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Twenty-second year and still new things to discover and enjoy about highland past

1st October 2015

Photograph of Twenty-second year and still new things to discover and enjoy about highland past

The twenty-second Highland Archaeology Festival gets underway at the end of this week (Friday 2nd October) with another packed programme of events across the Highlands.

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 Highland Council area and in Moray, runs from Friday 2nd October to Sunday 18th October. This year local people and visitors can choose from almost 70 walks, talks, exhibitions and special activities covering the whole spectrum of Highland archaeology from prehistoric burial cairns and roundhouses to WWII remains and Commando training stories.

The Highland Council's Archaeologist, Kirsty Cameron said: "Once again, our network of professional and volunteer organisers across the area have done us proud with events for all interests and age-groups. As usual, they have come up with so many imaginative ways to explore the past - for example, the "1,000 years of Fortrose and Rosemarkie" event on Saturday 3rd October, where archaeologists have teamedup with Transition Black Isle to offer a guided tour highlighting the Pictish origins of Rosemarkie, an important centre of early Christianity and home to the magnificent Rosemarkie stone, carved with Pictish symbols and crosses, followed by a gentle bicycle ride to Fortrose to see the precinct of the 13th century cathedral. (If you don't fancy cycling, the tour has been timed specifically to coincide with the local bus service.) Afterwards you can find out about the Black Isle today at the Black Isle Gathering, Fortrose Leisure Centre."

Councillor Audrey Sinclair, Chair of The Highland Council’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee said: "The Highland Archaeology Festival is unique in Scotland in its scale and range of different events. There are fun activities for children and families, short and longer walks through beautiful scenery to explore amazing sites (ancient and more recent), 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. I would encourage as many people as possible to take part in these interesting events."

The Festival conference this year will take place in the Highland Council’s Chamber on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th October. Highlights will include sessions on new findings at the important Pictish stronghold of Craig Phadrig on the outskirts of Inverness and at Dun Deardail in Glen Nevis; Moray’s recently-discovered Dandaleith Pictish stone; the archaeological landscape of Tarradale on the Beauly Firth; the 5,000 year old story of Rubh’ an Dùnain on Skye; Cromarty’s medieval past; WWII commando training at Achnacarry; historic Highland woodlands; and Victorian life in Torridon. Places must be booked in advance - please see for further details.

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

Badenoch & Strathspey: guided walks to explore the stories of the Lecht Iron Mine and Kinrara/Torr Alvie.

Caithness: guided tours to the Loch of Yarrows/Whaligoe area, the Wag of Forse area; and Caithness brochs. Caithness Horizons in Thurso is also running a "Live like a Viking" event.

Inverness: Raigmore Cairn discovery day; talks on prehistoric roundhouses in Wester Ross and archaeological conservation; a visit to the duns of Strathglass; a look at treasures from beyond the Roman frontier in the care of Inverness Museum; a look at treasures from the archives of Inverness Scientific Society and Field Club at the Highland Archive and Registration Centre; visits to explore the Corrimony cairn near Cannich, the Slochd Sheilings and the Clava Cairns; and a talk on life and death in North-east Scotland, 4,000-2,000 BC.

Lochaber: Archaeology in Glencoe, the story of commando training at Achncarry in WWII, a guided walk exploring the history of Fort William, and a time travellers event in Glen Nevis.

Moray: a series of special events and talks in Elgin Museum with topics including recent archaeological research at the Covesea caves, medieval food and drink, Bonnie Prince Charlie, the importance of rubbish, and “poos from the past”!

Nairn: A talk on Culbin and its possible role as a prehistoric harbour.

Ross & Cromarty: an archaeological "buffet" at Loggie, near Ullapool, the Cromarty medieval burgh project; the Iron Age hillforts at Knockfarrel (Strathpeffer); Sir John Fowler and his Braemore estate; the Picts in Edderton; recording walks at Jamestown and Strathpeffer; Kilcoy's prehistoric cairns; WWI practice trenches and WWII remains in Easter Ross; hidden Tain; and guided walks focusing on the archaeology of Torridon, Inverewe roundhouses, the mica mines of Scatwell, and a walk of the Kernsary loop at Inverewe (with cream tea to follow!)

Skye and Lochalsh: Archaeology Festival 2015, Glenelg; Battle of Glen Shiel guided walk; "fort and fairy woods" walk (Balmacara) and an "Historic Plockton" village tour.

Sutherland: guided tours of Ceannabeinne clearance township (Durness), the industrial heritage of Brora, the Canadian Forestry Camp at Loch Midgale; a walk to the wheelhouse above Laid (near Durness); a look at the archaeological landscape of Assynt; and a car and walking tour of the Kyle of Tongue.

Full details of these and other events can be found in the Highland Archaeology Festival 2015 brochure available from local libraries, museums, visitor information centres and Council service points or downloadable from