Published December 31, 2020 | Version v2
Other Open

Kildonan – Iron Age Reconstruction


During the Iron Age the Strath of Kildonan in Sutherland was home to many small farming communities. The relatively mild climate of this period enabled the cultivation of barley, wheat, and oats, and the keeping of horses, sheep, and cattle. Although much of the land had been cleared for agriculture, areas of woodland survived (providing shelter for deer, wild boar, and wolves).

The Iron Age residents of Kildonan lived in circular roundhouses, made of stone and turf, with conical thatched roofs. Hut circles from these long ago dwellings can still be seen today. More than 350 hut circles have been identified in Kildonan.

The roundhouses provided shelter for humans and animals. They were focused around a central hearth, with bays for sleeping and stalls for animals towards the walls of the house. Roundhouses were common throughout the British Isles. However, many of the roundhouses in Kildonan have specific regional variations – including passageways in the walls.

This reconstruction shows how roundhouses near Caen in the Strath of Kildonan may have looked about 2000 years ago. The dwellings are set within a wider landscape, which was already profoundly shaped by human activity. Partial deforestation, and the impact of growing crops and grazing animals, made this Iron Age environment far from its original wild state.

A collaborative project between Open Virtual Worlds, a research team within the School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews and Timespan Museum

Digitisation funded by the EU Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme 2014-2020 through the “Connected Culture and Natural Heritage in a Northern Environment” (CINE) project.



Files (337.9 kB)

Name Size Download all
337.9 kB Preview Download