Chance to dig deep into Highland heritage as twenty-first Highland Archaeology Festival launches

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The twenty-first Highland Archaeology Festival gets underway this weekend (Saturday 27th September) with a bumper line-up of events taking place across The Highland Council area.  The fortnight-long Festival, which is co-ordinated by The Highland Council’s Development and Infrastructure service in partnership with dozens of local event organiser across the Highlands, runs from Saturday 27th September to Sunday 12th October, with over 90 walks, talks, exhibitions and special activities aimed at local people and visitors.  

Councillor Thomas Prag, Chair of the Council’s Planning, Environment and Development Committee, said:  “Yet again this year there is something for everyone, regardless of their existing knowledge of archaeology or whether their interest is in prehistoric times or WWII or sometime in-between.  There are fun activities for children, short and longer walks through beautiful scenery to see ancient sites, fascinating talks and exhibitions, and the popular annual two-day Festival conference where people can find out about the latest discoveries and research by archaeologists in the Highlands.”  

The Festival conference this year will take place in The Highland Council’s Chamber on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th October.  Highlights will include sessions on the Picts in Easter Ross, Bronze Age metalwork in the Highlands, the last of the great Caithness corn mills, the logboat discovered in the River Conon, Mingary Castle in Ardnamurchan, WWII Canadian logging camps around Glenmore, and a look at twenty years of finds received into the collections of Inverness Museum. 

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

Caithness: a walk to the through history from the Loch of Yarrows to Whaligoe; a special guided tour around Caithness brochs; a guided walk around the Yarrows Archaeology Trail; and the chance to see the WWII archive at Dunnet Head.  

Sutherland:  an open day at Strathnaver Museum; the chance to discover the secrets of the historic Clynekirkton graveyard near Brora; a tour of Thomas Telford bridges in the Kyle of Sutherland; a guided walk around Ceannabeinne township in Durness where local women made a stand against their landlord during the Highland Clearances;  a walk to the enigmatic Laid wheelhouse above Loch Eriboll; exploring Canadian lumberjack camps near Dornoch; finding out about the industrial heritage of Spinningdale; chambered cairns in the Ledmore and Migdale area; and a tour of archaeological sites around the Kyle of Tongue.  

Ross & Cromarty:  an exhibition about the Cromarty Medieval Burgh community archaeology project at Cromarty Courthouse Museum; guided archaeological and historical tours of Gairloch and Achtercairn;  a trip to record the WWI and WWII target range at Achlochan (Coigach); the chance to visit WWI training trenches near Invergordon; a walk around prehistoric and more recent sites at Loggie (Loch Broom); a walk exploring wartime Invergordon; a guided visit to the WWI and WWII North Sutor gun batteries on the Cromarty Firth; a walk to the Fyrish Folly high above Evanton; a talk about archaeological investigations in the Fearn Peninsula; a guided walk to Genarigolach (“the glen of the shielings” near Gruinard Bay, now deserted but packed with traces of human activity since prehistoric times); a walk along the “postie’s path” to Dun Canna (near Ullapool); a recording walk at Munlochy; a talk in Ullapool Museum about the impact of wars on the Ullapool area over three centuries; a tour of the historic Kirkmichael Kirk and graveyard at Udale Bay (Black Isle); a “crafty archaeology” session in Cromarty;  a guided walk to explore the hillforts and shielings of Glenmarksie (near Lower Scatwell); a visit to the WWI Canadian logging camp near Ullapool; and a Celtic art themed day at Groam House (complete with sand castle competition on Rosemarkie Beach!).  

Inverness: a special behind-the-scenes glimpse at the archaeological objects held in Inverness Museum’s reserve collections, a walk around Ardersier to share information and memories; a walk looking at the forgotten gateway to Inverness at Stoneyfield with wartime barriers and a Thomas Telford tollhouse; a talk about metal-detected finds at Fort George; a chance to find out about the history of the Caledonian Canal’s Muirtown Locks and Basin; a display of Caledonian Canal archive material in the Highland Archive Centre; a walk at Abriachan to find out about the clans, plants and landscape of the area – including the chance to make your own clan badge;  a tour of the Clava Cairns with “Indiana Bones”; a guided walk around the beautiful Falls of Foyers to find out about one of Scotland’s first commercial feats of hydro-electric engineering;  and a wargames fair at Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre.  

Nairn:  an illustrated talk by the Treasure Trove Unit on recent finds in Scotland and Nairnshire; and sessions on archaeological finds and Treasure Trove at Nairn Museum.   

Badenoch & Strathspey:  a guided walk exploring an Iron Age souterrain and old village of Upper Raitts; a talk about the Great War and its impact on Macphersons around the world; a chance to walk and explore the 16th century village of Druim an Aird in Strathmashie; and “a day in the life of a Highland township” at the Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore. 

Lochaber:  walks exploring the history of Fort William and Inverlochy; a special archaeology exhibition and fun mini-digs for children in Glencoe Folk Museum; Glen Nevis; and a fun “time detectives” event for all the family in Fort William.  

Skye & Lochalsh:  a tour to explore 5,000 years of Skye’s archaeology in one day; a guided walk looking at the “Little Jacobite Rising” of 1719 and the Battle of Glenshiel; an “Historic Plockton” village tour; and a look at the fort and ancient woods of the Balmacara Estate.  


26 Sep 2014