Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Strathconon Project

Date October 2006 - October 2009

Event ID 618211

Category Project

Type Project


NH 4465 5460 – NH 1000 4700 A project to identify and record archaeological remains in Strathconon was undertaken by the NOSAS as part of the Scotland’s Rural Past scheme. The documentary evidence indicated that Strathconon had a population of 1100 people 200 years ago, today there are perhaps 100. The glen was reputed to have been one of the most densely populated areas of Ross-shire and controversial removals are documented during the first half of the 19th century.

The fieldwork for the project took place between October 2006 and October 2009. An area of 70sqkm W of Marybank was targeted, and to make the work manageable the glen was divided into four different phases. In the lower part of the glen forestry and hydro-electric schemes have had a great impact; dams and consequent bodies of water have overwhelmed many of the former settlements. In addition, forest tracks, realignments of roads and power lines have destroyed much of the archaeology. However, in the upper glen preservation was much better and the abundance of archaeological remains provided confirmation of the activities of a large population. A total of 250 sites consisting of 1200 individual features were recorded throughout the whole glen.

The archaeology was not spectacular and was representative of a rural community over the last few centuries. For the prehistoric period a previously unrecorded group of cup-marked rocks were located at Scatwell. This consisted of a main stone with 53 cups and 11 ’satellite’ stones. Two new round houses with field systems were recorded at Carnoch in the upper glen.

There were shielings in just about every upland part of the glen and a total of 300 were recorded. The usual townships comprising the remains of early turf buildings, later stone built structures, corn-drying kilns and enclosures were mostly in the upper glen. Many of these had several pits, thought to be for storing potatoes. Also associated with these townships, and perhaps the most exciting finds of the project, were 49 illicit still bothies. In the lower glen these bothies were hidden in small wooded burns, but in the upper glen they were much more remotely located in the mountains. Our documentary research confirmed that the glen had been a hot-bed of the illicit whisky industry and at one point a ‘no-go’ area for the excise man.

The archaeology of sheep farming and the sporting estate were well represented with perhaps the most unusual sites being three horse engine platforms, a model dairy farm and a cableway over a gorge, which was thought to have been used for winching deer carcasses.

Reports of all four phases of the project can be seen on the via the Digital Files section of the Canmore record, or NOSAS website at and on the Highland HER website at'EHG3309'

Reports: Dingwall Library, Highland HER and RCAHMS

Funder: North of Scotland Archaeological Society

People and Organisations

Digital Images