Lost village unveiled after tree-felling operation


The ruins of a lost village, dating back to the 17th or 18th century, have been unveiled following a special forestry operation on the Isle of Skye.

The remains of houses, byres, barns and corn-drying kilns in Glen Brittle had been hidden from view by a commercial Sitka spruce plantation planted in 1977.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) commissioned an archaeological survey of the site before the trees were harvested.

Records showed the settlement – referred to as Brunell – was once bustling with around 2,250 people, who farmed cattle, sheep and horses to “pay their rents and supply themselves with necessities”.

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In a later census, the population had decreased to 1,769 and continued to drop.

It is believed the site eventually fell into ruin due to the system of incorporating smaller farms into “one large tack for sheep-grazing”.

FLS said the township was deserted by the time of the first Ordnance Survey, which depicted only two unroofed buildings and a field on the 1881 map.

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Brunell. Pic: Forestry and Land Scotland
Image: Pic: Forestry and Land Scotland

The Scottish government agency said 28 buildings were recorded by AOC Archaeology’s survey and part of the settlement had been “partially masked by windblown trees”.

It said the survey was used in the “careful planning and delivery” of the tree-felling operation, with small tracks laid out to allow the machinery to work around the ruins to avoid causing damage as the area was cleared.

In a blog update, FLS said: “Some of the buildings are now readily visible in cleared areas, while some remain under trees.”