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Mulchaich

Township (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Mulchaich

Classification Township (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Mulchaich East

Canmore ID 12778

Site Number NH55NE 7

NGR NH 57966 56957

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/12778

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. 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 7 579 569.

NH 579 569. Mulchaich: This township lies 350 m NE of Mulchaich farmhouse; it comprises at least six cottages, of which at least two are of stone and clay-mortar construction.

RCAHMS 1979, visited 1979.

Some six turf-covered footings survive in a reasonable condition on a small stony eminence in an arable field, and there are two or three others mutilated by quarrying. The wall footings are spread to 1.0 m and 0.3 m high.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (J B) 27 Feburary 1981.

Activities

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

Field Visit (1 January 2009 - 30 May 2010)

Reference (1 March 2009 - 30 October 2010)

Srp Note (24 August 2011)

Mulchaich Farm, East Settlement – GR centred on NH 57966 56957

This township is located 400m to the NE of Mulchaich Farm in intensively farmed land. It is on a NW facing slope above the Cromarty Firth and has extensive views towards the town of Dingwall and Ben Wyvis. The site is in the middle of a field on an elongated flat knoll and does not appear to have been ploughed. It is grazed by cattle or sheep but in the summer is overgrown with dockens and thistles. The site covers an area of 100m x 50m. The remains of nine buildings, two enclosures and several other features are apparent as earth or earth and stone banks, which are 0.3m to 0.5m in height with a spread of between 1 and 1.5m. Some of the buildings have distinct stone edges to their footings, others have substantial earth underbuild on their lower sides. Many of the buildings have multiple compartments. See plan for layout

Buildings 13 and 14 and buildings 15, 16 and 17 in the SW part of the site form two parallel ranges, which stretch for a length of approximately 50m and enclose an elongated quadrangle, with building 19, set at right angles in the central part of the site, forming the north limit. Building 19 has more stone composition in its wall footings and has two compartments, with a stone slab set on edge between them.

The north part of the site has two single compartment buildings, both with enclosures, 22-23 and 24-25. A complex building, 26, occupies the NE corner of the site. The main part of this building is just 6m x 2.5m internally and there are two outshots, with communicating openings into the main compartment, abutting each of the west most corners; both are at a higher level by some 0.3m; the south most also has an entrance to the outside in the south.

A cup marked stone was found amongst clearance material to the north of building 26. The stone measures 84cms x 69cms x c30cms and has 16, possibly 17 cups. On the NW side of the site there is a complex series of terraces with, in one part, a steep bank, 21, which is faced with cobbles; this is 5m in length x 1m in height.

Two areas of quarrying are seen as deep indentations into the side of the knoll, one into the NW side and the other, a smaller one, into the SE side. An earth and stone bank which has been truncated by the NW quarry may have defined an enclosure

This site is not depicted on the 1st Edition OS survey of 1870 but the Roy map of c1750 depicts a densely populated area at Ferintosh, with at least 7 large townships. In 1689 Duncan Forbes of Culloden (1644 – 1704) 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, lamenting:

“Thee Ferintosh! O sadly lost!

Scotland lament frae coast to coast!

Now colic grips, an’ barkin’ hoast

May kill us a’;

For loyal Forbes’ charter’d boast

Is taen awa’!”

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