Sunday, 18 December 2016

Eilagadale Archaeology

We walked the track from Ockle to Eilagadale this morning, a track which is only passable in a good four-wheel drive but which offers....

....spectacular views along Ardnamurchan's rugged north coast, even in the gloomy overcast of a mid-winter day.

The purpose of the walk was to visit some of the archaeological sites along this coast, but to get to three of them the easiest route is to follow the track until.... bears left through a gate with a 'Private' sign on it. Exercising our rights under Scotland's wonderful Right-to-Roam laws (link here), and knowing that the property, with a fence enclosing the area which is rightly private, is about....

....500m down the hill by the coast - it's just visible in the trees to the right of this picture - we followed the track, leaving it to look at the buildings seen here in the bottom right-hand corner, two houses and associated byres which formed part of the abandoned settlement of Eilagadale.

The houses are substantially built with rounded corners, and were probably hip-roofed. Although in Bald's map of 1806 three nearby worked fields are shown, no buildings are marked, and the 1872 OS map shows these buildings as abandoned. This suggests that they date back into the 18th century, in which case they are remarkably well preserved.

To the west of Eilagadale, in a open glen which runs down to the sea, there is a fine example of a hut circle, the stone foundations of what looked like a native American teepee - Mrs Diary is sitting on one of the stones which flanked its entrance. These structures are dated to the Bronze or Iron Ages, some 2,000 years ago so, once again, the structure is remarkably well preserved for its age.

Our final site was reached by continuing down the glen to the sea and bearing left along the coast, to....

....a cave, marked here with an orange arrow. It is one of the best candidates along this wild stretch of coastline as the site of Ardnamurchan's worst massacre, when, some time around 1625, a group of fugitive MacIain women and children were discovered in a cave by a marauding band of Campbells, a fire was lit in its entrance, and the occupants killed.


  1. The end wall of the building has an opening below a stone lintel, too low to be a window or door. I have seen these before and are for a mill-wheel shaft. Looking on the OS map, the properties are positioned on the 30m contour, upon which, not too far away is the Alt Eilagadale. Is there evidence of mill stones within the property or a lade (millrace)?

  2. Lovely account of yet another day out.....always impressed by your writings and images. Keep it up.

  3. I must walk this way sometime,.. your pictures/report makes places like this call my

  4. Many thanks for your comments, Ian and Stuart. Eilagadale is a superb area - the right word is awesome - well worth a visit. Jon