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Corr

Farmstead (Period Unassigned), Head Dyke (Post Medieval)

Site Name Corr

Classification Farmstead (Period Unassigned), Head Dyke (Post Medieval)

Canmore ID 97814

Site Number ND23NW 54

NGR ND 20114 36274

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/97814

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Latheron
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Caithness
  • Former County Caithness

Archaeology Notes

ND23NW 54 201 362

A farmstead comprising two unroofed buildings, one of which is a long building, in an area of cultivation, and a head-dyke are depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Caithness 1877, sheet xxxiii) and on the current edition of the OS 1:10000 map (1976).

Information from RCAHMS (SAH) 21 November 1995

Activities

Field Visit (6 June 2010 - 6 October 2010)

Site visits, field survey, description plans & photographs.

Srp Note (31 August 2011)

This farmstead lies in a grassy clearing at 189m OD amongst the predominantly heather-covered SE slopes of Ben-a-cheilt. The underlying geology is sandstone/Caithness flagstone overlain with glacial till. Glacial scouring of the landscape has resulted in a series of rocky outcrops which run in a north-south direction to the valley floor. There is a large area of boggy ground directly below the site to the E, interspersed with dryer areas supporting rough grass.

The farmstead comprises one building (ND 20114 36274) and a small enclosure (ND 20070 36269), set within two large rectangular enclosures, which may represent the expansion or contraction of its arable land at different periods. Lying within the smaller of these enclosures, immediately S and W of the building, is a small field system of parallel drains which is now boggy and overgrown with heather. On the E edge of the site, c120m NNE of the building, there is a hut circle and other structures which have been separately recorded under ND23NW .

The building is aligned ENE – WSW and measures 20m by 5m overall. It is sub-divided into three compartments with a byre in the lower (E) end and living accommodation in the upper (W) compartments. It was built in two phases, the E and central compartments, which measure 13m x 5m overall, formed an earlier byre dwelling with a shared entrance for animals and cattle through the byre. There are cruck slots in the E wall of the byre and a possible cruck slot in the W wall of the central section. The third (W) compartment measures 7.5m x 5m and is butted on to the SW wall of the central section, with an adjoining entrance between them. There is an entrance and possible window opening in its E wall and there may have been a fire place in its end wall. There is substantial collapse within this end of the building indicating a gable or raised walling.

The small enclosure, or garden plot (ND 20070 36269), lies c 30m W of the building. It measures c10, x c8m and is enclosed by a low stone wall. There is a well at its SE (ND 29977 36273).

A stream runs through the site in a W – E direction, and c40m SE of the building, at ND 20160 36253, it appears to have been deliberately widened to provide a washing pool or collecting area for some other use, perhaps a mill. The banks of the stream have been terraced and strengthened at this point.

A track runs through the E side of the site in a N-S direction, fording the stream and exiting at the NE corner through an opening in the boundary wall. It continues in a NNE direction towards further inland farmsteads lying within a nearby forestry plantation. The track follows the ridges above the wet ground and has probably has been in use for many generations; the 1st Edition OS map shows it beginning at Craigganmare (ND 19871 35403), a farmstead lying c800m below (SSW of) Corr.

This is one of several small farmsteads that were established in the marginal upland ground of Forse Estate during the mid-late nineteenth century.

The lower fields of Forse Estate were ‘squared’ by the 1770’s and Roy’s Military Map shows much cultivation in this area. The New Statistical Account states that “in early days, most of the people living on the estates would be housed in dwellings without light except from an open door, and after dark, from the peat-fire in the room they shared with their animals” but adds that “the hovels are fast disappearing and neat substantial houses, having vents and chimney-pots at one or both ends, are occupying their place” (Latheron Parish, 1840). The farmsteads on the side of Ben-a-cheilt appear to be of this later description, having substantially higher walling than earlier stone & turf structures seen lower down the hill.

The Napier Report of 1884 mentions that older settlements in the Rumster area, which occupied the lowland ground on the SE side of Ben-a-cheilt, were cleared twice – first in 1845, when some of the people were told to go above the head-dyke. There they built houses and cultivated parts of the common land on “a very bare hillside”. The second clearance took place in 1858 to form Rumster sheep farm. According to the Report, 35 families were cleared off Rumster. It is most likely that Corr and other farmsteads lying in the poorer upland ground of Ben-a-cheilt date from these clearances. Census records of 1851 show a family named Sinclair in “Corr” as well as people in “The Corr” (ND23NW 60).

Information from SRP Ben-a-cheilt, August 2011.

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