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Upperton, fermtoun 300m WSW of

A Scheduled Monument in Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside, Aberdeenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.2473 / 57°14'50"N

Longitude: -3.0569 / 3°3'24"W

OS Eastings: 336317

OS Northings: 817891

OS Grid: NJ363178

Mapcode National: GBR L9TK.NCG

Mapcode Global: WH7MM.03LH

Entry Name: Upperton, fermtoun 300m WSW of

Scheduled Date: 1 October 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11848

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Glenbuchat

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of Upperton, a fermtoun of 18th to 20th century date. It lies in unimproved pasture at about 350m OD, on a S-facing slope towards the N end of Glenbuchat.

The monument consists of the remains of at least 14 rectangular stone buildings in varying states of ruin, interspersed with yards, enclosures, trackways and two small quarries. Most of the buildings are visible as collapsed stone walls standing up to about 0.5m in height, although some are visible only as turf-covered banks and stand only to about 0.3m high. The fermtoun was well established by the end of the 18th century, and was reorganised in the early 19th century by Fife Estates, when it was put up for public auction. During this reorganisation, the hillside below Upperton was enclosed. A farm was created at the E end of the fermtoun and a croft created at the W end. The remaining land was subdivided into six narrow lots and let to previous tenants and sub-tenants displaced by the reorganisation; the remains of this field pattern are still visible in the agricultural land below the fermtoun.

The majority of the structures visible at the monument today date to this period of 19th century Improvement and the First Edition Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1869 depicts them. One of these, at the W end of the monument, has an adjacent horse engine platform. It is unclear whether any of the structures dating to before the estate reorganisation survive. However, three grass-covered structures located slightly uphill at the W end of the fermtoun do not appear on any editions of the OS mapping. This suggests that they were already in an advanced state of collapse by the date of the First Edition mapping and may pre-date the 19th century reorganisation of Upperton.

The Second Edition OS map of 1902 shows that by the early 20th century, many of the buildings at the W end of Upperton had fallen out of use but that several new cottages had been constructed at the E end of the fermtoun since the First Edition mapping. Two of these are still roofed and in use (outside the scheduled area), but one within the area proposed for scheduling remains. It is unroofed and stands to gable height at its W end.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which evidence relating to their construction and use may survive, bounded on the SW by a modern track and on the W by a modern post-and-wire fence, as shown in red on the accompanying map extract. The scheduling excludes the modern post-and-wire fence, to allow for its maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument is a well-preserved example of an Improvement period fermtoun, with upstanding remains dating from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Despite some stone robbing, some of the buildings retain well-constructed drystone walls and diagnostic architectural features. The monument includes a relatively well-preserved horse-engine platform, a common feature of Improvement period rural settlements. Given the site's current use as pastureland, it is likely that archaeologically significant deposits relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the structures remain in situ.

The site has considerable potential to enhance understanding of the processes of reorganisation of rural settlements in the 19th and early 20th centuries and the daily lives of the people who occupied them. The evolution of the fermtoun of Upperton over the course of the 19th and early 20th centuries is well documented, and the monument therefore has the potential to provide information relating to a relatively well-defined chronological period.

Contextual characteristics: The monument is a good representative of its class. The site was reorganised and auctioned in the early 19th century as part of a wider programme of improvement by the Fife Estate. The survival of rental and other documents relating to the fermtoun at Aberdeen University and elsewhere, and census returns for the period of its occupation, enhance the potential of the monument to inform us about this period of history. Comparison of the local vernacular architectural features in this area with those on other Scottish historic rural settlement sites may enhance our understanding of regional variation in rural settlement between the medieval period and the 19th century.

Associative characteristics: The monument is the product of a period of systematic estate reorganisation. When placed for public auction in 1813, the occupants were listed as Walter Ross, William Gauld and Samual Walker. The quality of the surviving documentary evidence means that it should be possible for living descendants to identify Upperton as where their ancestors lived. Upperton therefore has potential in terms of genealogical research as well as academic research and education.

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 the Improvement period and the practice of systematic estate reorganisation. Its relatively good preservation and the survival of historical records directly related to the monument's occupation enhances this potential. The loss of this example would impede future ability to understand these issues and the history of Glenbuchat in particular.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the monument as NJ31NE 24.

References:

RCAHMS 2007, IN THE SHADOW OF BENNACHIE: THE FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY OF DONSIDE, ABERDEENSHIRE, Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Cruikshank K, Nisbet J and Greig M 2004. THE LIMEKILNS OF UPPER DONSIDE: A FORGOTTEN HERITAGE, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire Council.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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