Scheduled Monument

Tom Buidhe, enclosure 480m NNE of RuthvenSM4501

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
Last Date Amended
Secular: enclosure
Local Authority
NH 60431 27404
260431, 827404


The monument comprises a natural knoll that people modified and occupied between 1500 and 300 years ago. It is located on the S shore of Loch Ruthven on land used for rough pasture and grazing. The monument was first scheduled in 1988, but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains. The present rescheduling rectifies this.

A curving ditch cuts the rocky knoll off from land to the S; material excavated from this helped to level the interior. Slippage of soil to the NE and SW has truncated the surface, which appears to have originally been sub-oval, measuring 36 m from NW to SE by 30 m transversely. There is a stony bank, 0.7 m wide and 0.3 m high around the lip on the NW and SE sides, with a possible palisade trench, 0.5 m wide and 0.1 m deep, just visible on the inside of it. On the NW a similar trench runs parallel to this for 11 m, running 2 m inside it. There are also some traces of cultivation across the summit of the knoll. The outer ditch averages 12 m wide and 2 m deep, but modern ploughing has damaged it. It is likely that water filled this when the loch level was high (it has been lowered in recent times). 140 m to the N is a crannog.

Robert Gordon's and Joan Blaeu's mid-17th-century maps of the region depict an occupied island in the loch, and it is possible that it is this knoll that is indicated. A century later, General Roy's map shows no such settlement, suggesting abandonment.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular polygon on plan, to include the remains described and an area around in which evidences for their construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Three fence lines and a gate traverse this area; the scheduling excludes their above-ground elements, to allow for their maintenance.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: Cultivation at the summit of the mound pre-dates the introduction of deep and destructive modern techniques. It is probable that this caps upstanding structures and associated archaeological deposits and that there is a high potential that they remain in a good state of preservation. In early and later medieval northern and western Scotland, high status social groups often initially occupied sites such as this, perhaps as a localised reaction to the need for lordly caputs or motte-like centres of administration. Cartographic evidence may suggest occupation of this monument into the 17th century. Future research has the potential to inform upon developments in the expression, display and function of high status sites throughout the medieval period and the social, political, cultural and economic influences that affected their occupants. Waterlogged remains within the ditch may also contain important environmental and organic information regarding the life styles and consumption patterns of those who inhabited the monument.

Contextual characteristics: The Scottish archaeological record has few examples of medieval high-status sites of this type, which means this monument can inform on expressions of lordship within this locality and elsewhere. Additionally, this class of site often shares a close spatial association with crannogs, which may indicate a more complex set of relationships existed between these two types of monument. Together with the nearby crannog, study of this monument has the potential to place sites of this type within their specific landscape context, as part of the geographical expression of medieval lordship.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it is a well-preserved example of a rare monument type. There is a high potential for the preservation of structures and associated archaeological deposits. It can inform on the form of high status medieval settlement in this locality and in the rest of Scotland; the role played by monuments of this type in local and wider politics and economies; and transformations in the culture and expression of lordship from early medieval times to the 17th century. Its loss would significantly detract from our ability to understand these issues.



RCAHMS record this monument as NH62NW19, Highland SMR as NH62NW0019.


Yeoman P 1988, MOTTES IN NORTHEAST SCOTLAND, in Scot Archaeol Rev, 5, 131, 86.

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: 22/04/2024 00:49