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RCAHMS National Archaeological Survey: North-east Perth

The issue of this volume, the first of the new series of archaeological surveys to appear in print, represents a significant departure from the practices established by the Commission in the management of survey and the publication of its results. For more than eighty years topographical survey has been concerned with the identification and recording of both archaeological and architectural material, the ultimate objective being to complete an assessment of the entire national heritage at the same level of detailed appraisal. As originally conceived, the completed record was to consist of a series of published Inventories, whose contents would chart the gradual county-by-county progress towards a finite goal.

It is now widely realised that, without an impracticably large injection of resources, to cover the entire country in similar detail would take far too long; countless monuments and buildings would have succumbed to the pressures of development or decay before their significance, or perhaps even their existence, could be recognised. Moreover, it is also plain that the finiteness of the record is an outmoded concept; advances in recording technology, the deepening of academic insights, and changing social values will constantly combine to widen the field of reference for those assessing the built environment of Scotland's past.

Accordingly, it has been decided that the 'Inventory of Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions ‘which the Commissioners are charged by Royal Warrantor compile , should be construed as the archives of the National Monuments Record of Scotland, where full details of all Commission survey programmes are publicly accessible ; new survey publications , such as this, will therefore present a distillation of the information recorded in separate archaeological and architectural programmes, whose primary purpose will be to record areas or categories of monument not adequately represented in the national archive. In addition, each individual programme will be of smaller compass, seeking to reduce the interval between the collection of data in the field and the publication of the results, whether in book-form or as a series of Record-entries. The overall concern, however, will remain the same as in the past, to help contemporary society to learn more about the culture, civilisation and conditions of life experienced by the people of Scotland in earlier times.

In respect of archaeological survey, attention must also be drawn to other factors which have given rise to changes in the presentation of the published evidence. Foremost among these is the perception that it is no longer satisfactory to survey isolated 'unitary' monuments without regard to the landscape of which they once formed part ; nor is it possible to ignore the fact that the modern landscape is a patchwork , often incorporating the complex visible remains of several patterns of past landsite record this complexity has called for improved techniques of survey, using computer-based measuring and draughting-equipment, as well as the greateremployment of mapping-scales (which also facilitates thetransfer of archaeological information to the OrdnanceSurvey for use in published maps).

The advantages of this approach are particularly well displayed by the subject of the present volume, which deals with the north-east portion of Perth and KinrossDistrict , Tayside Region. Extending over some 46,600ha, the area embraces considerable tracts of upland terrainexploited by man at various periods in the past, but now lying beyond the limits of cultivation. In these areas lie extensive stretches of old settlement- and cultivation remains, many of which, although exceptionally well preserved, have not previously been recorded. Their publication here represents a significant advance in our ability to understand the successive phases of upland settlement, especially that of the pre-improvement period, evidence for which has rarely been so completely assembled.

The items included in this survey, which is mainly concerned with the archaeological evidence, cover a wide timespan, ranging in period from Neolithic funerary sites to deserted farmsteads of nineteenth-century date. All sites and monuments up to 1600 are described (medieval buildings in summary form), but thereafter attention is focused on the pre-Improvement rural landscape, and sites shown as occupied on the first edition of the OS 6-inch map (1860s) are omitted. The following categories are also omitted: buildings in towns; roads, railways and canals; most structures of nineteenth-century and later date. A list of monuments within the survey area that are considered to be worthy of preservation will be included in the forthcoming 25th Report of the Commission. The text has been written by M M Brown , BA, Dip Arch, P Corser, BEd, Dip Arch , S P Halliday, BSc, J N G Ritchie , MA, PhD, FSA, J R Sherriff, BA, AIFA, I M Smith, BA, J B Stevenson, BA, FSA, MIFA, and edited by G S Maxwell , MA, FSA, FRSA and J B Stevenson. The drawings and other illustrative work have been undertaken by J Borland , BA, D R Boyd, A J Leith, I G Parker, and S Scott. The photographs were taken by J D Keggie. The layout has been designed by I G Scott, DA, MAAIS and J N Stevenson, NDD. The project has greatly benefited from the advice given by the Commission's Archaeological Programme Committee, and particular thanks are owed to Professor L Alcock (Chairman) and Professor G Jobey. The Commission wishes to acknowledge the assistance given by the owners of the archaeological monuments, who have allowed access for study and survey, and to the field staff of the former OS Archaeology Division, on whose work the present survey was based. Thanks are due to the following for assistance and information: J Anderson , the Duke of Atholl, W Bains, Professor J Caird , Captain A A C Farquharson of Invercauld , L Frazer, D Grant, S Halliday , J Harris, R Hepburn, Dr A Lavery , Sir William and Lady McPherson , the National Library of Scotland , D P Petrie , A Reid (Perth Museum),A G Reid , J Rideout , L M Thoms, S Winton ; and to the following for assistance in the field: A Ferguson, M Harman , D Low, N Murray, and J Page.

RCAHMS 1990 [Preface]