MHG3105 - Township - Ballone


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Type and Period (1)

  • TOWNSHIP (Undated)

Protected Status

Full Description

NH63SE 80 674 324.

The remains of this township stand some 400m SE of Ballone farmhouse on a terrace above the floodplain of the River Nairn. Fifteen buildings and five kilns can be identified, and two rectangular platforms may indicate the sites of other buildings. The buildings stand either on the terrace itself or on the ESE-facing slope above it; most of them aligned along the slope, while all but one of the kilns are situated to the NE and set into the ground as it drops towards the river. The buildings can be divided into two groups on the basis of their construction materials: seven have walls of turf, usually on top of stone footings, while six are constructed of faced rubble. Two buildings are too badly robbed to ascribe to either group.
The turf buildings range from 10.8m to 24m in length and from 4.3m to 8.7m in breadth over walls which in one case (USN93 165) are 0.7m thick, but otherwise are spread to as much as 2.6m. Little survives of them beyond their bare outlines; two (USN93 162 and 172) are divided into two compartments, and although USN93 165 is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Inverness-shire 1874, sheet xxxi) with a bedneuk, this is no longer visible.
The largest of the stone-walled buildings are USN93 177 and USN93 178, which measure respectively 15.6m in length by 4m in breadth and 16.2m in length by 3.7m in breadth within walls measuring about 0.7m in thickness and up to 1.6m in height. They form the E and W sides of a courtyard, with a third building, which is still in use, forming the S side. The E building (USN93 177) has a bedneuk, fireplace and windows, and at, its S end, part of a turf gable survives. The other building is equipped with an internal drain, which runs through the door into the yard. The other stone buildings are not as well preserved and display few internal features: USN93 163 is divided into two compartments, and USN93 167 appears to have had an open E side, suggesting that it may have served as a cart-shed.
The kilns all consist of a stone-faced bowl set into the slope and measuring between 0.9m and 3m in diameter. One (USN93 175) has a possible barn on its SSE side. At the N end of the settlement, on a knoll immediately to the NE of buildings USN93 172-3, is a group of four shallow pits, each measuring about 2m in diameter. Similar features have been noted close to other townships in Upper Strathnairn, and they are probably storage pits.
A settlement, named Cnoc Firikin, is marked here on a plan of Drumboy, 'part of the lands of Inverness Castle', dating from c.1760 (SRO: RHP 1841). Four buildings and an enclosure are depicted, but in a stylised fashion, so they cannot be identified with any remains now visible. The 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map names the settlement 'Glenfirachan'.
At the time it was described as 'a small farm, the dwelling house and offices are one storey in height, thatched and in ordinary repair' (ONB 1871). From the evidence of this map the turf structures are earlier than the stone ones: only one of the former (USN93 165) is depicted, and it is shown as unroofed while five of the six rubble-walled buildings are shown as roofed.
This development from an informal layout of buildings to a more clearly planned courtyard steading is paralleled 1.3km to the W at Dunlichity (NH63SE 85). By the time of the 2nd edition OS 6-inch map (Inverness-shire, 1905, sheet xxxi) only two of the courtyard buildings, USN93 177 and the building adjoining it (which remains in use) were still roofed.
(USN93 162-181, 470)
Visited by RCAHMS (SDB) 3 November 1992. <1>

A township, comprising five roofed buildings of which one is L-shaped, two unroofed buildings and four enclosures is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Inverness-shire 1874, sheet xxxi). One roofed building, two unroofed buildings and four enclosures are shown on the current edition of the OS 1:10000 map (1975).
Information from RCAHMS (AKK) 1 July 1996.

The township was scheduled by Historic Scotland in 2007.

During a walkover survey in June 2009 at least 5 roofless, stone buildings and an enclosure were identified centred on NH 67502 32508. A slate roofed building was also identified which post-dates the surrounding structures. A watching brief is recommended during works in this vicinity so that any associated remains and be identified, recorded and preserved. <2>

The Scheduled area, name and description were amended by Histroic Environment Scortland in 2022. <3>

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred NH 6747 3247 (208m by 271m)
Map sheet NH63SE
Geographical Area INVERNESS

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