Historic Assynt is a community body which works to preserve, and enhance access to, all aspects of Assynt’s Heritage-natural, historical and cultural.  The society’s most visible achievements to date have been the preservation of Ardvreck Castle and Calda House, along with the restoration of the Inchnadamph Old Kirk and the MacLeod burial vault. Please see  www.historicassynt.co.uk for more information.

Calda House with Ardvreck Castle in the background

Otherwise, the main activities of the society have been focussed on meetings, lectures, visits, and an ongoing programme of training and survey work, carried out initially by a team of volunteers under the auspices of the nation-wide Scotland’s Rural Past project, and followed up in 2009 – 2010 by the Hidden Lives project funded by HLF and Leader.  Hidden Lives studied all archaeological remains within a few hundred metres of most of the main road networks through Assynt and was led by AOC Archaeology with a team of volunteers.  Several hundred sites were surveyed, new features discovered and the significance of Assynt’s Archaeology  became apparent.  In particular it was noted that there were several clusters of important remains within the parish – the Neolithic landscape around Ledmore and Ledbeg, the concentration of Iron Age structures on the coast, the medieval heart of the parish at inchnadamph and the well preserved pre-clearance remains scattered more widely throughout the parish.  See the Project Website Here.

Learning to use the total station on the Hidden Lives project

Alongside this survey and assessment work Historic Assynt had become concerned about the stability of Clachtoll Broch, and in 2007 raised money for a feasibility study of this imposing Iron-Age stronghold; as a result, Historic Assynt received from AOC Archaeology a detailed structural report and subsequently, in consultation with Historic Scotland and AOC, devised a policy for the investigation and stabilisation of the Broch.

Building on the previous Clachtoll Broch and Hidden Lives projects the Life and Death in Assynt’s Past project in 2011/12 (funded  by HLF, Leader and Historic Scotland) focused on the excavation and consolidation of three sites, which represent different periods of Assynt’s history from which there are significant remains, and which are spread across the parish.  These were the Neolithic Loch Borrolan East Chambered Cairn, the Iron Age Clachtoll Broch and a pre-clearance longhouse at Glenleraig.  Work at all three sites addressed archaeological research questions relevant to the period under study, while simultaneously being designed to stabilise the sites and monuments and prepare them for presentation as visitor attractions. The project also included public meetings and lectures, training in a range of archaeological techniques, workshops and associated activities all of which helped to tell stories of life and death in Assynt’s past through these representative structures.  See the LDAP Project Website here.

Together with the previously conserved medieval and later remains at Inchnadamph these three monuments form the first elements in what Historic Assynt hopes will eventually be an extensive network of investigated, interpreted and accessible sites across Assynt.

Volunteers on site at Clachtoll Broch, August 2011

Recording Loch Borralan East chambered cairn, September 2011

Site tour of Glenleraig pre-clearance township, October 2011