Around 8 February 2008, clusters of stones began to emerge from the otherwise unbroken sand in the middle of Traigh na Berie (Reef Beach) on the Valtos peninsula. Unusual activity on the beach and very low winter tides exposed groups of rocks that had not been seen before.
They are certainly a structure of some sort, and evidence of lintels and pillar stacks suggest they may be wheelhouses. It seems there are three structures in the middle of the beach (which would have been machair in the Bronze and Iron Ages) and a further one or more at the Reef end. The machair at Reef is retreating, and if these are wheelhouses from ca. 100 AD (which were subterranean) they would have been some distance from the water’s edge.
The pictures were taken over a few days, as they silted up or were exposed again. By 19 February, the stones were all but invisible again, and by 22 February, they were gone (or rather, still there but under the sand).
What’s a wheelhouse? A building that looks like a wheel in plan, dating to the Middle Iron Age. They had radial walls which divided the circular internal space into small rooms around a central open area containing a hearth. The roof of the rooms was built with corbelled stonework, leaving just a small area over the hearth that had to be covered by a roof of wood and thatch. (Comhairle SMR)