Sgealtrabhal (Skeal Traval)

Looking north along the row.

Location

Scotland North Uist Western Isles NF 85383 70672
Lat 57.61595853    Long -7.27114006

 

Plan of Sgealtrabhal stone row (Source: GPS survey by Sandy Gerrard).

The northern slope of Sgealtrabhal and long cairn at NF 85679 72046.

Characteristics

Type: Single Length: 79m
No. of stones: 4 Size of stones: Only large
Orientation: 145° Altitude: 85m
Upper end: Cairn Lower end: –
Straight (Yes or No)  : No Sea View: Yes
Context:  Cairn
Notes:

Other Information

Public Access:  Yes
Land Status:
Scheduled Ancient Monument: No

Identification

Category: Probable. There are certainly four stones forming a line leading towards a cairn. The northern stone maybe a natural erratic but the other three had clearly been set on edge. Other stones identified by Curtis and Ponting and described by them as possible are considered not to form part of the alignment because they are similar in form to the natural outcroping stones in the vicinity.


Individual Stones

Plan of Sgealtrabhal stone row showing the numbered stones.

Stone 1

Measures 1m by 1m and is 0.5m high.

Stone 1 view from north east (Scale 1m). 

Stones 1 – 3. View from the north (Scale 1m).

Stone 2

Measures 1.87m long by 1.48m wide by 0.27m thick and is orientated at 34°. The stone is resting on a number of displaced packed stones which in turn are sitting on bedrock. One packing stone remains in situ and measures 1.07m long by 0.44m wide and 0.25m high. The packing is orientated at 143°.

Stone 2 View from east. The ranging rod is standing in front of the in situ packing stone and the fallen slab lies to the left (Scale 1m).

Stone 2 View from west. The stones under the fallen slab are clearly visible from this angle (Scale 1m).

Stone 3

Recumbent slab measuring 1.12m long by 0.9m wide orientated at 80°.

Stone 3 View from west (Scale 1m).

Stone 3 View from east (Scale 1m).

Stone 4

Partly buried recumbent slab. The visible part measures 1.18m long by 0.47m wide and is orientated at 148°.

Stone 4 View from west (Scale 1m).

Stone 4 View from north with terminal cairn visible on the near skyline (Scale 1m).

Terminal Cairn

The cairn at the southern end of the row is flat topped measures 12m in diameter and stands up to 0.4m high. View from south (Scale 1m).

Curtis and Ponting Stones

Two stones described as possibly forming part of the stone row were identified during fieldwork but are considered much more likely to be natural. Photographs of these stones are shown below. Lettering adopted refers to the Canmore description.

Stone A [NF 85394 70652] measures 1.2m long by 0.61m wide and is orientated at 84°. View from north (Scale 1m).

Stones D [NF 85345 70731] View from the north (Scale 1m). These stones are largely buried and are a few metres off alignment. There is insufficient evidence to support the idea that they form part of the stone row. 

St Kilda

There are framed views of St Kilda from this row.  It is possible that the row was positioned to incorporate these.

 

View from Stone 1 towards St Kilda. Beinn Scolpaig in the foreground neatly separates Hirta on the left from Boraraigh on the right. It is perhaps also significant that Hirta sits behind Hasgeir Eagach and Boraraigh behind Eilean Hasgeir. The symmetry of this suggests deliberation.

View from Stone 2. As you walk south up the row the relative positions of the St Kilda islands shift slightly. 

View from Stone 3. St Kilda remains framed by the foreground landscape features.

View from Stone 4. This type of visual treat feels deliberate, but is likely to be only one reason why the row was placed in this precise location.

Long Cairn

The long cairn at NF 85684 72046 is clearly visible from the row. This cairn is likely to have been broadly contemporary with the row.

Access Information

This is not an easy stone row to get to. As well as a decent map, stout footwear is a must. Progress is likely to be slow and it is a good idea to allocate a whole day and enjoy the amazing if somewhat arduous landscape that you will inevitably encounter.  Parking is available at NF 84842 73473. From here walk uphill to the fence at around NF 85127 73333.  Follow the fence until around NF 85794 72488 and then head towards the long cairn at NF 85684 72046. This cairn is well worth visiting and may offer an opportunity for a break before continuing towards Sgealtrabhal. Taking care to avoid the lochans you will arrive at a deep ditch which needs to be carefully crossed. From here head towards the summit.  This row should only be visited when the visibility is good.

Online Resources 

Megalithic Portal     Canmore     Historic Environment Record

Other References

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. 223.

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