Borgie Souterrain, Tongue, Sutherland

Souterrain:  OS Grid Reference –  NC 6762 5929  –  NEW FIND

Getting Here

Borgie souterrain02

The Borgie souterrain site

From Bettyhill village, take the A836 road west towards Tongue.  Several miles along the road, keep your eyes peeled for Borgie and Skerray on your right.  Go down here for half-a-mile or so until, a hundred yards or so before the Borgie Hotel, a dirt-track on your right takes you down into some trees.  As you enter the edge of the woodland, right by the trackside on your left, a large stone lays in the grass.  A few yards from this is the hole in the ground.

Archaeology & History

There is no previous description of this site in any of the archaeological records.  I was fortunate in being taken here by one of the land-owners hereby, who told me that it had been known about locally for some years – but informing the archaeologists (patronizing as they were to the people hereby, as is common) was the last thing on their minds….

Entrance to the underworld

Entrance to the underworld

Looking out from the depths

Looking out from the depths

Immediately beneath the ridge where the Borgie chambered cairn once stood, the site was uncovered quite by accident when a local man went to move a large stone on the grassy embankment, for use in walling or similar thing.  But much to his surprise, the boulder covered the entrance to an underground chamber known as a souterrain – inside which, local lore tends to tell, the little people once stayed.  It’s an impressive structure!  When Donna Murray took me to see this a few months ago, she said it was only a few yards long – but once I’d got inside, found it to be much longer than this.  After dropping perhaps six feet down into the hollow, the very well-preserved wide chamber beneath – some 6-8 feet across – curved around to the north-northeast and into pitch blackness.  I walked perhaps ten yards into the chamber, completely upright, and as the chamber curved and went further into the Earth, the pitch black stopped me venturing more.

Looking into the darkness

Looking into the darkness

Line of roofing stones

Line of roofing stones

The walls of the souterrain were very well structured indeed and were made up of hundreds of good-sized stones, akin to those used to build old stone walling in our northern hills.  The floor was, typically, muddy and apart from a scatter of a few stones I could see little by way of a ‘floor’ beneath my feet (but it was dark!). However, the roofing was made up of large flat stones measuring 6-8 feet across, as wide as the structure itself, running parallel all along the chamber.  I did not walk to the end of the chamber – but would assume that this roofing continued to the end of the souterrain.  I could discern no petroglyphs inside the chamber – but considering how dark it was, another investigation with torches is necessary before any definitive remarks regarding internal petroglyphs can be made.

Curving into the darkness

Curving into the darkness

It’s in damn good condition indeed and is well worth looking at if you venture this far north.  Other unrecorded prehistoric monuments are found all over this remote landscape – from cup-and-rings, to stone circles, to tombs, enclosures, cairns, you name it!  If anyone knows of any permanent rental properties up here – please let me know and get in touch so that I can spend the rest of my life working here meandering, discovering and recording the prehistory of this truly archaic landscape!  I’m serious!

Acknowledgements:  Immense thanks to Donna from Borgie, for showing me this ancient monument and other sites.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

About megalithix

Occultist, prehistorian and independent archaeological researcher, specializing in prehistoric rock art, Neolithic, Bronze Age & Iron Age sites, and the animistic cosmologies of pre-Christian & traditional cultures.
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7 Responses to Borgie Souterrain, Tongue, Sutherland

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    Looks in amazing condition, Paul!

  2. that’s a bloody exciting find – and what a wonderful way for it to be discovered. They’re probably right not getting the archaelogical teams in…

  3. Hi Paul, what a lovely write up and so glad you enjoyed your visit to the souterrain. Haste ye back!

  4. megalithix says:

    Hi Donna – We were up your way the other week but you weren’t in. A mile or so along the road, my friend blew the tyres and the lads from the garage in Bettyhill came out to fix it. I lost yer email address when I was sleeping in the hills. Please send me it again & I’ll let y’ know when I’m coming up next (hopefully in the next few weeks). ttfn – Paul

  5. I live in Skerray now I moved up in Autumn ,I thought there might be a very spaced out row of standing stones along the side of the road from Skerray to Tongue starting just after the cattle grid on the seaward side but they might just be rocks standing out naturaly ,one is seat shaped and there are two other stones exactly in line with it one not too far distance but one high on the hill opposite Modsary ,I took photos but I dont think I can add them to my comment

  6. megalithix says:

    Hi there – I’ll let you know when I’m in the area again – which will be sometime in the coming months, hopefully. I have a friend that lives nearby and, curiously, actually went to view a property to-let at Skerray last year! (twas far too small though, sadly – otherwise I’d be a neighbour!)

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