Ancient Monuments

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Ballone, depopulated township 430m south east of

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Latitude: 57.3634 / 57°21'48"N

Longitude: -4.2048 / 4°12'17"W

OS Eastings: 267479

OS Northings: 832479

OS Grid: NH674324

Mapcode National: GBR H9Z8.4NP

Mapcode Global: WH4H2.C5YY

Entry Name: Ballone, depopulated township 430m SE of

Scheduled Date: 1 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11549

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: settlement, including deserted, depopulated and townships

Location: Daviot and Dunlichity

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument comprises the remains of a depopulated township of medieval or later date situated 400m S of Ballone farmhouse. The township, named Cnoc Firikin on an estate map of around 1760 and Glenfirachan on the Ordnance Survey First Edition survey of 1874, lies at approximately 215m above sea level, on a terrace above the river Nairn.

Fifteen buildings and at least four kilns can be identified. Most of the buildings are aligned along the slope. Seven have walls of turf, usually on top of stone footings, and six are constructed of faced rubble. Another two buildings are too badly robbed to determine their main building material. The turf buildings range from 10.8m to 24m in length and from 4.3m to 8.7m in breadth over walls spread up to 2.6m thick. They appear to represent the early phase of the settlement. The stone-walled buildings, presumed to be later, are up to 16.2m in length and 4m in breadth with walls surviving up to 1.6m in height. One of the larger buildings has a bedneuk, fireplace and windows and part of a turf gable survives at its southern end. It forms a courtyard with two other buildings, one of which is roofed and in current use as a byre. The courtyard arrangement fits with the period of agricultural Improvement in the later 18th and early 19th centuries. The remains of four drying kilns can be identified within the monument. These are in the NE of the township and set into the ground as it drops to the river. They each consist of a stone-faced bowl between 0.9m and 3m in diameter. A possible fifth kiln (which could alternatively be interpreted as a very ruined cairn) is situated to the SW of the main part of the site and measures 7m in diameter.

The area to be scheduled consists of four irregular polygons on plan, to include the visible remains and an area around, in which associated evidence may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The above-ground portions of modern post-and-wire fencing crossing the monument and above-ground remains of a rectangular, re-roofed building, the only roofed structure currently contained by the scheduled area, are specifically excluded from the scheduling, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: Most of the elements of this multi-period monument are in a relatively good state of preservation and some are exceptionally well preserved. They are upstanding and clearly visible in the landscape. The continued landuse as pasture is likely to have resulted in the preservation of archaeological deposits within and around the buildings. It therefore has the potential to provide further detailed information about local variations in vernacular architecture and building use, as well as upland landuse, prior to the age of agricultural improvements and through to the later 19th century.

Contextual characteristics: The remains of this depopulated township represent a class of site which to date has been the subject of relatively little archaeological research but which, together with other historic rural settlement sites in the region, have the potential to illuminate the settlement and economy of NE Scotland in the later medieval and post-medieval period. The ability to physically demonstrate the changing character of the settlement over time further enhances the value of the site. We can compare and contrast this change to other such sites in the locality, such as that at Dunlichity 1.3 km to the W, to help build an overall picture of settlement in Strathnairn from the medieval period onwards.

National Importance: This monument is of national importance because it is a well preserved example of a post-medieval rural township, displaying the development from an informal layout of buildings, typical of pre-Improvement townships, to a more clearly planned post-Improvement courtyard steading, characteristic of the later 18th and early 19th centuries. It therefore has the potential to reveal further information about local variations in vernacular architecture and building use, as well as upland landuse prior to the agricultural improvements in Strathnairn in the 18th century. The loss of the site would affect our ability to appreciate and understand the historic landscape of Upper Strathnairn, which preserves tangible evidence of the way of life prior to the age of agricultural improvement.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the monument as NH63SE 80; Highland Council SMR as NH630052.


ORDNANCE SURVEY NAME BOOK (COUNTY), Original Name Books of the Ordnance Survey, Vol. 20, 72.

OS First Edition survey of Invernesshire, 1874.

OS Second Edition survey of Invernesshire, 1905.

RCAHMS 1994, UPPER STRATHNAIRN, INVERNESS: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY, Edinburgh, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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