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Picts House

feet, stones and bones

PICTS' HOUSE, a name given to the remains of some ancient buildings not uncommon in the Scottish isles, the erection of which is attributed to the Picts. They are composed of large stones uncemented, built up in a conical form, and are of various sizes. Some consist of only a single chamber, with one external wall, others have an outer and inner wall, about two feet distant from each other, the space between being occupied by a winding stair. There is an example at Kirkwall, the form of which is that of a trun cated cone, the height being about 1• feet, and its circum ference at the base, :IS4 feet. " It is probable," says a writer on the subject, " that it was surrounded by two walls, but the quantity of rubbish rendered this circumstance difficult to ascertain. Internally, it consists of several cells or apart ments, the principal one of which is in the centre, built with large flat stones without cement, the one immediately projecting over that below, so as gradually to contract the space within as the building rises, till the opposite walls meet at the top, when they are bound together by large stones laid across. Six other apartments of a similar form and

construction, but of little more than half the dimensions, communicate with the central one, each by a passage of about two feet square, on a leve•with the floor. There does not appear to have been any contrivance for the -admission of light. The earth at the bottom of the cells, as deep as could be dug, was of a dark colour, of a greasy feel, and of a fetid odour, plentifully intermingled with bones both of men, of birds, and of some domestic animals. In one of the apartments, an entire human skeleton in a prone attitude was found, but in the others the bones were not only sepa rated from one another, but most of them divided into small fragments. From their appearance, some have supposed the inhabitants to have been cannibals."