Kilvaxter Souterrain, Isle of Skye

Entrance to Kilvaxter Souterrain
Entrance to Kilvaxter Souterrain

Of all the known souterrains on Skye, Kilvaxter is by far, the most accessible  and is also in a good state of preservation. It was discovered in 2000 when a hole suddenly appeared in a field and some of the stonework was revealed.
After work by the local community and archaeologists it was opened to the public in 2006 and they also provided a car park and excellent interpretation at the site. The car park is at Kilvaxter, about 5 or 6 miles north of Uig, on the road that takes you round the far north of the island (A855).

Souterrains in Scotland are usually associated with Iron Age dwellings and were most likely built as places to store food. At Kilvaxter there is evidence of there having been Iron Age round houses just beside the souterrain.

Kilvaxter - site of round house
Sign showing the site of a round house beside the souterrain
Kilvaxter Souterrain
Inside the flooded souterrain

Unfortunately, Kilvaxter is prone to flooding and despite visiting again after a dry spell in summer, it was still flooded. I’d be interested to know if it ever dries out!

 I went back in August and it was just as flooded as last time. I waded in a little way but there’s something disconcerting about wading through murky water in a dark tunnel and it wasn’t long before I thought it was wise not to go any further.

Kilvaxter vent comp4web
Ventilation hole

Kilvaxter Souterrain plan

 

Each time I’ve been there the water has been almost up to the entrance so I’ve never been able to walk down the entire length, which is about 20m. The interpretation board above shows the shape of it (and shows what you are missing!). You have to crouch down to get through the typically low entrance way but then it opens out and a few metres along there’s a cubby hole in the left hand wall. The passage then curves to the left and you can’t see any further without wading along through the murky water.
At the end of the tunnel there’s a ventilation hole which is visible in the ground above.

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