An Illicit Still in Loch Ard Forest?
Earlier this year, AOC was commissioned by Forestry Commission Scotland to undertake comprehensive survey of the Big and Wee Bruach farmsteads in Loch Ard Forest, near Aboyne. These remains survive as series of at least seven ruined late 18th-century buildings, enclosures, and corn-drying kilns. Among the buildings are a series of very narrow structures which most likely date from the 18th century. Their unusually long shape, considered alongside the presence of large corn drying kilns and proximity to running water, in what is a relatively inaccessible area yet close to Glasgow, could suggest large scale illicit whisky distilling. While the surviving buildings are relatively recent, the name Bruach is a territorial designation reaching back to the 13th century or earlier. Title to the landholding gave the right to bear the name of the landholding ‘of Bruach’, suggesting this was more than a small farm.
Above: Wee Bruach farmstead in plan; orthoimage of the photogrammetry mesh of one of the structures; Wee Bruach farmstead viewed through forestry
The survey was undertaken using a Faro Focus laser scanner which allows for the creation of a three dimensional point cloud model. This point cloud can be visualised in a number of ways, being viewed on plan, in section or as a 3D model, these can be coloured by height, or by real colour. AOC’s comprehensive survey was complemented by an investigation of the available historical archives by Mairi Stewart, adding further detail to our understanding of these enigmatic sites.
You can find out more about these farmsteads, and see a reconstruction drawing of the illicit still, over on Forestry Commission Scotland's blog: