Event ID 864155
Category Descriptive Accounts
Type Archaeology Notes
NN63NE 212 67503950
The present landscape and field system of the former district of Lawers is largely a creation of agricultural improvement and change from the late 18th century onwards, though elements of an earlier field system survive. That part of the district lying west of the Lawers Burn is described here; see NN64SE 145 for the lands to the east of the burn.
The lands of Lawers, assessed in the medieval period as a forty-merk land, were granted in 1473 to Colin Campbell of Glenorchy, ancestor of the Campbell earls of Breadalbane. John Farquharson's 1769 Survey of the North Side of Loch Tay (National Archives of Scotland, RHP 973/1, Plans 12 and 13) identifies six Lawers farms to the west of the Lawers Burn: Croftintygan, Tomb, Kilncroft (or Taynacroft), Milton (or Parks) of Lawers, Drimnaferoch and Cuiltrannich. All six can be traced in estate records from at least the late-17th century (Harrison 2003, 54). Milton of Lawers apart, Farquharson depicts a landscape of small enclosed fields of irregular plan interspersed with small areas of grassland and meadow, but (apart from four small plantations on Croftintygan) a landscape devoid of woodlands. Milton, occupying the low ground by the shores of the loch, is very different; in place of irregular enclosures it has rectilinear fields bounded by rows of trees. This is a good example of 18th-century improvement, and Farquharson in his Book of Reference acknowledges it as 'a very neat small farm all enclosed with a dyke (NAS RHP 973/2).
Farquharson shows two head-dykes across the hillside above these farms. One, at about 300m OD, marks the upper limit of the arable ground; the opther, at about 400m OD, is annotated 'new head dyke' on Farquharson's 1772 general plan of the lochside (NAS RHP 569). The ground between the two dykes is described as 'high grass', and may reflect a mid-18th century expansion of the cattle trade (Boyle 2003, 18).
A century after Farquharson, the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Perthshire 1867, sheets lxix and lviii) shows a landscape transformed by improvement, the fields recast as rectilinear enclosures; only Milton of Lawers, already improved in 1769, remains largely unchanged. Most of this improved landscape survives today, though the various holdings have now been consolidated into two farms, Ben Lawers Farm and Easter Croftintygan. Little remains of the earlier field system, however, except at the upper edge of the enclosed ground. Here the two head-dykes survive, though the upper one has been replaced by a stone dyke (which follows roughly the same line). Immediately below the lower head-dyke, some of the field boundaries depicted in 1769 can also be traced, and in a few instances they enclose small areas of rig and furrow cultivation.
Visited by RCAHMS (SDB, AGCH) November 2000
Harrison 2003 (=RCAHMS MS1155/6)