Copyright: Tom Bullock. Original available at Megalithic Portal.
A fan-shaped multiple stone row measuring 32.3m long, including at least 82 small and medium-sized stones arranged in at least 14 separate lines and situated on the eastern side of a pronounced knoll with restricted views to the west. The row is orientated ESE to WNW, points at a pair of cairns and stands in an area with another stone row and prehistoric settlement.
|Scotland||Caithness||Northern Scotland||ND 12280 48560|
|Lat 58.41665819 Long -3.503252569|
Simplified plan of Dirlot, North stone alignment. Upright stones are shown black and recumbent stones green. (Source: A. Thom). Original available here.
Simplified plan of Dirlot, North stone alignment. (Source: OS Antiquity Card). Original available here.
|Type: Multiple||Length: 32.3m|
|No. of stones: 82||Size of stones: Small and medium|
|Orientation: 112.5°||Altitude: 92m|
|Upper end: Cairns||Lower end: –|
|Straight (Yes or No) :||Sea View: No|
|Context: Stone alignment|
|Notes: 14 rows. Tallest stone is 0.52m high, but most are very much smaller.|
|Public Access: Yes|
|Scheduled Ancient Monument: Yes|
Category: Plausible. No doubts have been expressed regarding the prehistoric interpretation of this row.
View from the south showing the knoll upon which the rows were erected. The use of this locally prominent feature ensured a reveal of the cairns at the top of the slope and the landscape beyond.
This heather covered knoll provided the row builders with the canvas suitable for their purposes.
A thick covering of heather makes it very difficult to see the stones, most of which are very small.
Looking up the slope towards the top of the row. The start of the reveal is just starting to appear. View from the south (Scale 1m).
Stone peeking out from under the heather. View from the south (Scale 1m).
The dense heather makes it difficult to appreciate this site and nearly impossible to photograph.
The largest stone measures 0.52m. In common with many multiple rows the largest stones are at the lower end of the alignment.
Compared with some sites the reveals are not dramatic, but then the stone row builders would have had to work with what to hand. The knoll on which the row was built conceals views to the north west and these are revealed as the summit is reached. In this case the vista that opens up is seemingly far from spectacular, but was clearly sufficient for their purposes. The cairns on the summit are likely to have been visible at the bottom of the row, disappearing as you draw closer and finally re-appearing just before the top was reached. To compensate for the rather tame summit reveal beyond the knoll, more significance may have been placed on a third reveal which appears in the west when the summit is reached. The peak of Ben Griam Beg (NC 83171 41170) appears above the near horizon and its sudden arrival on the vista may have been of particular interest or significance to the row builders.
From the bottom of the row views to the north west are blocked by the heathery knoll.
Western of two cairns on the top of the knoll which are revelaed as you walk up the rows. View from south east (Scale 1m).
The summit of Ben Griam Beg sits like a pseudo cairn on top of the near horizon. Cairn builders may have been seeking to emulate this kind of natural “treat” and if so natural ones could have been revered.
Car parking is available at ND 11620 48154. Walk north along the public highway to ND 11825 48403. From here head across open moorland towards the row. The ground is very uneven and boggy and the utmost care should be taken. Progress is likely to be slow.
Burl, A., 1993, From Carnac to Callanish – The prehistoric rows and avenues of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press, New York and London, pg. 222.