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Mony's Stone

Standing Stone (Prehistoric)

Site Name Mony's Stone

Classification Standing Stone (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 12255

Site Number NH33SE 5

NGR NH 37499 30066

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/12255

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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Urquhart And Glenmoriston
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Inverness
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NH33SE 5 37499 30066

(NH 3749 3005) Mony's Stone (NR)

OS 6"map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1904)

A standing stone traditionally marking the burial place of Mony's son of one of the Kings of Denmark. Date of erection not known.

Name Book 1871

A standing stone (Approx. 6ft. high and 2 x 1 feet at the base) Correctly published on OS 25" 1968.

Visited by OS (J M) 1 May 1975

Activities

Field Visit (15 September 1943)

This site was recorded as part of the RCAHMS Emergency Survey, undertaken by Angus Graham and Vere Gordon Childe during World War 2. The project archive has been catalogued during 2013-2014 and the material, which includes notebooks, manuscripts, typescripts, plans and photographs, is now available online.

Information from RCAHMS (GF Geddes) 12 November 2014.

Reference (July 2008 - October 2008)

NH 3727 2998 During an assessment, July–October 2008, of the archaeological implications of a proposed 5-turbine wind farm at the southern upland end of the Corrimony valley, it became apparent that the valley had a significant history. It began as a barony (in 1509) and culminated as a prosperous 10,000 acre Victorian sporting estate stocked with grouse, deer and trout in the early 20th century before decline set in. This was accelerated by the destruction by fire of its centrepiece grand house in 1951 and subsequent fragmentation of the estate.

Although most of this sequence is known, the sources are widely scattered and do not appear to have been assembled into a full account before; as a result the estate’s history has escaped recognition. A brief summary is given here to fill this gap and mark its place in the record. The sources include some recorded data, out-of-print local heritage publications, oral tradition and some field survey.

The primary event was the creation of the Barony of Corrimony in 1509 and its award by James IV to a branch

of the Grant family after the family had been progressive landlords of the royal estates of Urquhart. The house of Old Corrimony (NH33SE 33) was built in 1740 and the estate was later sold to Thomas Ogilvy c1835. There is no record of a big house as the baronial seat in the valley until Old Corrimony was built.

(New) Corrimony House, also spelled Corriemony – The RCAHMS (NH32NE 12) simply records its depiction on 1st and 2nd Edition OS maps at NH 3727/2998 (about 590m SW of Old Corrimony) and the fact that the architect Alexander Ross was involved. The RCAHMS Demolition Register, a paper-based record held by RCAHMS and listed by Ian Gow as ‘the only official attempt to record all Scotland’s lost country houses’ does not mention New Corrimony. The Dictionary of Scottish Architects website mentions architectural work by Duncan Cameron in 1891 (no details of works given) and then three episodes by the Alexander Ross firm ‘after 1907’

and ‘before 1923’, each comprising ‘additions’. No reference was found to the original architect.

Out-of-print locally produced heritage booklets from 1982 and 1995 contained two captioned but undated photos in which a lot of detail is evident. New Corrimony was built in or immediately after 1840, and seems to have evolved into the prestigious style of house and designed landscape found on many Victorian estates. One caption describes it as ‘an elegant structure in the Scottish baronial style’. One photograph shows a Gothic-style frontage with three main storeys and a probable attic level; each of the three visible corners has a minor turret. A squared five-storey tower rose in the masonry from ground level beside the entrance with an ornamental minaret on its top, from which (according to the caption) Temple Pier on Loch Ness was visible, a distance of c10 miles. A third locally owned and undated photograph shows the house without a tower, suggesting it was a complete secondary insertion from the ground upwards rather than a modification of only the upper levels. If so, this would have been a major feat of engineering affecting most of the structural fabric of the house, and presumably relates to one of the four listed phases of architectural work, 1891–1923. All

three photographs show New Corrimony sitting in a designed landscape, with ornamental gardens in a formal landscape and a decorative lake.

The house was comprehensively burnt in an electrical fire in 1951, lying as a ruined shell which was adapted for use as a barn until the site was cleared in about 1981. Its site today is reached from the NE down a very evident and 300m long formal tree-lined avenue (possibly of imported wellantonias). The SW end of the avenue opens onto a modern forestry track. The full outline of the house is sub-square in plan, with paced dimensions of c50–60m across. It stands proud of the slope on its SE boundary, with the southern half at a lower level than the rubble platform, and various concreted and stone surfaces partly visible beneath the surface debris. These may in part be original house levels. In the SW corner a small stretch of stone walling still runs outwards from the hillside retaining wall amid the nettles and looks like the remains of a coal store or similar storage.

The surviving E portion of the platform was built out onto the sloping ground to create a garden terrace, and focuses on a surviving flight of six steps, originally leading down onto a formal path between two walled lawns or flowered gardens which sloped to a mature tree at the edge of an ornamental pond in the bottom of the valley c100m SE. The pond outline is clearly identifiable today, with the shoreside tree still standing; its dam to the NE was an earth and stone bank which is still visible as a curving feature 2m high and 3m wide. The other garden features were lost with its subsequent use as cattle pasture, although it still retains the appearance of a designed landscape park of grassland with isolated trees.

Mony’s Stone (NH33SE 5) – This unscheduled standing stone is recorded as traditionally marking the burial place of Mony, ‘a son of one of the Kings of Denmark’; its date of erection is unknown. It is noted in the Name Book of 1871 and shown on the 1st Edition OS map of 1876 in its current position. Mony is a character from legend and local tradition rather than a historical figure; one account describes him as an early Viking raider who became separated from his ship at Crinan and fled up the Great Glen with his sister and his men. Today the stone is incorporated into the eastern side of the formal avenue to New Corrimony and is totally dwarfed by the trees. The setting looks very incongruous and local tradition is that its original location was somewhere

near Mony’s Cave and the Corrimony waterfall, presumably removed before 1876 (or 1871) to create a trophy feature in the formal avenue. The stone apparently has some, possibly three, small ‘Pictish’ inscriptions hidden near its base, but these were not found during these visits.

Other estate features – The current settlement complex at the northern outlet of the valley contains many further buildings and features which were part of the estate infrastructure. These include the listed buildings of

Corrimony cruck-framed barn and Corrimony chapel and graveyard, with its graves of the Grant family, reputedly the site of St Curitan’s chapel; Corrimony farm steading, now used as tourist accommodation; the former manse, and a complement of other estate buildings and cottages nearby.

The lower and mid-valley contain several ruined crofting complexes identified by previous surveyors on both sides of the River Enrick. These are all regarded as early clearances due to the lack of accompanying placenames on archival records. A previously unrecorded series of house sites and field walls exists around NH 373 297, roughly 200m south of New Corrimony. RCAHMS NH32NE 10 records another farmstead site at NH 3585 2690, shown on the 1st Edition OS map of 1876 as three unroofed buildings. One of these was rebuilt as a cottage at NH 35826 26835, and survives today as a tin-roofed bothy. The date 1878 is carved into some internal

wooden fittings; the site is the upper limit of any evidence for settlement in the valley and matches the point where a former track from the Guisachan estate reached the River Enrick.

Further evidence of the estate development as a shooting / fishing facility is provided by a major track through to the upper reaches of the valley terminating at Loch ma Stac, An unrecorded 3-storey lodge survives at NH 3476 2233, at 490m, on an islet reached by a causeway. This was not visited, but is shown by current OS mapping as a building.

An unrecorded set of watermill features may be added from local information. These were not visited. Two high

level lochans on the E side of the valley were named Loch a’ Mhuillin (= Mill Loch), at NH 381 249, 510m and NH 364 230 at 530m. The second drains into the Corrimony valley, and a lade from close to the loch is apparently still clearly visible down to a former mill site near Lochan Marbh (NH 381 285 at 310m); and follows the contour line for a steady descent of up to 7km. Although not precisely located, the mill site is also apparently still evident as a ground feature. The lade is not shown by the OS, although parts of the water courses shown may relate to it. No further information can be given for this system, and its provenance is only broadly assigned within a post-medieval origin. However, its existence and landscape extent show a degree of co-ordinated land management in the valley.

Chronological summary of the Corrimony Valley Today, only one site gives Corrimony any archaeological

profile as a Highland valley. However, the assembly of many minor indications suggests a more complex character, as summarised below. This is highly selective and is therefore presented as a précis to set a baseline rather than as an authoritative account.

Prehistory from Neolithic into Pictish periods (3000 BC – AD 700) Corrimony chambered cairn built in Neolithic

era, with other possible contemporary mounds nearby noted in RCAHMS. Many recorded hut circles and field systems recorded around valley mouth and lower valley. Lower valley seems well settled and exploited for over 4,000 years for agriculture and settlement, extending some way into the mid valley and the probable limits of viable cultivation in terms of ground conditions and increasing altitude.

Late Pictish period (AD 700 onwards) Arrival of St Curitan as a missionary and Mony as a fleeing Viking raider.

Both events, though legends about individuals, suggest that Corrimony was a settled area with resident communities.

1509 Creation of the Corrimony barony as one of three in the area as royal gifts to the local Grant dynasty suggests that Corrimony was prosperous enough to have value as a barony.

1509–1835 Continued development by the Grant family of the estate. Old Corrimony built in 1740 and cruck-framed barn, date unknown, suggests growth in agricultural prosperity.

Estate sold in 1835 into related Ogilvy family. Probable feudal crofting estate economy, with evidence of clearances, probably for sheep farming, in the 1700s, relatively early in the clearance period.

1835–1891 Major change in role of estate to a sporting function. Construction of New Corrimony c1840 in newly

created prestigious landscape and parkland, and opening up of valley with access track. Relocation of ancient features as trophies for new estate.

1888 estate sold to LA Macpherson and then passed to Wallace family. New ownership regimes moved the valley from its traditional economy into the fashionable Victorian leisure pursuits of hunting and fishing. Agricultural revenue diminishing in significance and replaced by external revenue as a sporting estate. Early OS map shows much forestry in lower valley by the end of this period.

1891–1927 Four phases of architectural commissions to New Corrimony. No detail known of these alterations, but each phase involves named architectural practices so implies prosperity. At least one involved the tower insertion as a major reworking.

1927–1951 Land sales in 1941; New Corrimony burnt down in 1951 and not rebuilt, designed landscape abandoned. End of the ‘golden age’ as a sporting estate, and single ownership broken up by sale of farming units.

1951–present Renewed emphasis on agriculture in lower valley, mid and upper valley largely abandoned to intensive forestry plantation patches and conservation. Agriculture used as base for economic diversification into other forms of land use and stewardship, including Forestry Commission and RSPB.

A referenced and slightly expanded version of this narrative will be prepared and lodged with Highland SMR/HER and RCAHMS. No archive created.

Funder: Girvan Enterprise

David Lynn, 2008

Field Visit (September 2009)

NH 3749 3006 The previous DES entry (DES 2008, 117) outlined the fact that this unscheduled standing stone is

recorded as traditionally marking the burial place of Mony, ‘a son of one of the Kings of Denmark’, but that its current position on the eastern side of the formal avenue to the now demolished house of New Corrimony may have been a Victorian relocation. The stone was re-examined in situ with the landowner, Lindsay Girvan, in September 2009. The stone’s lower portion was fairly clear of vegetation this time and some inscribed detail was identified on a small portion of its lower W face close to the northern edge of the stone. This consisted of three elements:

• A neatly inscribed OS benchmark of a horizontal line with underlying arrowhead, immediately beneath a small

horizontal ledge chipped into a slight natural bulge.

• A roughly inscribed but unambiguous date of 1871, which is now fairly faint but can be clearly felt with fingertips.

• A group of possibly three faintly inscribed letters, the clearest of which is O (or 0), with the others possibly

being an H and an L, although these are less definite.

Lindsay advised that the stone had toppled by the 1940s, so was re-erected by his father at that time, and that he had been told the OS benchmark referred to 520ft OD, which is a close match to its current altitude. The grouping of the newly identified features, on a small portion of an otherwise apparently unmarked monolith, does not automatically mean that they were all contemporary. The OS benchmark can be assumed to date from a point in time when the stone was upright, which suggests either after its installation into the avenue around 1870 or after it was re-erected in the 1940s. A third, more intriguing, possibility is that the benchmark

was inscribed when the stone was in its reported original pre-avenue position somewhere near Mony’s Cave and the waterfall. However, this would rely on the OS having undertaken surveys of the area before the OS Name Book entry of 1871, and it might be expected that the benchmark would have been slighted for a new position in the avenue. This idea has not been pursued by any OS archival research and is not proposed here as a convincing possibility. The inscribed date of 1871 may well mark its installation into the avenue; while this is conjectural, no other event is known from this period which could provide an alternative to commemorate.

No explanation is apparent for the group of three letters and no other markings were found on the stone, so the question of whether there are authentic ‘Pictish’ inscriptions elsewhere on the stone or if this newly identified set has been mistakenly described by previous reports remains open.

David Lynn

Field Visit (26 July 2013)

NH 37644 29938 – NH 37204 28493 A walkover survey was undertaken, on 26 July 2013, in advance of the construction of a hydro-electric scheme at Corrimony. A total of 12 archaeological features were recorded. These included dry stone dykes, disused pathways and tracks, bridge abutments, dry stone and turf bank enclosures and boundary walling, one hut circle and the ‘Mony’s Stone’ standing stone.

Archive: HAS. Report: Highland HER

Funder: DHG Hydro

Lynne McKeggie, Highland Archaeology Services, 2013

(Source: DES)

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