Archaeology Festival to showcase Highland’s historic past


Chair of The Highland Council’s Places Committee, Councillor Allan Henderson is joined by Susan Kruse from ARCH (Archaeology for the Community in the Highlands) and Kirsty Cameron, Archaeologist with The Highland Council at Urquhart Castle to launch the 2017 Highland Archaeology Festival.


Copy of 2017 booklet 


The high point of the year for celebrating the local heritage of the Highlands starts on Friday 29th September. For two weeks, the Highland Archaeology Festival will offer throughout the Highlands a range of walks, talks, workshops, exhibitions, the annual conference special children’s activities and other events for all ages. Now in its 24th year, the much anticipated festival, organised by The Highland Council’s Development and Infrastructure Service, this year features over 80 events, special exhibitions at museums throughout the Highlands, a Museums Trail with 16 participating museums and a geocache trail exploring our rich heritage from prehistoric times through to the 20th century.

The Highland Council’s Archaeologist Kirsty Cameron said: “We’re delighted that so many organisations and museums have again offered such a range of activities which celebrate archaeology, history and archaeology from earliest settlers to modern times. Walks to special places in the Highlands and talks describing aspects of our heritage are always popular. But this year we also have a range of unusual activities showing how our local heritage links to many other aspects of the Highlands. Back by popular demand is an archaeology pub quiz, craft activities, Scottish country dancing to archaeological tunes and hands-on workshop afternoon at Highland Council. We’re particularly pleased to have two high profile lectures, one by Cecily Spall who will launch the festival on the 29th of September focussing on medieval excavations at Portmahomack and Eilean Donan Castle and one by Dr Alison Sheridan of the National Museum of Scotland before our last weekend discussing how  DNA analysis is changing our understanding of Highland prehistory."

Chair of The Highland Council’s Places Committee, Councillor Allan Henderson said: “The Highland Archaeology Festival is the premier event of its kind in Scotland, and attracts people from a wide area. We live in an area where the heritage is so accessible, and many local societies and museums promote their local area and projects. Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy notes that archaeology is for everyone, contributing to our wellbeing and knowledge, and to our economic growth and quality of life. What better way to showcase this than by a festival stretching across the Highlands and celebrating the range and diversity of Highland heritage. I particularly would like to thank all the event organisers for their time, imagination and effort, as the festival would not be possible without them.”

There are several activities to tempt people to explore further afield. Sixteen museums have chosen a special object in their collections. A passport is available in the festival brochure or from the website where participating museums will record the visit – and the person with the most stamps will win a prize. New this year is a HAF2017 geocache trail, where special geocaches have been hidden at sites related to Highland heritage. A special afternoon at the Highland Council headquarters in Inverness on the 13th October provides an opportunity to learn new skills, from photography to building survey, and how to use the Council’s database of all known heritage, the Historic Environment Record.

The annual Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Research conference, also at Council Headquarters in Inverness, has a fascinating series of talks ranging from prehistory to modern remains, as well as lots of displays from local groups and museums. A special round-table discussion session will explore dating methods in archaeology. Places must be booked in advance: see the festival website for details.

The website also provides information on all the activities.

The line-up of events around the Highlands this year includes:

In Badenoch and Strathspey there will be tours of Castle Roy, walks at Dulnain Bridge along the Laundry road, at Raitts township, and in Glenmore Forest, a talk on tartans and textiles, exhibitions at Grantown Museum, Grantown Library and Clan Macpherson museum, and objects at Grantown Museum and Clan Macpherson Museum on the Museum Trail.

In Caithness there are walks in prehistoric landscapes in the Wag of Forse and at Dirlot, and a special exhibition and object on the Museum Trail at Dunbeath Heritage Centre.

Inverness-shire has children’s events at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, Abriachan Forest and the Sheiling project, with family events at the Caledonian Canal, Urquhart Castle and the Agricultural Vintage Rally and Display at Daviot. There are talks on recent discoveries in late Medieval archaeology at Eilean Donan Castle and Tarbatness, on rethinking Highland prehistory in the light of ancient DNA results, on prehistoric Inverness, metal detecting finds from the area, and a talk and book launch about Canadian lumberjacks in Kiltarlity. Walks explore Ardersier, Buntait, Slochd, Kirkhill WWII ammunition stores and Culloden battlefield. You can also explore the Cockburn Library at Inverness Royal Academy and test your knowledge at the archaeological pub quiz in Beauly. On the afternoon of Friday 13th at Council headquarters in Inverness there will be a number of hands-on workshops to choose from including photography, photogrammetry, exploring historic maps, exploring aerial photographs, using GPS for survey and mapping, and how to explore the HER, Highland Council’s database of all known heritage. Special exhibitions are at the Highland Archive Centre and Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, which is also participating in the Museum Trail.

Lochaber has children activities at West Highland Museum and Glencoe Folk Museum, and a special I-Spy Archaeology activity sheet can be picked up from Glencoe Folk Museum. There is also a walk along a section of the Great Glen, special exhibitions at the Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection in Glen Roy, and objects at Glencoe Folk Museum and the West Highland Museum as part of the Museum Trail.

Moray contributes to the festival with a family drop in activity, a talk on whisky in the Cabrach, a special exhibition on finds from Birnie at Elgin Museum, which also has an object in the Museum Trail.

Nairn Museum provides a workshop on object handling for grown-ups, a special exhibition, and an object on the Museum Trail. The Nairn Literary Institute will offer a talk on Romans in Aberdeenshire.

Ross and Cromarty has its usual diverse range of offerings. Special children’s activities will take place at Groam HouseMuseum. There are walks at Kirkmichael, Fortrose, Dingwall, Fyrish, Knockfarrell, Northfield WWII ammunition depot, Glenmarksie, Teanagairn Henge, Ardross, Mellon Charles on Loch Ewe, Ullapool, Dun Canna, Dundonnell to Clachan, and a cycle trip along the Beauly Firth. Talks will take place at Evanton on Kiltearn Old Kirk and at Evanton Wood, and Strathpeffer’s Highland Museum of Childhood will host adult workshops on stained glass and textile printing. Back again this year is Scottish Country dancing to tunes based on local heritage. The long-awaited book from the Feats of Clay project will be launched at North Kessock with a display and other activities. Dingwall Library will also offer a chance to explore their rich collection of heritage books and maps. There will also be heritage stalls at the large Black Isle Gathering in Fortrose. Special exhibitions take place at a number of venues: at Cromarty Courthouse Museum, Groam House Museum, Invergordon Museum, Nigg Community Hall, Cornerstone Café in Evanton, Dingwall Library, Gairloch Museum, The Russian Arctic Convoy Exhibition Centre in Aultbea and Ullapool Museum. Cromarty Courthouse Museum, Groam House Museum, Gairloch Museum, Invergordon Museum and the Highland Museum of Childhood are all participating in the Museum Trail.

Skye and Lochalsh has a guided tour of Eilean Donan Castle excavations, a survey of Capisdal, a walk at the battle of Glenshiel site, and a Viking Family fun day at the Museum of the Isles which also has a special exhibition.

In Sutherland there are special children’s activities at Strathnaver Museum and HistoryLinks museum, walk near Rogart, along the Dornoch light railway line, around Lairg, at Dola, along the old coffin road in Strathbrora and to Cnoc an Liath-bhaid Neolithic Stone Circle, talks at Golspie Heritage Centre and Lairg History Society, and a chance to record wartime remains at Loth. Special exhibitions will be at the Kyle of Sutherland Heritage Centre in Ardgay and Strathnaver Museum. Ferrycroft Visitor Centre and Strathnaver Museum are also participating in the Museum Trail.

This year Kilmartin Museum and Campbeltown Museum in Argyll have offered guided walks and workshops, with Kilmartin Museum participating in the Museum Trail.

For full details of these and other events, see the Highland Archaeology Festival 2017 brochure available from local libraries, museums, visitor information points and Council service points, or from the festival website


6 Sep 2017
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