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Archaeology Festival to showcase historic past of Highlands

8th September 2016

Photograph of Archaeology Festival to showcase historic past of Highlands

The high point of the year for celebrating the local heritage of the Highlands starts on Friday 30th September. For two weeks, the Highland Archaeology Festival will offer a range of walks, talks, workshops, exhibitions, the annual conference and other events for all ages throughout the Highlands. Now in its 23rd year, the much anticipated festival, organised by The Highland Council's Development and Infrastructure Service, this year features over 80 events and a new Museums Trail with 31 participating museums 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. 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. There’s a pub quiz, craft activities, Scottish country dancing to archaeological tunes and a new hands-on workshop afternoon at Highland Council. We’re particularly pleased to have two high profile lectures, one by Professor Richard Oram of Stirling University to launch the festival on the 30th September and one by archaeologist Rod McCullagh to launch our conference weekend. "

Chair of The Highland Council’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Audrey Sinclair said: “The Highland Archaeology Festival is the premier event of its kind in Scotland. We live in an area where the heritage is so accessible, and it is fantastic the way our many local societies and museums promote their local area and projects. The recently launched 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."

New this year is a museum trail, where 31 museums and archives have nominated a mystery object in their collection. 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. There is also a special afternoon at the Highland Council headquarters in Inverness on the 14th October providing 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 World War II remains, as well as lots of displays from local groups and museums. A special round-table discussion session will explore Iron Age buildings in the Highlands. Places must be booked in advance: see the festival website www.highlandarchaeologyfestival.org for details. The Treasure Trove team from Edinburgh will be on hand to look at and discuss any finds.

A new website www.highlandarchaeologyfestival.org 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 and Abernethy Old Kirk, an exploration of Canadian Forestry camps in Glenmore, walks and talks in Kingussie and Grantown and special opening of Am Fasgadh, the store at the Highland Folk Museum.

In Caithness there are walks in prehistoric landscapes in the Wag of Forse, near Thurso and near Yarrows, and a special exhibition at Caithness Archive Centre.

Inverness has children’s events at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre and Urquhart Castle and a family days at Aigas, talks and workshops at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery and Merkinch Welfare Hall project, a visit from Glasgow Women’s Library showcasing Highland Women in their collections, a workshop at Highland Archives, craft workshops at museums, standing building survey workshops by Scotland’s Urban Past team, the workshop afternoon at Council headquarters, tours of the Clava Cairns, and walks to Foyers, Aigas forest and the Caledonian Canal. The festival is also publicising two large events: traditional agricultural practices will be showcased at the Strathnairn Agricultural and Vintage Rally & Display on 1st October, while the Pictish Arts Society will be holding their annual conference in Inverness on 8th/9th October.

Lochaber has a number of museums participating in the Museum Trail, including the Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection which will be open to visitors.

Moray contributes to the festival with a series of lunchtime talks and children’s workshops at Elgin Museum by museum volunteers, a special day at Elgin Cathedral where a project to document, conserve and interpret over 120 medieval carved stones will be showcased, and a special lecture by Professor Richard Bradley on Culbin Sands.

Nairn Museum provides an ancient crafts workshop and a stop on the Museum Trail.

Ross and Cromarty has a diverse range of offerings, with walks near Ullapool, Strathconon, Loch Ewe, Strathpeffer, Evanton and Invergordon, talks at Nigg, Cromarty and Ullapool, craft workshops at Dingwall and Strathpeffer, Nine Days of Wonder with the Kirkmichael Trust, a tour of Loch Broom, and special exhibitions at Fearn Abbey, Lochcarron, Tain, Gairloch, Cromarty, Portmahomack and Poolewe. There is even an archaeological pub quiz and Scottish Country dancing to tunes based on local heritage.

Skye and Lochalsh has walks in Balmacara Estate and Plockton, and a lecture on our earliest settlers in southern Skye.

In Sutherland there are walks and talk events in Assynt, walks looking a fishing fleets near Embo, at Strath Brora, Camore Wood, a recording walk of wartime remains at Loth, a talk in Golspie, workshops in Strathnaver and Dornoch and a special exhibition in Ardgay.

For full details of these and other events, see the Highland Archaeology Festival 2016 brochure available from local libraries, museums, visitor information points and Council service points, or from the festival website www.highlandarchaeologyfestival.org

Photo
Iron Age architecture features in the Conference programme so pictured at Knockfarrel Fort by Strathpeffer to launch Archaeology fortnight areBack L to R - Susan Kruse from ARCH (Archaeology for the Community in the Highlands) and Cllr Audrey Sinclair Front L to R - Kirsty Cameron , Archaeologist with The Highland Council and Dingwall Academy pupil Adam Bradley (14) who is a member of the Young Archaeologist Club.

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