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Chambered Cairn (Neolithic), Cup Marked Stone (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Site Name Mulchaich

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic), Cup Marked Stone (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Alternative Name(s) Alcaig Manse

Canmore ID 12763

Site Number NH55NE 2

NGR NH 57663 56800

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Urquhart And Logie Wester
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Ross And Cromarty
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Archaeology Notes

NH55NE 2 5766 5679.

(NH 5766 5679) Stone Circle (NR) Remains of.

OS 6" map, Ross-shire, 2nd ed., (1907)

Alcaig Manse (A S Henshall 1963). This cairn, of uncertain type, is overgrown and considerably robbed. It is about 55 ft. diam. with a now rather intermittent peristalith of heavy boulders of which one on the SE segment has about 15 cups, one of these being 7 ins across and 2 ins deep.

A massive stone, 8 ft. within the W. edge of the cairn, is 2 ft. above the cairn material and, in an excavated hollow some 8 ft to the south east of it, another stone is exposed to a depth of 2 feet. Towards the E side of the cairn, is a large, displaced slab. The presence of these stones suggests the existence of a chamber.

Forty feet outside the peristalith may be a comparatively modern bank.

V G Childe 1944; A A Woodham 1956

This cairn is as described above. (Chambered Cairn (NR)

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (N K B) 21 January 1965.

No change

Visited by RCAHMS (J R S) March 1989.


Field Visit (July 1979)

Mulchaich (ROS 1) NH 576 567 NH55NE 2

The wasted remains of this chambered cairn stand 200m N of Mulchaich farmhouse. It measures about 17.5m in diameter over a kerb of boulders, one of which is cup-marked. One prostrate and two upright stones are all that can be seen of what may have been a chamber entered from the W.

RCAHMS 1979, visited July 1979

Woodham 1956, 72-3, no. 9; Henshall 1963-72, i, 333

Archaeological Evaluation (13 March 2008)

A watching brief was carried out on 13 March 2008 in three locations, NH 5748 5673 – Mulchaich Farm, NH5770

5630 – ring ditch S of Mulchaich Farm and NH 5766 5679 – Mulchaich chambered cairn and cup-marked stone. A mechanical excavator dug four linear trenches and two box trenches, covering over 10% of the development area. Topsoil in the trenches was hand excavated to reveal the subsoil. No archaeological deposits or features were recorded.

Archive: Highland Archaeology Services Ltd

Funder: Alan MacDonald

Brendan Malone (Highland Archaeology Services Ltd), 2008

Ground Survey (February 2009 - April 2011)

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

Srp Note (24 August 2011)

Mulchaich Farm, Chambered Cairn,

A plane table survey and profiles of this scheduled chambered cairn were completed by NOSAS members in April 2011. The cairn is situated on a knoll which has a steeper drop to the SW and is unusual in that it has two kerbs. The height difference between the two kerbs is 1.5m-2m although on the SW side it is 4m. The inner kerb surrounds the top of the knoll and is roughly circular, c.17m diameter edge to edge; some of the stones of the kerb have been displaced and there are gaps but the kerb is clearly traceable as a change in slope and is generally 0.5m high. The cup marked stone is at the south 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 discernable in places.

Field Visit (March 2011 - May 2011)

Plane table survey following vegetation clearance

Field Visit (1 September 2011 - 1 August 2013)

NH 57660 56790 Situated on the NW side of the Black Isle, overlooking the Cromarty Firth lie the remains of a small post medieval township, believed to have been the site of a former Ferintosh distillery, together with a prehistoric chambered cairn, designated as a scheduled monument. The North of Scotland Archaeology Society (NOSAS) has already surveyed the majority of the site and has actively managed vegetation, which previously obscured archaeological features associated with the township and the cairn.

Their work has significantly improved the visibility of these monuments as well as helped towards stabilising the baseline condition of the features. The Archaeology Scotland Adopt-a-Monument team worked with NOSAS, 1 September 2011 – 1 August 2013, to clear vegetation to allow improved

access to the site, constructed/improved livestock fencing and gates to protect the site from grazing cattle, and carried out a topographical survey and archival research. The results of the research will be published on the NoSAS website and used to create an information leaflet, to encourage visitors to the site. This work was undertaken as part of the 2011–16

Adopt-a-Monument Scheme.

Archive and report: Archaeology Scotland and RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland and Highland Leader Funder 2007–13

Meryl Marshall and John Wombell – NOSAS

(Source: DES)

Note (18 October 2017)

Date Fieldwork Started: 18/10/2017

Compiled by: NOSAS

Location Notes: The cup marked rock forms part of the inner kerb of a scheduled chambered cairn (SM 3145). The cairn is situated in rough grazing in a gently undulating field currently grazed by sheep. The general aspect of the field is NW and the cairn has extensive views NW across the Cromarty Firth towards Ben Wyvis. The cup marked rock is on the S side of the cairn and faces S. Several houses are located to the S, W and N of the field. About 100m N of the cairn, at a lower level, there is a marsh, around which are the remains of a former 18th century distillery. The distillery and chambered cairn are occasionally visited by the public

Panel Notes: The panel is a roughly triangular S facing flat sandstone slab which leans into the slope of the cairn at an angle of 60 degrees from the horizontal. The stone measures 1.26 x 0.8 x 0.3m thick above ground level. A potential threat is a prominent fissure in the upper part of the stone which appears to be causing a flake to separate from the stone. The panel has 2 dumbells and 19 cups, 8 of which are over 6cms in diameter with one, in the centre of the panel, measuring 18cms diameter.


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