Ancient Monuments

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Tom Buidhe, enclosure 480m NNE of Ruthven

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Latitude: 57.3158 / 57°18'56"N

Longitude: -4.319 / 4°19'8"W

OS Eastings: 260431

OS Northings: 827404

OS Grid: NH604274

Mapcode National: GBR H9QD.0CB

Mapcode Global: WH3G2.MCJZ

Entry Name: Tom Buidhe, enclosure 480m NNE of Ruthven

Scheduled Date: 24 March 1988

Last Amended: 3 May 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM4501

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: enclosure

Location: Dores

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument comprises a natural knoll that people modified and occupied between 1500 and 300 years ago. It is located on the S shore of Loch Ruthven on land used for rough pasture and grazing. The monument was first scheduled in 1988, but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains. The present rescheduling rectifies this.

A curving ditch cuts the rocky knoll off from land to the S; material excavated from this helped to level the interior. Slippage of soil to the NE and SW has truncated the surface, which appears to have originally been sub-oval, measuring 36 m from NW to SE by 30 m transversely. There is a stony bank, 0.7 m wide and 0.3 m high around the lip on the NW and SE sides, with a possible palisade trench, 0.5 m wide and 0.1 m deep, just visible on the inside of it. On the NW a similar trench runs parallel to this for 11 m, running 2 m inside it. There are also some traces of cultivation across the summit of the knoll. The outer ditch averages 12 m wide and 2 m deep, but modern ploughing has damaged it. It is likely that water filled this when the loch level was high (it has been lowered in recent times). 140 m to the N is a crannog.

Robert Gordon's and Joan Blaeu's mid-17th-century maps of the region depict an occupied island in the loch, and it is possible that it is this knoll that is indicated. A century later, General Roy's map shows no such settlement, suggesting abandonment.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular polygon on plan, to include the remains described and an area around in which evidences for their construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Three fence lines and a gate traverse this area; the scheduling excludes their above-ground elements, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: Cultivation at the summit of the mound pre-dates the introduction of deep and destructive modern techniques. It is probable that this caps upstanding structures and associated archaeological deposits and that there is a high potential that they remain in a good state of preservation. In early and later medieval northern and western Scotland, high status social groups often initially occupied sites such as this, perhaps as a localised reaction to the need for lordly caputs or motte-like centres of administration. Cartographic evidence may suggest occupation of this monument into the 17th century. Future research has the potential to inform upon developments in the expression, display and function of high status sites throughout the medieval period and the social, political, cultural and economic influences that affected their occupants. Waterlogged remains within the ditch may also contain important environmental and organic information regarding the life styles and consumption patterns of those who inhabited the monument.

Contextual characteristics: The Scottish archaeological record has few examples of medieval high-status sites of this type, which means this monument can inform on expressions of lordship within this locality and elsewhere. Additionally, this class of site often shares a close spatial association with crannogs, which may indicate a more complex set of relationships existed between these two types of monument. Together with the nearby crannog, study of this monument has the potential to place sites of this type within their specific landscape context, as part of the geographical expression of medieval lordship.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it is a well-preserved example of a rare monument type. There is a high potential for the preservation of structures and associated archaeological deposits. It can inform on the form of high status medieval settlement in this locality and in the rest of Scotland; the role played by monuments of this type in local and wider politics and economies; and transformations in the culture and expression of lordship from early medieval times to the 17th century. Its loss would significantly detract from our ability to understand these issues.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record this monument as NH62NW19, Highland SMR as NH62NW0019.


Yeoman P 1988, MOTTES IN NORTHEAST SCOTLAND, in Scot Archaeol Rev, 5, 131, 86.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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