EHG5485 - Excavation - Aldourie Castle



Highland Archaeology Services Ltd


March 2019


A programme of excavation and building recording was undertaken by Highland Archaeology Services in 2019 in advance of redevelopment works for a new outbuilding at Aldourie Castle, Inverness. The fieldwork was designed to investigate and record the buried remains of a former castle outbuilding, which is shown on the Ordnance Survey 1st Edition map of 1875 but gone by the 2nd Edition OS of 1905. The building was rediscovered and partly exposed during preliminary ground investigations undertaken in 2018. Excavation revealed the full extent of the building, the general preservation of which was variable but nonetheless substantial. It was evident that some disturbance had been caused by machine work when first revealed but also, more substantially, by the insertion of a modern plastic gas pipe, which crossed the building in a trench dug from east to west and had reduced the level of preservation of the northern half. It measured 12.4m by 5m in plan and at least two phases of structural development were evident. The initial phase involved the construction of the principal walls, which were built in a prepared and levelled terrace cut into the natural slope. This was accompanied by the construction of at least one and probably three doorways in the north wall and the laying of cobble floors inside each of the three bays. A small hearth or oven structure and flue was also constructed in the corner of the central bay. Subsequent development of the building involved the construction of a heating chamber, possibly for a boiler or kiln, which was built into a deep recess through the rear wall of the eastern bay. The heating chamber, whilst only partially preserved, incorporated brickwork and refractory slabs and vented into a large ceramic pipe that was set in a masonry channel and heavily sooted internally. The vent pipe extended from the building up to the main castle building, where it appears to have joined one of the main chimney flues. This major redevelopment was accompanied by the insertion of two openings, both possibly windows, in the rear wall of the middle bay. One of the openings was perpendicular and splayed whilst the other was slanted and oblique to the wall line, the latter for use as a sluice or hopper. The original function of the building remains unknown although the fragile nature of its internal flooring and narrow surviving doorway seems to exclude use for either livestock or horses. Finds of pottery, bottle glass and cockles from the floor of the western Bay indicate that this portion at least may have been used to store domestic provisions. The function of the large heating chamber remains equally uncertain although a domestic kitchen function seems unlikely. Since it was connected to the main house by means of a large ceramic pipe it is possible that it was installed to heat the main house by means of a system of convection or forced hot air. The remains of the building have been reburied temporarily although it is anticipated that the principal walls will be reused as foundations for the new building. <1>

Sources/Archives (1)



Location Aldourie Castle
Grid reference Centred NH 6015 3723 (15m by 12m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH63NW
Civil Parish DORES
Geographical Area INVERNESS

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

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Record last edited

Feb 24 2021 5:54PM

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