The Archaeology Project

The written history of Clan Gregor begins in the 1300s, in the area around Glen Orchy and Glen Strae, although oral tradition speaks of descent from Dalriadic kings of 500 years earlier. The subsequent moves eastward to Loch Lomondside and the Central Highlands occurred in later centuries, as a result of factors such as proscription, failure to secure written title to lands held and contest with the ever expanding Campbells of Argyll.  Finding ourselves landless in the aftermath of the Battle of Glenfruin in 1603, the “Children of the Mist” now have few original buildings or chiefly homes still in existence. This presents challenges when attempting to uncover archaeological evidence of those past buildings – but it has not deterred us from trying.

For the past 5 years Clan Gregor Society has been working with Northlight Heritage and it’s team of archaeologists, to investigate two sites associated with MacGregors of Glen Strae. We are seeking to find remains of their significant houses / homesteads.

This is stimulating work which has taken place in all weather conditions. We are grateful for the funding, which was entirely by donations and legacies from clan members, with our American cousins being extremely generous. We have also had assistance in the field from members of Dalmally Historical Association. – New technologies such as Ground Penetrating Radar, aerial drone photography and carbon dating have all been used in the task.

We began by investigating the site of a possible fortified manor house, called Bothan na Dige, by the banks of the River Orchy near Stronmilchan and reputed to be the home of MacGregor chiefs for centuries. Although no evidence of any structure was found, the dig provided excellent archaeological training for participating members.

We then focused on a location called Tigh Mor ( the Big House) which has a commanding position, overlooking the head of Loch Awe, at the mouth of Glen Strae. Thus far, two turf built rectangular structures, with interior hearths, have been identified, one of which is most likely a dwelling. We have also uncovered a bloomery (a medieval iron furnace) together with substantial amounts of slag iron and a collection of pottery, identified as Scottish Redware, dating from the 13th to 15th centuries. Radiocarbon dating of samples of charcoal found also confirms late 13th century. –  We will continue to work on Tigh Mor but we now move to news of our next dig.

On 29th July 2016 we were invited to a meeting with Glasgow University Archaeological Department and The Great Trossachs Forest Project who own / manage the lands around Inversnaid on Loch Lomondside. Clan Gregor Society was given the opportunity to explore (and hopefully discover) the site of Rob Roy’s house near the military barracks at Inversnaid. The investigation will begin in July 2017 and take place over the ensuing 3 years.

This is marvellous news. 2017 is the Year of Archaeology and Inversnaid was Rob Roy’s home during his turbulent years with the Duke of Montrose. The barracks were burned by Rob in 1718 and captured by his son James Mor, with only 12 MacGregors, during the 1745 Rising.

We hope that readers and members appreciate the importance of this new project, both to Clan Gregor and to Scottish archaeology. We will provide updates in due course and we thank you, once again, for all your contributions.

(Extract by courtesy of CGS newsletter).

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