Lifting the turf on Glencoe’s history

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National Trust for Scotland archaeologists will share their discoveries from recent excavations and surveys in Glencoe and discuss plans to bring the findings to life at a special talk on Thursday August 8, at 6.30pm in the Glencoe Visitor Centre.

Derek Alexander, the conservation charity’s head of archaeology, has led digs which have helped uncover more information about where and how people lived in the glen before the era of Highland Clearances transformed life and landscape here.

Derek will explain what he and his team of volunteers have learned during their excavations and investigations into this fascinating period in the area’s history.

Their growing understanding is shaping plans to reconstruct a 17th to 18th century turf-built, thatched dwelling at the Glencoe Visitor Centre. The reconstruction will be based on evidence recovered from the archaeological remains of a house at Achtriochtan, on the lower slopes of the Aonach Eagach, in the heart of the glen.

This 13 by six metre building had walls made from turf banks between one and two metres thick.

Emily Bryce, operations manager for Glencoe, said: ‘August’s talk will be a great chance for anyone curious about what life in Glencoe might have been like around 300 years ago to find out more, directly from one of Scotland’s most experienced archaeologists, who has been studying the landscape here for many years.

‘We are at the early stage of a project in which we would like to work with volunteers, visitors, community groups, schools and local history experts, to bring to life an era which many of our visitors ask about when they come here.

‘At the time of the Glencoe Massacre in 1692, it is likely that several hundred people made their homes in the harsh environment of the glen and it can be difficult to imagine how they lived. We want to give people a taste of their story at our visitor centre before signposting the nearby Glencoe Folk Museum and Fort William’s West Highland Museum where people can delve deeper into this past and see a rich collection of artefacts.’

Proceeds from the talk will go towards the conservation charity’s current appeal raising funds to support further Glencoe archaeological work and the turf-house reconstruction. To book your place at the talk, visit:  www.nts.org.uk/visit/events/uncovering-glencoes-historic-settlements-a-talk-by-archaeologist-derek-alexander