by Anne MacInnes (NOSAS)
The township of Kildonan (NH07829097) lies on a SW facing slope overlooking Little Loch Broom, and was described by Jonathan Wordsworth as one of the most important post medieval settlements in Wester Ross. It has remained undisturbed by later developments so its field system remains largely intact. It is shown on Roy’s map of 1750 with lazy beds marked.
In late 2010 three members of the Western group of NOSAS decided to survey the township. Jim and Mary Buchanan and Anne MacInnes. Most of the survey was complete by the end of 2011,but for personal reasons the results have only just been written up. The survey can now be downloaded here.
I don’t want to repeat what is in the survey, so will pick out a few things that we came across.
The township itself can still be clearly seen.
We mapped out what we found and it was interesting to note the phasing of the township with two different head dykes.
Across the steep sided burn from the township we investigated the structure which had been
marked as a corn drying kiln. We puzzled over this, as why would it be so inaccessible to the
township? So in true NOSAS fashion we set to and cleared the overgrown structure of vegetation. We plane tabled it and cleared away the fallen rubble from the base where we discovered traces of lime and heat altered stone. So it was a lime kiln. We found a corn drying kiln further up the burn on the same side as the township.
We also found the faint traces of footings of four rectangular buildings at the base of the slope.
Rumour has it that St Donan had a chapel and cell here, the imagination could run wild!
So on to the burial ground and chapel ruin. Again we plane tabled both sites and were so concerned with the damage that was being done to the burial ground and grave slabs, that we got permission and assistance from Dundonnell estate to fence these off. The cattle were also a hazard to us!
Unfortunately, following a bad storm, a landslide swept away part of the fence and covered the
chapel site with debris. At least it was surveyed.
Finally we had a look at Kildonan house which was built in 1851. We were lucky enough to get a
lot of information and photos from Jean Gibb who’s father had taken over the tenancy in 1932 and Jean herself had lived there until 1996 since when it has been empty.
An earlier aerial photo and maps show an earlier house predating the present one:
However this is what we found:
It was completely submerged in severe bramble and bracken infestation. A step too far for Jim and I on revisiting the site at a later date. If any NOSAS members would like to clear and survey this building, do get in touch.
A fascinating site with no doubt more to discover.