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Old Lawers Village, deserted settlement and burial ground 250m NNE of Lawers Pier

A Scheduled Monument in Highland, Perth and Kinross

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Latitude: 56.5281 / 56°31'41"N

Longitude: -4.1418 / 4°8'30"W

OS Eastings: 268353

OS Northings: 739398

OS Grid: NN683393

Mapcode National: GBR JC4G.HHT

Mapcode Global: WH4M5.B5YT

Entry Name: Old Lawers Village, deserted settlement and burial ground 250m NNE of Lawers Pier

Scheduled Date: 20 December 1995

Last Amended: 11 February 2019

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6280

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard; Secular: settlement, including deserted, depopul

Location: Kenmore

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Highland

Traditional County: Perthshire


The monument comprises the remains of a deserted settlement and burial ground dating to the late medieval and post-medieval periods. The monument is located on the west shore of Loch Tay, on either side of the Lawers Burn, at about 100m above sea level.

The settlement consists of several substantial stone buildings, largely of 17th century and later date and likely to contain buried archaeology dating to earlier periods. At the southern end of the scheduled area are, the House of Lawers (built over the remains of an earlier house in 1645), Old Lawers church (built in 1669) and two further buildings of less substantial construction. A further two buildings visible on a map of 1769 to the northwest of the cluster, may survive next to the modern access track. The remains of two mills, a mill lade, three further buildings and the remains of a yard lie on the south bank of the Lawers Burn. A track defined by the remains of stone dykes connects the two sections. To the north of the Lawers Burn is another cluster of buildings which survive as footings. A burial ground lies a short distance to the northeast of the settlement.

The scheduled area is irregular and is comprised of three discrete areas. It includes the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above ground elements of all post and wire fences, metal gates, all grave markers and memorials post-dating 1850 and any active burial lairs. It runs up to but does not include the stone dyke following the access track.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument is an upstanding and well-preserved example of a deserted settlement. The House of Lawers and church are the best preserved of the surviving structures. The northeast gable of the House of Lawers stands to the chimney head height and the southeast wall to gable height. The southeast and southwest walls of the church survive to gable height. The two mills are visible as substantial structures to the south of the Lawers Burn. The remainder of the structures are less substantial but retain much of their structural integrity in their plan form. Significant features survive within and around the standing buildings, including dressed stone, fireplaces, stone internal partitions, a corn kiln and mill-lade. These elements can help us understand more about rural domestic architecture of post-medieval settlements and the construction, use and abandonment of these monuments. They can tell us about the social status of the inhabitants as well as the relationship between local lairds and the inhabitants of the village.

Small scale excavation to the northwest of the church uncovered part of a boundary wall, a cobbled trackway and a coin from the 1480s. This indicates good potential for the survival of archaeological deposits, including occupation and abandonment debris, structural remains, floor deposits, artefacts and environmental remains such as charcoal or pollen beneath and around the surviving structures. The archaeological deposits have the potential to provide information about how people lived, the economy, diet and social status of the occupants as well as the structure of contemporary society and economy. They can tell us about the nature and layout of the pre-17th century settlement, as well as the changing use of the site over time.

The track connecting the east and west sections of the village survives as a distinct feature on the ground with the remains of drystone walls along either side. It is depicted on Farquharson's plan of 1769 and therefore pre-dates this map. This track can help us understand the connection between the two sections of the village. It demonstrates that they were parts of the same settlement and can tell us about the nature, extent and layout of the village as a whole.

The foundations of a possible early church were noted within the burial ground in the 1930s. Although nothing is visible above ground there is potential for the survival of archaeological deposits relating to an early ecclesiastical foundation predating the surviving church. The deposits may provide information about the date, nature and use of this site. The surviving grave stabs are largely of 18th century date, though one slab may display a date of 1531. There are likely to be burials spanning a considerable time depth within the burial ground. Scientific study has the potential to enhance our understanding of the local population, and can tell us about social status, health, diet, illness, cause of death and perhaps the types of activities people undertook during life.

The surviving structures at Old Lawers Village largely date to the 17th century and later, though maps and documents indicate that there was a settlement at Lawers before 1473. The earliest record for the House of Lawers dates to 1513, which likely comprised a modest tower house. The House was destroyed in 1645 and rebuilt soon afterwards. It was recorded as a roofless ruin sometime before 1893. The surviving remains largely relate to the 17th century rebuild and comprise a range of three buildings. The central building in this range has thicker walls, dressed stone and may incorporate elements of the earlier tower house. The church was built in 1669 and was recorded as being in disrepair in the early 19th century. Part of the village appears to have been occupied into the early 20th century. The monument therefore had an extended development sequence. Scientific study of the site would allow a better understanding of its chronology, including its date of origin, state of completeness and development sequence.

Contextual Characteristics

Deserted settlements are found throughout Scotland. Two further deserted settlements containing laird's houses are known along the north shore of Loch Tay at Edramucky Castle (Canmore ID 24502) and Blarmore (Canmore ID 140357). The example at Old Lawers Village is of significance as an upstanding and well-preserved example for which considerable documentary evidence is available. The church at Lawers served the whole of the north side of Loch Tay and is the only example of this date on the north shore of the loch. Burial grounds are not uncommon. The example at Lawers is significant because of its connection to the village and potentially long period of use. Comparison of this settlement with other abandoned townships in this area, and with historic rural settlement sites in other parts of Scotland, could enhance our understanding of regional variations in rural settlement in the medieval and post-medieval periods. It could add to our understanding of the structure of society and the form and nature of contemporary rural settlement.

There may have been social, economic, community and familial links between other nearby settlements. Although based on a subsistence economy with each family supporting itself, resources may have been shared. The mills and corn kiln are examples of community and economic links as not every settlement would have had a mill and kiln. This settlement therefore has the potential to enhance and broaden our understanding of such agricultural and domestic practices.

Associative Characteristics

In 1473 the crown granted the lands of Thomas Chalmers of Lawers, who was accused of involvement in the murder of James I (1437), to Campbell of Glenorchy. The lands were later feued to a cadet branch of the Glenorchy family. By 1513 they had acquired their own crown charter when the manor-house of Lawers More was noted to be the principal dwelling house. Sir James Campbell is said to have died at Lawers in 1645 and shortly afterwards the house was destroyed by Montrose, though it was later rebuilt. Financial difficulties forced the Campbells to transfer Lawers, amongst other properties, to the Glenorchy family around 1672. In 1769 the tenant of the House of Lawers was recorded as Katherine Campbell, Colonel Campbell's widow. Her lease was renewed in 1771 and in 1778 she assigned her lease to her son-in-law Duncan Campbell.

The Lady of Lawers is one of the most well-known inhabitants of Old Lawers Village. She is said to have been the wife of one of the lairds of Lawers in the 17th century and is known for her prophesies. Some were connected to the church at Lawers. Her first prophesy was made when the church was being built in 1669. The ridging stones were brought from Kenmore by boat and left on the shore for the next day. She predicted that the ridging stones would never be put in place. That night a storm blew up from the loch and the ridging stones were washed into the deep waters of the loch. No attempt was made to retrieve them and the ridge of the church was covered with some other material.

When the Lady of Lawers planted an ash tree next to the church she said that the church would be 'rent in twain' when the tree reached the height of the gable. This was taken to foretell of the Great Disruption of 1843 when the congregation of Lawers left the Church of Scotland and joined the Free Church. She also said that when the tree reached the roof ridge the House of Balloch would be left without an heir. The tree is said to have reached the ridge in 1862, the same year the Marquis of Breadalbane died with no successor.

The Lady of Lawers also prophesied that anyone who cut down the tree would suffer an evil fate. In the 1870s a local farmer, John Campbell, chopped it down. He was gored to death by his own bull, his assistant went mad, and even the horse which pulled the farm cart suddenly dropped dead.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it makes a significant addition to our understanding of rural settlement in Scotland. It is a well-preserved site with evidence for occupation from the later medieval and post-medieval periods, surviving upstanding remains, distinctive features and high potential for buried remains. This is supported by significant documentary and map evidence for the development of the village. As such it can significantly enhance our understanding of the development of agricultural settlements, domestic buildings, economy and society over an extended time period. It would have been an important component of the wider landscape of settlement and agriculture with important links with other nearby settlements. The loss or damage of this monument would diminish our understanding of character and development of late medieval and post-medieval settlement and agriculture, society and economy both in the Highlands and throughout Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 91848, 24460, 24454 (accessed on 13/11/2018).

Perth and Kinross HER Reference MPK7818 (accessed on 13/11/2018).


Pont, T. (1583-96) Maps of Scotland. Loch Tay: the head of Glen Tanar.

Gordon, R. (1636-52) Maps of Scotland. Straloch's mapp of Scotland, and, The West coast from Glen Elg to Knap-dail.

Roy, W. (1747-52) Military Survey of Scotland, Highlands.

Stobie, J. (1783) The Counties of Perth and Clackmannan.

Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1862, published 1867) Perthshire, Sheet LXIX. Six inch to the mile. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (revised 1898, published 1900) Perth and Clackmannan Sheet LXIX.NE. 2nd Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Printed Sources

Atkinson, J. (2016) Ben Lawers: an archaeological landscape in time, Scottish Archaeological Internet Resources 62.

Gilles, W.A. (1938) In famed Breadalbane: the story of the antiquities, lands and people of a highland district. Perth.

McArthur, M M (1936) Survey of Lochtayside 1769. Scottish History Society, 3rd series 27, Edinburgh.

Morrison, A. (1985) Rural settlement in the Scottish Highlands, 1750-1850: a comparative study of Lochtayside and Assynt. Unpublished PhD thesis. University of Glasgow.

Online sources

Irvine Robertson, J. (2006) The Lady of Lawers. Scotland Magazine (accessed on 26/11/2018).

Clan MacFarlane and associated clans genealogy. Mary, Lady Campbell of Lawers (accessed on 26/11/2018).


HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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