Iron Age roundhouse could be next tourist attraction

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Resourceful villagers are looking for grants to fund what could be one of their next tourist attractions.

Today bracken covers the remains of an Iron Age roundhouse, a relic of ancient farming in a field close to Dalavich, that locals want to uncover.

The community already has a ruined 13th-century Innis Chonnel Castle on its doorstep on an island in Loch Awe. Also known as Ardchonnel Castle, it was one of the earliest Campbell strongholds from the 1300s.

Tourists are already being encouraged to hire boats from a lochside business enterprise in Dalavich, run by a recently settled young family, to explore the castle but there are also growing ambitions to add the currently hidden roundhouse to the thriving community’s list of historical assets in the hope of bringing in even more visitors.

The roundhouse, which is a scheduled monument, is about 15 to 20 metres in diameter and is located in one of four fields now owned by the people of Dalavich.

‘We just think it would be a great tourist attraction,’ said Agnes Fleming, who is a member of DIG, Dalavich Improvement Group.

‘It would be desirable to cut the bracken off, keep the vegetation down and make it visible again. We’re looking to put up interpretation boards, maybe even create a replica of it nearby,’ she added.

‘Now that fewer people are employed within the forestry industry here, we have a village looking for an alternative way to sustain itself and tourism is a big part of that,’ said Ms Fleming.

The village is not far from  Kilmartin Glen, an area with one of the richest concentrations of prehistoric monuments and historical sites in the whole of Scotland and it is on a popular cycle route.

In April, the community officially opened its £1.5 million hydro on the River Avich, powered by Awesome Energy (Dalriada) Ltd, a community benefit business set up by the village, expecting to make £2 million in the next year by selling its energy to the National Grid.

When work started on clearing the turbine site, construction teams making sure that the old powerhouse and its contents were not damaged uncovered a rusting piece of old engineering from bygone times.

Now curious members of DIG want to find out more about it and how it was used so they can include it in educational materials they are making about the modern-day hydro scheme.

Hydro project manager Carol Thomas said: ‘We really want to try to pin down the history of what’s left so we can put it into information packs for when Scouts, Guides and other groups come to visit so it’s more than a walk in the woods.’