A HIGHLAND clan leader is to build homes near his historic clan seat – despite a fears that builders could disturb an ancient stone linked to the “Scottish Nostradamus”.
The 16th century Brahan Seer predicted that if the Eagle Stone – an ancient relic carved with Pictish symbols – fell three times the surrounding valley would be flooded.
The Earl of Cromartie was given the go–ahead to build 15 homes near his historic clan seat at Strathpeffer.
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Locals are worried that the stone, which fallen twice since the chilling prediction, could fall again.
They’re also concerned about the felling of mature trees and hedges.
The stone dates back as early as the year 500, but was moved to its current site in 1411, possibly to mark a victory by the Clan Munro –whose symbol was an eagle – over the rival Clan MacDonald. It is now set in concrete.The application by Cromartie Estate was passed by Highland Council’s north area planning committee.
Dingwall and Seaforth councillor Margaret Paterson raised concerns about the scheme and the Eagle Stone, an ancient stone carved with Pictish symbols said to have featured in a prediction by the Brahan Seer.
Several mature trees will be felled and a “beautiful” beech hedge lining the main road into the village will have to come down to make way for the detached and semi-detached houses at Nutwood, near the village.
The development will be accessed via the existing driveway to Nutwood and the 30mph speed limit will be extended east of a proposed junction on the A834.
“I’m worried about that beautiful beech hedge,” said Cllr Paterson. “I think that’s such a sad thing to do and I think it will ruin the entrance to Strathpeffer.
“I know there are also concerns about this 30mph zone perhaps not being effective in slowing the traffic down. I would also need reassurances that the Eagle Stone would not be affected by this development.”
Planning officer Erica McArthur said: “The Eagle Stone will be a priority. Our archaeology team raised no concerns about this application but it would be appropriate for them to get involved when the development begins. They are not just ignoring it.”
She agreed that the beech hedge was “a very strong feature of Strathpeffer” and said there was a robust replanting plan in place.
“We have put in a condition requiring the applicant to replant the hedge, and we would expect that same effect will return,” she told members.
Ms McArthur said the hedge would be replanted and the current access road would need to be completely reconstructed to accommodate the new homes.
She added: “There will also be a footpath linking the Eagle Stone to the existing footpath.”
The applicant submitted an alternative plan which would have accessed the site from further down the road towards Dingwall. But Ms McArthur said this was rejected because it would have had a worse impact on the environment.
More trees would have had to be removed and it was a far less direct access.
Seven people contacted the council to object to the scheme, with concerns raised including loss of the beech hedge and wall, the site not being integrated with the village, its proximity to the Eagle Stone and high voltage cables crossing the site.
Strathpeffer Community Council also objected on the grounds of no demand for housing, loss of trees and a detrimental impact on the character of the conservation area.
The applicant must work with Scottish and Southern Energy to redirect the cables or place them underground.
Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh councillor Audrey Sinclair also raised concerns, saying there were fears that the applicant would apply to build far more homes than the 15 outlined.
Ms McArthur said it was extremely unlikely the applicant would get approval for any more properties on that site.
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