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Ground Survey

Date February 2009 - April 2011

Event ID 964491

Category Recording

Type Ground Survey


A programme of survey work was undertaken February 2009 to April 2011 on three archaeological sites in the vicinity of Mulchaich Farm by members of NOSAS.

NH 57966 56957 (centred on) East township A plane table survey was carried out of this previously recorded township, which is located in intensively farmed land 400m to the NE of Mulchaich Farm. It covers an area of 100 x 50m on a NW-facing slope above the Cromarty Firth and has extensive views towards the town of Dingwall and Ben Wyvis. The remains of nine buildings, two enclosures and several other features can be seen as earth or earth and stone banks. The banks range from between 0.3–0.5m high and 1–1.5m wide. The footings of some of the buildings have distinct stone edges, whilst others have substantial earth support on their lower sides. Many of the buildings have multiple compartments. A cup-marked stone with 16 cups was found amongst clearance material to the N of the site

NH 5766 5679 (centred on) Chambered Cairn (NH55NE 2) A plane table survey of this scheduled chambered cairn, with two encircling kerbs, was completed by NOSAS members in April 2011. The inner kerb surrounds the top of the knoll and is roughly circular, c17m diameter edge to edge; a previously recorded cup-marked stone is at the S edge of this kerb. The outer kerb is elliptical and 50m diameter NW–SE, 40m NE–SW. The stones here are generally smaller than those in the upper kerb and many have been displaced. The height of this kerb varies from 0.3–0.5m to 1m although it is barely discernible in places.

NH 5763 5688 (centred on) West site A plane table survey was carried out of this previously unrecorded site, which is located in intensively farmed land to the N of Mulchaich Farm. It covers 100 x 70m on two steep spurs of ground, which enclose a marsh and has a NW-facing aspect. The site consists of the remains of seven buildings, a large enclosure and several working areas. Six of the seven buildings are substantial and of similar construction, with the remains of solid stone footings on substantial turf and stone platforms, which have up to 1m of underbuild at their lower end. The wall footings are generally of stone and turf, although in some places they have double faced stonework with a rubble core. Two of the six buildings are kilns with barns and two of the buildings may have opposing entrances.

Oral tradition suggests that this site was a distillery constructed in the 18th century under the ‘Ferintosh privilege’. In 1689 Duncan Forbes of Culloden 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. A densely populated area, with at least seven large townships is depicted on Roy’s map of c1750. Neither of the sites at Mulchaich are shown on the 1st Edition OS survey of 1870.

Archive: Highland HER, local library and RCAHMS

NOSAS, 2011

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