Port a' Bhata
by Sandra Evans

The story of a township settlement on the southern shore of Loch Moidart, now abandoned; directions for a walk along the lochside to reach it and a description of the ruined buildings remaining.

Clansmen on the Clanranald estate occupied Port a' Bhata until late in the nineteenth century, although there were one or two examples of folk living there until the First World War. It seems likely that their way of life was a mixture of subsistence agriculture, whisky distilling and connections with the sea.

Records show a population of at least fifty people, living in nine houses, but by the mid-eighteen hundreds, economic hardship forced many to leave. The ruins of their houses and the traces of their occupation can still be clearly seen today.

General History
Port a' Bhàta (the bay of the boat) is one of many deserted townships in Moidart. The ruins that can be seen in the 2004 reflect the drastic changes that took place in the 18th and 19th centuries.

It is difficult to ascertain when Port a' Bhàta came into existence. There may have been intermittent human use of the site since prehistory. Recessed platforms on the west side of Torr Port a' Bhàta may be sites of pre-medieval round huts
59.

Local tradition holds that boat building may have taken place here in the Middle Ages, but documentary evidence of occupation before the late 18th century has been elusive.

Unfortunately, some of the Clanranald family papers may have been lost in a shipwreck1 and early records are limited. Port a' Bhàta does not appear on a list of tenant's agreements for Moidart in 1718.2 The township is not mentioned in the estate forfeiture records3 following the 1745 rising. It does not appear in a list of Moidart tenants for 1748/49 although the one-and a half farthing land at neighbouring Briag is recorded as being "waste" at that time. Very significantly, the settlement is not listed in a " Valuation of the lands of Moydart belonging to John MacDonald of Clanranald... 1782", although the neighbouring settlements of Breag, Blain, Scardoish, Langal and East and West Mingarry were all recorded.4 It is possible that Port a Bhàta was considered to be a branch of the neighbouring township of Briagh or was known by another name. It may have been omitted from various documents for a host of different reasons but it seems probable that although there may have been earlier activity at the site, Port a' Bhàta did not exist as a township until the late 18th century. The finding of the remains of probable shieling huts just to the south of the main settlement suggests that the site was used for summer grazing before being in full-time occupation. The change is likely to have taken place in the late 1700s when the population of Moidart was steadily increasing. There is documentary evidence that permanent settlement at former shieling sites occurred in neighbouring areas such as that at Poll Luachrain in Morvern61.

The name of Portvait or Portvate or Portvat or Portavata appears on late 18th century documents. At some time in the late 1700s, a widow of a member of the Kinlochmoidart MacDonalds lived at a place called Innis-a-Rudha that may have occupied the promontory to the north of the main part of the settlement5 or the small headland to the east of the mill. In 1790 a carpenter named Alexander Corbet from Portvait in Moydart appears on the passenger list of a ship taking emigrants to Canada6, and a William Corbett became the principal tenant in 17917.

The township certainly existed in the late 18th century and the inhabitants would have been affected by the changes in highland society that took place prior to and after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion.

Prior to 1745 the lives of the people of Moidart would have been influenced by the clan system in which the clan chief provided land for his clansmen and held responsibility in exchange for loyalty and military service. However, clan society had been gradually declining long before that time8. In 1724 a list of expenses for the Clanranald household includes the item "Expenses for holding court and entertaining the natives...£1.16s.3d.9 Although the nuance of meaning has probably changed with time, the entry probably does give some indication that the member of the Clanranald household dealing with the accounts perceived a gulf between the clan chief and his clansmen. In spite of the changes, many male inhabitants of Moidart played an active role in the 1745 rising, loyally following their chieftain's son and the tacksmen, MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart and MacDonald of Glenaladale. No men from Port a' Bhàta appear on the list described as " part of the roll of men upon Clanranald's Mainland Estates-with their arms-made up in the year 1745" published in Father Charles MacDonald's book " Moidart Among The Clanranalds", but Father MacDonald states that a relation of a man who fought in 1745 resided in the settlement in 188910.

After 1745, the Clanranald chiefs abandoned the concept of heritable trusteeship, and became full members of the landed gentry. The Scottish Estates were expected to finance lavish lifestyles in London, Edinburgh and elsewhere. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, the estate affairs were managed by the Clanranald tutors in Edinburgh on behalf of the heir, Ranald George. Their aim was to make the estates as profitable as possible for the owner. With large profits from the kelp industry, mainly carried on in the Uist estates, Clanranald's annual income was reportedly as much as £20,000 to £25,000 per annum11. Little of this income appears to have been invested in the estates or used to improve the land or to develop diverse industry. Ranald George lived the life of a fashionable gentleman but when the kelp industry collapsed the lands were sold off to meet his debts. The Lochshiel Estate which incorporated Port a' Bhàta was acquired by Alexander MacDonald of Glenaladale in 1811 for the sum of £6,100 paid in three instalments with interest. An 1815 Bond of Caution for Alexander MacDonald of Glenaladale includes the words "...the following land sold to me 4th July 1811...Island of Shona and kelp shores, town and lands of Scardoise, Breig, Portavait with the lands of Mullan ull detached from the lands of Langal by a line from Lochan Glacgillan to Lochan Druin to be pointed out by the factor Robert Brown."12 Following Alexander Macdonald's death the estate passed to Mr Archibald MacDonald of Rhu13. This gentleman was a well-loved character who never lived on his Moidart lands but continued to live at Arisaig. On his death the property passed to Alexander MacDonald (often called Lochshiel) who was unable to make it self-supporting.

The estate factor's accounts show that Port a' Bhàta was regarded as one farm consisting of 7.71 acres of arable land and 396.81 acres of pasture.14. The farm was let jointly to a number of tenants. In 1814 and 1815 there were three tenants, William Corbet, Alexander Corbet and Angus MacDonald paying rents of £28, £14 and £14 respectively15. The 1814 records show that all three tenants were in rent arrears to varying degrees. The annual rent collected fell to £50 8s in 1816 and 1817. William Corbet was still the main tenant paying £25.4s and the other two each paid £12.12s. In 1821 and 1822 the annual rent was £60 and the three named tenants, John Corbet and Alan Corbet (both known to be sons of William Corbet) and Peter MacGregor paid £20 each. In 1823 the rents were the same but the widow MacGregor was named as a tenant in place of her husband. The tenants remained the same in 1825 but the overall rent was reduced to £50.8s. By the 1830s seven or eight people were named as joint tenants each year. In 1836 the total rent was £60 shared between seven tenants. John and Alan Corbet were the main tenants paying £20 and £15 annual rent respectively .The rents of other tenants varied between £6.13s.4d and £3.6s.8d. In 1838 a note recorded the fact that the overall annual rent of the township was reduced to £45 because of poor cattle prices. In 1841 three tenants, John Corbet, Alan Corbet and Alexander Corbet, were recorded as having rent arrears. In 1843 five tenants paid a combined rent of £5016.

The Port a' Bhàta mill would have been built by the estate and was already derelict by 1800. In that year, papers proposing improvements to the Kinlochmoidart estate63 suggest that a new grain mill should be built on the site where a mill formerly stood and that on the opposite side of Loch Moidart, on Clanranald property (i.e. at Port a' Bhàta) there stood a "sleat" mill that had become derelict "for want of watter". The outer machinery was "gone" but the inner work was "perfect". It was proposed that an attempt should be made to obtain the machinery for the new mill in Kinlochmoidart. Expense could then be saved since it would no longer be necessary to take grain to the Ardnamurchan mill. If grain was taken to Ardnamurchan to be processed it is possible that no mill was operating in the neighbouring Clanranald land at that time.

Alexander Macdonald was in financial difficulties by the 1840s. On the 16th July 1838 he borrowed the not inconsiderable sum of £11,000. Various schemes were sought to make the estate viable. A letter from Lochshiel written in 183818 indicated, " the fish curing house is about to commence" In 1846 the decision was made to remove the majority of people from the land to make sizable sheep farms. In the estate rent records for that year19 an entry indicating that "Portavata" was let to John Corbet and others in five separate holdings for £50 was crossed out. At the foot of the page, the following words were entered "The farms of Blain, Briag and Portavate are made into one sheep tenement at present in the hands of the proprietor." Most of the inhabitants of Port a' Bhàta were cleared from the township about that time and by the 1851 census, there were only four households in the settlement including that of the shepherd.

The financial problems continued and Mr Hope Scott bought the estate in 1855. Lord Howard of Glossop succeeded him in 1871. In the late 19th century the estate was managed for sport and estate buildings were generally improved. The most modern house in Port a' Bhàta was built in the late 1870s and was lived in by the same family until it was vacated in about 1915. The township has remained deserted since.

Agriculture.
Highland townships grew up around small patches of land suitable for farming. At Port a' Bhata the arable land was only 7.71 acres. A turf and stone wall called the head dyke defined the township separating the infield from the hill grazing. Originally, the arable land in Moidart was cultivated by the township tenants using a system of shared labour that was probably less well defined than the Run-rig system20. This was replaced by the crofting system when the arable land was divided into separate holdings and the surrounding hill grazing was held in common by the tenants. Typically, the parcels of land were too small to provide a family with full subsistence so that the labour of tenants would always be readily and cheaply available to the landlord. At Port a' Bhàta the small area of cultivated land seems to have been leased jointly to a group of tenants who paid different rents. The remaining dykes and field divisions do not appear to indicate the definite division of the land into separate crofts, but presumably there was some way of sharing the land in proportion to the rent paid. The area of land worked by individual households must have been pitifully small.

The Scottish breed of small black cattle was important in the local economy and droves to Falkirk took place annually21. The annual sale of cattle provided the means to buy in meal to supplement the inadequate quantities that could be grown on the meagre and poor arable acreage and to pay rents. Cattle prices were good in the late 18th century and sale of cattle financed many emigrations to Canada. The cattle were usually kept close to home and the byres were often next to or near dwellings. Sometimes the cattle occupied one side of the main house, people and animals being separated by a wooden or stone partition. Providing enough food for cattle during the winter was a problem and there are descriptions of cattle becoming so weak that they would need to be carried from the byres in spring22. In the summer they moved to summer pasture at the shielings together with the women and children. Rough shelters were built as accommodation at the shielings and butter and cheese making would be carried out there in the summer months23. At Port a' Bhàta the remains of a large number of rough shieling shelters can be seen on the hillside above and south of the settlement along the burn that eventually flows through the glen south of the Torr. Other remains of shieling huts can be found adjacent to the township itself. These remains indicate that the Port a' Bhàta site was probably used for summer grazing before it was used for permanent settlement. It is quite possible that these shielings could all have been used by people from the nearby township of Mingarry (later called High Mingarry). It is likely that Mingarry existed from very early times and is reputed to have been the home of Clanranald's smiths and armourers. A John Corbet was a tenant in Mingary in the late 18th century and it seems likely that his sons became the first permanent occupants of Port a' Bhàta. The practice of seasonal transhumance may have become limited by the time Port a' Bhàta was established. Lazy-beds at shieling sites such as Meall an Aoil indicate that some summer sites were eventually used for cultivation.

Sheep or goats were usually left to forage on the hillsides surrounding the township. The fleeces were processed into yarn by the women and woven into cloth locally on their own or neighbours looms until well into the 19th century. A weaver inhabited Port a' Bhàta at the time of the 1841 census.

Crops were grown in the small irregular fields. These cultivation patches were cleared of stones which were piled into clearance cairns which can be seen at various places within the head dyke at Port a' Bhàta.

Crops were also grown in lazy beds, which were made in any suitable small patch of land. There are usually many patches of lazybed cultivation surrounding townships in Moidart but there appear to be very few around Port a' Bhàta. There are some visible on the high ground between the track to the township through the glen and the main township. Clearance cairns and lazybeds can also be seen in the woods in the east of the settlement.
Bere barley and oats were usually grown24 together with root crops such as turnips. Potatoes were increasingly grown in the late 18th century and would certainly have been an extremely important part of the diet of the inhabitants of Port a' Bhàta in the 19th century. The people still living in the Moidart area in the years following 1845, would have suffered privation during the time of the potato blight. Thanks to the provision of relief, the disaster did not cause loss of life on the same scale as in Ireland, but records of annual deaths in Moidart show significant increases in 1845, 1847 and 1848. However, the recorded number of deaths in 1849 was actually fewer than the average in the 10 years before the famine25.

Cultivation in Moidart was usually by the cas dhireach or straight spade until the late 18th century26. In the wet climate, harvesting and drying grain was difficult. The township would have shared the corn-drying kiln at the heart of the settlement and grain would have been ground using household querns, or taken to the mill along the shore to the east of the township. The landowner would have owned the mill. There were other corn-drying kilns associated with the buildings along the shore to the east of the mill. The site of this mill is puzzling because there could have been relatively little grain production on this side of the estate to warrant such a building and complex of corn kilns.

The inhabitants of the settlement would have used peat for fuel27. Evidence of peat cutting exists on an area of hill above the shielings some distance to the south.

Income from sources other than agriculture.
Life would have been hard in Port a' Bhàta and it must always have been difficult to obtain sufficient food to last out the long winters. It is evident that in a township with so little arable land and very rough grazing, the inhabitants must have earned money to buy in meal.

Boat building.
Local people maintain that boat building was carried on at the township, and there is some evidence for this in that the Alexander Corbett who emigrated in 1790 was a carpenter and another Alexander Corbett who lived there in 1841 and 1851 was described in the 1851 census as being a joiner. Alexander MacDonald who moved to Dalilea from Port a' Bhàta in the 1840s was listed as being a "carpenter-boat" in the 1861 census.

Kelp.
One of the ways of augmenting the income in townships on the west coast was by participation in the kelp industry28. People were paid to collect, dry and burn kelp throughout the summer months. The alkaline product was shipped to the Clyde and used in bleaching and the manufacture of glass and soap. This industry was very lucrative for the landowners especially during the Napoleonic wars but finally declined and died out in the 1820s. At the end of the war, imported foreign barilla became freely available and it was discovered that cheaper alkali could be manufactured from common salt by the Le Blanc process. The people were paid little for their labours but even the little helped. However, although Kinlochmoidart estate papers indicate that kelp collection occurred at Kyles and Shonabeg in the 1780s and through into the early 19th century29, it is uncertain that any collection took place at Port a' Bhàta. The shore at the township itself is too muddy for good kelp growth but growth is quite prolific at the bay to the west of the glen that lies to the south of the Torr. The inhabitants would certainly have been adversely affected by the decision made by the Clanranald tutors in 1800 to prosecute anyone removing kelp for manure30.

Whisky production.
Another means of acquiring cash was the production of whisky31. Distillation for household consumption at places like Port a' Bhàta would have been legal until the 1780s when legislation was passed imposing licensing, a heavy duty on whisky production and regulating the size of stills, thus putting the small producer out of legal business. Whisky continued to be distilled illegally in stills hidden along the burns throughout the Highlands. There was a good market for a product that was considered to be far superior in quality to the whisky produced by the large Lowland distilleries and both overland and sea-coast distribution routes operated. "Smuggling" flourished until after 1815 when a degree of relaxation of regulation and duties plus vigorous deployment of excise officers made the trade far less profitable. In remote places such as Port a' Bhàta illicit spirit production may have persisted until much later in the 1800s. Bere barley was usually used and the malted barley was processed in corn-drying kilns32. The priest, Charles MacDonald stated in his book written in the 1880s that local "smuggling" had come to an end about 50 years previously but that excessive consumption of whisky had become such an established habit among local inhabitants that it continued to be a problem for some families after emigration to Australia in the 1850s 57. He also states that vessels from Uist and Tiree would bring cargoes of barley into Loch Moidart to be converted into malt and then whisky and would leave laden with timber 58. Port a' Bhàta is likely to have been one of the main sites for this illicit industry and in local tradition is reputed to have been infamous for the production of illicit whisky. The presence of the remains of four corn-drying kilns and indeed the site of the mill at Port a' Bhàta is puzzling. There were only about 14 acres of possible arable land at the combined townships of Briagh and Port a' Bhàta, so that large quantities of grain could not have been produced. The northern shores of the loch were under a different proprietor and would be served by the mill at Kinlochmoidart. It therefore seems probable that the corn kilns and mill were intended to process grain brought into the area and would have been used in processing grain for distillation as described by Charles MacDonald. Remains along the burn above the mill certainly indicate the presence of hidden stills.

Excisemen were stationed at Altegil and Briaig. Tales are still known locally about the exploits of Port a' Bhàta smugglers. One describes an episode when an excise man pursuing a smuggler at Port a' Bhàta was led out onto the mud at low tide. The local smuggler knew the safe parts of the mud banks but the unfortunate officer sank and became stuck. He was left until the incoming tide made his position perilous and was rescued on the understanding that the smuggling incident would be forgotten33.

Charcoal.
In the late 18th century, charcoal produced on the estate along the north side of Loch Shiel and around Dalilea was transported over the hill from Langal by pony and shipped from Port a' Bhàta.34 It is difficult to see where the charcoal might have been taken aboard since there is no sign of a substantial jetty at Port a' Bhàta but a small jetty on the northeast side of the promontory could have been used at high tide. There are at least three recessed platforms on the wooded west slopes of the Torr that may have been used for charcoal production. Investigation of similar platforms by Elizabeth Rennie revealed rings of post holes dated to pre-medieval times59. It is postulated that such platforms represent the foundations of small round huts or houses but they may have been used for charcoal hearths in the 18th century. No Moidart platforms have been excavated.

Herring.

Preserved herring became an important item of food on the west coast in the 19th century. The people of the coastal areas of Moidart are likely to have fished inshore waters from small boats. It is reported locally that descendents of Port a' Bhàta emigrants to Canada said that their forebears were involved in fish smoking and boat building in Moidart and continued these occupations in the New World.

Hardship, emigration and clearance.
In spite of harsh living conditions, the population of Moidart grew steadily throughout the 18th century and early 19th century. Between 1801 and 1841 the population along the western seaboard and islands increased by 53%35. It became increasingly difficult to produce adequate food to support the population. A letter written on 7th July 1808 by the factor of the Kinlochmoidart estate to Col. Robertson the proprietor, mentions the fact that some meal was coming into the coast that would enable the poor people of the area to survive in miserable circumstances until the potato harvest36. As the population grew, previously uncultivated land was used. It is possible that the township of Port a' Bhàta came into existence as a response to the need for more land. It seems an unlikely site for a very early farming settlement because of its relatively small area of arable land and its position to the north of the hill with consequent limitation of sunlight. With increasing population the available land was shared between larger numbers of people. This certainly occurred in Port a' Bhàta as evidenced by the estate rent rolls and the census records. At the time of the 1841 census fifty seven people were living in this township with only 7.71 acres of arable land.

Emigration from the area was initiated because of the growing dissatisfaction of the tacksmen and more wealthy tenants in the years following 1745 but was later driven by the need of poor clansmen for land and opportunity.

In May 1772 a party of 210 people sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church and who mainly came from the Moidart area, joined 11 South Uist families and sailed for St Johns Island, Canada37. Glenaladale, who recruited all but the Uist families for the venture, led the emigration. The emigrants from the Moidart area paid their own passage and tended to be the better off members of the population. The settlement in Canada had initial problems but began to flourish after a few years. Emigrant families would have written to their friends and relations in Scotland thus encouraging further emigration38. Many people who could afford to do so paid their own passage to Canada in the late 18th century and early 19th century. At least one young man left Port a' Bhàta for Canada in 1790.

By the 1840s Moidart was overpopulated and hardship was widespread. Overcrowding was made worse by an influx of families who were displaced from Rhu Arisaig39. The failure of the potato crop in 1846 caused a crisis40. In the 1840s the general hardship was such that many felt that assisted emigration was necessary. The local priest at the time, Father Ranald Rankin, was an advocate of emigration and wrote to local landlords expressing his views and urging them to assist their tenants to emigrate. At the same time the landlords were seeking to make their estates profitable by making large sheep farms. Large-scale clearances and assisted emigration from the area took place from 1848 to 1854. Some people from Moidart sailed to Port Phillip Australia on the Allison in 1852 and the Hornet in 1854. Father Rankin joined them in 185741. No tenants from Port a' Bhàta left for Australia on those ships but it is evident that some people who had originally come from the township but were living elsewhere by the late 1840s or early 1850s, did go to Port Phillip, Australia on the Araminta, sailing from Liverpool on 20th of June 185252. Some Lochshiel estate tenants left for Canada in 185042 and it is possible that people of Port a' Bhàta were among them. It is known that the family of Ranald Corbet of Port a' Bhata left for North America some time after 1847 but relatively few of the families cleared from the township appear to have emigrated. Many relocated in the area and others probably moved to cities such as Glasgow or Dundee.

Religion.
The population of the township followed the Roman Catholic faith and their religion would have been important to them. Generally, the people of Moidart maintained their faith throughout the years of suppression of the Roman Catholic Church. When soldiers were stationed at Castle Tioram, the priest's hiding place was said to be a small cave in a hillside between Port a' Bhàta and Dorlin. Although it is described by Father Charles Macdonald in his book written in the late 19th century and was mentioned by Wendy Wood in her book "Moidart and Morar" nobody now knows the location43.

The Inhabitants of Port a' Bhàta.
Father Charles MacDonald in his book " Moidart, Among the Clanranalds" states that following the 1745 uprising, all but one of the members of the MacDonald family of Kinlochmoidart sailed to France and did not return. The exception, Ranald Macdonald, married a daughter of the Dalilea family and settled for his lifetime at Roshven. Following his death his widow lived at a place called Innis-a-Rhuda5 that he describes carefully as being sited on a promontory on the south shore of Loch Moidart. On the map included in the 1997 edition of the book, the site is marked as occupying the north part of Port a' Bhàta, and on the 1875 Ordnance survey map, the north end of the peninsula is labelled Rudha Port a' Bhàta. This lady and her invalid priest son Eoin, may therefore have lived at Port a' Bhàta at that time, although it is strange that Father Charles did not describe the place in relationship to Port a' Bhàta. It seems likely that he was unsure of the exact location. After the death of her son, the widow moved to Langal where she spent the remainder of her life.

Records definitely link the name of the Corbett (or Corbet) family with Port a' Bhàta in the late 18th century. The Corbett family were originally Normans who settled in Shropshire. Later, a branch of the family gained lands in the borders and descendants are spread widely throughout Scotland. The name is a corruption of Corbeau, meaning a crow44. Alistair Cameron (North Argyll) States in his booklet "St. Finnan's Isle" that Corbets moved into Moidart from Easter Ross. " North Argyll" also mentions a tradition that the flagstaff of the standard raised at Glenfinnan in 1745 was made by a Corbet from Moidart. When and why the Corbet family appeared in Moidart is unclear. In the Robertson Macdonald Papers a John Corbet is recorded as being a tenant at Inchrory in Glenmoidart in 1764. A John Corbet submitted an estimate for repairs to the house at Kinlochmoidart in 1773 and a man of the same name was mentioned in 1782 as a ground officer. Also in 1782 a John Corbitt living at Mingarry was recorded buying two stirks at a farm sale45. In 1836, when giving evidence in a dispute over rights to collect shell sand46, a John Corbet of Port a' Bhàta stated that his father William Corbet moved from the Kinlochmoidart estate at the age of 30 years. William died aged 93 years in 1833 and would therefore have left the Kinlochmoidart estate about 1770. In 1836 John stated that the family had lived at Port a' Bhàta for 45 years, that is from 1791. However William was not the first Corbet to live in the township. In 1790 a carpenter named Alexander Corbet left Port a' Bhàta to sail to the Island of St John on the Lucy47. On the same ship were12 people from Eilean Shona, 14 people from Caolas, 11 from Glenuig, 1 from Samalaman, and 3 from Kentra together with others from the area. The relationship between William, Alexander and the John Corbet mentioned in connection with the Kinlochmoidart estate earlier in the century remains a matter for speculation but it seems likely that both William and Alexander were sons of John. Certainly William Corbet of Port a' Bhàta had at least two sons, Allan Corbet born probably in the early 1770s and John born in 1784. A reference to a John Corbet appears in a letter from the Kinlochmoidart factor in 1805. The factor complained that John Corbet had not paid his rent and indicated that he feared others may follow his example48.It is unclear if this John Corbet is William Corbet's son or another member of the Corbet family.

Information about the inhabitants of the Township after 1811 are gained from the Lochshiel estate records held in the National Archives of Scotland as part of the Macdonald of Glenaladale papers. Other useful information has been gained from Roman Catholic Church records of Baptisms (Appendix II) and marriages (Appendix III), from records relating to poor relief and from census records (Appendix I.).

Successive census records give valuable information on the population of Port a' Bhàta, though there is some inconsistency of accurate age and precise Christian names in successive 10 yearly records. The first census in 1841 did not record relationships of individuals within households or their marital status and the ages of adult individuals appear to have been rounded up or down and recorded as a multiple of five! Although the households are enumerated in each census, their exact position is not described so that it is not possible to ascertain which ruin corresponds to individual dwellings listed as occupied, in the various years.

In the years 1814 to 1817 the main tenants recorded in the township15were William
Corbet(t) and Alexander Corbet(t )(exact relationship uncertain) and an Angus
MacDonald who was married to Mary Corbet(t) and was therefore certainly related to
the other families by marriage.

Rents in the 1820s show that John and Allan Corbet(t) (sons of William) had become the main tenants with at first Peter MacGregor and later with the widow MacGregor (Catherine MacIntyre). In the 1830s the number of tenants expanded to include a Duncan Corbet and an Alexander Corbet(t) and a Donald MacDonald and an Angus Macdonald as well as John and Allan Corbet(t) and widow MacGregor. It is likely that all the families were related in some way with the exception of Catherine Macgregor(MacIntyre). For example, from church and Census records it is apparent that a son of Donald Macdonald named Alexander was married to a Flora Corbet.

It appears that there was considerable change in the population in the years before the clearance of the township circa 1846. In 1829 a MacNeil family lived in the township but they were resident in Scardoish at the 1841 census. Although few families appear to have emigrated directly from Port a' Bhàta it is evident that individuals connected to the township did emigrate prior to the clearance. The Angus MacDonald and Mary Corbet who resided in the township in the early 1800s had a daughter Catherine and a son Donald. Their daughter Catherine married a Duncan MacDonald and sailed from Skye on the Midlothian bound for Port Jackson on 31/12/1837. Their son, Donald Macdonald (born in 1810) married a Marcella Macdonald from Kylesmor at Mingarry church on 25/1/1837. Marcella was born on 20/7/1811. The couple sailed to Port Jackson (Sydney) Australia on the British King, leaving from Tobermory. 51

There was certainly hardship. In 1839 the widow MacGregor received 2 stones of meal as poor relief. A Duncan MacIsaac resident in the township in 1839 received similar help but was not resident by 1841. The family of Duncan Corbet also received assistance in 183949.

In 1841 there were 57 people living in 9 households in Port a' Bhàta. There were two dwellings occupied by single women. These houses may have been small and rudimentary. All the other seven households were involved in working the land to some degree although there was a publican, a weaver and a merchant.

The first household enumerated in the 1841 census was that of John Corbet, his wife Sarah (sometimes called Marcella or Marion) and six of their children. John was a publican but the site of his public house is uncertain. He gave evidence to the inquiry into a dispute over shell sand collection in 1836 at the public house at Ardmorlich7, but whether he ran the Ardmorlich establishment or a public house at Port a' Bhàta is unknown. He employed servants to work his land and as domestic servants. Three of these employees were named MacVarish and were likely to have been relatives of his wife whose maiden name was MacVarish. John appears to have been well regarded by his neighbours and was frequently named as sponsor in the Roman Catholic Baptismal records in the 1840s. The family moved several times after 1845. They lived at Kylesmor then at Sloch, and were living at Samalaman by 1851. In the 1851 census Marion Corbet is listed as a farmer's wife in Samalaman, and their children Margaret, William, and Ann are listed with her together with two younger daughters; Ann aged 7 and Catherine aged 4 years. John Corbet appears as a visitor in Ardtoe on the 1851 census but is recorded as a farmer in Samalaman with his wife Sarah and three of the children in 1861. Descendents of John and Sarah still live in Moidart.

The family of Duncan Corbet who was described as a farmer, occupied the second house enumerated in the 1841 census. This family moved to Blain Moss and all were recorded there in 1851. Norman and two of his sisters became well known in the area
in the 20th century because of their longevity.

The family of Alexander Corbet, farmer, resided in the third house recorded in the 1841 census. Although the ages do not correspond exactly, it is probable that Alexander Corbet and his wife Margaret were still living in Port a' Bhàta in house 3 in 1851. Their son, Ranald and his wife Ann MacDonald, and 3 children emigrated to North America sometime after the birth of their son Charles in 1847. It is likely that this was the Ranald Corbet who was described by North Argyll as competing successfully at games held at Glenfinnan in 1845 to commemorate the centenary of the '45 Rising50. He stated that this Ronald Corbet emigrated to Canada in 1846 and that he was possibly the man who had led the excise man out onto the mud at Port a' Bhàta when caught at an illegal still. Another son of the household, Allan, married Ann MacPherson and moved away from the township after the birth of their first four children. The 15 year old Ann Corbet on the census record was almost certainly Ann MacPherson who had given birth to her first child, James, four months previously. This family eventually moved to the High Street Fort William and a daughter Flora Corbet married the jeweller Englebert F Angler in Fort William. The family are commemorated on the Green Isle.

The family of Alexander Macdonald, agricultural labourer, occupied the fourth house recorded in 1841. This family were still resident in 1851 but their daughters Catherine and Mary were not with them at that time. Catherine would have been 19 years old so that she could have married or emigrated or could have left home to work, but Mary would only have been 11 years old in 1851 and so was possibly staying with relatives. By 1861 Alexander's family had moved to Dalilea and Alexander's occupation is recorded as Carpenter-Boat. Mary had rejoined the family. It is possible that Alexander was a son of Angus MacDonald and Mary Corbet who had resided in the township in the early 1800s.

The fifth house was occupied by a Sarah Grant who lived alone.

The sixth house listed, was occupied by the family of Alexander MacIntyre, handloom weaver in 1841. This family do not appear to be resident in the area by 1851. They do not appear on the known passenger lists of the ships that left for Australia, but could have gone to Canada, or elsewhere in Scotland. It is possible that they were related to the widow MacGregor who had lived in the settlement in the 1820s and 1830s.

The seventh house was occupied by Jessie MacDonald, an 85 year-old woman living alone.

The family of the farmer Allan Corbet occupied the eighth house enumerated in 1841. Of the occupants of the house, several remain unaccounted for in 1851, but a widow named Mary Gillies (probably her maiden name) was recorded with her two daughters Margaret and Marjory Corbet in Blain in the 1851 census. The two girls were likely to have been the two youngest members of Allan Corbet's 1841 household. They emigrated to Geelong, Australia on the Araminta in 1852 when they were listed as Dairymaids on the passenger list52*.

The last and ninth house enumerated in 1841 was occupied by a family of eight Macdonalds headed by the patriarch Donald Macdonald, farmer. One of his sons, John, is described as a merchant, but the nature of his business is unspecified. The Flora MacDonald in this household was Flora Corbet before her marriage. By 1851 Donald Macdonald had died and the family had moved to a place recorded as "Moidart" on the census returns. This was probably Mingarry. By 1861, Flora's husband, Alexander MacDonald, had died and the family were living at Dorlin. Flora's uncle, Allan Corbet had joined the household and was described as a pauper. Flora's brother in law, John MacDonald, was still a member of the household and was working as a gardener.

Of the inhabitants of Port a' Bhàta whose whereabouts cannot be accounted for after the clearance, some individuals would have moved to cities such as Glasgow and others may have emigrated. John Watt, in his notes in the appendix to Father MacDonald's book, states that some tenants from Loch Shiel Estate appear on passenger lists of a ship that left for Canada in 1850.

Some former residents of the township who do not appear on the 1841 census records, perhaps because they were away from home at the time of the census, appear on known passenger lists of the ships that left for Australia. In 1848 Father Ranald Rankin married a Clementina MacDonald of Port a' Bhàta to a Ewen MacDonald of Morar prior to the couple's emigration to Australia. In 1850, Kitty Corbet of Port a' Bhàta married Archie Macdonald (also known as Archie MacIsaac) of Scardoise and the couple with their son Allan and four of Archie's siblings, left for Port Philip Australia in 1852 aboard the Araminta52*. The couple had 8 more children in Australia before Archie died in 186553*. The early years must have been hard since records show that the family applied for a pauper's funeral for Archie and had been receiving aid for some time prior to his death54*. Catherine lived in Geelong until her death in 1910. One son became a local government councillor in Geelong and at least three others appear to have prospered. Descendants still live in the Melbourne area.

Since the mill to the east of the settlement had ceased operation prior to 1800, there was no miller at Port a' Bhàta in the 1841 census. There was a miller and his apprentice living in Kinlochmoidart and it is possible that any grain produced by the people of Port a' Bhàta would have been taken across Loch Moidart to be processed or ground in small quantities within households using rotary querns.

By the time of the 1851 census, the township had been largely cleared for sheep.
There were only four households in Port a' Bhàta, and a total population of 22. Ten persons made up the shepherd's household. The enumerators recorded family relationships in 1851 so that it is possible to see the composition of households. The parish where individuals were born is also recorded. Occasionally enumerators listed the actual place of birth instead of just the parish and this information can be useful in tracing family origins.
One of the houses was still occupied by Alexander MacDonald and his family. His occupation had changed to occasional fishing. Another house was occupied by Alexander Corbet and his wife Margaret. The couple were living with one servant, Ann Kennedy. Alexander was described as being a joiner by trade.

The shepherd, Donald Campbell and his wife and five children together with two of his servants, came from Morar/ Arisaig. Only one of their servants, Archibald MacIsaac, was from Moidart.

An eighty-year-old widow, Sally Macdonald, described as a temporary pauper and her daughter occupied the fourth house.

By 1861, Port a' Bhàta consisted of one farm and a house occupied by a gamekeeper. The keeper, John Macdonald, originally hailed from Abertarff. The place where his elder child had been born shows that this family had been living in Lochalsh just two years before the census suggesting that estate workers probably moved jobs frequently and had little security.

The family of Roderick Macdonald occupied the farm. They had been living in Kinlochmoidart a decade earlier. In 1861 the household consisted of Roderick and his wife Margaret and their three young adult children, Donald, Donald (it was not unusual to have 2 children with the same Christian name) and Ann. Roderick's brother, Archibald and his spinster sister-in-law also shared the house.

By the time of the 1871 census only one house was occupied. The gamekeeper's family had moved to Resipole. His little daughter Angusina had died aged 15 months and is buried on the Green Isle. The MacDonald family were the only residents of Port a' Bhàta. Roderick Macdonald was recorded as being a forester instead of a farmer. One of the sons was not recorded as living at the house and the sister-in-law was not present. In this year, the recorded information started to include the number of rooms with at least one window in the house. The family were occupying a two-roomed house. The Ordnance Survey map produced in 1875 shows east facing roofed buildings in the north part of the main settlement. These would have been the house and outbuildings used by the family at that time.

By 1881 the same family were still living at Port a' Bhàta in a six-roomed house. This is likely to be the more modern two storied south facing house, the ruins of which can be seen standing to the north of the settlement roughly in the same position as one of the east facing buildings recorded on the 1875 map. The household consisted of only Roderick and Margaret and their daughter Ann and a nine-year-old grandson, Hugh.

In 1891 the same family occupied the house but Roderick and Margaret had died. The two brothers, both named Donald, had returned. One of the brothers is described as a plasterer by trade and the other as a shepherd. Ann was keeping house and the nineteen-year-old Hugh was working as a farm servant.

In the 1901 census, the 6-roomed house is described as the crofter's house, and is enumerated as 14 on the census returns on the Loch Shiel Estate. It was occupied by one of the brothers who was described as being a shepherd/crofter, and by his sister Ann and nephew Hugh. Hugh MacDonald is recorded as being married but his wife does not appear on the record as being resident on the day of the census. The members of the household were all recorded as Gaelic and English speakers.

Hugh was known as Hugh (French) MacDonald and worked on the Cameron-Head estate until his early death at 38 years of age. After his death his wife, who came from Gorteneorn, went to live at the old Poors House situated between Langal and Kinlochmoidart, and brought up their children with the help of local relations. Hugh's uncle Donald remained the tenant at Port a' Bhàta until about 1915 when the township was finally deserted.

Appendix I. INFORMATION FROM CENSUS RECORDS

1841 Census Porta' Bhàta

House 1

Name

Sex

Age

Occupation

John Corbet

Head

Male

57

Publican

Sarah Corbet

Female

40

Margaret Corbet

Female

10

Joan Corbet

Female

8

William Corbet

Male

6

Mary Corbet

Female

4

Ann Corbet

Female

2

Allan Corbet

Male

11 months

Hugh MacDonald

Serv

Male

20

Agricultural Labourer

Mary MacVarish

Serv

Female

70

Farm Servant

Mary MacVarish

Serv

Female

20

Servant

Roger MacVarish

Male

15

Cattle-herd

Not Known

Male

30

Not Known


House 2

Name

Sex

Age

Occupation

Duncan Corbet

Head

Male

70

Farmer

Mary Corbet

Female

35

Allan Corbet

Male

15

Agricultural labourer

John Corbet

Male

13

Margaret Corbet

Female

11

Norman Corbet

Male

9

William Corbet

Male

7

Jean Corbet

Female

5

House 3

Name

Sex

Age

Occupation

Alexander Corbet

Head

Male

60 Farmer
Margaret Corbet

Female 60  
Ranald Corbet

Male 35 Agricultural Labourer
Allan Corbet

Male 20 Agricultural Labourer
Ann Corbet

Female 15  
Ann Corbet

Female 9  
James Corbet

Male 4 months  

House 4

Name

Sex

Age

Occupation

Alexander MacDonald

Head

Male

35

Agricultural Labourer

Ann MacDonald

Female

20

Catherine MacDonald

Female

9

John MacDonald

Male

7

Alexander MacDonald

Male

4

Mary MacDonald

Female

1

House 5

Name

Sex

Age

Occupation

Sarah Grant

Female

65

House 6

Name

Sex

Age

Occupation

Alex. MacIntyre

Head

Male

55

Handloom Weaver

Catherine MacIntyre

Female

55

Catherine MacIntyre

Female

25

Jessie MacIntyre

Female

20

John MacIntyre

Male

20

Agricultural Labourer

Peter MacIntyre

Male

8

Mary MacIntyre

Female

2

House 7

Name

Sex

Age

Occupation

Jessie MacDonald

Female

85

 

House 8

Name

 

Sex

Age

Occupation

Allan Corbet

Head

Male

60

Farmer

Mary Corbet

?

Female

45

Ann Corbet

Female

20

Agricultural Labourer

John Corbet

Male

20

Agricultural Labourer

Margaret Corbet

Female

14

Margery Corbet

Female

12

House 9

Name

 

Sex

Age

Occupation

Donald MacDonald

Head

Male

87

Farmer

John MacDonald

Male

45

Merchant

Mary MacDonald

Female

40

Servant

Alexander Macdonald

Male

35

Agricultural Labourer

Flora MacDonald

Female

20

Alexander Macdonald

Male

5

John MacDonald

Male

3

Angus MacDonald

Male

1

Allan Robertson

Male

11

1851 census. Port a' Bhàta.
Port a' Bhàta was listed with Eignaig Kylesmhor, Caolasbeg and Shonabeg, therefore the four houses at Port a' Bhata are listed as 16, 17, 18,and19.


House 16

Name

Relation

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

Sally MacDonald

Head

80

Widow

Temporary pauper

Inv/ Arisaig

Ann Macdonald

Daughter

30

Un M

House 17

Name

Relation

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

Alexander Corbet

78

Married

Joiner

Inv/Ardnamurchan

Margaret Corbet

Wife

73

Married

Inv/Moidart

Ann Kennedy

Servant

18

Unm

Servant

Glenelg/Knoydart

House 18

Name

Relation

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

Donald Campbell

Head

43 Married Shepherd Inv/Lochabair

Margaret Campbell

Wife

30 Married   Inv/Morar

Mary Campbell

Daughter

19     Inv/Morar

Ann Campbell

Daughter

4     Inv/Morar

Coll Campbell

Son

9m     Inv/Morar

John Campbell

Son

3     Inv/Morar

Angus Campbell

Son

3     Inv/Morar

John McEachen

Servant

18 Unmarried Servant Inv/Arisaig

Archibald MacIsaac

Servant

26 Unmarried Servant Inv/Moidart

Margaret McLellan

Maid Serv

25 Unmarried General Servant Inv/S.Morar

House 19

Name

Relation

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

Alexander Macdonald

Head

42

Married

Fisher occasionally

Inv/Acharacle

Ann MacDonald

Wife

37

Married

Inv/Acharacle

John MacDonald

Son

16

Son

Inv/Acharacle

Alexander MacDonald

Son

13

Son

Inv/Acharacle

Donald MacDonald

Son

9

Son

Inv/Acharacle

Archibald Macdonald

Son

5

Son

Inv/Acharacle

Angus Macdonald

Son

3

Son

Inv/Acharacle

1851 Census
Scardoish. House 21

Name

Relation

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

John MacDonald

Head

73

Married

Crofter

Moidart

Margaret MacDonald

Wife

65

Ditto

John MacDonald

Son

35

Unmarried

Ditto

Alexander MacDonald

Son

26

Unmarried

Ditto

Ann MacDonald

Daughter

24

Unmarried

Ditto

Margaret MacDonald

Daughter

22

Unmarried

Ditto

Nagus

Son

18

Unmarried

Ditto

Allan MacDonald

Nephew

8

Ditto

Archibald MacDonald

Son

32

Married

Salmon Fisher

Moidart

Catherine Corbett

Daughter-in-law

32

Married

Ditto

Allan MacDonald

Nephew

3m

Ditto


1861 Census Port a`Bhàta

House 1

Name

Relation

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

Roderick MacDonald

Head

59

Married

Farmer

Inv/Ardnamurchan

Margaret MacDonald

Wife

53

Married

Inv/Arisaig

Donald Macdonald

Son

22

Unmarried

Inv/Ardmurchan

Ann MacDonald

Daughter

20

Unmarried

Inv/Ardnamurchan

Donald MacDonald

Son

17

Unmarried

Inv/Ardnamurchan

Catherine MacDonald

Sister-in-law

50

Unmarried

Domestic Servant

Inv/Arisaig

Archibald Macdonald

Brother

46

Unmarried

Agric' Labourer

Inv/Ardnamurchan

House 2

Name

Relation

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

John Macdonald

Head

40

M'd

Gamekeeper

Abertarff

Mary Macdonald

Wife

20

M'd

Arisaig

Mary MacDonald

Daughter

2

Lochalsh

Angusina Macdonald

Daughter

0

Ardn'murch'

1861 Census Samalaman.
House 2

Name

Relation

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

John Corbett

Head

80

Married

Farmer

Acharacle

Sarah Corbett

Wife

58

Acharacle

Margaret Corbett

Daughter

29

Unmarried

Domestic Servant

Acharacle

William Corbett

Son

24

Unmarried

Herring Fisher

Acharacle

Catherine Corbett

Daughter

13

Unmarried

Domestic Servant

Acharacle

1861 Census Moss
House 10

Name

Relation

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

Duncan Corbett

Head

73

Married

Farmer

Acharacle

Mary Corbett

Wife

58

Arisaig

Norman Corbett

Son

28

Unmarried

Acharacle

William Corbett

Son

25

Unmarried

Acharacle

Jane Corbett

Daughter

23

Unmarried

Acharacle

1861 Census Dorlin
House 4

Name

Relation

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

Flora MacDonald

Head

40

Widow

Ardnamurchan

Angus Macdonald

Son

22

Unmarried

Labourer

Ardnamurchan

John MacDonald

Son

18

Unmarried

Labourer

Ardnamurchan

Mary MacDonald

Daughter

16

Unmarried

Domestic Servant

Ardnamurchan

Ann MacDonald

Daughter

14

Domestic Servant

Ardnamurchan

Catherine MacDonald

Daughter

12

Scholar

Ardnamurchan

John MacDonald

Brother-in-law

72

Unmarried

Gardener

Ardnamurchan

Allan Corbett

Uncle

80

Widower

Pauper

Ardnamurchan

Isabella MacDonald

Daughter

9

Scholar

Ardnamurchan


1861 Census Dalilea
House 4

Name

Relation

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

Alexander MacDonald

Head

55

Married

Carpenter-Boat

Acharacle

Ann MacDonald

Wife

50

Morvern

Mary MacDonald

Daughter

20

Unmarried

Domestic Servant

Acharacle

Donald Macdonald

Son

18

Unmarried

Acharacle

Archibald Macdonald

Son

16

Unmarried

Acharacle

Angus Macdonald

Son

12

Acharacle


1871 Census Port a'Bhàta

Name

Relation

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

Rooms

Roderick Macdonald

Head

71

M

Forester

Moidart

2

Margaret MacDonald

Wife

65

Arisaig

Ann Macdonald

Daughter

27

Unm

Foresters daughter

Moidart

Donald Macdonald

Son

23

Unm

Foresters son

Moidart

Archibald Macdonald

Brother

58

Unm

Formerly Fisherman

Moidart


1881 Census Port a'Bhàta

Name

Relation

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

Rooms

Roderick Macdonald

Head

81

M

Crofter

Moidart

6

Margaret MacDonald

Wife

74

M

Crofters Wife

Arisaig

Ann Macdonald

Daughter

36

Unm

General Domestic

Moidart

Catherine Macdonald

S-i-l

72

U

Pauper

Arisaig

Hugh MacDonald

Gr'dson

9

Scholar


1891 Census Port a'Bhàta

Name

Kinship

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

Rooms

Donald Macdonald

Head

43

U

Plasterer

Moidart

6

Donald MacDonald

Bro

48

U

Shepherd

Moidart

Ann Macdonald

Sister

45

U

House Keeper

Moidart

Hugh MacDonald

Neph

19

Farm Servant

Moidart


1901 Census
The 6 roomed house is described as the crofter's house, and is enumerated as 14 on the census returns and as being on the Loch Shiel Estate.

Name

Kinship

Age

Marital

Occupation

Birth place

Rooms

Donald MacDonald

Head

48

Unmarried

Shepherd/Crofter

Moidart

6

Ann Macdonald

Sister

56

Unmarried

 

Moidart

Hugh MacDonald

Nephew

29

Married

Labourer

Moidart


Appendix II
Information from Moidart Roman Catholic Church
Record of Baptisms of children born at Port a' Bhàta


1829-1838 Priest- Father Alexander MacDonald

Name

D.O.B.

Legal status

Father

Mother

Sponsor

Sponsor's address

Donald MacNeil

31/12/29

Legitimate

John MacNeil

Catherine MacDonald

Ranald Corbet

Port a'Bhata

Mary MacVarish

14/7/31

Legitimate

Angus MacVarish

Mary MacAskil

Alexander Macdonald

Port a' Bhàta

William Corbet

28/8/34

Legitimate

John Corbet

Marion MacVarish

John Gillies

Scardoish

Jane Corbet

1/1/36

Legitimate

Duncan Corbet

Mary MacLean

Alexander Macdonald

Port a' Bhàta

Alexander Macdonald

8/4/36

Legitimate

Alexander Macdonald

Flora Corbet

Ranald Corbet

Port a' Bhàta


1838-1855 Priest - Ranald Rankin
Name D.O.B. Legal Status Father Mother Sponsor Sponsors address
John Macdonald 26/2/38 Legitimate Alexander Macdonald Flora Corbet John MacDonald Rhu Arisaig
Ann Corbet 8/5/38 Legitimate John Corbet Sally MacVarish Archie MacDonald Eilean Shona
Mary Macdonald 3/9/39 Legitimate Alexander Macdonald Ann MacDonald Roderick MacDonald Caolas
Mary Macdonald 3/1/40 Legitimate Alexander Macdonald Ann Macdonald Roderick Macdonald Caolasmor
Angus Macdonald 3/3/40 Legitimate Alexander Macdonald Mary Macdonald John Corbet Port a’ Bhàta
Allan Corbet 16/6/40 Legitimate John Corbet Sally MacVarish John MacPherson Briag
James Corbet 13/1/41 Legitimate Allan Corbet Ann MacPherson John MacDonald Port a’ Bhàta
Alexander Corbet Died 4 months 21/10/41 Legitimate John Corbet Sarah MacVarish John MacPherson Briag
Ann Corbet 1/11/41 Legitimate Ranald Corbet Jean MacDonald John MacPherson Briag
Ranald MacDonald 21/1/42 Legitimate Alexander MacDonald Flora Corbet John Corbet Port a’ Bhàta
Duncan Corbet 20/2/43 Legitimate Allan Corbet Ann MacPherson Donald MacPherson Blain
John MacDonald 15/9/43 Legitimate Alexander Macdonald Flora MacDonald John Corbet Port a’ Bhàta
Sarah Corbet 4/1/44 Legitimate John Corbet Sarah MacVarish John MacPherson Port a’ Bhàta
Margaret Corbet 2/7/45 Legitimate Allan Corbet Ann MacPherson John MacDonald Port a’ Bhàta
Archibald Corbet 10/7/45 Legitimate Ranald Corbet Ann MacDonald Jean MacDonald Lochshiel
Mary MacDonald 7/8/45 Legitimate Alexander MacDonald Flora MacDonald John Corbet Caolasbeg
Charles CorbetWent to America 5/3/47 Legitimate Ranald Corbet Ann MacDonald Joanna MacDonald  
Hugh Corbet 21/5/47 Legitimate Allan Corbet Ann MacPherson John MacDonald Port a’ Bhàta
Ann MacDonald 4/6/47 Legitimate Alexander MacDonald Flora Corbet Duncan Corbet Port a’ Bhàta
Catherine MacDonald 1/6/49 Legitimate Alexander MacDonald Flora Corbet John Corbet Sloch
Jean Macdonald 8/4/51 Legitimate Alexander MacDonald Ann MacDonald Peggy MacArthur Port a’ Bhàta


Appendix III

INFORMATION FROM MOIDART ROMAN CATHOLIC PARISH RECORDS

MARRIAGES involving inhabitants or known ex-inhabitants of Port a’ Bhàta.

NAS REF: RH21/48/2

Emigrant notes, by Fr R Rankin, in capitals.

1830  None recorded

1831 None recorded.

1832  Jan 25      Ewen McIsaac, Langwall & Marianne McGregor, Port Bata

            Witnesses: Alexander McVarish & Dugald McGregor

1833, 1834, 1835, 1836  None recorded

1837  Jan 25      Donald McDonald, Kylesmore & Marcella McDonald, Kylesmore                AUSTRALIA 185?

            Witnesses: Dugald McDonald & John McDonald. Rev. A McD

1838, 1839  None recorded.                                                  

1840  Jan 30      Allan Corbet, Portavata & Ann McPherson, Briaig FORT WILLIAM 1852

            Witnesses:  John Corbet ?Caol & Alexander McDonald Portavata

Feb 11  Angus McPherson, Smirisary & Mary Corbet, Portavata

            Witnesses: John Corbet & Allan Corbet, Portavata

1841, 1842, 1843, 1844, 1845, 1846, 1847  None recorded.

1848

            EMIGRANTS TO AUSTRALIA MARRIED JUNE 1848 (Written at top)

            (In margin crossed out)  

June 8   Ewen McDonald, Morar & Clementina McDonald, Portavata

            Witnesses: Angus McDonald & Allan Corbet, Portavata. Rev. R R

            (Then below, in proper place)

June 8   Ewen McDonald, Morar & Clementina McVarish, Portavata

            Witnesses: Malcolm Kelly, Dorlin & Ewen McDonald, Scardoise. Rev. R R

1849  None recorded.

1850

Feb 6    Archy McDonald (or McIsaac), Scardoise & Kitty Corbet, Portavata   PORT PHILIP JUNE 1852

            Witnesses: Ewen McDonald & John McDonald, Scardoise. Rev. R R

1851. NO MARRIAGES RECORDED

1852

May 25   James McDonald & Marcella McDonald, Caolas More.  EMIG. TO PORT PHILIP JUNE 1852

            Married Altgille. 

            Witnesses: John McDonald & Duncan McDonald, Caolas More. Rev. R R.

1853  None recorded

1854
June 22     Ronald McDonald, Ardnish Arasaig & Joanna Corbet, Samalaman

            Witnesses: Ranald McDonald & Ewen McDonald. Rev. R R

1855 Father R Rankin left for Australia.

1856, 1857, 1858, 1859, 1860, 1861  None recorded.

1862 
Jan 14      Alexander McDonald or McIsaac, Smerisary & Margaret McPherson , Smirisary at Smirisary

            Witnesses: Alexander Stewart, Glenuig & William Corbett, Glenuig. Rev. C McD.

Feb 5    Charles McInnes & Mysie ?McVvarish , Dalnabreck at Mingarry

            Witnesses: William McInnes & William Corbett. Rev. C McD.

Sept 9   Angus McDonald, Smirisary & Sarah McDonald, Smirisary at Glenuig

            Witnesses: William Corbett, Samalaman & John McDonald. Rev. C McD

1863 
Jan 21      Roderick McPherson, Smirisary & Barbara McMaster, servant Samalaman

            Witnesses: John McLellan, Blain & William Corbett, Glenuig. Rev. C McD.

1864.   No marriages in this year. C. McD.

1865  None recorded

1866  None recorded

1867  
Feb 20    ?Duncan McDonald, ?Smirisary & Jane McDonald, Glenuig at Glenuig

            Witnesses: William Corbett & ----. Rev. C McD.

1868 
Feb 12     John McDonald, Dorlin & Catherine McDonald, Dalnabreck married by Rev ?Jack McDonald

            Witnesses: Allan McDonald, Dorlin & William Corbett, Glenuig. C McD.

1869  None recorded


References.

  1. Charles Macdonald. Moidart or Among the Clanranalds 1989 edition. Appendix Letter to Admiral D R Macdonald.

  2. Clanranald Papers. NAS GD201 5/1217.

  3. SRO E. 744/1/70 1748 Survey of the Forfeited Estates.

  4. MacDonald of Glenaladale Papers. NAS GD234 4/14

  5. Charles MacDonald. Moidart. Among the Clanranalds. Birlinn 1997. Ch 11. P175

  6. Bumsted The People’s Clearance 1770-1815. Appendix B.

  7. Robertson MacDonald Papers. NLS MS3984 p158

  8. Devine T.M.  Clanship to Crofters War. Manchester University Press 1994 Ch.1 Page 34-38.

  9. Clanranald Papers. NAS GD201 5/1260.

  10. Charles Macdonald. Moidart Among the Clanranalds. Birlinn 1997. Ch.9. P 149.

  11. Charles Macdonald. Moidart Among the Clanranalds. Birlinn1997. Ch.12.P 202

  12. MacDonald of Glenaladale Papers. NAS GD243 4/14

  13. Charles Macdonald. Moidart Among the Clanranalds. Birlinn 1997.Ch. 12. P 202

  14. MacDonald of Glenaladale Papers. NAS GD243 4/10

  15.  MacDonald of Glenaladale papers. NAS GD243 4/15

  16. MacDonald of Glenaladale Papers. NAS GD243 4/14.

  17. MacDonald of Glenaladale Papers. MS. 1-13  Factors Accounts to Alexander Macdonald 1815 to 1824. Clandonald Centre, Skye.

  18. MacDonald of Glenaladale Papers. NAS GD 243 4/14

  19. MacDonald of Glenaladale Papers. NAS GD 243 4/14

  20. Hugh Cheape, Management and Mismanagement in Moidart since the Seventeenth Century. National Museums of Scotland. P.34.

  21. I.F.Grant. Highland Folk Ways.Birlinn 1997. Ch IV. P 69-71.

  22. Grant I,F. Highland Folk Ways. Birlinn 1997. ChIV. P75.

  23. Hugh Cheape, Management and Mismanagement in Moidart since the Seventeenth century. National Museums of Scotland. P 37-38.

  24. Hugh Cheape, Management and Mismanagement in Moidart since the Seventeenth Century. National Museums of Scotland. P36.

  25. Devine T.M. The Great Highland Famine. John Donald 1988. Ch 3. P58.

  26. Hugh Cheape, Management and Mismanagement in Moidart since the Seventeenth Century. National Museum of Scotland. P 34-35.

  27. Grant I.F. Highland Folk Ways. Birlinn 1997. ChIX. P199.

  28. Malcolm Gray, The Highland Economy1750-1850. Edinburgh 1957. Ch 3. P 125-136.

  29. Robertson MacDonald Papers. NLS MS3945

  30. Bumsted, The People’s Clearance.1750-1815. P 85.

  31. T.M. Devine, Clanship to Crofters’ War. Manchester University Press 1994. Ch9. P 119-134.

  32. Smith Gavin D. The Secret Still. Birlinn 2002. Ch 2. P 48.

  33. Alastair Cameron, St. Finan’s Isle. P 19.

  34. National Library of Scotland MS995 f.55.

  35. T.M.Devine, Clanship to Crofters’ War. P45.

  36. Robertson MacDonald Papers. National Library of Scotland MS 3945.

  37. Bumsted, The People’s Clearance 1770-1815. P57.

  38. Bumsted, The People’s Clearance 1750-1815. P136.

  39. Royal Commission (Highlands and Islands, 1892) p1228-1229.

  40. T.M.Devine, The Great Highland Famine, Ch2-3.

  41. Charles MacDonald, Moidart Among the Clanranalds, Birlinn 1997. P218-219,

  42. John Watt. Notes in Moidart Among the Clanranalds, Birlinn 1997. P 223.and T.M.Devine, The Great Highland Famine. P 330. and P 324.

  43. Charles MacDonald, Moidart Among the Clanranalds, Birlinn1997. P109.    Wendy Wood, Moidart and Morar. P 59.

  44. Alastair Cameron, St. Finan’s Isle. P 13.     and  Corbet Website.

  45. Robertson MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart Papers. National Library of Scotland. MS 3983. P 61.

  46. Robertson MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart collection. MS. No. 3984. National Library of Scotland. P 158.

  47. Bumsted, The People’s Clearance 1770-1815. Appendix B. p 240.

  48. Robertson MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart Papers. National Library of Scotland MS. 3946. P 102.

  49. Ardnamurchan Parish Registers. Sunart Archives. 6.P.F.

  50. Alastair Cameron. St. Finan’s Isle. 1957. P18.

  51. Malcolm Macdonald, Research into Macdonalds of Innes a’ Chulun. Clandonald Centre, Skye/ Moidart Local History Group Website.                                                

52*. Nominal Passenger and Disposal Lists, Araminta. Public Records Office,                       

        Melbourne, Australia.

53*. Baptismal Records, St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Geelong, Australia.

54*. Death Registration/Wills? Probate Records, Public Records Office, Melbourne,

         Australia

55*.Cemetery Records, Eastern Cemetery, Catholic Section, Geelong Historical Records Centre, Australia.

56. Ian Whitaker, Two Hebridean Corn-kilns, Gwerin I 1956-1957, P164-166.

57.Charles MacDonald, Moidart or Among the Clanranalds. Birlinn 1997. Page 219.

58.Charles MacDonald, Moidart or Among the Clanranalds. Birlinn 1997. Page 212.

59.Elizabeth B Rennie, Who Built the Platforms?

60.Clanranald Papers. NAS. GD201/1/281.

61. Phillip Gaskell, Morvern Transformed-A Highland Parrish in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge University Press 1980. Page 158.

63. Robertson MacDonald Papers, National Library of Scotland, MS 3983 f145

* All information from Australian Public Records has been researched by Michael Murray of Melbourne.


Port a' Bhàta in 2004.

Port a' Bhàta is situated on the south shore of Loch Moidart on and around a promontory dominated by Torr Port a' Bhàta.

The steep lower slopes of the Torr and the lower parts of the hillsides to the south of Loch Moidart are covered in deciduous trees (mainly birch, oak rowan and alder although some ash, holly and hazel trees are present and a wych-elm grows in the rock strewn southern slope of the Torr). Mature trees surround most of the ruined houses with many growing inside the ruins. Some sycamore and larch grow in the centre of the settlement. Several very large larch trees appear to have been planted in a symmetrical pattern in relation to one of the houses. One of these trees has fallen and caused a great deal of damage to the house. The same house has a blackcurrant bush growing in one wall.

Most of the ground that was once used as arable is sited on land in front of the houses, and in an area to the north of the Torr. Cultivation ridges can also be seen in a non wooded area on the west side of the mill bay, and extend into what is now woodland. Most of this land is now covered in coarse grass and bracken. The poorly drained areas are covered in reeds and mosses. Mosses grow thickly under tree cover and lichens cover rocks and trees. The higher ground and some of the lower ground is covered with a mixture of coarse grass and heather.
In the spring, the areas around the buildings and the wooded slopes are covered with primroses, wood sorrel, celandines, violets and wild hyacinths.

Tracks and Dykes.
The main approach to the township is by the old track that passes the abandoned settlement of Briagh. The silver walk, a path around the shoreline made in the time of Lord Howard of Glossop in the late 19th century, joins the track just to the west of Torr Port a' Bhàta.
The well made path passes through the glen to the south of the Torr and turns northwest towards the main group of house ruins where it meets the head dyke at a ruined house. The first addition Ordnance survey map completed in 1875, shows this track turning north towards the main group of houses, to the west of the house ruins at 3 and 4. Although this second route involves negotiating a very steep bank, it is possible that it was used in the late 1800s when only the house on the north side of the township was occupied.

The remains of the head dyke can be seen at Port a' Bhàta running east from a point on the northwest shore of the Torr Port a' Bhàta peninsula to a point on the west shore of the bay in front of the mill. Most, but not all of the dwellings of the township were within the dyke. There are also dykes forming boundaries between houses, field boundaries and other smaller enclosures within the area defined by the head dyke. A stone dyke that still stands to a height of 1m to 1.2m surrounds an enclosure situated next to the corn kiln in the heart of the settlement . This may have been a kail-yard. There appear to be two entrances to this enclosure with steps leading to the entrance near the corn kiln. A dyke extends from this enclosure along the high water line to the south and east and a branch extends south to a steep slope. An oval enclosure between the houses in the centre of the settlement was also probably a Kail-yard.

One remarkable high dry stone dyke can be seen to the west of the most northerly house. This dyke appears to end abruptly, but the remnants of an earlier turf dyke can be seen extending north to the shoreline. The dyke is shown clearly on the 1875 map but many other dykes including large parts of the head dyke are not evident. One ruined house is situated in the glen to the south of the Torr where there is a dyke crossing this glen and some small dykes crossing the incline between the glen and the main settlement.
A wellmade track extends along the shoreline to the west of the mill towards Port a' Bhàta, and remnants of another can be discerned extending towards Ardmorlich from a point on the shoreline east of the mill.

Shoreline.
There are three bays at Port a' Bhàta.
1. The bay at the west end of the glen South of the Torr (NM68016. 72487).
The beach is made of rough stones. There is also a dyke across the upper part of the shore just below the high water line that extends along the side of the burn for a short distance. Its purpose is unclear but it may have been a boundary dyke to keep stock in or out. The bay is rich in kelp. Near the steep slope at the south of the glen, above the flag irises that grow above the high water mark, there are low stone mounds covered with moss and vegetation that appear to outline a structure 7m by 3.5m. These could be clearance but may have been used for kelp burning.

2. Bay to the east of Torr Port a' Bhàta.
This was the bay for the main part of the township. It is very muddy with poor kelp growth. The shore is of small irregular stones with much of the area at the north end cleared of large stones enabling small boats to be drawn up. Along the rocky shoreline at the north end of the bay, a stone dyke exists that extends on to meet the enclosure around the most northerly house. Near the centre of the bay is a pile of stones projecting onto the mud that may have been a very short jetty to be used at high water. A single wooden post projects from the mud well below high-water level near the centre of the bay that appears to be the end post of a former fence.
A channel has also been cleared of large stones at the southern angle of the bay.

3. Bay to the north of the mill.
This bay is very muddy and treacherous. A well made track winds around the shoreline between the mill and Port a' Bhàta above the high water line. In the southwestern angle of the bay, stones have been cleared and piled up making an area where boats could have been drawn up at high water.

Buildings.
The remains of the buildings at Port a' Bhàta are very varied. Some buildings had been built mainly of turf and have nearly melted back into the ground. Low mounds can sometimes indicate where they once stood. Others have probably disappeared completely.
The ruined stone walled buildings were all almost certainly built in the late eighteenth century or 19th century.

An estate map probably prepared shortly after Alexander MacDonald acquired the land in 1811 shows only seven buildings in the settlement itself. Five are clustered above the bay to the east of the Torr where the remains of at least eight substantial buildings can be seen today. Two were sited to the southeast of a patch of arable land in the east of the settlement. Although remains of houses and byres can be seen in this area, the positions of the ruins do not correspond with the buildings marked on the old estate map. There were no buildings in the north of the township in 1811. There does appear to have been a building near the site of the ruined mill, but it is not adjacent to the burn. It is possible that the early map was not entirely accurate and the marked building may represent the mill. The two buildings marked to the east of the mill appear to correspond to the ruined buildings with corn-drying kilns that can be seen today.

From the census records it is evident that there were nine households in the township in 1841. Two households consisted of lone women and their homes would probably have been small. Most of the houses would have had out-buildings associated with them.

The ruins of earlier stone houses in the township are rectangular, single storied and of dry stone construction. The corners are rounded exteriorly but right-angled inside. There is little evidence of cruck-framed construction in Port a' Bhàta. The roof would have rested on the top of the walls and would have been thatched possibly with bere barley straw, reeds, heather or even bracken. Many of the houses would not have had dividing walls within. The open hearth would have been in the centre of the floor and the smoke would have slowly made its way up through a hole in the thatch. Some of these round cornered houses did have an interior dividing wall with a hearth and chimney within the wall. Later houses were built with square exterior corners and gable ends. Dressed stones and mortar were used. Hearths and flues were built into the gable walls. The roofs of these houses were hipped, but except for the one house built in the late 19th century, they were probably thatched. One of the houses appears to be a combination of a round cornered structure with the later addition of a square cornered gable ended structure. It is likely that the later part of the house would have been used for human habitation, while the older rounded cornered end would have been retained as a byre. There were many thatched roughly built stone byres and shelters of various sizes and shapes throughout the settlement.

The house built in the 1870s stands out as being of a different style. It was two storied with gable ends and had a slate roof.

Most, but not all ruined structures are listed on the following pages.


Although the mill is not within the township, it is included because of its proximity and the linkage provided by a well-built track between the mill and the settlement. The ruined buildings to the east of the mill, which incorporate corn kilns, are described because of their proximity and connection with the mill. Remains along the burns and on the hillsides around the settlement are also included.

Key to Map.
1. Ruined house.
This ruined house is situated on a knoll north of the old track from Briagh to Port a' Bhàta in the steep sided glen south of Torr Port a' Bhata. The east-facing house of dry stone construction has a doorway flanked by two small windows. There are no gable ends and the exterior corners are rounded. Interiorly the corners are right-angled. There are no cruck-slots visible. Part of the building is surrounded by an outer "shell" of rough stone and turf. There is no definite partition within the house. A very rough stone wall across the northwest corner makes a small nook. (This is likely to have been added at a date after habitation to accommodate an ewe and lamb.)

2. Dyke and ruins on burn side.
A rough stone dyke crosses the glen south of Torr Port a' Bhàta from the steep escarpment to the north to the burn. At the southern end of the dyke there is a ruined dry stone structure with no definite entrance. The south wall is fairly well constructed but the others are roughly built. There is an arc of wall to the west of this structure. Abutting the walls to the south and on the edge of the burn there appear to be wall foundations enclosing a low space 3.4m by 2.4m on the bank of the burn. Thus there appears to have been an earlier building on the bank of the burn that was later dismantled and the north part adapted to form a rough store or animal shelter.

3.Ruined house.
This building is situated to the left of the track as it descends to the east having passed through the glen to the south of Torr Port a' Bhàta. The building faces roughly east and has rounded exterior corners. There are no gable ends. The narrow doorway is placed towards the southern end of the east wall and there is a tiny window space to the north of the door in the east wall and a possible cruck-slot near the window. There is a larger window space in the ruined north wall. The west wall is badly ruined in places. There is no definite partition wall within, but considerable amounts of rubble in the north part of the interior. There is some indication that there may have been a dividing wall to the right of the doorway on entering. There is a very rough stone walled small enclosure in the northeast corner (see structure 1).

4. Ruined house and byre.
This substantial ruined house and probable byre are situated to the north east of structure3 and to the west of a small watercourse. The house faces approximately northeast over arable land towards the loch. The exterior corners of the house are rounded but the interior corners are right-angled, and there are no gable ends. Remains of lime-mortar adhere to the stones in places. The main entrance is in the centre of the north wall and the lintel is still in place. There is a window on each side of the door. There is a small window space in the south wall opposite the entrance. There is a niche with a double lintel formed by a blocked window in the west wall. The blocking of this window indicates that the house was in use before the byre was built close beside this side of the house. A wall to the left of the entrance doorway divides the interior of the house. There is a doorway in the north end of this wall with a stone lintel still in place. This dividing wall contains the chimney space and the hearth is open in the room to the east. There is a small niche in the east wall of the room.
The byre is built adjacent but not joined to the west wall of the house. The entrance is in the centre of the north wall. There is no evidence of any window space but the north wall is very ruined. The remains of a stone dyke encloses an area of ground to the south and east of the house and a stone dyke extends eastwards from this as a field boundary and as part of the head dyke. The small watercourse on the west side of the wall runs over a step of stone at one point and there is a boggy area to the north of this. (This could be the remains of a small dam) A field boundary dyke extends west of the byre and this is also part of the head dyke.

Just to the south of the dyke behind the house and with the small watercourse now running through the centre, are the remains of dry stone walls outlining a former rectangular building with rounded corners.

5. Ruin of a roughly built building with enclosure filled with rubble.
Situated on a rise in open ground, this ruined shelter faces approximately east. There is an entrance in the centre of the east wall. The corners of the building are rounded and there are no gable ends. There are no window spaces apparent and this was probably a store or animal shelter.
To the south of this building is a raised boat shaped area enclosed by a rough stone dyke. Although a small part of the west section of this dyke appears to have collapsed there is no definite entry to the enclosure. The area within the dyke appears to be filled with rubble and the purpose is unknown.

6. Ruined roughly built building and enclosure.
Sited just south of the track passing along the head dyke from structure 4 toward the main group of ruined houses, is this very rough stone subrectangular shelter that has an entrance to the north. The building has rounded corners and there are no signs of gables or window spaces. There is a small enclosure to the rear and to the east of the building with the south wall of the enclosure built into the steep bank.

7. Ruined roughly built small dry stone shelter.

8. Ruined house with byre attached.
This structure is sited on the north side of a small watercourse that runs roughly from west to east into the "port". The building is to the west of the path to the main row of houses. It is constructed of roughly built dry stone walls on uneven ground, the side adjacent to the watercourse being lower than the north side. The structure is in two parts. The main part of the structure consists of a round cornered east-facing building without gable ends. This was probably a house. There are no signs of window spaces but the walls are ruined and stand to a maximum height of about 1.3m. A structure with an entrance in the north wall has been built on to the north. It has a drain hole in the foot of the east wall and would probably have been a byre.

9. Ruined gable ended house.

This ruined house stands on the path above the "port" and faces east. The bank slopes up steeply at the back of the house and the back wall is partly built into the bank. The south part of the building has been badly damaged by a large fallen tree. Most of the walls stand to a height of approximately 2.6m and are made of large stones with smaller flat stones placed carefully horizontally around them. There is evidence of pointing with mortar containing lime and there is dressed masonry in places such as around the doorway and at the corners. The corners of the house are square and the entrance is roughly in the centre of the east wall. There are window spaces on either side of the door. The north wall is a gable end and has a chimneybreast and hearth. The south wall was also a gable end but has been badly damaged. The south part of the interior contains a great deal of rubble and hazel trees and it is not possible to easily tell if there was a hearth in the south wall or if the house had an interior dividing wall. The house is approximately 11.6m long and 5.2m wide.
This house appears to have been built at a later date than all the settlement buildings with the exception of the two-storied house erected in the late 1870s. Although it could have been built in the early 19th century, it is typical of other neat mid or late Victorian houses built on the Lochshiel estate. The date of its construction and occupation remains a matter of speculation. An unroofed house appears at the location on the 1876 first Ordnance Survey map, and census returns indicate that only one family lived at Port a' Bhàta in 1871 to 1914 and that they lived at the north end of the settlement. In 1861, a gamekeeper and his family lived at Port a' Bhàta and it is possible that this house had been built for this estate employee. In front of the house there is a flat area and then the bank slopes steeply down towards the loch. A field boundary dyke encloses an area of the slope in front of the house and there are some large larch trees and a holly tree in the enclosure. At the south end of the terrace in front of the house are the remains of a small shelter.
The huge larch trees in the enclosure in front of the house, one of which has fallen on the south gable, appear to have been planted symmetrically in relation to the house and were probably planted by people who dwelt there. It may be possible that dating the trees would indicate when this house was occupied.

10. Ruined house with 5 outbuildings.
This substantial ruined house faces east. The walls are well constructed of carefully placed stones without mortar and have tumbled where damaged by growing trees. The building is single storied with rounded exterior corners and right-angled interior corners. There are no gable ends and no sign of cruck frame construction. The building measures 11.53m by 4.88m. The entrance still has its lintel in place and is flanked by two windows. There is also a small window in the rear wall. Five mature trees are growing in the interior (oak ash and sycamore) and there is no interior-dividing wall visible. In front of the house is a flat area with some large flat irregular stones visible under the moss and it appears that this area was probably paved.
To the rear of the house with the rear walls built into the steep bank, stand the ruins of three east facing outbuildings. These are all of rough dry stone construction with round corners.
Above this, there are two dry stone walled shelters built at the level of the head dyke. Just to the north of the house there is an oval enclosure that was probably a kail yard.

11. Corn Kiln and enclosure.
The substantial remains of this corn drying kiln are sited below a steep bank The back of the kiln is built into the bank and the rear part of the basin is obscured by mud from the bank. The flue can be seen on the east side.
To the north of the corn drying kiln is an irregular enclosure with two entrances, one in the north side and one in the southwest corner with steps leading towards the kiln.

12. Ruined roughly built building, probably a small byre.
This very ruined roughly built stone building is under the trunk of a fallen tree, and the uprooting of the tree has damaged particularly the back wall. The building faces roughly southeast and the entrance is in the centre of the southeast wall. It has round corners and there is no evidence of any window space. There is a roughly built 62cms high platform against the outside wall just to the north of the entrance.

13. Buildings and features built on and around a spur of high ground, including a house and a barn.
13 A. This ruined house faces east with the entrance in the centre of the east wall. The south part of the building has square cornered walls, which are built of a mixture of larger stones and smaller flat stones carefully placed horizontally. The south wall was probably a gable end but is very ruined. There appear to have been windows in the south and east walls. At a distance of approximately 6.7m from the south end of the building there is a dividing gable wall with a hearth and chimney. The North end of the building is very ruined but appears to be much earlier than the south (i.e. The south end appears to have been built onto an earlier building leaving a gap as an entrance between the two buildings on the east side.) This north end is very ruined and has rounded corners. It is not clear where the entrance to this older building was situated and intriguingly the floor level is considerably higher than that of the later addition. It is quite possible that the older part was retained as a store or as a byre but the higher floor level would have been a problem if animals occupied it.
13 B. Behind and to the north of A. there are the remnants of shelters built into the bank.
13 C. In front of A. There is a very ruined roughly built subrectangular building that is likely to have been used as a store or byre.
13 D. To the east of A and C there are the remains of a long building that appears to have had a main entrance in the east wall and a gap in the west wall. The structure has round corners and the dry stone walls appear to have been built with gaps between the stones for ventilation. This was probably a barn and the floor was probably used for threshing and winnowing. The structure has been built on a platform, which has been built up with stone at the south edge.
13 E. Below the steep bank to the south is another roughly built very ruined stone structure with rounded corners that is likely to have housed animals.
13 F. Under the steep bank to the north of E. there are the remains of another roughly built stone shelter with the rear wall built into the bank. The entrance appears to have been in the centre of the very ruined front wall.
13 G. To the west of structure F there is a concave area in the north side of the bank. This hollow has steep sides and remnants of a dyke can be seen at the top edge of the bank. There is a line of large rocks at the west end of the entrance to the hollow. At the east end of the entrance there is a rock overhang. Stone walls have enclosed the sheltered space under the overhang and a quantity of rusted rolled up wire lies there. A very large and ancient hazel tree grows out of the bank to the south.
13H. On the south side of the promontory is a rock overhang with a small platform below it. The south edge of the platform is delineated by a line of stones.

14. Ruined roughly built buildings and features sited against a bank.
These appear to be the remains of small shelters but at the southern end low turf mounds outline the position of a large former sub-rectangular building.

15. Ruined house.
This house is sited just below the head dyke and to the north of a small watercourse. There was probably arable land in front of it. Although very ruined, rounded exterior corners and rectangular interior corners can be seen.

16. House built in the 1870s with outbuildings.
This south-facing house would have been built in the 1870s and was occupied at that time by the family of Roderick Macdonald. It is constructed of stones with mortar between. Many of the stones are shaped. The house had square corners and gable ends and had two floors and a small lean-to scullery at the back. There was a dividing wall within the house, which contained the chimneybreast. Most of this wall has collapsed. Outside the house is a small collection of rubbish including smashed bottles, an earthenware jar, part of an enamel bowl and the base of a metal scales indicating that it was occupied into the 20th century. The house is surrounded by a walled enclosure, which extends mainly to the south. The remains of metal posts and wire, top the enclosing stone dyke. The main entrance to the enclosure is near the centre of the south dyke and the main outbuildings are to the west of this entrance.
The west part of the collection of outbuildings is earlier than the rest and is a rough stone structure with round corners. There is an entrance in the south side. Part of the east wall of this structure shows signs of having been built up presumably to support the roof of buildings later added to the east side. There is a blocked doorway in this wall but no obvious sign of blocked windows. The later buildings joined on to the east side are constructed of smaller flatter stones laid horizontally. These walls have square corners and enclose two small "rooms" with entrances to the north side. There is a partitioned space at the west end next to the wall of the older building that possibly housed the toilet.
To the north of the main outbuildings and situated on a bank there are the remains of a small shelter built of rough stones and with rounded corners. The doorway is in the north wall and the west wall has been built up to form a small gable.
On the slope below the house to the east there stands the remains of another small shelter built against a large rock. Terracotta drainage pipes lie on the ground nearby.
The initials "J M D" are carved into a rock to the southeast of the house.
There are no buildings on this site on the early 19th century estate map.
The main house does not appear on the first Ordnance survey map of 1875. The parts of the outbuildings with rounded corners do appear. At that time there was a building standing near the site of the later house. The long axis of this structure was north/south. It possibly stood just east or northeast of the later house.

17. Small stone jetty.

18. High stone dyke.
This dyke varies from approximately 1.5m to 2.15m in height. There is one obvious gateway but there are also two large gaps that have at one time been filled by high wire fencing. It suddenly ends in rough open ground and its purpose is unclear. It possibly follows part of an earlier dyke that extended to the loch shore and may have been built in sections as part of a relief project in the 1840s.

19. Remnants of circular shelter.
Stone and turf mounds outline a former small circular structure with an entrance to the south east This was possibly a shieling hut.

20. Remains of shieling huts.

On high ground to the southeast of the Torr there are a series of remains consisting of low mounds that indicate the past existence of oval or subrectangular shelters. These are probably the remains of shieling shelters and indicate that the site of Port a' Bhàta was used for summer grazing before becoming a township.

21. Stone outlines of two roughly built buildings and lazy beds with clearance cairns.
These are sited in woodland west of the bay in front of the mill.

22. Ruined house with enclosure.
This ruined house faces northeast across the bay of loch Moidart into which Allt a'Mhuilinn flows. The rough dry stone walls mainly stand to a height of approximately 1.7m but the wall to the northwest of the entrance is very ruined. The building is round cornered exteriorly but has rectangular interior corners. There are no gable ends or interior partitions. The house is surrounded by a walled enclosure.

23. Ruined roughly built rectangular building and outline of small shelter.

Both these structures stand in the southwestern angle of the bay north of the mill. The area of shoreline below the ruins has been cleared for boats to be drawn up. Since only shallow draft craft could be brought in and only at high tide, it seems unlikely that charcoal would have been loaded at this place.

24. Mill.

The ruined mill is built on the west bank of the burn and faces north across the loch. It has square corners and gable ends. The walls are constructed of mainly flat stones (some shaped) and lime mortar. The entrance is in the centre of the north wall. There are two window spaces that appear as narrow slits exteriorly but widen interiorly. One is situated at the east end of the north wall and the other towards the east end of the south wall. Mill windows were shaped like this to minimise drafts that would blow the meal dust about. There is a gap centrally placed in the lower part of the east gable end wall where the shaft was housed. There is also a narrow gap in this wall at ground level near the south east corner. The floor of the building is covered in rubble. A millstone projects from the rubble near the southeast corner.

Outside and adjacent to the east gable end wall there is a shallow ditch containing large stone slabs where the water wheel was sited. To the north of this ditch is the end of a built up bank which once supported the leat (lade). This can be followed up the glen to a point where water could have been diverted from Allt a' Mhuillinn. Old tracks along the loch shore can be traced to the east and the west.

The mill was well built with the use of lime mortar and some dressed stones. The exterior corners were rectangular. It would have been built by the estate, and was probably sited on Loch Moidart with the intension of using it to process both locally grown grain and any brought into the coast from the Islands. From information contained in a manuscript proposing improvements to the Kinlochmoidart Estate63, it is clear that the mill was already derelict by 1800 and had been abandoned because of an inadequate water supply. Although there appears to be the remnants of a possible dam upstream, it is not clear if this was ever complete or was positioned in a suitable place to form a large millpond.
The proposed improvements to the Kinlochmoidart estate included a suggestion that an attempt could be made to obtain the internal mechanism from the mill at Port a' Bhàta to be used in a new mill to be built on the opposite shore. This plan was probably carried out since there is no trace of any iron machinery in or around the ruined building


25. Structures along the mill burn including a probable still site.
A. The support for the mill leat (lade) can be followed up the burn for several hundred meters.
B. Some distance above the end of the leat (lade) support on a steep section of the burn there is a wide area of piled up stones and boulders that encroaches on the burn and could be the remains of a dam.
C. A short distance upstream from the dam remains there are the remains of rough stone walls on the east bank. The structure that stood on this site may have had something to do with the mill pool or could have been a still site.
D. Upstream, just where the gorge opens out into a wider bowl, there are the remains of very rough stone walls that have been built out from a large rock overhang to enclose a space 7.1m by 4.3m. This structure may have been used for illicit distillation but could also have been associated with two probable oval shieling shelters on higher ground just to the east.
E. Upstream, the glen narrows again and is crossed and recrossed by the remains of a dyke. On the west bank, at a point where the gorge is fairly narrow and steep sided, there are rough stone walls that enclose a roughly oval space approximately 6.2m by 3.7m. To the west of this, built into the steep bank, is a small oval chamber approximately 1.85m by 2.5m which communicates with the larger structure by a gap only 60cms wide and 1m tall. The stone walls of the inner chamber slope inwards as if the chamber once had a domed roof. There is a shallow water channel to the north that now drains seepage from the steep bank into the burn. There are no shieling hut remains in the close vicinity and the site is well hidden and quite difficult to access. This was almost certainly the site of an illicit still.

26. Ruined buildings with corn kilns.

Along the coast to the east and around the promontory from the mill is a group of ruined buildings and corn-drying kilns.
A northeast-facing round cornered irregularly shaped dry stone building is built against a steep bank. The remains of a corn kiln are set into the bank 2m to the south of this building .The flue of the kiln can be seen on the east side.
Down the slope and to the north are the ruins of a substantial dry stone round-cornered building that was probably a house. The entrance is in the centre of the south wall. There are no discernable window spaces but the south wall is very ruined. The remains of round cornered walls outline a former building measuring approximately 5m by 4.3m. built against the north wall of the house. Within the north part of this added building there is a platform with an oval depression in the centre. The depression is stone lined and has the appearance of being the bowl of a very small kiln. A possible internal flue entrance can just be discerned in the south side. Between the south of the platform and the wall of the main building is a low area filled with rubble. Corn-drying kilns of similar design in South Uist and Benbecula have been described by Ian Whitaker who reported that others had been reported elsewhere including mainland sites56.
In the angle between the rear wall of the main building and this very ruined structure is a larger corn-drying kiln of the usual design for the Moidart area. Its flue faces north. The site of this kiln is puzzling because if the main building was in use at the time the kiln was in use, the thatched roof of the main building would have overhung the kiln.
These corn kilns were probably used to dry grain to be ground at the nearby mill. The very small kiln set into a platform or sorn in an outbuilding added on to the north of a substantial house appears to be far too small to have been intended for use in drying grain for the mill. Perhaps it and the house were present before the mill was built. The area of land divided into fields to the south of the ruins indicates that at some point this could have been a homestead inhabited by people cultivating the surrounding land.
These ruined kilns are in an out-of-the-way site and are likely to have been used in the malting of barley used in the illegal distillation of whisky since remains of structures that could have been used to conceal stills can be seen along the mill burn to the south.

27. Remains of shieling huts.
These structures are all situated on the hillside along the burn running north from the direction of Ben Bhreac down the steep slope south of Port a' Bhata before it turns west to run through the glen to the south of Torr Port a' Bhata to enter Loch Moidart. The outline of fourteen probable shieling shelters can be discerned. Some consist of low turf mounds outlining circular or oval shelters but others consist of rough stone walls. One subrectangular structure built on the bank of the burn with its entrance directly adjacent to the water has substantial walls built mainly of thick stone slabs piled horizontally to a height of 1m. The walls enclose an area measuring approximately 5.5m. by 3m. This could have been a small animal enclosure but may have been a shelter. It may have been used for dairy work because of its proximity to the burn.

28. Ruined shelter on a burn, possibly a still site.
This rough stone shelter is sited on the bank of the burn that eventually enters the southwest corner of the bay in front of the mill. It is fairly well hidden and has been built immediately adjacent to the water. There are no other shelters nearby.

29. Ruined structure high on the hillside.

Low stone walls built against a gently sloping bank enclose a space with a wide opening to the north. The purpose of this structure is unknown.

30. Recessed platforms.

There are three recessed platforms on the west slopes of the Torr.
Two have front edges built up with dry stone walls. The third has a front edge raised by a low turf bank. These platforms may have been pre-medieval house sites that would probably have been used for later charcoal production, or they may have been built by the charcoal burners (colliers) in the late 18th century.



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My thanks go to the landowners Colin Corlett and Suzanne Stevens for granting access to the township, providing helpful advice and access to the early estate map. My thanks also go to all the following who gave advice information and guidance: Gordon Barr, Jean Cameron, Jim Kirby, John Dye, Jean Lawson, Tearlach MacFarlane, Angus Peter MacLean, Alasdair Roberts and Iain Thornber. My thanks also go to Michael Murray in Australia and Allan Gillis in Canada.