Archaeology Festival to showcase Highland’s historic past

brochure cover

Events Guide

The high point of the year for celebrating the local heritage of the Highlands starts on Friday 28th September. For three 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 25th year, the much anticipated 2018 festival, organised by The Highland Council’s Development and Infrastructure Service, features over a hundred events, special exhibitions at museums throughout the Highlands, a photographic competition and more geocaches exploring our rich heritage from prehistoric times through to the 20th century.

The Highland Council’s Archaeologist Kirsty Cameron said: “We’re again delighted that so many organisations and museums have offered such a range of activities which celebrate archaeology, history and heritage 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 are also reflecting on what we’ve learned over the past 25 years, including with three special lectures at Highland Council. To launch our festival on 28th September, Martin Goldberg of the National Museums of Scotland will reflect on insights into early Medieval Archaeology from the Glenmorangie Research Project. On the 2nd October Mark Watson of Historic Environment Scotland provides a look at the rich industrial remains in the Highlands. On 12th October Professor Richard Bradley from University of Reading will look back at many of the key excavations and research he has undertaken throughout the Highlands, including at Clava Cairns.”

Chair of The Highland Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure 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, with many local societies and museums promoting their local area and undertaking important 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 really is so much for people of all ages and interests to enjoy so I wish anyone taking part and all the individuals and groups hosting events a very successful and enjoyable Festival.”

There are several activities to tempt people to explore further afield. New geocaches have been hidden at sites related to Highland heritage to complement those from the HAF2017 geocache trail. A special afternoon at the Highland Council headquarters in Inverness on the 12th October provides an opportunity to learn new skills including flint knapping, reconstruction drawing, aerial photography, pottery identification, technology for archaeology, on-line historic maps and using the Historic Environment Record (HER), Highland Council’s on-line database of all known heritage. The Festival is also encouraging people to ‘Adopt an HER record’ and help contribute information and photographs on our heritage.

The annual Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Research conference, also at Council Headquarters in Inverness, has another 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 reflect on what we’ve learned in the past 25 years. 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 an open day at Abernethy Old Kirk and a special exhibition at the Highland Folk Museum on the Easter Raitts excavations which inspired and informed the reconstructed township in the museum.

In Caithness there are walks in prehistoric landscapes at the Wag of Forse and at the Ord of Caithness, and special exhibitions at Caithness Horizons, Dunbeath Heritage Centre and Wick Library. A special children’s event will also take place at Caithness Horizons.

Inverness-shire has children’s events at Aigas and Urquhart Castle, with family events at the Abriachan Forest and the Agricultural Vintage Rally and Display at Daviot. There are talks on 10,000 plus years of Highland archaeology, the Caledonian Canal, Urquhart Castle, metal detecting, the work of NoSAS as well as the three featured talks at Council Headquarters. Walks explore Comar Wood dun and Slochd shielings, and there are site tours of Wardlaw Mausoleum, Tomatin ROC post and Fort Augustus Pepperpot lighthouse. A special afternoon at the Highland Council headquarters in Inverness on the 12th October provides an opportunity to learn new skills including flint knapping, reconstruction drawing, aerial photography, pottery identification, technology for archaeology, on-line historic maps and using the Historic Environment Record, Highland Council’s on-line database of all known heritage. In addition there are photography workshops in Fort Augustus and a chance to explore resources in the Highland Archive Centre. Special exhibitions are at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery and Inverness Library.

Lochaber has children activities at West Highland Museum and Glencoe Folk Museum. There is also a special exhibition at Glenfinnan Station Museum.

Moray contributes to the festival with several children’s activities at Elgin Museum, a series of talks and a special exhibition. At the beginning of the festival, catch the exhibition at Findhorn Heritage Centre and Lighthouse. The Pictish Arts Society annual conference and fieldtrip is based this year at Elgin during the festival. Kinloss Abbey Trust will run guided walks.

Nairn Museum provides a special exhibition on Treasure Trove objects, and Nairn Literary Institute has a prehistoric talk.

Ross and Cromarty has its usual diverse range of offerings. Family friendly workshops take place at Ullapool Museum focussing on the sea and Loch Broom,  at Strathpeffer exploring Victorian remedies, and at the Black Isle showground with opportunities to try out flint knapping, green woodworking and basket making. There are walks and site tours at Kirkmichael, Gairloch, Dalmore, Edderton, Tain, Strathpeffer, Heights of Brae, Plockton and Culbokie, and a cycle trip along the Beauly Firth. Talks will take place at Invergordon (on WWI) and Fortrose (on Rosemarkie Man). Back again this year is Scottish country dancing to tunes based on local heritage. Special exhibitions take place at a number of venues: at Dingwall Library, Gairloch Heritage Museum, Groam House Museum, Highland Museum of Childhood, Hugh Miller’s Birthplace cottage and Museum, Invergordon Museum and Tarbat Discovery Centre.

Skye and Lochalsh has opportunities to survey and excavate at Druim Iosal and Sleat Parish school, and a walk exploring Druim Iosal.

In Sutherland there is a community excavation at Clachtoll Broch where volunteers and visitors will be welcomed. There are walks at Camore near Dornoch, Kildonan and two at Assynt. Talks explore writing fiction about history and the stories along the NC500. Special exhibitions will be at Ferrycroft Museum, the Kyle of Sutherland Heritage Centre in Ardgay and Timespan Museum.

This year in Argyll Kilmartin Museum offers walks of this historic landscape and a family workshop.

For full details of these and other events, see the Highland Archaeology Festival 2018 brochure available from local libraries, museums, visitor information points and Council service points, or from the festival website

18 Sep 2018
How is this webpage?