Scheduled Monument

Dirlot, stone rows 550m SW ofSM446

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Prehistoric ritual and funerary: stone rows
Local Authority
ND 12290 48574
312290, 948574


The monument comprises a set of stone rows, settings of small stones of a type almost unique to Caithness and of prehistoric date but unknown purpose. The stone rows were first scheduled in 1939, but the original scheduling map did not accurately or adequately depict the area of archaeological importance. This re-scheduling proposal extends the protected area to cover the whole area of importance.

There are thirteen or fourteen rows of small upright stones in heather moorland some 300m WSW of the graveyard at Dirlot. The rows radiate outwards slightly to the ESE from a large and a small mound, which may be heather-covered cairns. Each row has several stones fallen or missing, but the overall pattern is clear. The heathery vegetation has masked many of the stones, but the more southerly group of rows appears to be the better preserved. The length of the longest row has been about 35m.

Such radiating alignments, running down gentle slopes with an eastward outlook, are typical of Caithness stone rows. Stone rows are generally classed as ritual monuments, although their precise purpose is unknown. Their relationship to the formation of peat cover and to other monument types in the vicinity has led to their being ascribed a prehistoric, possibly Bronze Age, date (perhaps in the second millennium BC).

The area now to be scheduled is irregular in shape, measuring a maximum of 66m SSW-NNE by 70m transversely, to include all of the rows and the two possible cairns, as well as an area around them in which further remains are likely to survive.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as a good example of a set of stone rows, of a type almost unique to Caithness. Such monuments are of prehistoric date but unknown purpose. This site has the potential to provide important information contributing to an eventual understanding of prehistoric ritual activity, specifically, the function of these enigmatic monuments.



RCAHMS number is ND 14 NW 6.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 26/05/2024 22:34