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The Braaid, Marown

Period: Iron Age

NGR Easting: 232520

NGR Northing: 476560

Description: Iron Age and Medieval farmstead. These three structures confused early antiquaries, who suggested the circle and alignments of stones forming an avenue might be elements of a prehistoric temple. Excavations in the 1930s were inconclusive: the site had been disturbed by an overflowing spring, which may have carried away datable artefacts.

The structure earlier identified as a stone circle consists of a circle of 29 standing stones, but between these there is walling in all but one case, forming a doorway. The internal diameter is 13.2m, and the walls average 1.6m in width. The doorway is 1.2m wide. Parts of the interior were paved, and while the excavators in the 1930s found no evidence for posts that might have supported a roof, the general consensus is that this was a large, stone-built roundhouse built during the late Iron Age perhaps 1,200 - 1,300 years ago.

The other structures appear to be massive examples - one is 20m long, the other 18m - of the rectangular houses built throughout the Viking world around 1,000 years ago, though both are longer and wider than any other structure of this period so far found on the Island.

The upper of the two is the larger, with bowed walls 20m long and 2.1m thick. The maximum internal width is 8.9m. The walls are of earth and stone and survive to 0.8m in height; massive boulders occur at intervals. No trace of gable walls survives above ground but excavation suggests these may have been constructed in timber and turf. The remains of three much smaller structures survive in the interior which are thought to represent the ruins of shepherds’ huts or shielings, built after the larger building was abandoned and perhaps ruinous.

Further down the slope, the lower building is only slightly smaller, 18m long and 6m wide, with walls 1.8m thick and 0.7m high. The internal arrangement of stone slabs suggests that the structure may at one time have served as a stalled byre. Unlike its neighbour, its long walls are straight, and there survives evidence for opposed doorways towards the east end, now partially blocked. These appear too narrow for use by animals, and may imply that the stalls represent the building’s conversion for use by animals.

It seems likely that this farmstead, which is built on marginal farmland, proved not to be viable and was abandoned in favour of use during the medieval period as a seasonal settlement from which livestock was tended on nearby common land during the summer. If so, the site, uniquely for the Island, brings together buildings of Iron Age and Viking styles that were used together and survive down to the present.

View map location on Archaeology Data Service

Site & Monument Type: round house

Category: National Monuments Record: Statutory Ancient Monuments

Site ID number: 0300.00

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