Historic Scotland

Opening times

Open summer only.

Facilities

 

History

Sizeable site

Measuring about 40m long with side passages, Carlungie is one of the largest and most complex souterrains found in Scotland. Like many other souterrains in Fife, Perthshire and Angus, it lies on rich agricultural land. Excavations in 1950 and 1951 revealed an associated above-ground settlement of eight stone-built dwellings.

Excavations also produced some interesting finds, including:

  • Roman amphora pottery
  • native pottery
  • metal objects
  • stone lamps
  • a fire-making stone
  • a stone mould for metalworking

There’s evidence that part of the settlement was used for working stone or metal.

Underground passages

Souterrains like Carlungie were not dwellings, but stone-lined underground passages. As at Carlungie, other excavated souterrain sites have revealed the remains of associated buildings at ground level. Several examples are in Historic Scotland care, such as the nearby site of Ardestie.

The souterrain enigma

Plenty of people have speculated on the use of such structures. They range in date from late Bronze Age nearly 3000 years ago to the early centuries AD. The regional variation in shape and size across Scotland suggest there was no single consistent use.

One suggestion holds that they were used for storage. The larger sizes of souterrains in Perthshire and Angus could reflect the greater fertility of the surrounding farmland. They may have been used to store valuable items or commodities, indicating social status or provided storage agricultural surplus for the local communities.

Some have suggested that souterrains in Angus that date to the first centuries AD might have been built to store grain for the occupying Romans. Evidence suggests that most earth houses were destroyed, or at least infilled, in the late AD 100s – coinciding with the Roman withdrawal from Britain. A number of excavated sites, including Carlungie, have produced Roman artefacts such as pottery.

Download our visitor app

Discover more on the go – the Historic Scotland app lets you find out about Scotland’s most iconic places wherever you are.

Save with an Explorer Pass

Get free entry to Scotland’s top visitor attractions with an Explorer Pass valid for 3 days or 7 days.

Become a member

Join Historic Scotland to visit our properties free of charge for a full year and support our work at the same time.

Hire a site for filming

Use one of our fantastic locations on your next shoot for an awe-inspiring backdrop to your work.

View learning activities

Our 300+ historic places serve as creative inspiration for all sorts of learning activities – and for learners of all ages.

Search our events

See the past brought to life by the imaginative year-round programme of events at our properties.