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Banquo's Walk

Tree Avenue (18th Century)

Site Name Banquo's Walk

Classification Tree Avenue (18th Century)

Canmore ID 277438

Site Number NN17NW 53

NGR NN 1339 7914

NGR Description From NN 1339 7914 to NN 1361 7950

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Kilmallie
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Lochaber
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Recording Your Heritage Online

Banquo's Walk. A secret beech avenue running through a strip of woodland between the canal and river - of unclear origin and date, although it appears to have been a ceremonial approach towards the old castle. (Banquo is alleged to have stayed at Torr a' Chaisteil in the 1030s, one version of the Cameron's ancestral history being that they descend from his sister, Marion). But this distinctive ride is perhaps more plausibly the fruit of improvements made by the Gentle Lochiel to his house and estate in the 1730s. Its axis is interrupted by policies and structures associated with an early 19th-century house built for the factor - also called Torcastle, latterly a hotel. Burnt down in 1950, its ruins are incorporated into a modern bungalow.

Taken from "Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Mary Miers, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press


Trial Trench (18 November 2016 - 19 November 2016)

NN 1344 7925 – NN 1361 7949 A metal detector survey and trial trenching evaluation were undertaken, 18–19 November 2016, on Banquo’s Walk by Lochaber Archaeological Society and AOC Archaeology. Banquo’s Walk, a wide, beech treelined avenue with parallel banks, has long been believed to have been formed as a ceremonial route associated with folklore attached to the nearby ruins of Tor Castle. Banquo’s Walk was named after the semi-historical figure Banquo, Thane of Lochaber. It appears to first be shown on the Plan of the Caledonian Canal between Loch Eil and Loch Lochy by the Caledonian Canal Commission in 1804–10 and is also

shown on 1st and 2nd Edition OS maps.

Today, Banquo’s Walk appears as a wide, almost straight, section of lowered ground under grass and moss, lined on its sides by turf banks. However, the route, which ends abruptly at both ends, does not appear to lead to the site of the castle and the condition of the route varies greatly across its length of c400m. This brought the assumption of its use as a ceremonial road into question.

Banquo’s Walk measures between 8–8.5m wide between banks built along the sides. The banks measure between 0.6–0.7m wide and stand 0.6–1.0m high, with a steep-sided inner face and a more gently sloping outer face running to a ground level 0.3–0.5m higher than the interior surface. There is considerable variation along the route alignment. In

lengthy sections of the route, on the inside of the banks, there appears to be ditches up to 1m wide. The ditches are visible often on alternate sides of the road, often on both sides at the same time, and occasionally on neither side. In places, the central surface has a rounded camber, while in others it sits lower than the sides and is in a water-logged condition. In some areas, there are mounds of soil. At the SW end the route runs downhill gently and there is no continuation of the banks. At the NE end the route ends abruptly at a steep, but small, burn valley where a natural rock outcrop is exposed.

A metal detector survey undertaken by Lochaber Archaeological Society prior to the evaluation recovered low value coins from between 1916 and 1949, spent cartridges (mostly from a .303 rifle), and an iron blade-like object.

Three trenches were excavated over the surface and banks to evaluate the construction of the route. Excavation revealed a thin topsoil layer over thin remnants of an undulating natural clay layer with no evidence for surfacing with gravel or stonework. To the sides, the banks had been built using redeposited layers of subsoil and clay. Outside the banks, the natural stratigraphy consisted of a soil layer over a thick band of clay forming the surface of the subsoil. Examination of the soil strata inside and outside of the route alignment indicated that the clay layer inside the banks had been extracted, with upcast material forming the banks along its sides. The best possible explanation for the construction of Banquo’s Walk was for use in clay extraction, probably during construction of the Caledonian Canal where a technique called ‘puddling’ was undertaken to line the sides of the canal. The fieldwork results have dispelled over 150

years of myth attached to the site.

Archive: NRHE

Funder: Lochaber Archaeological Society

Mary Peteranna – AOC Archaeology Group

(Source: DES, Volume 18)


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