History in Structure

Cruck-framed Barn at Dounie Steading, Blacklunans

A Category A Listed Building in Blairgowrie and Glens, Perth and Kinross

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Latitude: 56.729 / 56°43'44"N

Longitude: -3.3882 / 3°23'17"W

OS Eastings: 315155

OS Northings: 760564

OS Grid: NO151605

Mapcode National: GBR W1.Z0RV

Mapcode Global: WH6NT.X4Q9

Plus Code: 9C8RPJH6+HP

Entry Name: Cruck-framed Barn at Dounie Steading, Blacklunans

Listing Name: Cruck-framed Barn at Dounie, Blacklunans

Listing Date: 25 August 2021

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 407445

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52584

Building Class: Cultural

ID on this website: 200407445

Location: Alyth

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Blairgowrie and Glens

Parish: Alyth

Traditional County: Angus

Tagged with: Cruck framed barn


Late 18th or early 19th century, single-storey, rectangular-plan agricultural barn. Rubble walls, likely to be built with earth mortar. Steeply pitched roof with a corrugated iron covering supported by a combination of five timber cruck couples and seven timber trusses supported on the wallhead. The curved crucks are jointed and pegged using coach bolts. They are set into the walls in a cruck slot and sit on a stone base or footing.

The south gable end is open and the north gable end has timber boarding (some of which may be original). In the centre of west wall is an entrance opening with a timber boarded door.

Historical development

Vernacular buildings of this type are difficult to date accurately because their form and construction tended to change little over long periods of time, and there are less likely to be historic records about these modest rural buildings. The form, materials and construction techniques show that this barn pre-dates the agricultural improvement period that reached Highland Perthshire around the 1830s or 1840s. This period is referred to in the New Statistical Account for the Parish of Alyth, which was written in 1843. The account states that 'both the farm buildings and cottars' houses have been greatly improved of late years. The old thatch roofs are daily giving place to slate, and a stone and turf cottage is looked upon as a relic of bygone times'.

The farm at Dounie is described in the Ordnance Survey Name Book of 1857-1861 as 'a farmhouse and number of scattered dwellings the property of Peter Fleming'. Buildings at Dounie are shown on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map (surveyed 1862-1863) and comprise an L-plan steading range and the rectangular-plan barn to the east. Earlier maps (including Ainslie's of 1794 and Thomson's of 1825) also have Dounie marked on them, indicating that it has existed since at least the late 18th century. The form and construction of the nearby L-plan farmhouse and steading range has the appearance of an improvement period farm building, possibly built in the earlier 19th century, and the cruck frame barn is likely to be the earliest building surviving at this site.

The crucks have been bolted together using coach bolts. This would suggest a construction date from or after the late 18th century when such bolts were manufactured (traditionally crucks would have been formed from one piece of wood or pegged together with timber pegs).

Statement of Interest

This cruck-framed barn at Dounie meets the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for the following reasons:

Architectural interest


Cruck framing was a building technique used throughout Scotland prior to the agricultural improvement era, with the exception of the Islands where timber was scarce. This method of construction was made obsolete when improvements in transportation routes made standardised building materials cheaper and more widely available. As a result, surviving examples of cruck-framed buildings are now extremely rare.

A cruck is a pair of large curved timbers (often jointed or pegged) that are used as the structure, or frame, of a building. They combine the functions of wall post and roof rafters so that the roof of a building is supported from the ground level by a cruck.

At Dounie the structure is not entirely cruck construction, but a combination of crucks and roof trusses sitting on the wallhead. This combination indicates that the rubble stone walls are likely to be original (rather than a non-load-bearing and perishable material such as turf) and must have been built in advance of the roof structure, as they provide direct support.

The narrow plan depth of the building is typical of traditional farmstead buildings throughout Scotland, as the expense of suitable timbers for the roof, restricted the distance which could be spanned.

Local materials and traditional building methods have been used in its construction, with the corrugated iron roof being the only part of the building not sourced in the immediate vicinity. The cruck is formed of two pieces of roughly shaped relatively thin trees that have been shaved of most of the bark and some of the outer soft wood. The elbow of the cruck has been bolted together using coach bolts, suggesting the building was constructed in or after the late 18th century, when such bolts were manufactured.

The masonry construction would suggest that the building was constructed as an open or timber framed gable (noting the tie beam in the end truss). The gables appear to be timber framed and may have had large doors, and some of the timberwork in the north gable may be original.

The roof purlins appear to be a mixture of original timbers and later additions and are most complete at the south end of the barn. Corrugated iron became available from around 1850 so this would not have been the original roof covering, and it is likely that the building was originally thatched. No original thatching material was seen at the visit. The replacement of thatch with corrugated iron does not adversely affect the special interest of the building and can be seen at other listed examples such at Priorslynn Barn in Dumfries and Galloway (see LB3531) and Sunnybrae Cottage in Pitlochry, in Perth and Kinross. Corrugated iron roof coverings were commonly used in vernacular buildings to prevent complete decay or loss of original fabric. The roof load is considerably less with corrugated iron rather than a thatch, thereby more of the original structure often survives as well as protecting the structure from the weather.

Apart from one entrance in the west side of the barn, there are no openings in the walls and the stonework does not show any previous openings that have been blocked. This indicates that the building was built as an agricultural barn, rather than a longhouse or byre dwelling that became a barn when another dwelling was constructed nearby. No interior fixtures and fittings appear to survive to indicate how this barn was used.

Buildings that retain their traditional vernacular character, including plan forms and construction techniques may be of special interest in listing terms. This agricultural barn at Dounie has no apparent later alterations or additions to its exterior. The lack of alterations and the large extent of surviving original fabric, demonstrating traditional vernacular building techniques is exceptional.


The barn is situated in a remote part of rural Perthshire, with no significant area of population, such as a village or town in the immediate vicinity. This remoteness has largely ensured the building's survival. The barn is immediately adjacent to an unnamed road and is around one mile from the most significant road in the area, the A93 (Old Military Road). The undulating landscape and trees mean that the building is not visible from this road.

The area remains largely agricultural, characterised by scattered farmhouses and steadings, as has been the case for hundreds of years. Immediately adjacent to the barn is later L-plan farmhouse range. Together these buildings show the development and improvements to the farm in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Historic interest

Age and rarity

Cruck-framed barns would have been ubiquitous across Scotland, particularly in 17th, 18th and 19th rural settlements. From the mid-18th to the mid-19th century, agriculture in Scotland was transformed as small-scale subsistence farming gave way to the creation of larger, commercial farming practices. This radical change in farming, known as the Improvement or Agricultural Improvement period, saw the construction of new farmhouses and associated buildings and many of these vernacular buildings would have been replaced or 'improved'. Their survival into the 21st century is now extremely rare. As farm equipment and the size of straw bails increased it would have made a barn of this size redundant. Those cruck frame barns or cottages that do survive are often significantly altered or extended.

There are around 40 listed examples of cruck-framed buildings in Scotland, in various states of survival. In Perth and Kinross there are seven listed cruck-framed buildings. These include Camserney Longhouse and Peat Shed (see LB5732), Sunnybrae Cottage in Pitlochry (see LB39866) and Briar Cottage in Lochearnhead (see LB4173).

Dounie is rare as a largely unaltered example of a pre-improvement period agricultural barn. It shows traditional construction techniques and retains a substantial amount of late 18th/early 19th century fabric, including bolted cruck couples and rubble walls.

Social historical interest

Social historical interest is the way a building contributes to our understanding of how people lived in the past, and how our social and economic history is shown in a building and/or in its setting.

Farming and agriculture remain a significant part of life in this part of Scotland. From the mid-18th century old farming traditions and techniques were gradually replaced in an agricultural revolution that was as significant for transforming rural landscapes as the industrial revolution was for urban development. Unaltered examples of pre-improvement agricultural buildings are exceptionally rare. These seemingly modest buildings are important sources for informing our knowledge and understanding of rural life and work, vernacular building traditions and agricultural buildings of Highland Perthshire prior to the 20th century.

Association with people or events of national importance

There is no association with a person or event of national importance.

External Links

External links are from the relevant listing authority and, where applicable, Wikidata. Wikidata IDs may be related buildings as well as this specific building. If you want to add or update a link, you will need to do so by editing the Wikidata entry.

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