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Bunrannoch House, prehistoric and medieval settlement and agricultural remains 340m WSW and 85m north west of

A Scheduled Monument in Highland, Perth and Kinross

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.6928 / 56°41'33"N

Longitude: -4.184 / 4°11'2"W

OS Eastings: 266341

OS Northings: 757802

OS Grid: NN663578

Mapcode National: GBR JC11.25J

Mapcode Global: WH4LC.P1TK

Entry Name: Bunrannoch House, prehistoric and medieval settlement and agricultural remains 340m WSW and 85m NW of

Scheduled Date: 7 November 2018

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13712

Schedule Class: Cultural

Location: Fortingall

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Highland

Traditional County: Perthshire

Description

The monument comprises a complex of later prehistoric and medieval structures and their associated remains, visible as low-lying earthworks. They are the remains of settlement and of agricultural and industrial activity which is likely to have originated in the second millennium BC and continued, intermittently, into the early medieval period. The monument is located on low lying ground to the east of Loch Rannoch at approximately 215m above sea level. 

The monument includes three roundhouses likely to be later prehistoric in origin, two larger settlement structures known as monumental roundhouses likely to date to the early historic period and five longhouses thought to originate in the medieval period. In addition, the monument includes adjacent remains and buried archaeological and environmental deposits from settlement and agricultural activities. The site has been variously occupied through later prehistory and into the early historic and medieval periods.

The scheduled area comprises a clipped circle, 50m in diameter and a polygon. It includes the remains described above and an area around them in which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area extends up to but does not include modern boundary features. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above-ground remains of all existing modern features including structures, fences and gates and the top 30cm of all tracks.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The overall site has been a focus for occupation starting in later prehistory and continuing through the Iron Age to the early Historic and later periods. The complex represents a significant degree of continuity of settlement and agricultural activity, including the use of some of the buildings over an extended time period. Individual structures survive as substantial earthworks with good potential for undisturbed features and deposits in the ground surrounding them.

The monument consists of three distinct elements, each characterised by form, function and likely date of origin, although in use there was a degree of overlap. The earliest remains are of three roundhouses likely to date to the second millennium BC. Each is approximately 20m in diameter and they survive as low circular earthworks. In one case, a rectangular structure sits within the low circular mound and this may be the remains of later adaptation of the roundhouse. The three roundhouses are located towards the west end of the monument. In the area surrounding them, there are numerous low circular and sub-circular earthwork mounds, likely to be contemporary clearance cairns, the product of agricultural improvement when the roundhouses were in use as dwellings.

The second set of features comprises a pair of later prehistoric / early historic monumental roundhouses (often referred to as homesteads) located towards the northeast side of the monument. These are much larger circular earthworks appearing as dished hollows surrounded by low earthwork rings and each measuring approximately 30m in overall diameter with massive walls about 4m thick. In the case of the northeast most example (located on ground to the north of the modern road) there are low linear earthwork banks partly enclosing the roundhouse. These are likely to be remnants of the wider land management regime when these roundhouses were in use. 

The third set of features comprises five rectangular buildings (referred to as 'creel houses') all similarly aligned and at their east ends, open-ended. They are visible as low earthwork features and have been collectively referred to as 'Bunrannoch village'. The buildings are each up to 30m long and up to 10m wide, and are believed to be domestic structures dating to the early Historic period. Human occupation would have been at one end of the structure, with a byre at the other, perhaps with a removable gable to ease handling of animals (MacGregor 2010, 407). In the ground surrounding them, there are likely to be the surviving remains of contemporary activity such as various land uses, boundary features and occupation debris.

In the ground beneath and surrounding the elements described above, there are likely to be further archaeological and environmental features resulting from occupation and agricultural/industrial activity here. Aerial photography and LiDAR data combined with the physical relief of these additional low earthworks indicates a much more dense concentration of archaeological remains beyond the known and recorded structures. This includes the less visible earthwork features and buried deposits of clearance, boundaries, rig and furrow systems and the overall assemblage of artefacts and environmental remains.

The partial excavation of one of the monumental roundhouses and one of the creel houses (Atkinson et al. 2001) has demonstrated the survival of archaeological materials here. Excavation has also yielded important information about the construction and function of these buildings through time.  Archaeological evidence points to a mix of domestic, agricultural and industrial activity seen in the surviving structural form of the monument, the division of land for cultivation and cattle husbandry and artefact assemblages that have been excavated. In the case of the monumental roundhouses, it has been suggest that these were re-purposed as areas for industrial activity – reflected in the presence of smelting and smithing waste (MacGregor 2010, 407-8). There is, therefore, considerable interest and research potential here not only in the group of monuments present, but in the periods and continuity through time they represent. There is a development sequence evident and a likely overlap in use, between each of the components. This can be seen in the adaptation and reuse of at least one of the roundhouse and the likely contemporary use of the monumental round houses with the adjacent, later, rectangular buildings.

Contextual Characteristics

Taken individually, each element of the site has significance. The earlier roundhouses represent a widespread group of prehistoric settlement that remains of which survives across Scotland. To have contemporary agricultural remains such as clearance cairns and possible land divisions surviving with this small group adds to this significance. Secondly, the two monumental roundhouses are of significance because they represent a regionally specific type of later prehistoric / early historic monument. Of the 100 or so known examples, the majority are located in northwest Perthshire (with other examples located in Argyll, Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway). This is an outlying pair, to the west of a major concentration around Loch Tummel and their relatively uncommon proximity to one another adds to their significance (Taylor 1990, 41, 53). Lastly, the group of five creel houses are of interest because of their concentration, suggestive of a larger group or community and perhaps the organisation of farming and cattle rearing in a key location among the wider landscape. The forms, periods and activities represented here are similar to those recorded in Strathardle with Pitcarmick-type buildings and their co-location with earlier settlement remains (scheduled monument SM5324, Canmore ID reference: 27270).

Beyond the importance of the individual remains in themselves, the complex as a whole is of significance because of the evidence it provides of a prolonged period of land use - for agriculture, settlement and industry from the second millennium BC through to recent centuries. The complex of remains represents a considerable time-depth across prehistoric and historic periods and they form a relatively dense concentration of domestic, industrial and agricultural monument types. This is, therefore, a relatively rare collection of monuments variously in use over a period of a thousand years and more, surviving in one, relatively small area.

Finally, the position of this monument complex at the head of Loch Rannoch and at a crossroads between several natural routeways appears to be deliberate. This provides an insight into the ways in which people, settled, exploited natural resources, worked, travelled and communed.

Associative Characteristics

The complex of buildings here has been associated with the events of the Jacobite rising and highland clearances in the eighteenth century (MacGregor 2010, 399). The archaeological excavation of one of the rectangular structures indicates that rebuilding took place here following a fire, however, associations with this evidence and the wider events such as the clearances, remains circumstantial.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it contributes to our understanding of multi-period settlement and associated activities in Scotland.  In particular the monument is of importance for its contribution to our understanding of the construction, use and development of circular and rectangular buildings including hut circles, monumental homesteads and the relatively uncommon, open-ended creel houses in Highland Perthshire. The monumental roundhouses are a good example of a regionally distinctive class of settlement that, along with the other remains, retain their field characteristics, with good potential for the survival of archaeological deposits within, beneath and around the upstanding remains. The monument can significantly add to our understanding of later prehistoric life, Iron Age domestic buildings, the development of a regionally distinctive group of buildings and the organisation of communities and their activities. There is considerable significance in the level of continuity of occupation and activity that the remains evidence. In the case of the monumental roundhouses, the monument's importance is enhanced by its association with a wider cluster around Loch Tummel. The loss or damage of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the character and development of multi-period settlement in Perthshire, the placing of settlements in the landscape, as well as society and economy during the periods represented.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number CANMORE IDs 24571, 24573 (accessed on 13 Sep 2018).

Local Authority HER/SMR Reference numbers MPK 237, 239, 14637 (accessed on 13 Sep 2018).

LiDAR for Scotland Phase II DTM NN65 https://remotesensingdata.gov.scot/products?collections=4bbd5cc3-d879-55e0-a44d-2567697a1471 (accessed on 27/9/2018)

Atkinson, Duffy and MacGregor, J, P and G, 2001, Rannoch Archaeological Project. 2001 Pilot Season. =Circulated typescript report.

Cheape, H, 2014, 'Every timber in the forest for Macrae's house': creel houses in the Highlands in, Vernacular Building, 37, 2013-14, 31-49

MacGregor, G, 2010, Legends, Traditions or Coincidences: Remembrance of Historic Settlement in the Central Highlands of Scotland in, International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 14, 3, 2010, 398-413

Strachan D, 2013, Excavations at the Black Spout, Pitlochry. Perth. Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust

Taylor D B, 1990, Circular homesteads in North West Perthshire. Abertay Historical Society, publication 29. Dundee.

Canmore

https://canmore.org.uk/site/24573/
https://canmore.org.uk/site/24571/

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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