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Estate Cottage (Period Unassigned), Farm Building (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Tavool

Classification Estate Cottage (Period Unassigned), Farm Building (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Tavool, Tayobill ,tapull

Canmore ID 297080

Site Number NM42NW 22

NGR NM 435 271

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2017.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kilfinichen And Kilvickeon
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

Workers' Cottages, Tavool, Ardmeanach Peninsula, Isle of Mull

This site lies about 400 metres to the SW of Tavool House, on either side of the track to Burg, amid open pasture, overgrown with bracken. It is S facing and comprises two rectangular cottages, which are still standing to their full wall head height, two gardens and the remains of at least seven other rectangular buildings. The visible remains may represent several phases of occupation, four having masonry to knee height whilst the other three are almost completely robbed of stone. All the buildings are unroofed. The pasture land to the S of the cottages is enclosed by a dyke and is bounded on the S side by a large natural mound, known locally as the King's Mound. There is a substantial drystone dyke further to the NW bounding an area of pastureland that probably dates to the period when the farm became a sheep-walk in the 1840s.

In 1494 McLean of Lochbuy was given royal charter of land previously held by the Lord of the Isles. Amongst these lands was Tayobill (Tapull or Tavool) on the Ardmeanach peninsula. The land remained part of the Lochbuy (Lochbuie) Estate until the 1840s, when it was sold. The farm had been a joint tenancy, but now became a single unit. No trace remains of the township (there was a population of 64 recorded in the 1841 Census), though some of the robbed-out structures may have belonged to the pre-improvement period.

Information pertaining to the last occupants of these cottages came from Chrissy MacGillivray (1898-1989), the last resident of Burg Farm who passed on a wealth of local knowledge and legends relating to the area.

A. The MacGillivray House NM 43628 27162

Only the footings and most of the first course of stones remain of the house, which measures 8m by 5.5m, with the entrance on the SE side and an outshot of 2m on the N end. The corners of the building are rounded, the walls straight and 0.9m thick. To the E there is a hollow in the ground, and a scatter of tumbled stone, much of which appears to be of wall-core size, the whole area being marked out by partially buried footings and the occasional large stone or boulder. The area within the house has been used in recent years to dump old wire fencing and bottles.

According to Chrissie MacGillivray, the house was occupied by a family of MacGillivrays in times past, and was still there in her parents' time. The 1871 Census has a McGillivray family living at Tapul (sic), a former shepherd and his wife, supported by their sons. They were gone by the time of the 1881 census.

B. The Baker's House NM 43560 27145

The building measures 7.1m by 4.6m and has a platform extending 2.1m at the front, SE side. The dry stone walls, which are externally square cornered at the front and rounded at the back, are 1.8m high at the front and 1.55m high at the rear and are 0.7m thick. The entrance is offset to the E and 0.8m wide, adjacent to which the lintel can be seen laying on the ground. On the W side of the entrance the front wall has collapsed, but a window splay can be discerned. The walls have been pointed out in several places with cement, both internally and externally, and there is a small constructed recess or aumbry in the NE internal wall.

C. Ruins of house, garden and enclosure NM 43580 27160

A once substantial building measuring 11.7m by 6m overall. The remaining masonry stands to knee-height and the spread of the tumble obscures potential structural relationships in several areas. The corners of the walls are rounded externally and angled internally. There is an entrance in the SE wall. Adjoining the E corner are the remains of another structure robbed out to its footings and measuring 7.8m by 5.8m.

An irregular shaped garden plot measuring 18.7m by 11.6m abuts the NW wall of the building with an entrance on the SW side. Although much overgrown with bracken, rhubarb plants were still growing wild. More recently the area has been used as a dump and sea shells, remains of bottles, crocks, and old fencing wire are scattered around.

Chrissie MacGillivray remembered that the Baker's house was so-called because a baker and his family lived there. In the 1980s, his family still lived in the Fort William area. The house was used as a byre latterly by the sole remaining residents in this area, the MacLeans, who also used the garden for growing soft fruit.

D. The MacLeans' house and associated structures NM 443511 27094

This house (D1) stands close to the march with Burg and is scarped into the slope. It measures 8.3m by 5.5m, with a stoney platform extending 2m from the footings in front of the house. The dry-stone walls have rounded corners externally and are square internally and 0.7m thick. There is an entrance in the SE front wall slightly offset to the E with splayed window openings to either side. The walls stand to a maximum wall head height of 1.8m externally at the front reducing to a maximum of 1.4m to the rear.

There is a sub-oval garden plot (D2) defined by a boulder wall appended to the rear measuring 16m by 15m with the remains of a lambing pen in the E wall. There is a large horse chestnut tree alongside the NW perimeter of the enclosure.

There is an additional small sub-rectangular building (D3) just NE of the enclosure comprising a single sub-square compartment measuring 6.8m by 4.5m with 0.8m thick rubble walls standing to knee-height with an entrance in the E wall. Abutting this on the same side is a smaller rubble-walled enclosure with an opening to the SE allowing access into the larger building. Pieces of a pottery whisky jar, crocks and bottle glass were found here, as well as old fencing wire.

There is a substantially built enclosure (D4), measuring 7.5m by 5m with faced rubble walls 0.7m thick, and standing to 1.10m at the highest point, finished with coping stones. There is no obvious entrance, but the NE wall is tumbled. It is remembered as having been a carrot garden.

There are photographic, as well as oral records of the MacLeans who lived here. They were still occupying the house in 1901, when Allan Maclean was 60 years of age. The house is remembered as having an earth floor and a thatched roof.

E. Structure NM 43597 27044

There is a further isolated building some 50m south of the King's Mound, at the foot of the slope and in the midst of a hazel copse. It is scarped transversely into the slope and measures 10m by 8m, the front, highest surviving wall being 1.1m high. The walls are 0.8m thick. There is an entrance in the S end wall.

The interior long axis of the building is apparently lined by two slighter, secondary walls up to 0.3 m thick. The interior is otherwise obscured by fallen stone.

F. The King's Mound NM 43602 27098

This natural hill lies to the SW of the track and worker houses, and is surrounded by the remains of a drystone boulder dyke. On the crest of the hill a small cairn has been built. Local legend has it that it was a prehistoric burial place, but there is no field evidence and no other accounts to substantiate this.

Data submitted by Pennyghael in the Past November 2008


Measured Survey (1 April 2008 - 30 April 2008)

3 volunteers, GPS readings and photographs taken

Reference (1 April 2008 - 30 April 2008)

1881 & 1900 OS 6inch to mile maps consulted.

Reference (8 April 2008 - 8 April 2008)

Search data from Archive


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