Strathard Heritage Archive

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History in the Forest!

How lucky are we at Loch Ard Local History Group to have such treasures on our door step.

Big Bruach Caoruinn township was described by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) as one of the two “most interesting examples” in Stirlingshire, along with the adjacent Little Bruach Caoruinn township to the SE.

Loch Ard Local History Group (LALHG kelly10kelly@btinternet.com for membership details) undertook their 3rd visit to these townships on the 1st June.

1st visit was to Big Bruach Caoruinn, with our next two visits to Little Bruach Caoruinn township, before and after felling. 1st of June saw the group arrive at the site unable to believe it was the same place they had visited previously, now naked and cleared of felling debris.

Those of us lucky enough to go on both visits have had great debate as to whether the experience was better with or without the trees! The corn drying kiln was of great interest and well preserved. Niall Logan part of Scottish Venacular Buildings Group  had identified the the buildings as unusual to Forestry and Land Scotland. This led to FLS working with its own archaeologist, Loch Ard Local History Group and others to research and explore the township.

Some of the group along with Niall Logan studying the corn drying kiln

Niall, aided by Paul Bishop, pointed out points of interest in the long house and speculated on what life would have been like for the inhabitants, drawing on his extensive research of long houses in other areas. As we explored the buildings and ruins of enclosure walls, we were informed by an artist’s impression reconstruction of the site as a late 18th century sheep farm. Alan Braby worked with FLS, using their laser scan survey to bring the township to life.

Artist Alan Braby used the laser scan survey to inform this reconstruction, which shows the site as a late 18th century sheep farm (hiding illicit whisky distilling in plain sight).

Dating the sites is not an exact science but Jennifer G. Robertson MA PhD FSA ScotMIFA, who was commissioned to do a survey of Big Bruach Caoruinn prior to the run of river hydro scheme, has this to say in her report:

Both (townships) were recorded on Roy’s map of 1747- 55 as Braechurnmor (Big Bruach Caoruinn) and Braechurnbeg (Little Bruach Caoruinn) and on Grassom’s 1817 map of Stirlingshire as Bruacheurnmore and Bruacheurn.  With reference to the latter version, it is possible that the Bra Cheurin on Pont’s map, dating to between c. 1583 and 1601, also refers to one or both of these settlements. Cartographic evidence thus suggests that this settlement belongs to the pre-clearance period, with probably Medieval origins

Matt Ritchie, Archaeologist for FES, visited Little Bruach Caoruinn before harvesting and also did a report:

We know that the Wee Bruach was a sheep farm in the late 18th  century before it was finally abandoned as a dwelling between 1841 and 1851. There are strong associations with a number of the important families in the district, including Buchanan, MacFarlane and MacGregor.

Thanks to Forestry and Land Scotland and in particular John Hair and Shirley Leek, we members of LALHG have had three delightful and informative visits back in time.

Life was hard back then and it is fascinating to wander round the sites and imagine what daily life was like for the families in the centuries before us.

If you would like to know more about Loch Ard Local history Group https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/Loch-Ard-History-Group-976909072374205/

Forestry and Land Scotland report on Little Bruach Caoruinn https://forestryandland.gov.scot/blog/investigating-lost-ruins?highlight=WyJicnVhY2giXQ==%20