MHG27228 - Farmstead, Balnacraig, Glen Arnsidale


Farmstead, Balnacraig, Glen Arnsidale

Type and Period (2)

  • FARMSTEAD (Post Medieval - 1560 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • ENCLOSURE (Post Medieval - 1560 AD? to 1900 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A farmstead, comprising one unroofed building and a T-shaped enclosure is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Inverness-shire 1876, sheet lxxviii). One unroofed building of two compartments is shown on the current edition of the OS 1:10000 map (1971).
Information from RCAHMS (AKK) 1 August 1996.

Balnacraig, , Glen Arnisdale.
These sites were recorded by NOSAS in 2008/9 as part of an archaeological survey of outer Loch Hourn.

The lower glen, which has the best arable land, was the centre of activity in the past, undergoing a major re-modelling when Arnisdale Old Farm became a sheep run. Substantial stone walls were built as straight as possible through the old township lands and regular fields laid out. Ploughing since then has all but erased any traces of the rig and furrow which no doubt covered all the better ground, as well as some of the steeper ground. We know from a plan of the remodelled farm, drawn up by John Cowie, Land Surveyor, Inverness, that the old Achadh a’ Ghlinne cottages were abandoned by 1853 (NAS RHP 44813; Sites 1260-1263; fig. 7). They are likely to have been cleared after 1811, when the estate was sold to Bruce, or in the 1820s, when it was sold to Charles Grant (later Lord Glenelg) (Murchison 1957).

The cottages of Achadh a’ Ghlinne were very substantial houses built of stone and neatly laid out. They probably replaced older turf houses. The 1853 plan does not show the buildings on the east side of the Allt Utha, including the present bothy, so it must be a later shepherd’s house, particularly as it lies below a fank attached to the boundary wall (NAS RHP 44813; Site 1222; fig. 8). However, c.1750, Roy does show a settlement on either side of the burn - Achlinbeg on the west side of the Allt Utha, and Achlinmor on the east side, each with 4 buildings. Meryl and Jim Marshall went up into Coire Chorsalain (map 9; table 9), finding a group of 9 shieling huts, most probably attached to Achadh a’ Ghlinne and one of the few indications of deer stalking (plate 16; a similar structure was recorded in Coire Reidh at NG 94285 09655). Whether Achadh a’ Ghlinne had a measure of independence 200 years ago from Arnisdale is unclear.

The most exciting discovery in the lower glen was a hut circle, on a terrace above the old Achadh a’ Ghlinne township (Site 1217; plate 17). Another recessed platform nearby may have supported a timber roundhouse (Site 1251). Achadh a’ Ghlinne is the only place for miles around which appears on the 1654 Blaeu map, a fact reasonably attributed to Timothy Pont, c. 1590, as he notes that a soft green stone, known as the Clach Chuilin or holly stone, was found in the Allt Utha. There are suggestions here, perhaps not surprisingly, that settlement in this sheltered glen does extend back into prehistory.

Site 1275. This site comprises an E-W aligned rectilinear structure, measuring 15m x 8m externally, consisting of turf grown footings. The W facing wall of the house appears to be bowed. Two interior cells are evident. The first (A) measures 4m x 8m and has a possible entrance on the S side, measuring 0.5m in width. The second (B) measures 5m x 8m. There appears to be a raised stone platform on the outside of the E gable, measuring 0.3m wide x 8m; it is possibly a milk cooling stoup. Outside the SW corner, another cell, measuring 1m x 2.5m, is just discernible. This may be the footings of a ‘lean-to’ structure, with a S facing entrance. An enclosure, defined by turf grown boulders, 0.7m wide and surviving to 3 courses or 0.8m in height, is built onto the W gable. The enclosure measures 16.5m x 15m internally. <1>

NGR adjusted based on 1999-2001 AP’s <2>

1st Edition OS 6" <3>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred NG 8652 0953 (23m by 15m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet NG80NE
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish GLENELG

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (1)

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