Accessibility

Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Mulchaich

Industrial Site (Period Unassigned), Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Mulchaich

Classification Industrial Site (Period Unassigned), Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Mulchaich West

Canmore ID 312502

Site Number NH55NE 189

NGR NH 5763 5688

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/312502

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Urquhart And Logie Wester
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Ross And Cromarty
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Activities

Ground Survey (February 2009 - April 2011)

A programme of survey work was undertaken February 2009 to April 2011 on three archaeological sites in the vicinity of Mulchaich Farm by members of NOSAS.

NH 57966 56957 (centred on) East township A plane table survey was carried out of this previously recorded township, which is located in intensively farmed land 400m to the NE of Mulchaich Farm. It covers an area of 100 x 50m on a NW-facing slope above the Cromarty Firth and has extensive views towards the town of Dingwall and Ben Wyvis. The remains of nine buildings, two enclosures and several other features can be seen as earth or earth and stone banks. The banks range from between 0.3–0.5m high and 1–1.5m wide. The footings of some of the buildings have distinct stone edges, whilst others have substantial earth support on their lower sides. Many of the buildings have multiple compartments. A cup-marked stone with 16 cups was found amongst clearance material to the N of the site

NH 5766 5679 (centred on) Chambered Cairn (NH55NE 2) A plane table survey of this scheduled chambered cairn, with two encircling kerbs, was completed by NOSAS members in April 2011. The inner kerb surrounds the top of the knoll and is roughly circular, c17m diameter edge to edge; a previously recorded cup-marked stone is at the S edge of this kerb. The outer kerb is elliptical and 50m diameter NW–SE, 40m NE–SW. The stones here are generally smaller than those in the upper kerb and many have been displaced. The height of this kerb varies from 0.3–0.5m to 1m although it is barely discernible in places.

NH 5763 5688 (centred on) West site A plane table survey was carried out of this previously unrecorded site, which is located in intensively farmed land to the N of Mulchaich Farm. It covers 100 x 70m on two steep spurs of ground, which enclose a marsh and has a NW-facing aspect. The site consists of the remains of seven buildings, a large enclosure and several working areas. Six of the seven buildings are substantial and of similar construction, with the remains of solid stone footings on substantial turf and stone platforms, which have up to 1m of underbuild at their lower end. The wall footings are generally of stone and turf, although in some places they have double faced stonework with a rubble core. Two of the six buildings are kilns with barns and two of the buildings may have opposing entrances.

Oral tradition suggests that this site was a distillery constructed in the 18th century under the ‘Ferintosh privilege’. In 1689 Duncan Forbes of Culloden secured the privilege of distilling whisky free of duty on his Ferintosh Estate for services rendered to the Crown, his estate had been sacked by the Jacobites in 1689. There was an immediate boom in the production of the spirit and Ferintosh whisky became increasingly popular and important, both because of its quality and its price. In 1781 there was an outcry from Lowland distillers against the flood of whisky produced in Ferintosh. In c1782 a large distillery was constructed at Ferintosh, but ‘the privilege’ was withdrawn in 1786 to meet other distillers’ complaints about the injustice of the competition from Ferintosh whisky. Robert Burns in his poem ‘Scotch Drink’, 1786, devoted a verse to Ferintosh whisky. A densely populated area, with at least seven large townships is depicted on Roy’s map of c1750. Neither of the sites at Mulchaich are shown on the 1st Edition OS survey of 1870.

Archive: Highland HER, local library and RCAHMS

NOSAS, 2011

Field Visit (1 January 2009 - 30 May 2011)

Mulchaich Farm, West Settlement

The site is located to the N of the farm of Mulchaich on the slopes of the Black Isle opposite the town of Dingwall just 1km from the shore of the Cromarty Firth. These slopes are NW facing and intensively farmed. The settlement covers an area of 100m x 70m and is situated on two steep spurs of ground which enclose a marsh. The majority of the buildings are on the north most of these spurs. The site comprises the remains of 7 buildings, a large enclosure and several working areas - see plan for layout.

The remains of six substantial buildings are very obvious. A seventh building on the south spur is barely discernable; this building continues into a neighbouring garden where it has been enhanced to form a platform for a garden seat. Apart from these 7 buildings the site also comprises an enclosure and several working areas. A quarry and some of the worked areas in the NE part of the site may be relatively recent. See plan for layout.

Five of the six buildings are of similar construction. They have the remains of solid stone footings, the walls probably robbed of much of their stone, on substantial turf and stone platforms. The platforms have underbuild of as much as 1m height at their lower ends, buildings 04, 05 and 06 for example. The wall footings are generally of stone and turf, although in some places they have double faced stonework with a rubble core. The walls vary from 0.5m to 0.7m height externally and 0.2m to 0.5m internally.

Two of the six buildings are kilns with barns. The upper one, site 07, is constructed into a steep bank and is much more wasted than the lower one, site 02. This is more substantially constructed and has 3 compartments; the upper compartment being a kiln bowl which has been filled in.

Two of the buildings, sites 03 and 05, have opposing entrances, although in both cases one of the entrances is not very convincing. Site 01, straddles the lowest part of the marsh and has 4 compartments, the south one of which extends into the neighbouring garden where its limits are undiscernible. Site 06 also has 4 compartments each having a wide entrance in the east wall.

The enclosure, site 09, too has the remains of quite substantial surrounding walls and slopes gently towards the NW. The quarry, site 12, has a south and west face of 1.5m deep, the NE bank is 0.7m deep and appears to respect the adjacent enclosure, but it is difficult to say whether or not it is contemporary with the settlement, it may well have been in use at a later date. The working areas, sites 10 and 11, slope gently to the west and are bounded on their west sides by an embankment of 0.5m to 0.8m height. A possible trackway descends the slope towards the marsh

This site is believed to have been the site of a former Ferintosh distillery by the landowner, by local folk and even people in the wider area of Ross- The farmer says that in the upper part of the marsh there is a well; but no evidence of this was found. The Roy map of c1750 depicts a densely populated area at Ferintosh, with at least 7 large townships, but the site is not depicted on the 1st Edition OS survey of 1870.

In 1689 Duncan Forbes of Culloden (1644 – 1704) secured the privilege of distilling whisky free of duty on his Ferintosh Estate for services rendered to the Crown, his estate had been sacked by the Jacobites in 1689. There was an immediate boom in the production of the spirit and Ferintosh whisky became increasingly popular and important, both because of its quality and its price. In 1781 there was an outcry from Lowland distillers against the flood of whisky produced in Ferintosh. In c1782 a large distillery was constructed at Ferintosh, but "the privilege" was withdrawn in 1786 to meet other distillers complaints about the injustice of the competition from Ferintosh whisky.

Robert Burns in his poem “Scotch Drink”, 1786, devoted a verse to Ferintosh whisky, lamenting:

“Thee Ferintosh! O sadly lost!

Scotland lament frae coast to coast!

Now colic grips, an’ barkin’ hoast

May kill us a’;

For loyal Forbes’ charter’d boast

Is taen awa’!”

A documentary search of the Forbes of Culloden papers was made but no positive evidence for this being a distillery site was found.

Reference (30 March 2009 - 30 October 2010)

Excavation (October 2012)

NH 57630 56880 (Canmore ID: 312502) In October 2012 NOSAS set about preparing the W settlement at Mulchaich, which is thought to be a distillery, for presentation to the public under Archaeology Scotland’s Adopt-a-Monument Scheme. The project also included the adjacent chambered cairn and the plan involved:

• fencing the area to provide a small enclosure in which sheep could graze and thereby protecting the archaeological features

• undertaking an excavation of the kiln with the aim of showing its features off so that the drying process could be explained

• producing explanatory leaflets.

The excavation of the kiln was completed, 1 August – 27 September 2013. The material within the kiln bowl was removed, the features of the kiln were identified and the structure was consolidated and made safe. There was no removal of structural material and the usual high standard of excavation and recording was followed throughout with, on conclusion, the production of a report. The kiln bowl was nicely preserved and much like the many kiln bowls found at townships in the Highlands. But the flue was unusual; it was substantially built and much wider than the normal corn-drying kiln. In addition the

hearth was inside the flue and much nearer to the kiln bowl itself. The other unusual and interesting feature was a pit in front of the entrance. Options to investigate this feature were constrained by the trench edges; it measured c1.2m in diameter at the surface and when half sectioned it was 650mm deep with steep sides. Resting on the bottom of the pit was an iron object, 500mm long and with 3 links; it was buckled and corroded but apparently a suspension device of some kind.

Archive: NOSAS. Report: Highland HER and National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) intended

Website: nosas.co.uk

Meryl Marshall - North of Scotland Archaeological Society (NOSAS)

(Source: DES, Volume 16)

References

MyCanmore Image Contributions


Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions