the remains of the complex Atlantic roundhouse at Feranach, Sutherland

In archaeology, an Atlantic roundhouse is an Iron Age stone building found in the northern and western parts of mainland Scotland, the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Circular houses were the predominant architectural style of the British and Scottish landscape since second millennia BC (Early Bronze Age). Although many of these roundhouses have not survived, it is ascertained they were based on wattle-and daub walls with thatched conical roof.[1]

In 1970, archaeologist Chris Musson estimated that there were 200 certified roundhouses in Scotland and Britain. A United Kingdom based archaeology group today estimates that there are over 4000 roundhouses. The first documented roundhouse was founded in the 3rd millennium BC in South-West Scotland. The Bronze Age people were known to adapt the leveled upland landscapes situated in hillsides.[2]

Types of structure[edit]

A form of dry-stone Iron Age dwelling, they are unique to the region, and are subdivided by the archaeologists into two broad types - simple and complex. According to this theory they marked a movement away from the earlier externally unprepossessing types of dwelling, such as those at Skara Brae, towards structures which were more dominating features in the landscape.

An example of a simple Atlantic roundhouse is at Bu in Orkney, while complex structures include the brochs, duns and wheelhouses.

Although constructed out of stone, they are thought to have had a conical wooden roof similar to that of the timber roundhouses found elsewhere.

Examples can be found at Dun Ringill on Skye, Dun Carloway on Lewis, Pierowall on Westray and Jarlshof in Shetland.

Modern reconstruction[edit]

Dunvegan Community Trust plan to re-create an Iron Age roundhouse structure at Orbost on Skye with the help of National Lottery funding.[3]

The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland undertook a project to reexamine the Atlantic roundhouses of the Tarbat Peninsula, Easter Ross by taking kite photographs of the sites, surveys, and excavation led by archaeologists. The reconstructions show spherical enclosures famous for the roundhouses with early Iron Age turf and timber roundhouse.[4]

See also[edit]

In Scotland



  1. ^ "Brochs.The Roundhouse Tradition". Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  2. ^ CA (2008-08-26). "Roundhouses". Current Archaeology. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  3. ^ "Dunvegan seeks to rebuild a bit of ancient history " Archived September 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. (10 September 2008) Local People Leading. Retrieved 10 September 2008.
  4. ^ "Bringing landscapes alive: The Atlantic Roundhouses of the Tarbat Peninsula | Society of Antiquaries of Scotland". Retrieved 2020-09-15.

External links[edit]