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SRP Archaeology Notes

Date 24 August 2011

Event ID 634570

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Srp Note

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/event/634570

Mulchaich Farm, East Settlement – GR centred on NH 57966 56957

This township is located 400m to the NE of Mulchaich Farm in intensively farmed land. It is on a NW facing slope above the Cromarty Firth and has extensive views towards the town of Dingwall and Ben Wyvis. The site is in the middle of a field on an elongated flat knoll and does not appear to have been ploughed. It is grazed by cattle or sheep but in the summer is overgrown with dockens and thistles. The site covers an area of 100m x 50m. The remains of nine buildings, two enclosures and several other features are apparent as earth or earth and stone banks, which are 0.3m to 0.5m in height with a spread of between 1 and 1.5m. Some of the buildings have distinct stone edges to their footings, others have substantial earth underbuild on their lower sides. Many of the buildings have multiple compartments. See plan for layout

Buildings 13 and 14 and buildings 15, 16 and 17 in the SW part of the site form two parallel ranges, which stretch for a length of approximately 50m and enclose an elongated quadrangle, with building 19, set at right angles in the central part of the site, forming the north limit. Building 19 has more stone composition in its wall footings and has two compartments, with a stone slab set on edge between them.

The north part of the site has two single compartment buildings, both with enclosures, 22-23 and 24-25. A complex building, 26, occupies the NE corner of the site. The main part of this building is just 6m x 2.5m internally and there are two outshots, with communicating openings into the main compartment, abutting each of the west most corners; both are at a higher level by some 0.3m; the south most also has an entrance to the outside in the south.

A cup marked stone was found amongst clearance material to the north of building 26. The stone measures 84cms x 69cms x c30cms and has 16, possibly 17 cups. On the NW side of the site there is a complex series of terraces with, in one part, a steep bank, 21, which is faced with cobbles; this is 5m in length x 1m in height.

Two areas of quarrying are seen as deep indentations into the side of the knoll, one into the NW side and the other, a smaller one, into the SE side. An earth and stone bank which has been truncated by the NW quarry may have defined an enclosure

This site is not depicted on the 1st Edition OS survey of 1870 but the Roy map of c1750 depicts a densely populated area at Ferintosh, with at least 7 large townships. In 1689 Duncan Forbes of Culloden (1644 – 1704) secured the privilege of distilling whisky free of duty on his Ferintosh Estate for services rendered to the Crown, his estate had been sacked by the Jacobites in 1689. There was an immediate boom in the production of the spirit and Ferintosh whisky became increasingly popular and important, both because of its quality and its price. In 1781 there was an outcry from Lowland distillers against the flood of whisky produced in Ferintosh.

In c1782 a large distillery was constructed at Ferintosh, but "the privilege" was withdrawn in 1786 to meet other distillers complaints about the injustice of the competition from Ferintosh whisky.

Robert Burns in his poem “Scotch Drink”, 1786, devoted a verse to Ferintosh whisky, lamenting:

“Thee Ferintosh! O sadly lost!

Scotland lament frae coast to coast!

Now colic grips, an’ barkin’ hoast

May kill us a’;

For loyal Forbes’ charter’d boast

Is taen awa’!”

People and Organisations

References