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Tavool Workers’ Houses

The Information below was compiled in 2008 and has been provided by Pennyghael in the Past Historical Archive, Balevulin, Tiroran. Tel : 01681 705261 Email: pennyghaelpast@btinternet.com. Many thanks.

The site of these houses lies about 400 m south west of Tavool House, on the north side of Loch Scridain on the Ardmeanach peninsula. Access is via a track that runs from the Tiroran Hotel to the old settlement of Burg. The road to the Hotel leaves the west side of the B8035 at the former Kilfinichen Parish Church, which has been converted into a holiday home, and sweeps round Kilfinichen Bay. At the hotel it becomes a track. A short distance beyond the hotel the National Trust for Scotland has provided a car park for visitors.

From this point track provides a very pleasant walk though lovely scenery with fine views of Loch Scridain. There are a number of ruined settlements above and below the track, including Slochd and Salacry, but the most obvious are Culliemore, which is north of the track just before you reach Tavool House, The Tavool Workers’ Houses just beyond Tavool House and the ruined settlement at Burg. The well-preserved Dun Bhuirg lies about 400 m south west of the Burg settlement and is well worth a visit. For the somewhat more intrepid, a path continues from Burg to the famous fossil tree.

Click on images to enlarge
All images on this page are © Pennyghael in the Past Archive
The MacGillivray House and outshot

The MacGillivray House and outshot

 

Cairn on King's Mound with Baker's House beyond

Cairn on King’s Mound with Baker’s House beyond

Drawing the Baker's House

Drawing the Baker’s House

 

MacLean House from King's Mound

MacLean House from King’s Mound

Small building in hazel copse

Small building in hazel copse

Parts of old stove, Baker's house

Parts of old stove, Baker’s House

The Tavool Workers’ Houses lie on either side of the track, amid pasture land that has been heavily infested by bracken. It is south facing and comprises two cottages still standing to their full height, two gardens and the remains of at least seven other rectangular structures. The remains appear to belong to several phases of occupation, four having stonework to knee height, whilst three are almost completely robbed out. The pasture land to the south of the houses has been enclosed by a dyke (wall) and is bounded on the south side by a large natural mound, known locally as the King’s (or Kings’) Mound. To the north west, beyond an area of pasture land, is a substantial dry-stone dyke, probably built after the farm became a sheep walk (an open area where sheep graze freely) in the 1840s.

In 1494 McLean of Lochbuy was given royal charter of land previously held by the Lord of the Isles. Amongst these lands was Tayobill (Tapull or Tavool) on the Ardmeanach peninsula. The land remained part of the Lochbuy (Lochbuie) Estate until the 1840s, when it was sold. The Farm had been a joint tenancy, but now became a single unit. No trace remains of the old township (there was a population of 64 recorded in the 1841

Site Plan

Site Plan

Census), although some of the robbed-out structures may have belonged to the pre-improvement period.

Information as to the last occupants of these houses was provided by Chrissy MacGillivray (1898-1989), the last tenant of Burg Farm. She also had a fund of local knowledge and legends relating to the area.

On the site plan each structure has been allocated a letter to assist in identifying it:

(A) This was the ‘MacGillivray House’. Only the footings and first course of stones remain, and the area within the house has been used in more recent times to dump old wire, etc. It is thought that the tenants were gone by the time of the 1881 Census.

A.  The MacGilvray House

A. The MacGilvray House

B.  The Baker's House

B. The Baker’s House

C.  Ruin of house , garden and enclosure

C. Ruin of house, garden and enclosure

D.  The MacLean house and garden

D. The MacLean House and Garden

(B) The ‘Baker’s House’ was occupied rather later, though it was empty by the early 1900s. It is unroofed and the walls, which are square cornered at the front, are round cornered at the back. Behind and within the building the remains of what appears to be a small cast iron stove were found.

(C) The vestigial remains of another building, which may have been a house and an associated enclosure, lie in front of a garden in which there is still a thriving rhubarb patch!

(D) The ‘Macleans’ House’ is a typical one-roomed black house, which had been thatched, but is now unroofed. It has a garden and there are two small buildings, (E) and (F), associated with it.

(E) This may have been a byre.

(F) This was described by Chrissie as their ‘carrot garden’.

(G) The remaining structure in this area lies about 50 m to the south of the King’s Mound, at the foot of a slope and in the midst of a hazel copse. It is built into the slope and measures 10 m by 8 m. The rubble walls are 0.8 m thick. Parallel with and abutting the interior west and east walls are secondary walls 0.3 m thick.

(H) The King’s Mound lies to the south west of the track and workers’ houses, and is surrounded by the remains of a dry-stone dyke. On the top of the hill a small cairn has been created. Legend has it that it was a prehistoric burial place, but these are no written records to substantiate this.

Because at least one of these houses was occupied into the 20th Century, oddments of broken pottery and glass have been found, as well as sections of a cooking pot and various unidentifiable pieces of farm machinery. The older buildings seem to have been used as dumps or, in one case, as a byre.

Grid Reference NM 435 271