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Kildonan, Baile An Or

Miners Camp (19th Century), Township (19th Century)

Site Name Kildonan, Baile An Or

Classification Miners Camp (19th Century), Township (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Gold Miner's Camp

Canmore ID 79559

Site Number NC92SW 48

NGR NC 9114 2145

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/79559

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Kildonan
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Sutherland
  • Former County Sutherland

Archaeology Notes

NC92SW 48 911 214.

(NC 912 214) Baile an Or (NAT) (VP)

Annotation on (undated) OS Map.

Baile an Or (name plaque) 'Township of Gold'. This was the settlement of temporary wooden huts rented to the prospectors of the 'Sutherland Gold Rush' of 1869. Licenses were issued by Sutherland Estates in April of that year, and work had virtually ceased by December. The gold was being found in small quantities just above the bed-rock, and the digging was confined mainly to the Kildonan and Suisgill Burns (See NC82NE/92NW) and their tributaries. There is no trace of the settlement, and, apart from some surface quarrying, little evidence of the workings (formerly (M) item 2).

Visited by OS (NKB) 21 February 1977.

S B Calder 1974.

NC92SW 48 912 215

Former 19th-century gold rush township. Investigation of different aspects of the 1869 gold rush and the associated township of Baile an Or began with a superficial ground survey in October 2003. The following year, a simple application of photogrammetry helped to indicate promising locations for trenches, where specific archaeological excavations

were carried out. Progress has been maintained with further explorations and investigations in 2005, and the extent of the former township has now been established.

The explorations at Baile an Or, which also included a geophysical survey, have revealed the sites of the 'village store', the bunkhouse, and some of the gold miners' huts. Items of crockery, metal and glass have been recovered, as well as the bowl of a rare clay tobacco pipe.

Sponsors: Kultamuseo (Finland), Northern Mine Research Society, Suisgill Estate, HLF.

R M Callender 2005

NC 912 215 Good progress was maintained in the fourth year of the project, with equal attention being given to the six major activities - archaeology, reconstruction, geology, applied photography, local history and tracing families of the prospectors. A supervised investigation, based on metal detecting, was carried out in an area where four miners' huts were formerly sited.

A reconstruction in situ of a hut from the days of the gold rush was equipped internally in the style of the 19th-century occupancy, which provoked questions and answers that contributed to a better understanding of the lifestyle of the gold miners. Experiments with a 'rocker' also provided valuable information during the practical tests in recovering gold particles from the Kildonan Burn. Separately, a decorated disk was made from 5g of gold using techniques analogous to those available to metal smiths in c AD 500.

Biographies of specific gold miners are now being assembled from the data bank of information gathered from newspapers, family records, and manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland. A manuscript, The Scottish gold rush of 1869, has been accepted for publication in 2007 by the Northern Mine Research Society, as a monograph in the society's British Mining series.

Following a submission to the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel, the assemblage is housed at Timespan, Helmsdale's heritage centre.

Sponsor: Kultamuseo (Finland), Northern Mine Research Society, Suisgill Estate and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

R M Callender, 2006.

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