The highlight of the year to celebrate Highland heritage begins on Saturday 25 September.
For three weeks, the Highland Archeology Festival will offer an array of walks, lectures, workshops, exhibits and activities for all ages.
The festival is hosted by the Highland Council’s Development and Infrastructure Department and features over 100 events, including special exhibitions in museums, as well as geocaches and trails exploring our rich heritage from prehistoric times to 20th century.
Highland Council Economics and Infrastructure Committee Chair Councilor Trish Robertson said: âThe Highland Archeology Festival is the first event of its kind in Scotland.
âWe live in a region where heritage is so accessible, with many local societies and museums promoting their region and undertaking important projects.
“Scotland’s Archeology Strategy notes that archeology is for everyone, contributing to our well-being and knowledge, as well as our economic growth and quality of life.”
She continued: “What better way to present this than with a festival stretching across the Highlands and celebrating the range and diversity of our heritage.
“I especially want to thank all of the event organizers for their time, imagination and effort, as the festival would not be possible without them.”
Highland Council archaeologist Kirsty Cameron said: âWe are delighted to be able to host the events program again this year and it is fantastic that so many organizations and museums have offered activities that celebrate the archeology, history and heritage.
âWalks in special places are always popular and people want to go out and walk more, especially after the year has passed.
âLast year, due to Covid, we held a series of online chats, attracting people from all over the world.
âThis year, we have organized an extended program of conferences for lunch and dinner.
âWe begin with the launch of the Highland Regional ScARF, a three-year project in which the council has been involved to provide an overview over 14,000 years of Highland heritage, from the Paleolithic to modern times. âWe will also be presenting a new talk by Dr Candy Hatherley on the publication of the Culduthel Nationally Significant Iron Age site.
âOur closing speech will be from Dr Alison Sheridan on the important Bronze Age treasure of Migdale.
“Other sessions include a focus on the potential of archeology to promote Highland tourism, reports on recent excavations, the ever-popular topic of whiskey heritage, a focus on certain architectural gems, scientific analysis of castle mortars, the potential of dating tree rings, an overview of some key Highland discoveries and a session presenting the students’ new research. â
âDetails on this, with links to online events, are available on the Highland Archeology Festival website www.highlandarchaeologyfestival.org. “
There are activities to get people exploring far and wide, with events from Caithness to Badenoch, from Skye to Nairn.
In previous years our workshops have proven to be very popular, and this year will include workshops, sponsored by ScARF, on the conservation and illustration of finds.
As usual, the festival straddles the first week of the October school holidays, so there are also special activities for children on the program.
In addition to the outdoor walks, there are indoor workshops, including a focus on the wonderful collection of aerial photos of the late Jim Bone, now available online.
The website www.highlandarchaeologyfestival.org provides information on all activities and more, with links to a growing number of self-guided trails and a list of museums open during the festival, including those with special exhibits. Copies of the brochure can be found at libraries, museums, tourist information centers and various other outlets, and can also be downloaded from the website.
The lineup of events around the Highlands this year includes:
- Events in Badenoch and Strathspey include the Badenoch online celebration hosted by the Badenoch Great Place Project and an online conference on the scientific investigation of Chateau Roy, which will also host open days.
- In Caithness, there is a walk to investigate the remnants of the war at Dunnet Head, online discussions of the excavations at Swartigill and the Freswick finds, and a special exhibit at the Castlehill Heritage Center on maps and nautical charts.
- Inverness-shire has walks at Comar Wood Dun; Strathglass, Breackachy; tours and a special family activity at the Inverness Filter Bunker and a special exhibition on recent discoveries from Treasure Trove at the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery.
- The online lectures focus on recent archaeological work in Inverness on Castle Street and Culduthel, architectural studies in Inverness and Kirkhill, and a focus on 16th century alewives in Inverness.
- The West Highland Museum in Lochaber organized a series of walks in Fort William and the surrounding area, as well as a session focusing on metal detection in Lochaber. The Glenfinnan Station Museum held a special exhibition on the construction of the Mallaig Railway.
- In Nairn there are two talks at the Nairn Museum, one about their special exhibit on shops and businesses, the other on the recent discoveries of Treasure Trove. There is a workshop on illustrating small finds and a chance to record Ordnance Survey benchmarks.
- Ross and Cromarty has a diverse range of offerings. There are walks and site visits to Dingwall, Strathpeffer, Kirkmichael, Ardross, Edderton, Tain, Milton, Portmahomack, Ullapool, Gairloch and Shieldaig.
- The online chats feature excavations in Rosemarkie and Bellfield (North Kessock), and Gairloch is hosting an online event where archaeologists discuss the area.
- There are also in-person discussions at Tain and Clachan Church. The Dingwall Museum will have a special opening to showcase the recently discovered Conan Stone, and there will be special exhibits at the Cromarty Courthouse Museum, Groam House Museum, and Gairloch Museum.
- Blacksmith craft and archeology loan boxes and learning materials are on display at an event at the Black Isle Showground. Many events have been organized by the Festival du Livre et des Arts de St Duthac.
- Special activities for children are planned in Portmahomack and Strathpeffer. There is an excavation of a rotunda in Gairloch which welcomes visitors and an opportunity to help record remains around Braemore Junction.
- Skye and Lochalsh offers walks through the Marble Quarries at Broadford, Pictish and Medieval remains at St Columba’s Isle and Tote, and multi-period sites around Camus Cross and Isle Ornsay. A special day of family activities for Vikings takes place at Kyle of Lochalsh.
- In Sutherland there are walks to Dalnamain, Doll (Brora), The Ord and Clachtoll Broch.
- Online lectures explore the Bronze Age treasure of Migdale, the prehistoric homes of Dalchork and Clachtoll Broch. There are guided tours of the Dunrobin Castle Museum and a special Brora Industrial Trams exhibit at the Brora Library. The Historylinks Museum in Dornoch is having a special dig event for children.
Other online discussions covering all regions of the Highlands include the launch of the Highland Regional ScARF, a major project offering an overview of Highland heritage; an in-depth look at the string through the ages; reconstruction of past lives from biomolecular and chemical analysis of human remains; an exploration of heritage and tourism; an emphasis on the excavation of whiskey and whiskey stills in the Gaelic tradition; the potential to study tree rings for dating and climate; recent discoveries of Treasure Trove in the Highlands; and student research on shielings and sandstones.
An in-person workshop will explore the collection of aerial photographs, now online, of the late Jim Bone.
For details on these and other events, see the Highland Archeology Festival 2021 brochure available at local libraries, museums, visitor information points and various other venues or on the festival website www. highlandarchaeologyfestival.org.
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