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Culloden Moor, Old Leanach Farmhouse

Barn (Period Unassigned), Cruck Framed Cottage (18th Century), Farmstead (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Culloden Moor, Old Leanach Farmhouse

Classification Barn (Period Unassigned), Cruck Framed Cottage (18th Century), Farmstead (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Battle Of Culloden; Culloden Battlefield, Old Leanach House

Canmore ID 14298

Site Number NH74SW 21

NGR NH 74499 44994

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Croy And Dalcross (Inverness)
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Inverness
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NH74SW 21 74499 44994

For Culloden Moor, Battlefield (centred NH 742 450), see NH74NW 17.00.

(NH 7450 4499) Old Leanach (NAT)

OS 6" map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1906)

'Old Leanach (In Ruins)'. 'This name applies to the ruins of a farmsteading situated in the "Field of the English". The barn that stood here in 1746 to which the wounded Highlanders were carried and over whom it was burned by order of the Duke of Cumberland, has completely disappeared leaving no vestiges behind.'

Name Book 1869.

The old farm house of Leanach a low thatched building was completley restored the National Trust in 1960. The site of the barn was fixed at c.9.0m to the SW of Leanach. At this spot are some foundations by not thought to be of the old barn (Information from Mr N MacDonald, Warden, National Trust for Scotland, Culloden).

Visited by OS (W D J) 24 April 1962.

Old Leanach farmstead is shown as an L-shaped unroofed building with an attached short length of wall on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Inverness-shire, Nairnshire 1871-6, sheet xiii).

Information from RCAHMS (AKK), 19 June 1996.

NH 747 449 A watching brief was conducted in August 2004 during geological test pitting in preparation for the construction of a new visitor centre for the battlefield (NH74SW 21). No archaeologically significant remains were discovered within the development area.Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: Babtie Group for NTS

C O'Connell 2004


Publication Account (1995)

Old Leanach Cottage and King's Stables Cottage are two surviving early buildings from a series of scattered settlements spread out along the eastern edge of Culloden Moor above the River Nairn, which are known to have existed in 1745 and are shown on contemporary drawings. Whether these two actual cottages were built before 1745 is less certain, but it is possible.

Old Leanach Cottage can be reached only th rough the new NTS Visitor Centre building. It is a small rectangular cottage with low stone walls, a massive buttress on one side, an extra room attached on the other, tiny windows and a heather thatched roof held down by netting weighted with srones. From outside its appearance is quite authentic, but the interior was unfortunately altered and the roof raised to provide more space when the cottage was the display centre for the Culloden Battlefield. There is one pair of what seem to be original crucks in the wall behind the hearth, showing the lower line of the old roof. A hanging lum has been reconstructed against this gable, and new, massive crucks put in to support the roof, of the sort more often found in turf-walled houses. An interesting feature of the cottage is the turf walling in the top of the east gable, technically known as a turf gablet. The cottage is now furnished somewhat as it might have been in the 19th century, with box bed and so on. In the 18th century it most probably had a central hearth, earth floor and turf gablets at each end.

A little further west along the B 9006, on the north side of the road where the woods stop, is another very similar old cottage, now called King's Stables Cottage (NH 733448). It also belongs to the NTS, and is presently closed, but the exterior can be seen at all times. It has low stone walls, tiny windows, heather thatched roof, turf gablets and a reconstructed box-framed smoke-hole in the thatch; no original features are left inside.

Culloden Battlefield, where the Duke of Cumberland defeated Bonnie Prince Charlie's Highland army in 1746, is now laid out with paths for the visitor. Information on the battle is displayed in the Visitor Centre.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Highlands’, (1995).

Standing Building Recording (January 2009 - March 2009)

NH 7449 4499 A standing building survey, analytical account and comparative study were undertaken January–

March 2009 to inform future conservation. The small, originally T-shaped cottage was probably constructed in

the early 18th century, as part of improvements on the Culloden Estate. The T-plan layout and clay-bonded coarse rubble-stone construction, with turf gables and a thatched roof, closely parallels that of King’s Stable Cottage, also on the Culloden Estate, and probably part of the same improvement scheme. The two structures were found to be of almost precisely the same plan, detail (where these could be compared) and dimensions. King’s Stables Cottage was previously surveyed and analysed in 1999 (Addyman, DES 2000, 50). A brief assessment of traditional building methods and materials of the area has demonstrated that the construction methods used for both houses were comparatively sophisticated for their period. They were perhaps erected as higher status dwellings for senior estate staff or tenants.

Old Leanach saw many structural changes carried out up to the early 20th century. These included the addition of the buttresses against the N wall, the later demolition of the western part of the T-plan and extension to the E (generating the existing L-plan in c1860). The last occupant of the cottage died in 1912 and the Gaelic Society of Inverness subsequently maintained the building, erecting a low-pitched roof to replace an earlier, much steeper one. The NTS gained ownership of the building in 1944 and carried out several small-scale alterations and repairs. In 1978 the early 20th-century roof was replaced with a new steeper-pitched roof. However, cruck frame fragments belonging to the original roof indicate that the 1978 structure was not an exact replacement. It also remains questionable whether the original cottage was thatched with heather, as extant and documented since the 1920s, or if more traditional straw thatching had originally been employed.

The cottages of Old Leanach and King’s Stables are of particular historical interest due to their location on the Culloden battlefield. The project concluded that the existing structures, though each subsequently modified,

were probably in existence at the time of the battle in 1746, and that their remarkable survival is accounted for by their association with that iconic event.

A notable feature now confirmed at both buildings was an apparently semi-concealed ‘loop-hole’ at the re-entrant angle that might have provided a moderate degree of defence at the principal entrance, whose approach it commanded. There may originally have been no other window openings. Rather than being a serious defence this may have simply been a pragmatic precaution at a time when itinerants were commonplace.

Archive: NTS (intended).

Funder: The National Trust for Scotland

Amanda Gow, Tom Addyman, Kenneth MacFadyen and Tanja Romankiewicz – Addyman Archaeology

Field Visit (12 July 2015)

NH 74500 44998 Mid 19th century cottage, located on the site of the Battle of Culloden and now part of the National Trust for Scotland museum complex. The listing description for the building states that it has a ‘piended heather thatched roof (c.1982 re-thatch)’. Across the top of the ridge and down the sides, turf has been placed in rectangular tiles and pegged to the roof with wooden pegs. Thin wooden branches have been secured to the thatch directly underneath the turf on the ridge in places, it would appear to add further support to the turf and stop them from slipping. The thatch has been left uncovered, and there are metal hooks secured into the stone below the eaves that are currently not being used, which would suggest the thatch was tied down using these hooks at some point in the past. Also known as Old Leanach Cottage.

Visited by Zoe Herbert (SPAB) 12 July 2015, survey no.087

Laser Scanning (12 October 2021)

NH 74499 44994 As part of other fieldwork at Culloden the opportunity was taken to produce a 3D model of Old Leanach Cottage (Canmore ID: 14298) using Agisoft Metashape. The model will be uploaded to SketchFab.

Archive: The National Trust for Scotland, Highland HER and NRHE Funder: The National Trust for Scotland

Derek Alexander – The National Trust for Scotland

(Source: DES Volume 23)


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