MHG32 - Township, Camas nan Geall


Site of medieval township.

Type and Period (1)

  • TOWNSHIP (OCCUPIED 1560; ABANDONED POST MEDIEVAL; , Post Medieval - 1560 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Remains of a township are spread out over the level ground around the head of Camas Nan Geall. It was inhabited at least by 1716, when 9 men over the age of 16 were recorded and the settlement is marked on Alexander Bruce’s Plan of Loch Sunart of 1733 and Roy’s Map of 1747-55. A cluster of buildings at 'Camusangaal' is situated adjacent to a square enclosure (N of the burying ground SMR NM 56SE0011) on Bald’s Map of 1806, associated with arable ground stretching in a narrow strip northwestwards and separated from the lands of “Tornamoany” by the Allt Torr na Moine.

The extant buildings may be divided according to chronology and possibly function.
1. The buildings nearest the centre of the level ground may comprise the earliest at Camas Nan Geall, corresponding to those on the Bald Map. Site 6 at NM 5608 6193 is situated only 2m SW of the chambered cairn, SMR NM56SE0001, and presumably the cairn was robbed for construction material. Round-angled rectangular in plan, it measures 9m NW-SE by 4.50m and is defined by walls, 0.70m thick and up to 1.20m high. 4m to the W, a stony platform, Site 5, 10m E-W by 4.50m may be the demolished remains of another house.

To the NW at NM 5598 6194 is another round-angled rectangular structure, Site 7, 7.50m NW-SE by 4.50m, defined by a wall, 1.25m wide and 0.70m high. It is associated with fragments of an enclosure and another pile of rubble, Site 8, which may represent a former house. Two further round-angled rectangular structures may also belong to this early phase: Site 14 at NM 5608 6209, which is well-preserved, 10m NE-SW by 4.50m, defined by a battered wall, 0.80m thick and 1.80m high and adjoined by a small enclosure; and Site 10 at NM5588 6195, which is more dilapidated, 6.50m NE-SW by 4.20m. Another pile of rubble, Site 11 at NM 5593 6198, 11m N-S by 6.50m, may also be part of the township.

2. Three buildings of different character, with square ended gable walls and constructed of mortared large squared blocks, may represent a later phase. Site 9, 15m NW-SE by 5.20m, may be a later replacement for Sites 7 and 8. Sites 13 and 12 were probably a house and byre respectively; still roofed in 1875 and situated W of the area occupied on Bald’s map, they may, as Wordsworth suggests, have been built when the land was being used for sheep farming after the clearances of 1828. The house, Site 13, 11.50m E-W by 6m, is defined by a wall, 0.65m thick and up to 2.35m high. An entrance, flanked by two splayed windows, opens through the S side, and lintels and a chimney breast survive in situ. The associated byre, Site 12, 8m NNE-SSW is defined by a wall, 0.5m thick and 2.30m high and, as well as the main entrance in the WSW side, has a calf-creep, 0.80m high, in the NNE end. Both buildings are abutted by a wall, which encloses the W side of Camas Nan Geall.

3. Four buildings situated in a row on the S shore of Camas Nan Geall may also be relatively late as they are not marked on Bald’s Map, though some relative chronology is indicated within the group. A rectangular gable-ended house, (4) at the eastern end of the row, presumably post-dates the two round-angled rectangular buildings (1 and 3) further W. Site 4 at NM 5602 6164 measures 10m NW-SE by 5.50m, and is defined by a wall, 0.70m thick and up to 1.70m high. An entrance in the SW side is flanked by splayed windows and the chimney survives intact at the SE end. An enclosure, 16m NW-SE by 10m abuts the NE side. 45m to the WSW, Site 3, 9m NE-SW by 5m, is built on a base of large natural boulders and is abutted by an enclosure, 20m NE-SW by 13m. Site 1 lies 25m further SW, consisting of a small structure, 7m NE-SW by 4m, and up to 1.30m high. Directly above at NM 5597 6159 is a small oval chamber dug into the slope, 3m WSW – ENE by 2m. Proximity to the shore and distance from the arable ground suggests that these were associated with fishing.
Field Verification Project (West Lochaber) - J Robertson, 03/2004

Five unroofed, seven roofed buildings and four enclosures are depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Argyllshire 1875, sheet xxv). Eight unroofed buildings and three enclosures, one of which is incomplete, are shown on the current edition of the OS 1:10000 map (1974).
Information from RCAHMS (SAH) 6 May 1998

The building at NM 5587 6199 and another at NM 5590 6204 now shown as abandoned were shown as roofed in 1875. No buildings were shown in this position on Bald's map of 1806 and they are likely to have been built when the land was being used for sheep farming after the clearances of 1828. Two buildings and their enclosures are shown as unroofed at NM 5601 6165 in 1875 together with another building at NM 5598 6160. A fourth at NM 5597 6161 was then unroofed. These are likely to be cottars or fishermens cottages lying on Ardslignish Farm. This has been a desk assessment area.
J Wordsworth, SSSIs, Scottish Natural Heritage, 1993

Cruck-slots noted.
G Stell 1981

Mackenzie mentions four townships in the Ben Hiant area depopulated in 1828: Coire-mhuilinn (NM56SW 4); Bourblaige (NM56SW 2); Tornamona (NM56SE 4) and Skinid (not named on OS maps). (Possibly this last name could apply to the township here?)
A MacKenzie 1946

There are the ruins of numbers of cottages on both sides of Camus nan Geall.
M E M Donaldson 1923

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred NM 560 618 (315m by 552m)
Map sheet NM56SE
Geographical Area LOCHABER

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