MHG3419 - Fairy Hillock - Moniack, Kirkhill


Mound known as Fairy Hillock, Moniack

Type and Period (1)

  • MOUND (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD? to 1900 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NH54SE 3 557 431.

A very curious example of vitrified work is seen at Moniack (NH 55 43). It measures 8 or 9 feet from east to west and 10 feet from north to south, and about 3 feet thick. It is on the top of a long curving ridge about 530 ft. long and 15 feet high above the surrounding fields. Excavations all round this mass found it surrounded with small pieces of stone. At the north end there are two mounds one measuring 9 feet and the other 12 feet high, with a hollow of 25 feet between them. Between these mounds and the ridge there is a hollow measuring from 12 feet to 33 feet. At the south end of the ridge, and separated from it by a hollow about 40 feet wide, there is a conical mound called the 'Fairy Hillock' (See NH 54SE 3). Whatever was the object of this piece of vitrification it was certainly not fortification. The mound has every appearance of being artificial, as was evident from the excavations made.
T Wallace 1886 <1>

This appears to be a natural feature centred at NH 557 431. No trace of vitrification could be found.
Visited by OS (R D) 21 December 1964.

The Inverness Field Club, led by Donald Coghill, surveyed a number of sites in the Aird area between 1987 and 1989.
Fairy Glen. A flat topped mound known as the fairy hill, but probably the motte hill of MacGillie Andrais of Moniack, one of Bisset of Lovat's Barons in the early 13th Century, and known then as Ewn Mackleod vick illeandris Barron of Moniak. It is eroded on the east side overlooking the burn, and the base has been tailored for footpaths probably by a late 18th Century laud. It is likely he put a circular harding of small stones 4 yards in diameter in the centre of the top. This Laird of Reelig was noted for erecting follies. The motte was constructed by cutting a trench (now 9 feet wide) across the tail of a ridge and using the upcast to form the motte hill on the end of the ridge. The dimensions of the base are now, after erosion etc. 35 yards x 25 yards and the circular top is 9 yards in diameter. The height is approximately 15 feet from the footpath at the N.E. corner. To the S.VJ. and running S.W. for 35 yards is a very eroded rampart with the ditch to the N.E. side. Near the end of this rampart and across a little glade is the end of a similar feature 10 yards distant. This rampart with the ditch to the N.E. runs uphill in a south-easterly direction, crossing a footpath, and can be traced for 130 yards before being obscured by trees. At the top end there is definite evidence of human activity such as a slight earthwork of indefinite shape and also a heap of stones.

The position of the 2 ditches in relation to their ramparts would (if of the same period) indicate that this linear earthwork was constructed to keep livestock in, rather than keep an enemy out. 20 yards further to the S.W. there is a similar and parallel rampart with the ditch also on the N.E. side and running S.E. to N.'N. for at least 160 yards. A length of this silted up ditch is used as a footpaths and if it is followed for a short distance, it comes to a flat area 90 yards x 50 yards which slopes down towards the N.N.'N, and on which is growing a number of mature beeches. There are faint signs of cultivation running up and down the slope, the access to which was by a track running to the public
road at OS 555428. The bottom of this area has been tailored by the track. There is also a non-drainage ditch running up the east side. <2>

Note: Site not visible on aerial photographs so location based on grid coordinates. (T. Blackie 14/06/23)

Sources/Archives (2)



Grid reference Centred NH 5570 4310 (14m by 14m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH54SE
Civil Parish KIRKHILL
Geographical Area INVERNESS

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