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Upper Raitts

Township (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Upper Raitts

Classification Township (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Baldow, Easter Raitts

Canmore ID 115699

Site Number NH70SE 6.02

NGR NH 7770 0230

NGR Description centred on NH 7770 0230

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/115699

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Alvie
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Badenoch And Strathspey
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NH70SE 6.02 centred on 7770 0230

A township comprising seven unroofed buildings and an enclosure is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Inverness-shire 1872, sheet lxxxvii). Ten unroofed buildings and an enclosure are shown on the current edition of the OS 1:10000 map (1994).

Information from RCAHMS (SAH) 16 July 1996

NH 777 023 The survey at Easter Raitts was commissioned by Highland Regional Council and was conducted by AOC (Scotland) Ltd. The aim of the survey was to provide data which would enable a reconstruction of the township, at the Highland Folk Park, on a similar land form to the original. The survey area lies on the S-facing slopes on the N side of the river Spey some 2km NE of Kingussie. Two areas were targeted for the survey: to the W a square area c60m by 60m, and to the E a rectangular area c340m E to W and 120m wide.

The W area contained a corn-drying kiln, an enclosure, a platform and two rectangular buildings. In the larger area to the E, 36 features were recorded: amongst these were 10 rectangular buildings. Some of these are mapped on the first edition OS map, surveyed in 1869, as part of a settlement called Baldow. Two of the features recorded in the E area may predate the main parts of the Baldow settlement; a platform to the W and the cairn to the E of Baldow, may both be of prehistoric date.

A copy of the report is lodged with the Highland SMR.

Sponsor: Highland Regional Council.

M Dalland 1995.

NH 7774 0228 Excavation was carried out during June 1995 in advance of the proposed reconstruction of the township of Easter Raitts for the development of the Highland Folk Park. The township is the easternmost of several similar settlements in the area known as Upper Raitts.

A total area of over 55sq m was excavated. This took the form of eight individual trenches positioned across the interior and exterior of two domestic structures and outbuildings, associated terraces, dykes and lanes. One trench examined one of a pair of possible kilns lying adjacent to each other cut into a terrace.

The structures appear to be well built with faced stone, squared corners and paved byres. floors of beaten earth were identified within the main chambers of two structures. The immediate exterior of one of the structures appears to have been cobbled, with entrances either cobbled or flagstone-laid in both cases. A small assemblage of finds consisting mainly of glass sherds and sherds of porcelain was recovered during the excavation.

Sponsor: Highland Folk Museum.

K Cameron 1995.

NH 7774 0228 A three-week season of excavation at the township of Easter Raitts, providing training as part of Aberdeen University's Certificate in Field Archaeology, investigated two longhouses. One proved to have at least three levels of earth floor preserved around a central hearth and paved area at the W end of the house, with a stone-packed drain at the E end. An additional room at the E end of the building was cobbled and paved and contained a curving stone structure, possibly a kiln. Structural evidence consisted of two large post-holes, including one which had supported a central post by the hearth.

A second longhouse investigated had been reused to house animals. It had a central hearth and a paved entrance leading onto a cobbled apron which looked out over Strathspey. A cruck-slot, consisting of a substantial stone setting, was also found. The entrance had later been sealed and a rough manger constructed at the W end, against the wall of a later structure built over that end of the longhouse. Abutting this smaller, stone-built structure was a rectangular platform, possibly used to store hay, and a large cobbled yard to the W.

Outside both longhouses was evidence that the walls had been built of turf, piled above stone footings one or two courses high.

Sponsors: Highland Council, Vernacular Buildings Trust, Aberdeen University.

O Lelong 1997

NH 777 023 Excavation of the largest structure in the township (Structure 6) showed it was a multi-phase building apparently given over entirely to animals, with each of the five rooms or areas added at different times using slightly different methods of construction. The earliest part of the building had at least three superimposed clay and earth floors, associated with two phases of post or cruck-settings, in its western part. Its eastern half was dominated by a flagged drain or walkway flanked by areas of cobbling. To the W was a small byre with a central drain and a cobbled stand. The area to the E contained a deep drain which led out beneath the S wall of the building; the rest of its interior was roughly cobbled, with evidence of a possible internal partition. Two entrances - one paved, one cobbled - pierced the N wall on either side of the possible partition, and both had been blocked at some point in the mid-19th century. The easternmost room was a small, cobbled byre with a drain leading out of its E end, possibly used for small animals such as goats. To the S was a large, roughly floored room, interpreted as a feeding station for cattle grazing in the adjacent field. No evidence of human occupation in the form of hearths or other features was found in Structure 6.

Two other features, thought to be possible middens located outside longhouses, were also investigated. Feature 15, directly S of longhouse 24 (O Lelong 1997), proved to be a deliberate scoop, revetted on its upslope side and defined on the other side by a slight earthen bank. The scoop had been dug out onto a natural clay deposit, suggesting that the clay?s impermeable properties were needed to retain water in the scoop - perhaps to puddle clay for use as floors in the buildings. Feature 26, directly S of longhouse 21 (excavated in 1997), appeared to have been an outbuilding of some kind. It consisted of a rectangular paved area surrounded by a gravel bank which dipped sharply at the edges of the paving, suggesting the former existence of a thin wall around it. Several possible post-holes were identified around the edges of the paving; one was excavated and did prove to be a post-hole. Further excavation in longhouse 21, around the hearth and in the entranceway, discovered a total of six superimposed floor layers S of the hearth - three contemporary with an area of paving and three running beneath it. Those beneath the paving were entirely free of mass-produced pottery. A complete spade foot with remnants of a burnt handle was found lying on the first floor associated with the paving, sealed by the next floor.

Sponsors: Historic Scotland, Highland Council, University of Aberdeen, Highland Vernacular Buildings Trust.

O Lelong 1998

NH 777 023 Excavation over five weeks in July and August 1999 of a built platform at the western edge of the township of Easter Raitts revealed a complex history of use (Lelong 1998). The latest event was a sub-rectangular building which had been extended and rebuilt several times; a large paved area extending beyond and beneath a secondary end wall may represent an earlier, larger building, the floor of which was reused in the later structure. Pottery sherds date the extension of the later building to the mid- to late 18th century; a soakaway in this later building indicates it was probably used as a byre.

In the northern part of the trench, a stony bank had been built in the 18th century along the edge of the built platform; this sealed a ground surface which in turn sealed earlier features. A sub-circular, possibly cellular, boulder-built structure was uncovered and recorded; hundreds of pieces of tap slag from ironworking were found in the vicinity of this structure. In addition, 12 sherds of coarse pottery representing at least six different vessels were recovered from this part of the trench, as well as a flint bladelet of probable Bronze Age date. The pottery includes several fingernail-impressed sherds and two sherds of All-Over-Comb Beaker. Although the prehistoric finds recovered in this season were not in situ, they suggest that the platform was the site of prehistoric activity and saw reuse in the post-medieval period. Excavation of the platform is planned to continue in the summer of 2000.

Sponsors: Historic Scotland, Highland Council, Highland Vernacular Buildings Trust, University of Aberdeen, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

O Lelong 1999

NH 777 023 Excavation continued in July 2000 on platform 5 at the W end of the township of Easter Raitts (DES 1999, 51). A spread of large boulders, curving along the E and S sides of the platform, was found to seal pieces of tap slag; these were also found in great quantities across the rest of the trench. A fire spot of scorched subsoil, sealed by charcoal-rich material that included pieces of tap slag, fragments of burnt bone and sherds of later prehistoric pottery, was identified near the centre of the platform and is thought to be the site of a smelting hearth. Fragments of furnace lining were found in higher levels, and the hearth itself seemed to have been dismantled. The boulder spread sealed a slumped turf bank, which in turn sealed post-holes and stake-holes cut along the edge of the platform, apparently defining a structure pre-dating the smithing phase. Further sherds of later prehistoric pottery were found in association with the earliest ground surface. In addition, a stone-lined pit was found to contain sherds of possibly Early Neolithic pottery and a carbonised crab apple (sp. Malus sylvestris). Several sherds of All-Over-Comb Beaker and an Early Neolithic flint blade, found in levels that indicate they were residual, also suggest earlier prehistoric use of the platform. Later, post-medieval use of the site had disturbed and churned the earlier deposits.

A post-medieval structure at the E end of the township was also evaluated. It proved to be a small byre or outbuilding, with a partly paved interior and a metalled stand at one end. The building exhibited two phases of construction, with an earlier, longer building defined by earthen banks overlain by a smaller, later structure of stone footings set atop the banks; this had later been sub-divided into two compartments.

Sponsors: Historic Scotland, Highland Council, Highland Folk Museum, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, University of Aberdeen.

O Lelong 2000

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