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Ballachulish Moss

No Class (Event)

Site Name Ballachulish Moss

Classification No Class (Event)

Canmore ID 82018

Site Number NN06SE 12

NGR NN 054 603

NGR Description Centred NN 054 603

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

Archaeology Notes

NN 054 602 (centre) A programme of survey and excavation was conducted in the S portion of North Ballachulish Moss between March and June 1996 in response to development threats (see Pollard 1993 for previous work). The work was carried out in two stages: March 1996 - surface penetrating radar survey; June 1996 - excavation and coring programme.

The radar survey showed the underlying topography to comprise three large lake basins, the deepest up to 4m, with areas of shallower peat in between. A series of anomalies was detected at 1-1.5m below the surface in an area of deep peat on the edge of one of the lake basins. The anomalies persisted over an area of 40 x 50m.

Two major trenches were excavated. These were positioned over areas of deep peat using results of the radar survey to assist in their location. The largest trench, c 4 x 2 x 1.5m, was positioned over the edge of the deepest lake basin containing the anomalies. A compacted surface rich in charcoal and small angular pebbles, mainly of quartz, was encountered at 1-1.5m below the surface. Worked wood was found associated with the feature. A second small trench was excavated over another of the lake basins. This trench extended through peat deposits to the boulder clay beneath.

Five 1sqm test pits were excavated to check for features within the shallower peat. These verified the results of the radar survey. Cores were obtained from all of the lake basins. Organic material contained within the peat is well preserved and suitable for a range of palaeoenvironmental analyses and radiocarbon dating.

A Data Structure Report has been produced. Post-excavation work is in progress.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

C M Clarke 1996

NN 054 602 (centre) A programme of surface penetrating radar and topographic survey was conducted in the N part of the southern portion of North Ballachulish Moss in January 1998. The radar demonstrated that no novel areas of deep peat existed in the study area. In conjunction with previous investigations (see Clarke 1996) this work completes and illustrates, in detail, the underlying basin morphology at the moss. The 1998 radar survey, using upgraded equipment, detected a stratigraphic unit within the peat not located during the first radar survey.

A detailed report will be lodged with the NMRS.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

C M Clarke 1998

NN 055 602 (centred on) Desk based assessment and watching brief in January 2007 undertaken on the site of a new play park at Baile Ur, North Ballachulish. The application site lies immediately adjacent to the Scheduled Ancient Monument site of Ballachulish Moss. Although no features are visible on the ground surface within the application area, unrecorded buried remains might still survive to be discovered during site works. A desk-based assessment of the area and an archaeological watching brief were needed at this site because there was a potential for finds or features of interest to be discovered during site works.

K Haines 2007


Environmental Sampling (1993)

NN06SE 12 centred 054 603.

The peat moss at North Ballachulish was surveyed and sampled by GUARD in order to assess its conditions, extent and archaeological potential. Various archaeological discoveries were made in the vicinity of the moss during the 19th century, including the recovery of a carved wooden figurine which has since been radiocarbon dated to c626BC (NN06SE 2-6).

A sub-surface contour survey revealed that the N portion of the moss survived to no greater depth than half a metre, having been used as a source of fuel throughout the 19th century. The S portion of the moss survived to a greater depth, over 3.5m at its deepest. The ground surface beneath the S portion was found to undulate, probably due to the presence of various kettle-holes and glacial melt-water channels.

A Russian corer was used in order to extract a series of seven peat cores from the S portion of the moss. These varied in depth from around 1m to over 3.5m. It is hoped that these will allow an insight into the vegetational history of the area while also providing radiocarbon dates for the initiation of peat growth.

The peat moss clearly has archaeological potential, surviving to a considerable depth in places. Any development taking place on or around the moss will necessitate the implementation of a watching brief in order to monitor the removal of peat.

Sponsor: Highland Regional Council.

T Pollard 1993.


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