Scheduled Monument

Ruthven, hut circles, field systems and burnt mounds 1200m S ofSM11826

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: burnt mound; field or field system; hut circle, roundhouse
Local Authority
Daviot And Dunlichity, Dores
NH 60463 25892
260463, 825892


The monument comprises the extensive remains of domestic buildings and agricultural landuse likely to be Late Bronze Age or Iron Age, dating to the first or second millennium BC. It is located in upland rough grazing and pasture on a generally W-facing slope, between 250m and 290m above sea level.

These remains include at least seven hut-circles or domestic roundhouses surviving as low circular, turf-covered stone banks. The hut-circles are associated with a series of stone clearance piles and earthen strips or lynchets marking the remains of a network of agricultural plots, divisions and boundaries. Finally, there are two burnt mounds, possibly the remains of large scale cooking activity, which survive as two U-shaped mounds. They contain burnt stone material and charcoal deposits which would have formed with each burning episode. A network of modern tracks, fencing, drains and grouse butts crosses the site.

The hut-circles are spread throughout the area. They seem to be individual houses between 8m and 14m in outside diameter, consisting of a single thickness rubble wall enclosing a central, internal living space. The entrance tends to be in the eastern half of each structure. Except for one example sitting on a natural terrace, all the structures are built into the slope of the surrounding hillside. The field system is a complex network of linear and curved earth banks and areas within, where stone material has been cleared for cultivation. Numerous clearance heaps survive at the edges of these plots and form part of the overall footprint of prehistoric landuse surrounding the domestic structures. Further upslope and eastwards on the SW facing slope are the two rectangular burnt mounds which are roughly 8m long by 7m wide. Despite the intrusion of a more modern drain into the northernmost of the two and the encroachment of modern afforestation immediately to the E, their structure remains intact and this includes the discernable opening into each of the mounds on their SE sides.

The area proposed for scheduling is an irregular shape on plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above-ground elements of modern fencing and boundary features, the grouse butts, existing drains and the two burns, to allow for their maintenance and repair.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

The monument's archaeological significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument consists of seven well-preserved examples of later prehistoric hut-circles, together with elements of an associated field system, and two burnt mounds, all dating to the first or second millennium BC. This is an archaeologically dense area of upland with many more unrecorded archaeological deposits likely to occupy the spaces between those mentioned above. The various elements of the monument are in a relatively good state of preservation; they are upstanding and clearly visible in the landscape. Given the site's continued use as rough grazing, it is likely that archaeologically significant deposits relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the structures remain in place. In addition, it is likely that deposits survive that could provide data relating to the later prehistoric environment. The site has considerable potential to enhance understanding of later prehistoric roundhouses. It may also provide environmental information on prehistoric upland landuse and more details about the context, construction and use of burnt mounds.

Contextual characteristics: The monument represents the nature and extent of upland agriculture and settlement expansion during later prehistory and as such is a good example of its class. Many other single examples of hut-circles and clusters of hut-circles compare with Ruthven, but very few survive intact with cultivation and associated remains as extensive as this. The monument sits within the wider uplands and S shore of the Great Glen where several other contemporary monuments survive. As a well-preserved group of hut-circles, the monument has the potential to reveal much about house building and domestic life in the later prehistoric communities locally and in the wider NE of Scotland. Comparing and contrasting the examples within this group to other hut-circles in the locality and further afield, can create an understanding of regional identity, economy and society.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular Bronze- or Iron-Age society and the nature of later prehistoric domestic and agricultural practice. Its good preservation and the survival of marked field characteristics over such an extensive area enhance this potential. The loss of the example would significantly impede our ability to understand the Bronze and Iron Age in NE Scotland. The sample of the associated agricultural landscape, represented by the clearance cairns, lengths of field bank and burnt mounds, is important because it preserves the relationship of the houses to the immediate archaeological landscape.



RCAHMS record the monument as NH62NW 5, NH62NW 53. The Highland Council SMR records the monument as NH62NW0005.

Aerial photographs:

RCAHMS, 1994, C26451CN Ruthven, Hut circles, field system, enclosure, small cairns.

RCAHMS, 1994, C25971 Ruthven, Hut circles, field system, enclosure, small cairns.

RCAHMS, 1994, C25970 Ruthven, Hut circles, field system, enclosure, small cairns.

RCAHMS, 1994, C25969 Ruthven, Hut circles, field system, enclosure, small cairns.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

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Printed: 23/04/2024 16:03