Scheduled Monument

Lower Slackbuie, unenclosed settlement 90m E of 1 West Heather RoadSM5218

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
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: hut circle, roundhouse; settlement (if not assigned to any more specific type)
Local Authority
Inverness And Bona
NH 67070 42465
267070, 842465


The monument comprises the remains of a later prehistoric settlement dating to between 2500 BC and AD 400. It includes at least two roundhouses and part of a ditch enclosing a small plot next to one of the houses. The building remains are buried below the ground surface, but their existence is known from aerial photographs, geophysical survey and sample excavation. The monument is located on the southern outskirts of Inverness between West Heather Road and Slackbuie Avenue. It lies on level ground 1.3 km south of the River Ness and about 40m above sea level. The ground rises steadily to the south-east.

Cropmarks visible on aerial photographs show where one of the timber roundhouses used to stand. A ring of darker circular marks indicates the foundations for the main vertical posts that supported the roof. This post-ring measures about 11m in diameter but the outer wall probably stood beyond the post-ring, suggesting a larger diameter for the house. About 3m to the south-east, geophysical survey has revealed two concentric curved anomalies indicating the south-west side of a second roundhouse. The outer line probably represents the wall of the house, which would have been about 16m in diameter, and the inner line suggests the position of the roof supports or an internal partition. Immediately to the east of this structure, a curving cropmark indicates a ditched enclosure that may have been contemporary with the house. In addition to these remains, archaeological trial trenches have revealed a concentration of pits to the south-west of the post-ring roundhouse. Some of these pits contained packing stones, indicating that they were post-holes. They ranged in diameter from 0.3m to 1.1m and in depth from 0.1m to 0.7m; sample excavation produced sherds of pottery, charcoal and charred plant remains. Some of these pits may represent the outer wall of the post-ring roundhouse, but those to the south-west suggest the presence of additional timber structures.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan to include the remains described and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes existing fences to allow for their maintenance.

Cultural significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

This monument is a later prehistoric unenclosed settlement sited in a low, fertile valley-bottom location. Trial trenching has shown that relatively deep archaeological features survive below the topsoil in very good condition and contain carbonised wood and plant remains. Evidence for at least two roundhouses survives, each with different structural features, probably reflecting different house designs and/or functions. The first house has a clear post-ring, whereas the second is represented by concentric ring-grooves. This apparent cluster of buildings may represent different phases of construction, especially if the outer wall of the post-ring house lay beyond the post-ring. The buried remains can help us to understand more about the design, construction, phasing and use of the buildings, allowing researchers to build up a picture of the activities that took place on the site, the physical conditions, and the environment and land cover at the time. The pits, postholes, gullies and ditch can be expected to contain additional artefacts and organic remains that can further our understanding of society, ritual, economy, agriculture and domestic architecture. The potential presence of house remains from different periods gives the possibility of exploring issues such as the duration of house occupation, the extent to which occupation of the site was continuous and the nature of abandonment processes. Other buried remains may also exist within the immediate vicinity of the known roundhouses, and have the potential to tell us more about the settlement's occupation and use.

Contextual characteristics

This monument lies in a favoured settlement location in the valley of the Ness. At Culduthel Mains Farm, about 1.2 km south-west of this monument, archaeologists investigated a palisaded enclosure, but also found well-preserved roundhouse remains scattered across the surrounding landscape. All the roundhouses had an internal post-ring, but showed a variety of other structural features. The largest was 20m in diameter and two had ring-grooves representing the outside wall, providing a local parallel for the ring groove identified by geophysical survey of this monument. Many of these houses were of Iron Age date (around 800 BC to AD 400) and five contained evidence for iron smelting furnaces, though finds of pottery show that the area also contains remains of earlier date. Elsewhere, pits and postholes representing several structures, including a post-ring roundhouse, have been found at Lower Slackbuie, around 500m south of this monument, and appear to date to the middle or later Bronze Age (about 1800 BC to 800BC).

It is likely that prehistoric farmers occupied this landscape for many centuries, living in individual roundhouses or perhaps small clusters of houses, but regularly moving short distances to new house locations within the settlement area. The extensive settlement remains that have been excavated elsewhere in the vicinity provide a context that enhances the value of this monument.

Statement of 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 the study of unenclosed settlements in later prehistoric NE Scotland. Archaeological remains of the settlement survive in good condition below ground and it is probable that they contain extensive and complex evidence relating to the construction and use of the roundhouses. There is high potential for the recovery of artefacts and ecofacts that were either buried when the roundhouses were built or relate to their use or abandonment. This monument has the potential to tell us about wider prehistoric society, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contacts with. Its importance is increased because it can be compared with several excavated sites of potentially contemporary date that lie in the vicinity. Spatial analysis of sites may inform our understanding of patterns of landholding, changes in the character and distribution of settlements through time, and the expansion of settlement. Its loss or diminution would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape, both in the former county of Invernesshire and in other parts of Scotland, as well as our knowledge of later prehistoric social structure, economy and building practices.



RCAHMS records the monument as NH64SE 37. The Highland Council HER records the monument as MHG 3775.

Aerial Photographs used in transcription:

RCAHMS IN3115-S, oblique view, 1977

RCAHMS B 80382, oblique view, 1989


Farrell, S, 2010 'Prelim report of an archaeological evaluation at Slackbuie, Inverness, Highland', unpubl client rep.

Fyles, C, 2008 'Slackbuie, Inverness' in Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, New Ser 8, 2007, 115.

Haston, S, 2010 'Palaeoenvironmental samples assessment from Balloan, Slackbuie, Invernesshire', unpubl client rep.

Murray, R, 2007 'Culduthel Farm, Inverness' in Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, New Ser 7, 2006, 94-5.

Murray, R, 2008 'Culduthel Farm Phase 7 & 8' in Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, New Ser 8, 2007, 114-5.

Orkney College Geophysics Unit, 2009 'Slackbuie, Inverness', unpubl geophysical survey rep 09/09.

RCAHMS 1979, The archaeological sites and monuments of north-east Inverness, Inverness District, Highland Region, The archaeological sites and monuments of Scotland series No. 8 Edinburgh, No. 126.

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: 19/08/2022 16:20