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Ballachar, settlement, hut circles and field systems 275m NNW of

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.3249 / 57°19'29"N

Longitude: -4.2987 / 4°17'55"W

OS Eastings: 261686

OS Northings: 828382

OS Grid: NH616283

Mapcode National: GBR H9RC.9NF

Mapcode Global: WH3G2.Y45Y

Entry Name: Ballachar, settlement, hut circles and field systems 275m NNW of

Scheduled Date: 20 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11431

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: field or field system; Secular: settlement, including deserted,

Location: Daviot and Dunlichity

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of two prehistoric hut circles, nineteen rectilinear and sub-rectangular structures, probably forming a township of medieval or later date, a number of clearance cairns and a series of lynchets and dykes, including a head dyke, all sitting on a slight spur towards the upper reaches of a wide valley.

The hut circles lie within 8m of one another and are between 4000 and 1500 years old. One consists of an ill-defined platform, 11.5m in diameter, with traces of a surrounding stone wall. The other consists of a 2m thick wall enclosing a 7.5m diameter interior, partially truncated to the S by drainage associated with the nearby road. Many of the lynchets and clearance cairns, along with some of the inter-dispersed dykes are likely to be associated with this phase of prehistoric upland occupation and farming.

The rectilinear buildings are clustered together, but some overlie, and therefore post-date, many of the cairns and some sections of dyke. The majority are aligned with their axis downhill. Most are round-ended with a single entrance midway along one side. Whilst the largest building is 16.4m long, the majority are between 7m and 14m long, with an average width of 3.8m. The walls are up to 1.2m thick and are 0.4m high. The shape and form of these structural footings indicates that although they may be between 1000 and 200 years old, they are more likely to date from the middle of this period.

The area of the settlement is encircled by the footings of an irregular head dyke. There are over ninety clearance cairns spread over the hillside on both sides of the dyke. The largest of the cairns are 6m in diameter and 0.5m in height.

Subsequent land use as pasture means that there is a high potential for the survival of sub-surface archaeological remains associated with all periods of the site's occupation.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular polygon marked in red on the attached map extract, incorporating the hut circles, later settlement, a sample number of the lynchets, cairns and smaller dykes, a portion of the head dyke and associated archaeological deposits, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The area is bounded to the west by a forestry plantation fence and to the south by the drainage associated with the road; the drain and fence are to be excluded from the scheduling.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument's archaeological significance is as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument is a well-preserved example of multi-period upland settlement and land-use with upstanding remains of occupation dating from over the last four millennia. There is a high likelihood of associated well-preserved sub-surface remains. It has a high potential to reveal much about site location strategies and changes in farming over a considerable time depth, and of the developing social, cultural and economic lives of the groups that occupied and lived in upland zones from later prehistory until the post-medieval period.

Contextual characteristics: The shape and size of the sub-rectilinear and round-ended rectilinear structures suggest some of the remains represent a settlement or township that was initially occupied in the High or Late Middle Ages and remained in occupation into the early post-medieval period. Physical archaeological remains of rural settlement pre-dating 1700 are rarely identified throughout Scotland. This site, the houses, buildings and associated field systems present an opportunity to enhance our understanding of the form and date of settlements of this type. Additionally it can inform research into the social, cultural and economic processes, as well as the seasonal restrictions, that defined the interactions of the settlements' occupants.

National Importance:

The monument is of national importance because it represents a well-preserved example of housing and farming related to the occupation of the Highlands over the last four millennia. It has the rare potential to inform future research into medieval settlement and how life and land-use changed and developed into the post-medieval period. Whilst it has the potential to answer important questions about housing, culture and economy, it has a more specific potential to reveal whether communities occupying the upland zone lived and farmed communally, and the degree to which exploitation of the uplands was governed by the seasonality. Its loss would significantly impede our ability to study these questions.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as NH62NW 12.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

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