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Creach Bheinn, survey camp and cairn

A Scheduled Monument in Fort William and Ardnamurchan, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.6625 / 56°39'45"N

Longitude: -5.4759 / 5°28'33"W

OS Eastings: 187082

OS Northings: 757706

OS Grid: NM870577

Mapcode National: GBR DCV3.JHW

Mapcode Global: WH0F6.VSLS

Entry Name: Creach Bheinn, survey camp and cairn

Scheduled Date: 7 June 2004

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11059

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: camp

Location: Ardnamurchan

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Fort William and Ardnamurchan

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a campsite, constructed by soldiers of the Ordnance Survey early in the 19th century as part of the first triangulation of Scotland. It is situated near the summit of Creach Bheinn at around 850m OD in open rocky grassland.

The camp is located in a shallow saddle about NNE of the triangulation station, the two joined by a well-laid footpath. The main structure of the monument is a large windbreak wall about 2.5m high protecting the W side of the camp. A small dry-stone structure around 3.5m square lies on the N side of the camp and represents the only formerly roofed building at the site. This served the joint functions of guard and cook-house. The remainder of the structures at the site consist of a further dry-stone wall on the E side, now ruinous, and four low stone circles representing the footings for tents. Three of the 'tent circles' lie close to the S of the stone building, while a further circle lies closer to the triangulation station. The last may have been the officer's accommodation. Also included in the scheduling are the substantial remains of a circular stone-built platform on which the survey instruments were mounted. This lies to the SSE of the camp and is now surmounted by a concrete pillar of standard mid-twentieth century type.

Such camps are often known as Colby Camps, named after the officer commanding the Ordnance Survey at the time. The nature of the instruments of the period, the need for very precise measurements and the exigencies of Scottish mountain weather frequently necessitated lengthy stays at high altitude (in one extreme case, three months) to complete the measurements required. This survey programme laid the backbone of the mapping system that served Britain until recent advances in satellite and electronic distance measurement.

The area to be scheduled has a figure of eight plan, formed by the junction of two circles, one 100m in diameter and the second 70m in diameter. Within the larger, northern part are the stone building, windbreak walls and three of the stone tent circles. Within the southern part of the area are the triangulation station and the fourth stone tent circle. Both areas include all of the features described plus the original footpath and an area around them in which evidence relating to their construction and occupation is likely to survive. These areas are marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as an early 19th-century survey - or Colby - camp, providing one of the main stations for the first Ordnance Survey triangulation of Great Britain. The monument has the potential to provide valuable insight into the early efforts of scientific cartography, and the great importance that was attached to map-making at this time. Such survivals are rare.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as NM85NE 2.

References:

Fellingham W 1991, 'PILLARS OF SOCIETY', Scotland's Whats On 16, 174, June 1991, 39.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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