Scheduled Monument

Dirlot, stone rows 550m SW ofSM446

Status: Designated


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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 the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments of national importance using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The additional information in the scheduled monument record gives an indication of the national importance of the monument(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the monument(s). The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief and some information will not have been recorded. 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

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Printed: 17/10/2018 06:35