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Loch nam Bat, still 1790m north of Wester Balnagrantach

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.3657 / 57°21'56"N

Longitude: -4.5067 / 4°30'24"W

OS Eastings: 249331

OS Northings: 833354

OS Grid: NH493333

Mapcode National: GBR H977.Y3R

Mapcode Global: WH3FS.R447

Entry Name: Loch nam Bat, still 1790m N of Wester Balnagrantach

Scheduled Date: 27 September 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11458

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Industrial: distilling

Location: Urquhart and Glenmoriston

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire

Description

The monument comprises an illicit whisky still, between 250 and 100 years old, situated in wooded moorland and hidden tight into a shallow rocky gully which drains into the nearby loch.

The still consists of a sub-rectangular drystone structure, measuring 5.9 m from NE to SW by 2.7 m transversely, with two entrances to the SE. The walls are 0.9 m thick and 0.8 m high. A stone platform occupies the NE end of the interior, and the NW wall incorporates a recess measuring 2.2 m in depth by 1.5 m in breadth.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, centred on the still, to include the still and an area around in which evidence associated with its construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

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 an upstanding structure, indicating a good degree of preservation. Despite the development of surrounding woodland, subsequent landuse as moorland and its close relationship with water means that there is high potential for further associated archaeological deposits to be preserved. Its location, beyond but not too far from settlement, hidden on broken, heathery moorland near running water, in an environment which would have provided the fuel and other resources necessary for the illicit distilling of whisky, is typical of this class of monument.

Contextual characteristics: By their hidden nature, illicit stills have proved hard to identify in the archaeological record; only 23 have been identified throughout Scotland, and few others may survive. However, they played an important role in the construction and reproduction of the identities and mentalities of West Highland farming, and later crofting communities, occupying a place at the centre of small-scale acts of resistance against Improvement ideologies and government legislation, and providing a vital economic cruck to support disenfranchised subsistence-farming populaces.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it is a rare and well-preserved example of a monument of its class. While the artefact of the metal still may no longer be present, the architectural accoutrements that housed it and the malting floor, as well as related organic materials are likely to be preserved. It has the potential to inform future research into the local methods of illicit distilling as well as the role illicit whisky production played within the economies and identities of farming communities in Highland Scotland. Its loss would substantially reduce our ability to understand these issues.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the monument as NH43SE55.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

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