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South Uist, Milton, Flora Macdonald Memorial

Cairn (Period Unassigned), Commemorative Monument (Period Unassigned)

Site Name South Uist, Milton, Flora Macdonald Memorial

Classification Cairn (Period Unassigned), Commemorative Monument (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Airidh-mhuilinn; Mill Shieling

Canmore ID 9848

Site Number NF72NW 8

NGR NF 74097 26913

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Western Isles
  • Parish South Uist
  • Former Region Western Isles Islands Area
  • Former District Western Isles
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NF72NW 8 74097 26913

(NF 74097 26913) House where Flora Macdonald was born AD 1722 (Ruin) (NAT)

OS 6" map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1904)

The name 'Airidh-mhuilinn' (NF 744268) means 'Mill Shieling' and applies to a green mound on which there are a number of ruins, one of which is pointed out as the birthplace of Flora McDonald (1722-90)

Name Book 1878.

A large memorial cairn erected within the walls of an old building at NF 7410 2691 bears the following inscription: 'Clan Donald raised this cairn of remembrance to their kinswoman Flora MacDonald daughter of Ranald, son of Angus of Milton South Uist. She was born in 1722 near this place and spent her early life in the house that stood on this foundation. When pursuit was drawing near to the Prince in the Long Island she greatly aided him by her heroism and endurance to gain shelter in the Isle of Skye.' The actual house of which Flora MacDonald was born was not located. The ruins in which the cairn is situated are considered by the local population to be those of the house in which Flora MacDonald was born . This was confirmed by the factor of South Uist Estates who considers the inscription on the plaque an error. Around the site are the remains of a few deserted buildings. (See also NF72NW 28 for details of Airigh-Mhuilinn.)

Visited by OS (W D J) 9 May 1965.

NF 741 269 (centre) The first season of multi-disciplinary fieldwork commenced at Airigh Mhuillin, the birthplace of Flora MacDonald (NMRS NF72NW 8). Excavation concentrated on the remains of a blackhouse (Structure E) with internal dimensions of 17 x 4m. The construction and primary occupation of the building was dated on the basis of finds to the period 1790-1830. At the NW end the blackhouse overlay a dump of iron slag which filled a natural depression in the bedrock. The slag was derived from a bloomery for roasting iron ore and had been intentionally placed at the end of a spur in a windy location (cf Fairhurst 1971). Finds from the blackhouse include creamware, pearlware, and porcelain ceramics, green glass cylindrical wine bottles, and bronze implements. A bronze belt buckle inscribed with the insignia of the Inverness-shire Militia (a regiment raised during the Napoleonic wars, in 1802) was found close to the doorway on the NE side.

Detailed study of the agricultural landscape commenced around the settlement. A number of constructional techniques had been employed to divide the land within the township, including turf walls, orthostatic walls and drystone walls. Many of the surviving boundaries related to the laying out of a sheep run for Milton farm in the 1830s; older boundaries had been systematically robbed out.

Additional survey work concentrated on mapping the remains of lazy beds and drainage channels, and a structural survey of a 19th-century water mill.

Sponsors: Earthwatch, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Clan Donald Society (Edinburgh), Gordon Frazer Trust.

J Symonds 1996.


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