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The Braaid has the remarkable remains of Iron Age and Viking farmsteads side-by-side.



Several of the present circle of stones have been re-erected after archaeological investigations, but an early illustration, confirmed by excavation, suggests that walling filled the gaps between the surviving vertical stones, and that this, together with an outer concentric wall, supported an earthen core which still survives as a low bank nearly 2m wide. Excavation also revealed a shallow gulley outside, perhaps the result of rain dripping from the eaves of an overhanging roof, but it is not known whether the roof was conical and thatched, or flatter and made from turf. The pair of unusually large stones on the western side probably formed the doorway into the roundhouse, and there is some evidence that it may have had an outer porch. No conclusive evidence was found for the date and original purpose of the roundhouse; however, it seems likely that it is the earliest visible structure on the site and served as a dwelling and later as a pen or enclosure for animals when the later longhouses were inhabited.


Longhouse 1

To the north (downslope) of the roundhouse can be seen the remains of two, parallel low stone walls 2m wide and 0.5m high. These are the foundations of a building 17m long and 6m wide. There are no remains of either of the gable walls but they may have been constructed from turf or timber rather than earth and stone. As at other longhouse sites, for example Cronk ny Merriu (Santon), there is evidence for a pair of opposing doorways towards the east end, although these may have been blocked up later in the building’s use. The stone box constructed from slabs of stone within the north wall is an unusual feature and its function is unclear, but the series of vertical slabs running parallel to the wall have been interpreted as the remains of stalling for animals. There is no evidence of how the roof of this structure was constructed or covered.


Longhouse 2

The second rectilinear building is larger at 20m by 8m, but its long walls are curved and are again nearly 2m thick, with an earth core faced on the inside and outside by stone walling. These would have been capable of supporting a heavy roof and are consistent with building traditions found in Scandinavia. Like the other longhouse, both gables are now absent but excavation has shown that these were constructed mainly of turf and timber.

Early antiquarian interpretation assumed that the site was a prehistoric ritual complex comprising a stone circle and mysterious ‘alignments’. While the limitations of early investigations, combined with erosion caused by grazing, and an almost total lack of artefacts, made an understanding of the site difficult, more focussed excavation in the 1960s allows all three structures to be interpreted as the components of a Viking Age farmstead. The scale of the longhouses suggests that the owner was of some importance, but despite this the farmstead fell into disuse after the Viking period. There is evidence that the interior of longhouse 2 was reoccupied, by the insertion of three small turf buildings, which may have been shieling huts constructed when the surrounding marginal land was used for the seasonal grazing of livestock.



Text from 'A Guide to the Archaeological Sites of the Isle of Man' by Andrew Johnson and Allison Fox.

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