MHG58230 - Shieling huts and mounds, Coire Chorsalain, Glen Arnisdale


Shieling huts and mounds, Coire Chorsalain, Glen Arnisdale

Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Glen Arnisdale
These sites were recorded by NOSAS in 2008/9 as part of an archaeological survey of outer Loch Hourn.

The lower glen, which has the best arable land, was the centre of activity in the past, undergoing a major re-modelling when Arnisdale Old Farm became a sheep run. Substantial stone walls were built as straight as possible through the old township lands and regular fields laid out. Ploughing since then has all but erased any traces of the rig and furrow which no doubt covered all the better ground, as well as some of the steeper ground. We know from a plan of the remodelled farm, drawn up by John Cowie, Land Surveyor, Inverness, that the old Achadh a’ Ghlinne cottages were abandoned by 1853 (NAS RHP 44813; Sites 1260-1263; fig. 7). They are likely to have been cleared after 1811, when the estate was sold to Bruce, or in the 1820s, when it was sold to Charles Grant (later Lord Glenelg) (Murchison 1957).

The cottages of Achadh a’ Ghlinne were very substantial houses built of stone and neatly laid out. They probably replaced older turf houses. The 1853 plan does not show the buildings on the east side of the Allt Utha, including the present bothy, so it must be a later shepherd’s house, particularly as it lies below a fank attached to the boundary wall (NAS RHP 44813; Site 1222; fig. 8). However, c.1750, Roy does show a settlement on either side of the burn - Achlinbeg on the west side of the Allt Utha, and Achlinmor on the east side, each with 4 buildings. Meryl and Jim Marshall went up into Coire Chorsalain (map 9; table 9), finding a group of 9 shieling huts, most probably attached to Achadh a’ Ghlinne and one of the few indications of deer stalking (plate 16; a similar structure was recorded in Coire Reidh at NG 94285 09655). Whether Achadh a’ Ghlinne had a measure of independence 200 years ago from Arnisdale is unclear.

The most exciting discovery in the lower glen was a hut circle, on a terrace above the old Achadh a’ Ghlinne township (Site 1217; plate 17). Another recessed platform nearby may have supported a timber roundhouse (Site 1251). Achadh a’ Ghlinne is the only place for miles around which appears on the 1654 Blaeu map, a fact reasonably attributed to Timothy Pont, c. 1590, as he notes that a soft green stone, known as the Clach Chuilin or holly stone, was found in the Allt Utha. There are suggestions here, perhaps not surprisingly, that settlement in this sheltered glen does extend back into prehistory.

Coire Chorsalain and along the Allt Utha;

Site 1242. A circular shieling mound, with a diameter of 4m overall and a height of 0.6m. There are stones around lip of the flattish top of the mound, which is 2m in diameter. The mound is covered in moss and heather.

Site 1243. A small, green mossy mound with a dished centre suggestive of a shieling mound. It measures 2.5m in diameter overall and is 0.5m high.

Site 1244. A green mossy mound on top of a knoll suggests a shieling site. It is 6m in diameter overall and is scattered with reeds.

Site 1245. A possible circular shieling mound, 5m in diameter overall, covered in moss and reeds.

Site 1246. A circular shieling mound, 4m in diameter, located on the S side of a burn. It is 0.4m high and is covered in grass and reeds.

Site 1247. A shieling mound, located close to the S bank of a burn. It is oval in shape, aligned ENE-WSW, and measures 4m x 2m. It is covered in moss and reeds.

Site 1248. A shieling mound, located on the S side of a burn. It is oval in shape, measuring 4.5 x 3m and is 0.4m high. The mound is covered in heather, moss and reeds.

Site 1249. A possible shieling hut located on a dry spur, with the ground sloping away to the E. It is penanular in shape and is aligned NE-SW, measuring 3m x 2m internally. The walls are of drystone construction and stand to 0.4m-0.5m high; they are 0.7m-0.8m thick. It has an elongated entrance in NE arc, which is 0.3m wide.

Site 1250. A shieling mound, aligned NNE-SSW and measuring 4.5 x 2.5m overall. It stands to 0.4m in height and is covered in moss and reeds, with some heather. <1>

NGR adjusted based on 2010 AP’s <2>

Sources/Archives (2)



Grid reference Centred NG 8755 1131 (98m by 99m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG81SE
Civil Parish GLENELG
Geographical Area LOCHABER

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

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