Our autumn event will be on Tuesday 14th November 2017 at 7.30 pm in Stratherrick Hall, Gorthleck – we’re a little later than usual this year. We’ll start with the usual brief AGM, which will be followed by the main event, something we’ve been looking forward to for a while, Part Two of Morag MacNeill and Bob Main’s presentation on local Gaelic place names. Morag, a fluent Gaelic speaker, will explain the Gaelic meanings behind our local names, nearly all of which have Gaelic origins, while Bob will be at the projector with the relevant maps and pictures. Part One was very enthusiastically received, and we hope this follow-up will generate at least as much lively interest.
The Annual General Meeting of the Farigaig Community Steering Group will take place in Gorthleck Hall, Stratherrick, on Friday 12th May at 7.30pm. The group was set up to develop the Forestry Commission classroom and public toilets at Inverfarigaig plus surrounding land, including woodland, into a community facility. Come along and hear the proposals, and have your voice heard.
On Tuesday 21st March at Stratherrick Hall, we were treated to a fascinating and sometimes mind-boggling illustrated talk by Sandy Ross, retired Head of Geography at Millburn Academy, Inverness. Anyone who knows Sandy is very aware of his huge enthusiasm for his subject, which came over so clearly as he graphically described the effects of the Wurm glaciation – the most recent stage of the Ice Age – on the land that the Inverness area now occupies. Ice two or three kilometres thick covered the Highlands, and was slowly grinding over the land as gravity caused it to move down towards the sea – which it also covered. The rocks in the Loch Ness area had been shattered by earthquakes along the Great Glen Fault (much more active in the distant past), so the huge weight of moving ice easily gouged out this loose material to form the trough of the Great Glen.
Nearer Inverness, streams flowing under the ice deposited this material to create eskers, in the form of Torvean and Tomnahurich, and ‘marine platforms’ where the deposited material met the sea. Once the ice all melted after the Ice Age, the land slowly rose up due to the release of the ice’s weight (this ‘isostatic’ readjustment is still going on), so the marine platforms are now high and dry, and the steep edges of them form the slopes climbed by the likes of Godsman’s Brae and the Market Brae Steps. Much of the finest material carried by water under the ice ended up in what is now the Beauly Firth, explaining why it is so shallow, silted up by all this deposition.
Sadly for an enthusiast like Sandy, man’s constant ‘development’ of Inverness’s site with ever more powerful earth-moving machinery means that the evidence of the work of these amazing natural forces thousands of years ago is becoming increasingly difficult to trace. It is just as well that it is being recorded, mapped and photographed by the likes of Sandy, before it becomes further blurred by man’s activities.
Bob Main proposed a well deserved vote of thanks to Sandy, who answered many questions from a good-sized audience, while Alison Randall and Heather Macleod ably served tea, coffee and biscuits to all.
N.B. Sandy’s talk was preceded by a brief AGM of the Wade Bridge of Whitebridge Trust, chaired by John Townshend. John reported that essentially nothing had changed over the last year. The bridge is stabilised and safe, but awaits further funding to complete its restoration.
Our next event, on Tuesday 21st March 2017 at 7.30pm in Stratherrick Hall, Gorthleck, will be an illustrated presentation by Sandy Ross on the geomorphology, or landscape origins, of the site of Inverness – the land that the city is built on. Sandy, retired Head of Geography at Millburn Academy in Inverness, is a real enthusiast for his subject. If you’ve ever wondered why some parts of Inverness, like the Longman, are as flat as a pancake, while others are so steep as to need steps like Raining’s Stairs, or why Tomnahurich suddenly rears out of a flat plain, or how the Ness Islands were formed, this will be your chance to find out!
Following our usual brief AGM on Tuesday 15th November, we enjoyed a most interesting presentation by John Wombell on Scottish Rock Art. John is a member of the North of Scotland Archaeological Society, and showed us many fascinating slides of ‘rock art’, mainly from the Scottish Highlands. Rock art can take many forms, but the most widespread examples are cup and ring marks, gouged out of either bedrock or separate boulders using a ‘chisel’ of harder rock. However, more elaborate artwork can also be found, all performed in the same way. This rock art all dates from Neolithic, or later Stone Age times, roughly six to eight thousand years ago. Many of the examples John showed us were from Ross-shire, but he takes the view that South Loch Ness probably has many as-yet undiscovered sites.
Since the meeting, John has emailed the following:- “Your group showed plenty of interest, and the North of Scotland Archaeological Society are here to help in a new Scottish Project. Trina (John’s wife) suggests that we offer your group a ‘rock art familiarisation’ walk either around here (Easter Ross) where access is good, or somewhere else we can agree on. Otherwise we really should come and see some of your sites, and a joint outing might go down well with the active members of the NOSAS, if you would like to suggest something”.
Heather Macleod, our treasurer, is very interested, and it’s suggested that anyone who would like to form an archaeology group, researching not just rock art but other evidence of our more distant past, should first of all get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org As John says, he and the NOSAS will give us plenty help and encouragement.
At a most successful meeting on September 12th, at which the chair summarised the challenges facing the Group, four of those present volunteered to join the committee, one of these as Secretary. These four joined two who had already come forward before the meeting, including one for the vital role of Treasurer. Taking account of those who are leaving or have recently left us, this gives us a committee of ten, which hopefully will enable us to spread our wings and take on new projects. Huge thanks to those now leaving, and who have helped to keep the Group going over the years, and a hearty welcome to those who will take us forward into pastures new. Our new volunteers will be properly appointed at our AGM, hopefully to be held in late October.
There was considerable lively discussion at the meeting about the direction a revitalised Heritage Group should take. The importance of good publicity was highlighted, and this will be a priority for the new committee to consider. A major topic for discussion was projects the Group could take forward – these can play a huge part in enthusing folk to get involved, and spreading the word that the Heritage Group is playing a positive and active role in recording and researching our past. The idea of some form of heritage centre was mentioned, and should the opportunity to establish something of this sort come up, our much-strengthened committee will hopefully be in a position to play an active part.
Many thanks to all who attended the meeting – your interest and support is vital!
First, the positive – in recent years, the Group has managed to put on an interesting illustrated presentation every spring and autumn, plus a summer outing. Alister Chisholm keeps adding to our superb website, which has attracted many comments of appreciation and praise. For some years he has produced excellent heritage calendars featuring old photos from South Loch Ness. The Group still has large stocks of two publications – Alan Lawson’s ‘A Country called Stratherrick’ and ‘South Loch Ness’, our own local heritage guide.
BUT… over the last few years our committee has slowly dwindled – we had four at our last meeting, and one of these is leaving. We have had no secretary for some time. Most seriously, Frank Ellam, our treasurer is leaving the area, and although the treasurer’s duties are not onerous, we can’t function without one.
In view of this situation, we are calling an open meeting in Stratherrick Hall, Gorthleck, on Monday 12th September at 7.30pm to discuss the Group’s future. Attendance at events suggests continuing interest in our Group, but we need more help with running it or closing it down may be the only option. Please do come along and offer us your help.
Alan Findlay, chair.
Louise Boreham’s presentation to us at Aldourie Castle on 22nd March was undoubtedly one of our highlight events. Before an audience of about fifty, Louise gave us a fascinating and thoroughly researched talk on the Aldourie Pottery in Dores (where the Parish Hall now stands), lavishly illustrated by the many images she has gathered over the years – and also several actual examples of Aldourie pots. She gave us much information too about the other potteries that Mary Fraser-Tytler and her artist husband GF Watts were involved in, at Compton near Guildford and Cumnock in Ayrshire – source of the clay for the potteries. It was sad that the Aldourie venture seemed to last only from 1900 to 1904 – though during that brief time Louise’s grandfather actually taught pottery classes at Aldourie, giving her the motive to find out more about this short-lived local industry.
How appropriate it was that Louise’s talk was delivered in Mary Fraser-Tytler’s childhood home of Aldourie Castle. We were delighted when Lavinia Turner, manager of the Aldourie Castle Estate, offered us the venue free! As well as comfortable seating (filled to capacity by our audience) in the great hall, tea, coffee, shortbread and biscuits were provided after the talk in a large sitting room, and both spaces were warmed by roaring fires. Indeed hospitality of the highest order – many thanks, Lavinia!
Iain Cameron, also a child of Aldourie Castle, gave an appropriate vote of thanks to both Louise and Lavinia.
I congratulate you on your website & the wonderful historic work you are undertaking. I have been to the area on 2 occasions: in 1995 and again last August.
A couple of locals seemed to think that at one time there was a baker named Burnett in the area.
On this visit I specifically looked for where the farming properties may have been where my 4Xg grandfather Alexander Burnett and his family farmed: Ballangan (farm area at time of death),‘Ballichirnock’ (1861 census- 40 acres),and Culduthel (where he died). From my search I’m inclined to think that the first 2 places were near Fargaig, and Culduthel further north towards Inverness. Also on the Linton gravestone Leadolurs.
All these 3 families originated in the Borders: Ettrick, Yarrow, Selkirk, and Ashkirk areas. By 1830 Alexander Burnett (& Helen Stoddart & young family) was a shepherd in the Loch Broom area. Continue reading