MHG27425 - Lower Polnish Township


A scattered township located on the eastern isthmus of the Ardnish Peninsula. It is locally known as Lower Polnish.

Type and Period (1)

  • TOWNSHIP (Post Medieval - 1560 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Created automatically by NMRS Register Utility
User: Admin, Date: Fri 10 Mar 2000
NM78SW 10 centred on 749 825

What may be a township comprising six unroofed buildings is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Inverness-shire 1876, sheet cxxxv). Six unroofed buildings, some field walls and an enclosure are shown on the current edition of the OS 1:10000 map (1973).
Information from RCAHMS (SAH) 19 August 1996

NM 752 828 to NM 729 841 During December 1995 and September 1996, a programme of evaluation and excavation was carried out in advance of the proposed widening and realignment of the A830 between Polnish Chapel and the Loch Nan Uamh viaduct.
The characteristic steep slopes and rocky terrain meant that the potential for site identification was limited. However, several features were identified during the evaluation, in two cases confirming identifications made during the desk-based study.
Sixteen trenches were excavated, all located at the W end of the road corridor in an area comprising arable flood plain (NM 7317 8410). The only feature located within the trial trenches was a large scooped feature, possibly an old stream course.
The following sites were located and recorded by fieldwalking and palaeoenvironmental assessment elsewhere within the road corridor:
1 NM 7512 8265 Post-medieval building 1.
2 NM 7509 8275 Post-medieval building 2.
3 NM 7504 8280 Possible kiln.
4 NM 7503 8280 Rig and furrow.
5 NM 7507 8270 Quarry.
Sites 1-5 clustered to the W of Polnish chapel, and together with a spread of similar structures located outside the road corridor, appear to form components of a depopulated settlement. A trial section was excavated through part of the rig system (site 4), revealing a width of 2.1m between crests.
During September 1996, excavations were conducted at sites 1, 2, 3 and 6 and a programme of peat coring was carried out.
Building 1 (site 1), noted as roofed on the OS 1st edition map, lay 50m to the S of the Roman Catholic chapel. The basal course of the walls was constructed of rough, undressed, unmortared stones. Excavation revealed that the building had been substantially altered. Although extensively robbed on its E side, there was a secondary stone trough constructed in the centre of the building filled with a deposit of material very like manure. On the W side of the building, this trough exited through the wall where there was a large flat stone in place, presumably placed there to allow the removal of manure. Other than within the N section of the building where there was an area of cobbling, any earthen floor layer appeared to have been heavily disturbed, presumably by stock animals. A varied selection of 19th-century pottery and glass was recovered from this building which is presumed of late 18th/early 19th-century origin.
Building 2 (site 2) lay c 30m to the W of Polnish RC chapel and was built in the lee of a W facing steep slope, into which the building had been constructed. Its walls were constructed from roughly dressed stones. Excavation revealed a rough floor into which, at the SW corner, longitudinal timbers had been set. The entrance lay on the E side. Continuing into the building from the entrance was a paved area constructed from large flagstones. Immediately adjoining this was a raised hearth area with the remains of a hearth in situ. The building had been constructed over a layer of peat which presumably represents the approximate ground surface during construction, but a horizontal foundation raft of large slabs had been laid below the E facing wall, increasing the width of the wall to 1m.
The possible kiln (site 3) located on the crest of the slope to the W of buildings 1 and 2 was found by excavation to comprise the remains of a circular structure 3m in diameter with unmortared rough stone walls 0.6m thick. These walls survived only to a height of 0.4-0.5m. On the N side, a narrow (0.2m wide) flue was noted; however, no trace of burning was found within the structure and thus its function remains unclear.
A Data Structure Report has been produced for the evaluation phase of the work, and a Data Structure Report for the excavations is in preparation.
Sponsor: The National Roads Directorate of The Scottish Office Development Department, managed on their behalf by Historic Scotland
A Rees 1996 <1>

The whole area of the scattered township, known locally as Lower Polnish, was subject to survey by members of the Moidart History Group.
The settlement essentially consists of 3 separate, but clearly inter-related areas. To the east, clustered around the area identified on the modern Ordnance Survey map as Polnish. Six buildings were surveyed in this area. They include structures standing to eave height, some with substantial fireplaces as well as a modernised house. This is known as ' Wee Ronald's House; because the last of the old inhabitants, Ronald MacEachen, lived there until about 1970. A number of animal pens and a large stone-walled enclosure were also identified.
At the north-west of Lower Polnish a group of buildings were surveyed at 50m AOD. Although the area is marshy, there is no easily accessible water supply nearer than Loch Dubh, 500m to the north-west. Five buildings, all in a ruinous state were surveyed, with another large building with externally rounded corners, surviving to eave height. A number of features related to stone clearance, possible evidence of peat cutting and an enclosure wall were all surveyed. A small stone-built cairn on top of a low hill was also noted; possibly a recent feature.
The final group of buildings lie to the south-west of the township, somewhat isolated from the main upper group, half-way up the hill on a flat promontory. They are noted as being the best preserved elements of the township.Two buildings and two enclosures were surveyed.
This site has been much photographed. Isabel Grant, founder of the Highland Folk Museum, and A. E. Robertson, the ‘First Munroist’, both photographed this same view on several occasions: examples of A. E. Robertson’s images, courtesy of the Scottish Mountaineering Club Archive, are reproduced in the report. The A.E.Robertson images, taken at different times in the early twentieth century, show first the complete village, then a measure of decay.
Little documentary evidence survives for the residents of the township, although the 1841 census records 62 people living in Lower Polnish,
Large areas of rig and furrow survive around the settlement. <2>

Sources/Archives (2)



Grid reference Centred NM 7507 8257 (443m by 340m) Approximate extent
Map sheet NM78SE
Geographical Area LOCHABER

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