MHG43572 - Miner's Camp - Baile an Or


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Type and Period (1)

  • MINERS CAMP (Undated)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Thumbnail Images shows Baile an Or, the gold mining village in 1869
NC92SW 48 911 214.

(NC 912 214) Baile an Or (NAT) (VP)
A booklet published by the Caithness Field Club describes the extent of the Gold-field and descriptions of other related sites at Strathbrora, the Coast, Glen Loth and Strath Ullie It also gives The Rev. Joass' Account and notes by Sir Roberick Murchison.
An account by Jack Saxon
"The frenetic burst of activity has not had a lasting or immediately noticeable impact on the landscape. Although gold was discovered along many of the water courses in the strath, it was the Kildonan, Kinbrace and Suisgill Burns that saw the most extensive working, the approximate extent of which is depicted on the 1st edition of the 6-inch map. The lower reaches of the Kildonan Burn lay outwith the survey area, and the majority of the Kinbrace Burn has been afforested. Along the Suisgill Burn, however, extensive areas of the stream bank have been turned over, leaving the surface of the ground irregular and broken (NC 900 260 - 905 270 and NC 910 271 - 910 278). A range of intensive panning activities produced these features on the banks of Kildonan Burn, but the absence of traces of large or distinct pits is probably due to the licence stipulation that all claims were to 'be levelled up and left free from holes or pits'.
Strath of Kildonan - An Archaeological Survey
RCAHMS, 1993
Robert Nelson Gilchrist: The discoverer of the gold
"Robert Nelson Gilchrist was born at Gartymore near Helmsdale in the first half of the 19th century. Gilchrist worked the Australian goldfields for nearly twenty years and returned to Helmsdale in 1868 with a vast interest in gold mining. On returning home Gilchrist had been struck with the similarity between the configuration of certain of the creeks in Australia, and the Kildonan Strath, and with the permission of the Duke, in 1868 he methodically prospected the rivers and burns of the Strath.
He made the discovery of the precious metal on his first day of prospecting. He found gold in the Torrish burn but it was the Kildonan Burn which rendered the gold in the paying quantities. The discovery was not concealed for long and was made public in the Inverness Courier for 28th January 1869."

"The Duke eventually made his long-awaited visit to the 'diggings' in April and, overwhelmed by the reception he received from the miners, promised to order "an ox and a cask of beer to be sent down to them from Dunrobin, and he would take the liberty of suggesting at the same time that Mr Gilchrist should be elected to the post of carver".
The Scotsman: 23rd April 1869

"An important character of the gold rush was the Factor to the Duke of Sutherland - Mr Joseph Peacock who lived at Rhives, Golspie. It fell to Mr Peacock to handle the licence system for the gold miners. Reports on the licencing arrangements provide details of the numbers of miners engaged at Suisgill and Kildonan during the gold rush.
Extracts from 'Men of the Scottish Gold Rush' by R.M. Callender
The Industrial Archaeology of Sutherland (A Scottish Highland Economy 1700-1900, p. 153-155) - Sinclair B Calder, 1974
J Aitken : 19/2/2004
Baile an Or (name plaque) "Township of Gold". This was the settlement of temporary wooden huts rented to the prospectors of the "Sutherland Gold Rush" of 1869.

Licenses were issued by Sutherland Estates in April of that year, and work had virtually ceased by December. The gold was being found in small quantities just above the bed-rock, and the digging was confined mainly to the Kildonan and Suisgill Burns (See NC82NE/92NW) and their tributaries. There is no trace of the settlement, and, apart from some surface quarrying, little evidence of the workings (formerly NC92SW (M) item 2).
Visited by OS (NKB) 21 February 1977.
S B Calder 1974.

An excavation at Baile an Or, the 19th century gold prospector's camp in the Strath of Kildonan, uncovered the footings and other buildings associated with the encampment. The excavation assemblage associated with the site was submitted to Treasure Trove (TT 111/05) and allocated to Timespan Museum. <1> <2>

Sources/Archives (11)



Grid reference Centred NC 9114 2145 (30m by 30m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC92SW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish KILDONAN

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