MHG3188 - Township - Sean Bhaile, Muck


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

NM47NW 7 centred on 420 796

The site is now protected as a Scheduled Monument of National Importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act (1979) September 29 th 2004
DEH(23/01/06) see associated documents for NM47NW0001 for details

Sean Bhaile: A deserted village of about twenty houses lying on either side of a street, visible on RAF Aps 106G/Scot/UK 34: 3408-9 (flown 1946). Presumably deserted in 1828, the NSA stating that there was mass emigration from Muck to America in that year.
NSA (Inverness)

Eight unroofed buildings and an enclosure are depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Argyllshire, Island of Muck, 1880, sheet lxxii). Seventeen unroofed buildings, seven enclosures and some field walls are shown on the current edition of the OS 1:10000 map (1975).
Information from RCAHMS (SAH) 10 December 1996

AP's (R.A.F. 106 G SCOT UK 34:3409-8: 27/4/946.

The deserted township of Sean Bhaile extends up a broad terrace to the NNW of the burial-ground (NM47NW 1) at the head of Port Mor. It comprises the remains of at least forty-eight buildings, apparently scattered to either side of a trackway flanked by drystone walls. Closer inspection reveals that the construction of the walls delineating the trackway represents one of the latest phases of activity in the history of the township, both of them crossing an enclosure in the core of the township, and the NE wall variously overriding or incorporating no less than six buildings along its line. Indeed, at least twenty-seven of the buildings are overridden by a system of small enclosures constructed amongst the ruins, though whether in conjunction with the walls of the trackway is not known. Only one of these enclosures is shown on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Argyllshire, Isle of Muck, 1880, lxxiv), lying at the S end of the township adjacent to the burial-ground, and it is the only one containing visible traces of cultivation ridges. The buildings are evidently multi-period, not only in the sense that so many of them predate the system of enclosures, but that in several locations there is evidence that they represent more than one phase of construction, ranging from the insertion of pens or partitions into the interior, to t he reconstruction of the walls. In some cases, one building appears to have been butted against another, in a few others buildings have been superimposed on earlier structures. A row of three buildings (Muck02 5-7) immediately upslope from the southernmos t enclosure, for example, though now heavily robbed and disturbed, share their end walls in such a way that they cannot have been built as a single range, and the SW end of the SW building (Muck02 7) has been remodelled as a freestanding structure with th e insertion of a wall across the interior. The cluster of buildings immediately WNW displays similar evidence (Muck02 9-10, 15-16). The N end of the central building of this cluster overlies a heavily robbed building with an inserted partition (Muck02 16) , but the S end has itself been reconstructed. Measuring10.3m by 3.8m within walls up to 1.1m in thickness and 1.6m in height, this was one of the largest buildings in the township, but, with the insertion of a new wall across the interior and a new entra nce at the SE corner, it has been converted into little more than an outhouse. Only three of the buildings are over 10m long internally, another seven are between 8.9m and 9.3m long, and the remainder fall between these and the smallest structure, which m easures about 4m in length by 3m in breadth. By and large their stone-faced walls are turf-cored, and the corners are rounded internally and externally, with a single entrance in the middle of one side and no evidence of any windows. At least four of the smaller buildings ranging between 5.9m and 7.3m in length have a pair of opposed entrances (Muck02 22-4, 28), and one of these has a block of masonry inserted into one corner, probably for a kiln (Muck02 23). At least two other buildings have kilns embedd ed in masonry behind an inserted cross-wall at one end (Muck02 33-4; possibly also 8), and in one (Muck02 34) the mouth of the flue is visible in the cross-wall. There is also a free-standing kiln at the top of the slope overlooking the track at the SE en d of the township. Two of the kiln-barns lie adjacent to each other at the N end of the township, but whereas one is heavily robbed, the other stands 1.5m high, its kiln measuring 1.4m in diameter and 1.4m in height. This and a neighbouring building, whic h measures 9.2m by 3.5m transversely within walls up to 1.8m in height, are amongst the best preserved buildings in the township, and presumably are amongst the last to have been abandoned, though the door into the kiln-barn was blocked in the creation of the system of enclosures amongst the ruins. The final phase of occupation, however, is probably represented by a cottage on the E side of the township, which measures 8.1m by 4m within square-cornered stone walls 0.8m in height; it has a central entrance flanked by windows in its S wall and there is a fireplace in its W end. Although a small square building is shown unroofed at this location on both the 1st and 2nd edition of the OS 6-inch map (Argyllshire, Isle of Muck, 1880, sheet lxxiv; Inverness-shir e, 1903, sheet lxxii), it is likely that this cottage was built after the turn of the century, and the abandoned building immediately to its N, which has been extensively rebuilt at its S end, was probably also refurbished at this time.
The township is shown on the Plan of the Island of Muck prepared in 1809 by J Chapman. At that time it appears to have comprised only eight buildings and an enclosure, but it is difficult to reconcile the depiction with the remains on the ground. Assuming that the enclosure is not the burial-ground, which is otherwise missing from the map, the depiction probably lies towards the southern end of the area occupied by the township, where there are traces of an earlier enclosure beneath the southernmost of the later enclosure s. In view of the well-preserved character of some of the buildings at the northern end, it is likely that the township expanded northwards after 1809, but the greater part of the system of enclosures is more recent still. With the exception of the southe rnmost enclosure, no trace of the walls of the system, nor those of the trackway appear on either edition of the OS 6-inch, and they may date from the early 20th century.
(Muck02, 1-48)
Visited by RCAHMS (SPH ,DCC) 21 June 2002

Sources/Archives (2)



Grid reference Centred NM 4200 7960 (100m by 100m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet NM47NW
Civil Parish SMALL ISLES
Geographical Area LOCHABER

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