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Barrow(S) (Early Medieval), Square Barrow(S) (Early Medieval)

Site Name Croftgowan

Classification Barrow(S) (Early Medieval), Square Barrow(S) (Early Medieval)

Canmore ID 14890

Site Number NH80NE 6

NGR NH 863 085

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. 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

NH80NE 6 863 085

(NH 8625 0849; NH 8627 0848; NH 8628 0852; NH 8629 0843 NH 8633 0858; NH 8635 0856) Tumuli (NR) (sites of)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1972)

Human remains, together with pieces of sword blades, buckles etc were discovered about 1800 when several earthen mounds were investigated prior to cultivation of the field. According to tradition, a battle was fought in the vicinity at some unknown date.

Name Book 1871.

No further information; no extant remains.

Visited by OS (N K B) 28 November 1966.

Aerial photography by the RCAHMS has revealed a cemetery of round and square barrows.

(Visible on RCAHMS air photographs IN/3011 and IN/3020-1).

Information from G S Maxwell (RCAHMS), 1978.


Excavation (16 September 2021 - 24 September 2021)

NH 863 085 The Badenoch Great Place Project (BGPP) was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other partners to investigate the built heritage of Badenoch. Two sites were flagged as being of particular interest – Croftgowan, the largest known early medieval barrow cemetery identified in Scotland and Torr Alvie a fort that overlooks Croftgowan. Over two short excavations in September 2021 both sites were investigated under the supervision of archaeologists from the University of Aberdeen. The fort at Torr Alvie was only recorded in 2011 when it was identified by NOSAS members during survey work. The fort comprises a stony bank enclosing an oval area around 60m NE/ SW by 27m E/W, a possible bank/ditch cutting off the western approaches to the fort was also identified. Trench 1 established that the fort wall was around 1.8m thick and comprised large boulder revetment and a rubble core. On the interior side, a series of occupation deposits were located and sampled for dating. Trench 2 tested the possible outer enclosure and identified a very denuded bank and a very shallow ‘slot’ on the exterior side – these features could have been part of unfinished defences, robbed earlier defences or relatively recent enclosing lines.

The barrow cemetery at Croftgowan was first identified by RCAHMS aerial survey in 1977 and recent transcription work by Juliette Mitchell has identified 46 barrows, the largest cemetery of its kind yet identified. A small number of these barrows are upstanding features. Five barrows were selected for excavation – three round barrows and two conjoined square barrows. All of the barrows were found to be highly truncated with only very shallow boundary ditches surviving. In the largest trench, the round barrow was shown to be later than the conjoined square barrows. Poorly preserved human remains were found in three barrows and comprised parts of a human skull and enamel caps. The human remains and charcoal from barrow ditches and grave-fills were sampled for dating. The human remains have also been sampled for isotopic research on diet and mobility.

Archive: University of Aberdeen and NRHE (intended)

Funder: National Lottery Heritage Fund and University of Aberdeen

Gordon Noble, James O’Driscoll, Edouard Masson-Maclean and Juliette Mitchell – Badenoch and Strathspey Heritage and University of Aberdeen

(Source: DES Volume 23)


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