Group Meetings

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.

We had a packed hall on Tuesday 6th October – one of our best turnouts ever;  thanks to everyone who came along.   After the customary brief AGM at our autumn event, it was over to Morag MacNeill and Bob Main to tell us about the Gaelic words behind virtually all of the place-names in our area.   Morag took us through the common Gaelic elements which make up place-names, like water features (rivers, lochs, etc), hill and lowland features, as well as common adjectives like colours, and then gave us examples of these in use in our local place-names.   Bob managed the laptop and projector to illustrate Morag’s examples with maps and photographs.

Mistakes have crept in over the years due to printers and signwriters being unfamiliar with Gaelic:  Loch Mhor should almost certainly be Loch Mor, which is the way everyone pronounces it.   A sign at Inverfarigaig reads ‘Inverfarigaig River’, which actually means ‘mouth of the river farigaig river’!   The sign should read simply ‘River Farigaig’.   At the end of their presentation, Morag gave out a most useful handout, summarising the most common Gaelic words used in our place-names.

Language is such an important part of who we are and where we live – our identity and history – and we must thank Morag and Bob for showing us the Gaelic heritage of our beautiful and historic part of the world.   The link below will take you to Morag’s handout explaining the Gaelic words used in our place-names.  LINK TO HANDOUT

The Group’s next event will be our summer outing.   This year it will take the form of a guided tour of Fort George, on Wednesday, 15th July 2015 at 3pm;  a great chance to see round this fort, built to help ‘pacify’ the Highlands after the Jacobite uprisings, replacing the original Fort George on the site of today’s Inverness Castle.   The Wade roads which run through South Loch Ness were built to connect Fort George to Fort Augustus and Fort William.   We will have the benefit of a knowledgeable guide.

If you’d like to join us, please let Alan know (;  01463 751258).   The entrance charges ares £8.50 adults and £6.80 concessions – reduced from last year – and there will be a 10% discount if our numbers are 11 or more.   We will meet promptly at three, at the Visitors’ Car Park, Fort George, just a couple of miles beyond Ardersier.   If you’d like a lift, contact Alan on the contact details above.

Hope to see you there!

We had a great turnout on Tuesday 24th March 2015 for an illustrated talk by Anne Fraser (of the Highland Archive Centre at the Bught, Inverness).   Anne was born in the area, and brought up at Borlum, near Scaniport.   For years, she has been fascinated by the story of schools, their teachers and pupils in the area bordering the SE shore of Loch Ness.   Anne has been able to amass a huge amount of information, including many entertaining anecdotes, and also photographs, regarding these little schools, their characterful staff and the young folk who got their education in them.   Adding colour to her descriptions, Anne told us a bit more about past life in South Loch Ness by including some fascinating tales from – for example – the local policemen.  Their reports of wartime goings-on, for instance, were rather reminiscent of Dad’s Army.   Everyone, of course, has been to school, so there was no shortage of questions and further personal stories from our large audience after Anne had given her talk.   Shortly before Christmas, Anne had published the story of South Loch Ness schools under the heading ‘Lessons by Loch Ness’, and several members of the assembled company were glad to get the opportunity to buy a copy.   Many thanks to Anne for coming to speak to us on such an interesting and very human topic!

‘Joseph and his Amazing Black and White Pictures’ by David Henderson

Stratherrick Hall, 30th September 2014 at 7.30pm

David’s talk and slide show was preceded by a brief AGM of the Heritage Group.  Apologies were given and the minutes of the 2013 AGM approved, along with Frank’s 2013/14 Accounts.   Alan had printed his Chair’s Report to save time.   Unfortunately we have lost our Secretary, Carol Jones, and so are looking for a replacement.   Other new recruits to our small committee are always welcome, and could help boost the activities of the Heritage Group.

David Henderson is an Invernessian, a retired economist and ex-Highland Councillor.  A couple of years ago he gave us a most interesting and entertaining illustrated talk on the history of Highland cattle droving.   This time round, he was talking about the Joseph Cook collection of photographs of Inverness, fascinating black-and-white images from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.   Joseph Cook was not a photographer himself, but was a collector of interesting historical photographs of Inverness and its surroundings, taken by a number of photographers whose identities have now largely been lost.

David gave us an extensive show of photographs from the collection, giving a fascinating view of Inverness in bygone times, including perhaps the only surviving photograph of the old stone arched bridge which preceded the fondly remembered suspension bridge, which itself was well covered by a number of views.   The Castle and its Jail, Castle Tolmie, thatched cottages in streets such as King Street, leather tanning by the river, the Town Steeple and Town House, the Cathedral and Eden Court (the Bishop’s Palace), and Dalneigh when is was a farm outside Inverness’s built-up area were among the many subjects covered by David’s slide show.   He added colour to the monochrome views by adding descriptive comments and interesting anecdotes about many of them.

Alan thanked David for his talk and show, and there were many questions and additional comments from the audience.   The evening finished with tea, coffee and biscuits – thanks to Elspeth, Margaret and Morgan for preparing these refreshments.

Watch out for our next event, planned for spring 2015.