Saturday, 24 September 2016

Archaeology Conferences

The Ardnamurchan History & Heritage Association was represented at two archaeology conferences in the early part of this month, the first in Edinburgh, where we celebrated the tenth anniversary of Archaeology Scotland's Adopt a Monument scheme - picture shows our friends, Phil Richardson (in red, right) and Cara Jonas (in pale blue, left) on one of their visits to Ardnamurchan. Thye have been very supportive of our group, so it was great to be there to ccelebrate with them. The second conference was in Oban, which brought together people living on the west coast. It was great to hear what other amateur groups like ours are doing to preserve the nation's heritage, and to meet like-minded people.

One goes to such conferences in the hope of help, particularly with the identification of features like this. It caused some interest to someone from the Isle of Ling who thought they had a similar feature. We think this very well-made pit in the beach near Swordle may be a kelp pit, while the one on Ling, which is shallower and more extensive, may have been used in flax processing.

It was good to be able to describe the repairs that have been done to St Comghan's which should ensure that the south facade is preserved for years to come. Sadly, we also had to report that our work at this beautiful site would probably never end, as....

....part of the boundary wall has recently come down, allowing the neighbouring sheep and cattle to come in. Since the graveyard is a scheduled monument, we have to get permission from Historic Environment Scotland - a lengthy affair - to carry out the repair as well as finding the money to pay a qualified stonemason to rebuild it.

Meeting people from Lismore gave us some ideas as to what might be done to preserve the two fine Iona grave slabs which lie near the front door of St Comghan's. The Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre has lifted, preserved and put on display the grave slabs from Lismore churchyard - story here.

We were also able to describe some of the many previously unrecorded sites we were finding, particularly those associated with ordinary people - like in the clachan area at Camas nan Geall - circled. Here we are finding buildings which might date back into the centuries after the arrival of the Vikings, though we shared the frustration many people felt at our inability to....

....identify and date buildings such as this one, high on a hillside above Bourblaige.

One of the main aims of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant which AHHA has won is to draw people's attention to the rich archaeological heritage of the Ardnamurchan area, and we certainly came away from both conferences feeling that people who might never have heard of the peninsula now have.

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