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Hut (Post Medieval), Lime Kiln (18th Century) - (19th Century), Township (18th Century) - (19th Century)

Site Name Balbeg

Classification Hut (Post Medieval), Lime Kiln (18th Century) - (19th Century), Township (18th Century) - (19th Century)

Canmore ID 259517

Site Number NH43SE 73

NGR NH 4508 3124

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. 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


Field Visit (23 September 1997 - 6 November 1997)

NH43SE 73 4508 3124

The remains of the township of Balbeg comprise at least six ruined buildings and a limekiln situated around the buildings of the present farmsteading. The most substantial of the ruins is a gable-ended, three-compartment structure on the S side of the road through the steading (URQ97 156; NH 4508 3124). It measures 18.5m by 4.6m within mortared rubble walls that stand up to 2m high and have been buttressed on the SW side. The three compartments can be identified from NW to SE as a barn, a cart shed and a stable respectively, the last also having an internal drain. Immediately to the S of this there is a building measuring 11.7m by 3.7m internally; the WSW half has been robbed, but elsewhere the clay-bonded rubble walls stand up to 1m high (URQ97 157; NH 4508 3123). At the SE edge of the steading there are the remains of at least two other robbed buildings. Several decades ago, when stones were being removed from one of them (at NH 4512 3119), the father of the present farmer lifted a threshold stone to discover a pair of pistols. The present whereabouts of these items is not known (ex inf. Mr Macdonald, Balbeg).

A fifth building stands on a terrace above the N side of the road at NH 4514 3125 (URQ97 271). It measures 8.3m by 3.4m within walls reduced to grass-grown stony banks no more than 0.25m high. There is an entrance in the SW side and possibly a second entrance in the opposite wall, suggesting that this may have been a barn. The final building stands about 100m NW of the steading, at NH 4497 3135 (URQ97 158); it measures 6.5m by 3.8m within mortared rubble walls 1m high and has an outshot at each end.

The limekiln (URQ97 247) stands to the SE of the steading at NH 4518 3116, in ground that was densely overgrown with gorse and nettles on the date of visit. It is set into a S-facing slope, and measures 2.8m from N to S by 2.1m transversely and 1.2m in depth. Most of the rubble facing has collapsed, though part of the facade at the S end stands two courses high.

The township of Balbeg is depicted on George Brown's 1808 'Plan of the Davoch of Inchbreen' (National Archives of Scotland, RHP 11955) as a cluster of thirteen buildings, whose layout is in places similar to that of the present buildings. The limekiln is also shown. The OS Name Book (ONB 1871) describes Balbeg as 'a small district consisting of small farm and cot houses, each one storey high, thatched and in pretty good repair' and the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Inverness-shire 1875, sheet xxix) depicts fifteen roofed structures, amongst them the clay-bonded building (URQ97 157), the two robbed buildings to the SE, and the mortared building to the NW (URQ97 158). The depiction on the 2nd edition of the map (Inverness-shire 1905, sheet xxix) shows some changes; three additional buildings had been constructed (including the three compartment building), bringing the total number to eighteen, while of the fifteen on the first edition map, one building had been rebuilt on a different alignment, parts of three others had become roofless and two had been extended. Photographs taken in the early 20th century (RCAHMS, D15416-20) show that at least some of the buildings were still thatched and cruck-framed at that time and, although they have been re-roofed since, some of the currently occupied buildings are probably those depicted on the 1st edition map.

(URQ97 156-8; 247, 271)

Visited by RCAHMS (SDB) 23 September and 6 November 1997

ONB 1871

Watching Brief (2003)

NH 44993 31351 A watching brief was undertaken in June 2003 as part of a housing development in the vicinity of a number of archaeological sites, including a former croft. No archaeological features or deposits were revealed.

Full report lodged with Highland SMR and the NMRS.

Sponsor: Mrs C Miller.

S Farrell 2003


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