Kingussie Water Work Completed,Leaving Forgotten Friary’s Story to be Told Later in 2019

15 January 2019

 Carmelite Friary remains found in Kingussie

Scottish Water has completed work to take care of Kingussie’s water network in Mill Road and the High Street.

The work’s progress was briefly interrupted by the discovery of the foundations of a long forgotten Carmelite friary, together with human remains believed to date back to the Middle Ages.

In consultation with Highland Council, a specialist archaeological consultant working for Scottish Water recorded the finds and will publish a full report on the discovery later in the year once post-excavation analysis is complete. 

Scottish Water’s Project Manager Ailsa Shaw said: “The work we have now completed in Mill Road was needed to make sure the network remains able to provide a high quality and resilient water supply to our customers in the local area for years to come.  I would like to thank residents and road users for their patience and understanding while we were working.

“At Highland Council’s request, we had an archaeologist on site to monitor the work close to the old burial ground, but the discovery of such a fascinating part of Kingussie’s past was a surprise.  It’s exciting that our work will help an important part of the community’s story to be told – and we look forward to seeing the results of the archaeological follow-up work later in the year.”

Steven Birch of West Coast Archaeology is carrying out the archaeological work on Scottish Water’s behalf.  He added: “The story of this site is still emerging and will continue to do so as the results of post-excavation analysis are returned over the months ahead.

“What we found was the foundations of an early church, with fragmentary burials placed within its walls, as was once common practice.  It’s likely this was associated with the Carmelite friary that we believe was established in the area over 500 years ago.  However, some records suggest the presence of an earlier chapel at the site with Columban foundations, which may date to the Early Medieval period.  

“Radiocarbon dating of the human remains will therefore be crucial in establishing an overall chronology for the remains of the church and the human remains it contains.  The continuing work should allow us to confirm this and provide an insight to life in the area during that period.”

The finds will be recorded and, once follow-up analysis is complete, a report will be published on Highland Council’s Historic Environment Record website at her.highland.gov.uk