Ancient Monuments

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Midtown, burnt mounds 850m NNE of

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.3762 / 57°22'34"N

Longitude: -4.2803 / 4°16'48"W

OS Eastings: 262988

OS Northings: 834050

OS Grid: NH629340

Mapcode National: GBR H9T7.02X

Mapcode Global: WH3FQ.7V0P

Entry Name: Midtown, burnt mounds 850m NNE of

Scheduled Date: 1 October 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11553

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: burnt mound

Location: Dores

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire

Description

The monument comprises a group of four large burnt mounds, likely to be be prehistoric in date. The heather-covered mounds lie at approximately 220m above sea level, rising from boggy ground either side of a small burn running into Loch Ashie.

The most clearly defined mound is U-shaped in plan, measures 10m long by 9.5m wide and rises up to 1.5m high. The second mound is kidney-shaped in plan, measuring 13.5m long, by 10m wide, and up to 1.2m high. The third mound is also kidney-shaped and measures 10m long by 5m wide. The final mound is C-shaped and measures 12.5m long, by 7m wide, and up to 1.3m in height. All the mounds have grassy hollows. A post-and-wire fence runs N to S along the W edge of the group and a large natural knoll forms the S boundary of the complex. Erosion by the burn, which runs through the centre of the site, has exposed burnt stones.

On excavation, burnt mound sites typically reveal heaps of burnt and fire-cracked stones mixed with charcoal bearing soil. Investigation by RCAHMS in 1992 of these particular mounds confirmed that they are composed of reddened, cracked stone and charcoal in a matrix of black soil. The stones were heated on adjacent hearths and dropped into a water-filled pit or trough to boil water. Such sites are invariably sited close to a source of water. Interpretations vary, but they are generally thought to be cooking places and the great majority of dated, excavated examples in the north of Scotland have proved themselves to be of Bronze Age date, although any date from the later Neolithic to the early medieval period is possible.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the visible remains and an area around in which evidence relating to the construction and use of the site may be expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the modern fence.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument is in a good state of preservation. It is upstanding and clearly visible in the landscape and its various elements preserve of all the field characteristics of this class of site. The continued landuse as pasture and absence of any sign of disturbance, apart from some erosion by the burn, will have probably resulted in the preservation of high quality archaeological deposits within and adjacent to the burnt mounds. It therefore has the potential to reveal further information about the local economy, diet and food preparation in the later prehistoric period. The close grouping of these burnt mounds, with the possibility that this represents episodes of activity spanning a long period of time, adds considerably to the value and the research potential of this site.

Contextual characteristics: As a well-preserved complex of burnt mounds, probably Bronze Age in date, the monument is an intrinsic part of the pattern of later prehistoric rural settlement and landuse. It has the potential to reveal much about the economy, diet and food preparation practices in the later prehistoric communities of NE Scotland. Comparing and contrasting it to other burnt mounds in the locality, and outside the region, can aid an understanding of regional economy and society.

National importance: This monument is of national importance because it is rare and appears to be particularly well preserved. It has the potential to make a significant contribution to our knowledge of upland landuse and society in this locality and, by association, the rest of Scotland in the later prehistoric period. The loss of this impressive, well-preserved example would affect our future ability to understand these issues.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the monument as NH63SW 61; Highland Council SMR as NH63SW0072.

References:

RCAHMS 1992, Survey drawing; Loch Ashie, burnt mounds. C25787/PO.

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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