MHG27434 - Settlement features, Polnish

Summary

Two buildings, of 18th and 19th-century date, a possible kiln and a quarry were recorded during archaeological fieldwork in advance of improvements to the A380.

Type and Period (4)

  • BUILDING (18th Century to 19th Century - 1701 AD to 1900 AD)
  • KILN? (Unknown date)
  • QUARRY (Unknown date)
  • RIG AND FURROW (Unknown date)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NM78SE 2 751 827

An unroofed building is shown on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Inverness-shire 1876, sheet cxxxvi), but it is not shown on the current edition of the OS 1:10000 map (1974).
Information from RCAHMS (SAH) 20 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 data structure report for excavations was requested and received from CFA Archaeology. The report on evaluation across this area could not be located at this time.
2 buildings, both dating to the 18th-19th centuries, and a putative kiln were excavated. A possible quarry was also recorded during evaluation across this area, although few further details are available.
The walls of Building 1 were found to be constructed from large undressed and unmortared blocks up to 1.5m across between which smaller angular stones had been placed to infIll any gaps. With rounded external corners, this building
measured over the walls 9.25m in length by 4.1 Orn wide at the northern end and 4.50m at the southern end. Upon excavation, it was revealed that the building had undergone substantial alteration. It appears to have. Been originally a single chambered construction which was subsequently subdivided into three compartments. Although extensively robbed on the eastern side, there was a secondary stone trough construction in the centre of the building,
running east-west and filled with a deposit very like manure. Before exiting the building on the west side the trough deviated south. At the exit point, a large flat stone lay in place, presumably to allow the removal of manure by shoveling. Within the unmodified northern section of the building an area of cobbling appears to predate the trough construction or the central flagged trough area and thus relate to the primary function of the building. Any earthen
floor areas appear to have been heavily disturbed and trampled, presumably by stock animals. A small but varied selection of 19th century pottery and glass was recovered from both structural phases of this building which, it is
presumed, is of 18th or 19th century origin.
Building 2 was constructed from roughly dressed and mortared stones 0.3m to 0.5m across, neat and rectangular in layout. The building measured 9.20m in length by 5.18m wide externally with walls measuring 0.6m to 0.7m wide by
0.5m to Lorn in height. 70% of the building was investigated. In the south west corner excavation revealed a clayey subsoil to have been used as a floor level (204), into which parallel longitudinal floor joists had been set (205). The
single entrance lay 3.8m from the southern end efthe east wall (209) and comprised several large flat flagstones (207) which extended towards the centre of the building, covering a rectangular area of 2.8m by 1.0m. The flagstones extended outside the structure, but their limit was not traced. Immediately adjoining the internal flagged area was a raised hearth area measuring 1.45m by 1.20m. The building was constructed over a layer of peat which presumably represents the approximate ground surface during construction. Numerous 19th century ceramic and glass fragments were recovered from this building as were many roofing slates, cast iron stove fragments and the remains of wooden joists. These artefacts appear to indicate a late 19th century date for this building.
The possible kiln was investigated, although no burning was recorded, so it must remain of uncertain function. Upon excavation, a circular fearure was revealed, comprising undressed, unmortared, stone walls a.6m thick with a total diameter of 3.m. The walls contained evidence for a small flue on the north side which appeared to have been blocked at some stage. The minimal traces of charcoal present, the lack of evidence for burning and/or slag found within the structure, indicates that the function of the structure remains uncertain, although a function as a kiln appears likely.
Rig and furrow was also invesitgated to the north of the township. <2>


<1> RCAHMS, Canmore, online database of the Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), Canmore ID 118438 (Interactive Resource/Online Database). SHG23282.


<2> Rees, A, 02/1997, Excavations near Polnish Chapel, Arisaig, Highland: Data Structure Report (Text/Report/Fieldwork Report). SHG24861.

Sources/Archives (2)

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred NM 7502 8274 (233m by 191m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet NM78SE
Civil Parish ARISAIG AND MOIDART
Geographical Area LOCHABER

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (1)

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.