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Ruthven, hut circles, field systems and burnt mounds 1200m south of

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Latitude: 57.3022 / 57°18'8"N

Longitude: -4.3176 / 4°19'3"W

OS Eastings: 260463

OS Northings: 825892

OS Grid: NH604258

Mapcode National: GBR H9QF.10Z

Mapcode Global: WH3G2.NQ6D

Entry Name: Ruthven, hut circles, field systems and burnt mounds 1200m S of

Scheduled Date: 16 August 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11826

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: hut circle, roundhouse

Location: Daviot and Dunlichity/Dores

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument comprises the extensive remains of domestic buildings and agricultural landuse likely to be Late Bronze Age or Iron Age, dating to the first or second millennium BC. It is located in upland rough grazing and pasture on a generally W-facing slope, between 250m and 290m above sea level.

These remains include at least seven hut-circles or domestic roundhouses surviving as low circular, turf-covered stone banks. The hut-circles are associated with a series of stone clearance piles and earthen strips or lynchets marking the remains of a network of agricultural plots, divisions and boundaries. Finally, there are two burnt mounds, possibly the remains of large scale cooking activity, which survive as two U-shaped mounds. They contain burnt stone material and charcoal deposits which would have formed with each burning episode. A network of modern tracks, fencing, drains and grouse butts crosses the site.

The hut-circles are spread throughout the area. They seem to be individual houses between 8m and 14m in outside diameter, consisting of a single thickness rubble wall enclosing a central, internal living space. The entrance tends to be in the eastern half of each structure. Except for one example sitting on a natural terrace, all the structures are built into the slope of the surrounding hillside. The field system is a complex network of linear and curved earth banks and areas within, where stone material has been cleared for cultivation. Numerous clearance heaps survive at the edges of these plots and form part of the overall footprint of prehistoric landuse surrounding the domestic structures. Further upslope and eastwards on the SW facing slope are the two rectangular burnt mounds which are roughly 8m long by 7m wide. Despite the intrusion of a more modern drain into the northernmost of the two and the encroachment of modern afforestation immediately to the E, their structure remains intact and this includes the discernable opening into each of the mounds on their SE sides.

The area proposed for scheduling is an irregular shape on plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above-ground elements of modern fencing and boundary features, the grouse butts, existing drains and the two burns, to allow for their maintenance and repair.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument consists of seven well-preserved examples of later prehistoric hut-circles, together with elements of an associated field system, and two burnt mounds, all dating to the first or second millennium BC. This is an archaeologically dense area of upland with many more unrecorded archaeological deposits likely to occupy the spaces between those mentioned above. The various elements of the monument are in a relatively good state of preservation; they are upstanding and clearly visible in the landscape. Given the site's continued use as rough grazing, it is likely that archaeologically significant deposits relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the structures remain in place. In addition, it is likely that deposits survive that could provide data relating to the later prehistoric environment. The site has considerable potential to enhance understanding of later prehistoric roundhouses. It may also provide environmental information on prehistoric upland landuse and more details about the context, construction and use of burnt mounds.

Contextual characteristics: The monument represents the nature and extent of upland agriculture and settlement expansion during later prehistory and as such is a good example of its class. Many other single examples of hut-circles and clusters of hut-circles compare with Ruthven, but very few survive intact with cultivation and associated remains as extensive as this. The monument sits within the wider uplands and S shore of the Great Glen where several other contemporary monuments survive. As a well-preserved group of hut-circles, the monument has the potential to reveal much about house building and domestic life in the later prehistoric communities locally and in the wider NE of Scotland. Comparing and contrasting the examples within this group to other hut-circles in the locality and further afield, can create an understanding of regional identity, economy and society.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular Bronze- or Iron-Age society and the nature of later prehistoric domestic and agricultural practice. Its good preservation and the survival of marked field characteristics over such an extensive area enhance this potential. The loss of the example would significantly impede our ability to understand the Bronze and Iron Age in NE Scotland. The sample of the associated agricultural landscape, represented by the clearance cairns, lengths of field bank and burnt mounds, is important because it preserves the relationship of the houses to the immediate archaeological landscape.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the monument as NH62NW 5, NH62NW 53. The Highland Council SMR records the monument as NH62NW0005.

Aerial photographs:

RCAHMS, 1994, C26451CN Ruthven, Hut circles, field system, enclosure, small cairns.

RCAHMS, 1994, C25971 Ruthven, Hut circles, field system, enclosure, small cairns.

RCAHMS, 1994, C25970 Ruthven, Hut circles, field system, enclosure, small cairns.

RCAHMS, 1994, C25969 Ruthven, Hut circles, field system, enclosure, small cairns.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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