Music Through Time

Saturday 6 October is going to be a special day – while the archaeologists dig, we are going to imagine what people have been listening to here in Assynt for the past several thousand years, with the help of some fabulous musicians. See more by clicking on the link below.

music through time poster hi res

Five new heritage trails in Assynt

The second day of heritage trail guide training was long but satisfying, and our five trails are now ready to be piloted next week. The full programme is as follows, and our guides are going to be wonderful. It’s a delight to see how many of us here have such a passion for this land!

Cnoc nan Each (Wednesday 3 October 2-4pm)

Meet at Glencanisp Road Car Park

A 2 hour guided walk through the woods, via the old croft and cleared township, to the recently discovered Bronze Age round house and other ruins. Splendid views of Suilven and Loch Druim Suardhalain.

Kirkton (Thurs 4 Oct 2-4pm)

Meet at the Old Kirk, Inchnadamph

A 2 hour guided walk through the remnants of a village cleared to make way for sheep two hundred years ago. Then back in time to a mysterious valley of springs and burnt mounds, on to a bronze age round house overlooking the home of the trolls.

Neolithic Corridor (Sun 7 Oct 10.30am-3.30pm)

Meet at the Loch Borralan layby, or car share at 10am at the Bayview Car Park, Lochinver

This day-long guided walk will explore how the unique geological features of Assynt have influenced how its inhabitants use the land, from the stone age to the present and into the future. The morning will be spent exploring the remnants of stone age habitation including some of the many chambered cairns in this area. Starting from Ledbeg House, the afternoon will be spent doing a circuit taking in the ‘Badger Stone’, more neolithic chambered cairns and traces of bronze age, mediaeval and more recent uses of the land.

Clachtoll (Monday 8 October 2-4pm)

Meet at Clachtoll Beach Car Park

A 2 hour guided walk across the beach to the split rock, with its vitrified walling. See the oldest rocks and the earliest lifeforms in the world. Imagine past inhabitants who lived from the sea – the people who built the old salmon bothy, the dragon’s teeth wall, the bronze age cist and the broch.

Eddrachalda (Tues 9 Oct 2-4pm)

Meet at the Ardvreck Castle Car Park

A 2 hour guided walk exploring the terrain inland from the castle and the ruined Calda house, from mediaeval ruins to the traces of much earlier habitation and right back to the geological formation of this land.

Trail guide training has begun

Part of this project is going to be the development of five new heritage trails in Assynt, drawing together knowledge and information from a huge range of different sources to interpret five fascinating routes through the landscape. To help us to do this, we are running a programme of training for a group of trail guides, and we will pilot the trails as part of the Assynt Festival (see during the next two weeks. After that we will put together interpretation material initially here on this website and later, well, we’ll see how it develops.

Today we began the guide training programme with brilliant guidance from Highland Council Senior Ranger Andy Summers, AOC archaeologist John Barber, local Gaelic teacher Claire Belshaw, and former ranger and geology buff Bill Ritchie, as well as our Historic Assynt project leader Gordon Sleight. We have a fantastic team of 9 trainees, who between them also have a huge range of knowledge and experience, so the training is really a rich process of knowledge sharing.

After an introduction at Stoer Hall, we set out into the rain and spent the morning walking around Clachtoll. The afternoon was spent at Cnoc nan Each. In between, we had lunch while Bill gave us 3 billion years of geology in 5 minutes, John summarised several thousand years of human habitation, and Claire gave us insights into Gaelic place names. Tomorrow, we will attempt three more walks.

The highlight of the day for me was John Barber’s outrageous burnt mound tale, but as this is just the start of the dig diary, I will hold off sharing it with you until the dig has actually begun. The perfect moment to reveal it will, I am sure, become clear, and until then, dear reader, you’ll have to watch this space…

Assynt prepares to set fire!

The Fire and Water project’s events next week are part of the Assynt Festival, which will feature flames from start to finish. See more about the festival’s fire theme here and the whole festival programme here.

Throughout the dig our archaeological team are planning to do experiments to work out how the mysterious bronze age burnt mound might have been made and what it might have been used for. Speculations on this theme will no doubt turn up in this dig diary from time to time in the next couple of weeks.

There will be cookery experiments, pottery experiments, stone-splitting experiments and apparantly they will even be digging a water tank, lining it with clay, so I’m guessing that’s for having a bath (Assynt digs occasionally being a tad muddy!)

We’ll have a tent up at the dig site, and we can have a wee fire in there if it’s rainy and cold outside – no comfort spared for archaeologists here in Assynt!

Our local firewood supplier, Charlie Russell has been forewarned and a big load of firewood is being delivered. We’re ready to burn – come along, take part and get your imagination sparking!


Fire and Water up and running!

Welcome to the website of the Assynt Fire and Water project- Historic Assynt’s latest investigation into the lives of past inhabitants of the parish. This time around the focus is the Bronze Age, and specifically the burnt mound site at Stronechrubie. Keep checking these pages for updates on our exploration of the lives of people living in Assynt 3500 years ago!

The burnt mound at Stronechrubie