The recommended dress code for our recent Mulled Wine and Mince Pies event was Christmas jumpers. We certainly got Christmas jumpers – and Christmas socks, Christmas aprons, Christmas braces, Christmas headgear, a Christmas onesie and a green elf (or an elf in green, to be more exact). Clearly, dressing up boxes had been well and truly raided!
The hall was full of pre-Christmas cheer, and all in all, it was a warm and happy event. The mulled wine slipped down a treat and, along with the mince pies, there were lots of Christmas-themed sweet treats to eat. No pics of the food this time – the people were definitely the star attraction!
Something from the Fearnan Archive ……
Holiday brochures provide a pleasant distraction at this time of year. What better way to counter the cold wind and snow and ice outside than to plan your summer vacation?
Some 50 or 60 years ago, would be holiday makers might have been considering a week in Fearnan, staying at the Tigh-an-Loan Hotel –
For those too young to know the decimal equivalent, dinner cost from 75p, breakfast was 35p, and lunch was 58p. Bed and Breakfast? £1.75. Those were the days!
First Event in 2019
The FVA’s first social event of 2019 will be our world-famous Winter Pudding Night. Yes, it’s nearly that time of year again! Choc-aholics, pudding fanciers, and all those born with a sweet tooth will be making their way to Fearnan Village Hall on the23rd February at 6pm for this celebration of deliciousness. There are usually round about 30 puddings on offer. You don’t have to try them all (although some do!) but why not join us and come and taste a few?
And Finally ……..
It’s Happy Christmas from all of us, and from these 2 seasonal garden visitors.
There have been some unusual avian visitors to Fearnan during November. Firstly, a single magpie was present in the village for a week in early November – quite a rarity away from urban centres as it is heavily persecuted by game estates in the countryside.
Secondly, on the 26th November, two waxwings were feeding on the ornamental rowan berries on the tree at the Hall entrance. There were eight present the next day along with blackbirds and a mistle thrush gorging on the berries. Waxwings breed in the taiga forests of Scandinavia and Russia and in some winters, when the berry crop fails in Scandinavia, large numbers migrate to the British Isles. During these ‘irruption’ years, flocks of up to a few hundred can be encountered feasting on berries during the winter months.
Their name derives from the red waxy tips on the wing feathers shown on this nice adult male in the hand which I caught by the hall on the 22nd November 2010. They have a distinct trilling call, distinct crest and usually allow a close approach.
Many thanks, Keith!
Meanwhile, The Blog has been taking a look at Boreland Forest and its Design Plan.
Boreland Forest Design Plan
Boreland Forest (sometimes known locally as Boreland Wood) lies on the northern shore of Loch Tay, just to the west of Fearnan, and covers an area of 343 ha. It was purchased by the Forestry Commission in 1938 as part of a larger estate, but the hill ground and lower agricultural land were disposed of subsequently. Planting began soon after purchase, with Norway spruce being the main crop species for the first rotation, and the early 1940s war effort saw much of the forest planted by Canadian workers.
The forest is not only home to both capercaillies and red squirrels, but is also an important site for projects that are working to conserve and boost the numbers of these endangered species.
The capercaillie is a native species that became extinct in Britain in the mid-18th century, and main cause for the extinction was thought to have been a catastrophic loss of its woodland habitat. Birds from Sweden were reintroduced into Perthshire in 1837, and by the 1970s numbers of capercaillie had grown to about 20,000. Since then, however, the species has been in long-term decline.
Boreland Forest lies within the local ‘core capercaillie area’ making it an important factor in the efforts to reduce the decline in their numbers and you can read more about this project here.
We are fortunate to live in an area where red squirrels are seen regularly, but their future in Scotland remains under threat. There are estimated to be only 160,000 red squirrels remaining in the UK, 75% of which are in Scotland. Without concerted and effective action to protect them, the red squirrels that remain in Scotland could disappear within our lifetime.
But the forest also holds significance for Fearnan. Early records show that the original Barony of Fearnan was made up of a number of croft units situated along the loch-side – several of them in the area now covered by Boreland Forest. A copy of an old map showing the location of these crofts is included in the permanent exhibition in the village hall and the ruins of some of these crofts are still visible.
About 5 years ago, Ian McGregor’s grandsons unearthed the remains of a traditional cast iron cooking pot at the site of the Tominlyvoir croft (below) in Boreland Forest.
The pot, which was found in the ruins of what would have been the last occupied house in Tominlyvoir, is on display in the Hall.
In 1755, there were 47 people living in seven dwellings in this croft unit, but the population of the whole area was in decline and, by the 1841 census, there were only 3 people left.
The forest is also the location of a number of Unscheduled Ancient Monuments including Fearnan’s Market Cross (or the Fair Stone of Fearnan).
It appears on early maps of Fearnan making it possible to date it as pre-1769.
The stone carries a curse, inscribed on the back, and is a warning to anyone who might think about meddling with the stone:
“Tradition says this stone is at the fair or market cross of Fearnan and cursed be he who remove it. Breadalbane.”
The Forestry Commission has aDesign Plan for Boreland Forest for the period 2010 – 2020 and those who walk in the forest, or live close to it, may be interested to click on the link and have a look at the Plan which sets out the Forestry Commission’s aims for the forest not just in terms of the woodland areas but also for its wildlife.
The Forestry Commission have written to our local Community Council proposing some changes to the current Plan – mainly aimed at achieving a more ‘natural’ treeline in some areas and adjusting the species mix for re-stocking. Unfortunately, there is no digital link to the relevant papers, but anyone interested in finding out more about the proposed changes, and possibly commenting on them, should contact Sue Dolan-Betney (click here,) who can email the relevant documents. Comments need to be with Sue before the 20th December.
Fearnan War Memorial – Duncan McPhail
In recent postings on this site, we have told the story of 7 of the 8 local men who are commemorated on the Fearnan War Memorial. One, however, remained a mystery until now. Thanks to research by Mike Haig and Mark Duffy (both members of the Great War Forum), we now know that Duncan McPhail signed up with the Scots Guards early in 1915. He is listed in the Parish of Kenmore Roll of Honour (“A List of men, natives of the Parish and others residing therein, who have gone forth to serve their King and Country in the War”).
Duncan was 32 years of age and is described as a farm servant. The medical inspection that he underwent after signing up shows that he was in poor health and he was subsequently discharged on account of his health. His Death Certificate shows that he died, not long afterwards, of meningitis.
Fearnan Book Club reports:
At the November meeting of the Club, the book discussed was Slow Horses by Mick Herron.
There was, as always, a mixed reaction to book. Most felt the pace was too slow and that the book only became interesting towards the end. The huge cast of characters was confusing, making it more difficult to engage with any of the characters and to sustain interest.
The group were satisfied with the ending, unlike some other books we’ve read this year, but it was obvious the ground was being prepared for follow-up books. We thought it would make a good TV series featuring Robbie Coltrane as Jackson Lamb! The description of a politician (after Sid got shot) fitted Boris to a T! We liked the fact that females headed MI5.
We have chosen two books to read over the next couple of months and to be discussed at the first meeting of 2019 on Wed 9th January – Excellent Woman by Barbara Pym, and The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath
The next meeting will be the Book Club Christmas dinner, which has been confirmed for Thursday 13th Dec.
Our annual Mulled Wine and Mince Pies will be held this Saturday, 8th December, in the Hall, from 3 – 5pm. Join us for a pre-Christmas glass or two, some mince pies and good company.
It’s £6 per person and after expenses, a donation will be made from the takings to the McLean Hall fund.
Just think! What a fabulous opportunity to wear that Christmas jumper that is lurking at the back of the cupboard!
Many thanks to everyone who responded so quickly to the email about the Staying Connected project. We won’t be sending out any reminders on this one, so if you had intended to reply but haven’t got around to it yet, why not do so now?
News of the Armistice Reaches Fearnan, November 1918
Thanks to the Fearnan School Log Book, we have a first hand account of the reaction to the news of the Armistice in 1918 in the village.
On 15th November 1918, the Head Teacher, Miss L M Roberts wrote:
“The glad tidings that the Armistice was signed and that peace once more reigned reached us on Monday about three o’clock in the afternoon. Captain Thistle and Mr Peter Dewar called and made known the welcome news. The children cheered and all at once hastened to hoist the “Union Jack”. The children then sang the National Anthem and were dismissed. The village received the news quietly, the bereavements being too recent to admit of any demonstration of joy. The lumber camp of Newfoundland soldiers ceased work until Wednesday but there was no disturbance in this village.”
(The wonderfully named Captain Thistle is most likely Captain David Thistle of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Forestry Corps mentioned above. Thanks, Mike Haig, for tracing him.)
Armistice Sunday in Fearnan 100 Years On
The full impact of our Poppy Project became clear this weekend, as the Fearnan War Memorial was “dressed” for its big day. This small village has managed to produce 935 knitted poppies in the last few months, with a little help from Fearnan-connected people in Canada, the USA, France, and various parts of the UK.
The war memorial looks fantastic and has been attracting admiring glances from passing motorists. Many thanks to Tom Taylor, who was passing as we were setting up, and took the above photo.
It also inspired a reader of the Perthshire Advertiser to send a contribution of 2 poppies in an envelope simply addressed to Cath McGregor, Poppy Project, Fearnan. The package was delivered safely to Cath’s house by the Royal Mail and the poppies were included in the display.
We had a very well attended service at the memorial on Sunday, led by Shirley Shearer. Alistair Grier and Lisle Pattison laid wreaths on behalf of the community and the parish. This year we had a third wreath, provided by the Russian Consulate in Edinburgh, laid by Fiona Ballantyne, in memory of the Russian Airmen who died in an air crash just outside the village in WW2 ( see The Fearnan Air Crash 1943).
After the service, the Village Association served tea and coffee in the Hall, which gave us all a chance to socialise and talk to some of the guests who had come from further afield to be at our service. The Hall had also been decked out with poppies, and an exhibition of WW1 memorabilia, curated by Alistair and Linda, attracted much interest in this special anniversary year.
A collection for Help for Heroes raised an impressive £145.22. Many thanks to all who donated so generously.
Thank you to everyone who made a contribution to the Poppy Project, and a particularly big thank you to Cath McGregor for being the inspiration and designer behind this special project. A very small number of our knitters, with Cath in the middle looking bashful, are pictured at the set up of poppies on the memorial on Saturday.
There will be a Service of Remembrance at the Fearnan War Memorial on Sunday 11th November. Please note that the service will start at 10.50, not 11.00 as previously stated on the Blog.
The Memorial will be decorated with the hundreds of poppies knitted by people in the village as well as by Fearnan-connected people around the world. Some of those knitters can be seen here putting the final touches to the design scheme.
After the service on Sunday, the Village Association will be serving tea and coffee in the village hall and all are welcome to join us.
Fearnan War Memorial
Over 16 million people died in WW1 – the sheer scale of which is difficult to comprehend. Fearnan itself suffered a heavy toll in the war. When the village’s memorial was unveiled in August 1920, the Perthshire Advertiser reported that Mr Campbell of Borland made reference to the great number of village boys who enlisted, and how a third of them had made the supreme sacrifice. Fearnan lost 8 men, more than any of the other villages in the Kenmore parish, including Kenmore itself.
For two families, the Frasers and the Mathesons, the cost was exceptionally high, as both lost not one but 2 sons in the conflict.
Fearnan War Memorial 1920s
Over the last 4 years, we have been able to uncover information about all but one of the men named on the Memorial, thanks to the excellent research done by Ian McGregor, Mike Haig and others.
To honour those who died, we have drawn together as much as we know about these 8 men so that at the service on Sunday, they will be remembered not simply as names written on a memorial stone, but as men who lived and worked here some 100 years ago.
Duncan & Peter Matheson
Our research was greatly helped by a letter and photographs sent from Marilyn Ward, who is the granddaughter of Duncan Matheson, pictured here in his HLI uniform. Marilyn had read about our research on the FVA website and shared family documents and photographs.
We now know that Duncan was the son of William Matheson and his first wife, Christina. Duncan was a tram driver and enlisted in the army, together with many of his fellow workers, in the 15th Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Tramways Battalion).
He is pictured below with colleagues at training camp in Ayrshire. The shortage of army uniforms explains the fact that they are still wearing their Glasgow Corporation Transport uniforms. Duncan is third from left in the back row:
Glasgow Tram Drivers Battalion
In November 1916, a letter from Duncan to his brother William was published in a local newspaper. The letter is remarkably upbeat, given the circumstances and Duncan’s recent experiences. Presumably this was to reassure the folks at home. It describes both the lead-up to a battle – waiting in the trenches “up to the arm pits in mud” – and then the attack, signalled by an exploding mine.
Duncan was wounded in the fierce battle that followed: “A piece of shell entered my left thigh, and passed clean through it without touching the bone. A regular beauty!”
Due to heavy shelling, it was several hours before he could crawl back to his own front line trench and from there make his way, along with other wounded men, back to the collecting station some two miles away, where his wounds were attended to and “the inner man fortified”.
As we now know, Corporal Duncan Matheson died the following year on the 14th July 1917, of wounds received in further action.
As he was in the Tram Drivers Battalion, Duncan is also named on the war memorial in the Riverside Museum in Glasgow.
Very sadly for the family, his brother PeterMatheson, 2nd battalion The Black Watch, was killed in action at the Battle of Hanna, Mesopotamia (now Iraq) on 21/1/1916.
In addition to being commemorated on the Fearnan War Memorial, Peter is remembered on the memorials in Basra, and in Aberfeldy where he lived with his wife and daughters.
He is pictured on the left.
Duncan and Malcolm Fraser
Duncan and Malcolm Fraser were the sons of James and Jessie Fraser of Rosebank, and tragically both died in the last few days of the war.
Private 13011 Duncan Fraser, 2nd Battalion Scots Guards enlisted in January 1915.
He died of gas poisoning (age 39) on Sunday 13/10/1918, at Number 46 Casualty Clearing Station.
The following entry appears in the Fearnan School Log Book on the 25th October 1918:
“Sad news reached the village this week – the death through gas poisoning of another of our brave soldiers at the front. Duncan Fraser, an old pupil of this school, was among the first to join up and has been in the thick of it for a considerable time.”
13011 Duncan Fraser was in same battalion as 13009 James Dewar (see below). Their numbers are almost consecutive, and it is highly likely that they enlisted together.
Private D/13435 Malcolm Fraser, 2nd Dragoons (Scots Greys). Malcolm died on 30th October 1918, shortly before the Armistice, from pneumonia (possibly influenza). His death was also recorded in the Fearnan School Log Book:
“Again, sad tidings! The brother of the brave soldier referred to a fortnight ago has succumbed at the Western Front to pneumonia whilst another who has been in the transport service for some time has been killed. Both of these lads had seen four years service in the army and both deserve the high encomiums passed upon them by the villagers. Both were much beloved and are much mourned.”
Private S/15683 Hugh Cowan of the Black Watch was the son of Donald and Ann Cowan of Balnearn, Fearnan.
Private Hugh Cowan
Hugh Cowan was called up on Wednesday 7th June 1916, at Comrie, where he had been working as a ploughman, and was posted to the 11th Battalion The Black Watch. From this date up to the end of November, he was training at Dunfermline, before embarking at Folkestone, on Friday 1st December 1916 and landing at Boulogne on the same day.
After further training at Étaples, he was soon transferred as Private 33495 to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, joining them in the field on the evening of Wednesday 13th of December 1916, when the Battalion relieved the 7th Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry in the trenches at Serre, on the Somme. The relief was completed by 9.00 p.m., with Hugh Cowan being one of 140 men who had joined that day as reinforcements. Luckily, although enemy artillery was heavy, (as was the rain), they had no casualties and they were in turn relieved by a battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment on the 16th December.
Hugh probably was in action on the 9th and 10th of April 1917 in the Arras Offensive during the First Battle of the Scarpe, but it was on Thursday the 3rd of May, 1917, that he was killed in action on the first day of the Third Battle of the Scarpe, aged 19.
His battalion was part of the 8th Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Division, VI Corps, of the Third Army. The Official History states: ” The enemy obviously had foreknowledge of the attack; for, prior to its launch he deluged the front with chemical and high-explosive shell. At Zero, in fact, the field batteries were enveloped in thick clouds of gas. The detachments, wearing respirators, stuck manfully to their task. The infantry, however, was much disorganized. Most of the battalions also wore respirators during the assembly, and numbers of men who did not put them on, were overcome by vomiting. The 8th Brigade (Hugh Cowan’s brigade) fell into confusion, largely owing to the fire of parties of the enemy who had been pushed forward into shell-holes and had thus avoided the British barrage. The waves of the 2nd Royal Scots and 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers becoming prematurely merged, the barrage was lost, and the attack broke down.”
He was buried in Vis en Artois British Cemetery (Ref VII.D.2).
On May 25th 1917 the Head Teacher, Miss L M Roberts, referred to Hugh’s death in the School Log Book, and its impact on her pupils:
“The scholars were much grieved today to learn of the death of Hugh Cowan who fell ill in action on 3rd May. He was well known having been brought up in the village and until he joined up had been a shepherd with his father at Balnearn.”
This picture of Hugh Cowan’s Memorial Plaque (also known as the ‘Death Penny’) comes from Hazel Bellman, a descendant of Hugh Cowan.
The Plaques were cast in bronze and issued to the next of kin, in this case, Donald Cowan, of Balnearn, Fearnan.
John was the son of Donald and Kate Fraser of Upper Fearnan. Wounded by shell-fire on the 7th of September, 1918, succumbing to those wounds the next day, the 8th, aged 25.
John Lauchlan Fraser, Driver 96764, Headquarters 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery.
James Dewar, Scots Guards
Guardsman 13009 James Dewar, 2nd Battalion The Scots Guards was the youngest son of Mr and Mrs Peter Dewar, Tomdarroch, Fearnan.
Formerly a member of Govan Police Force, he enlisted on 7/1/1915 and went to France on 6/10/1915. He was wounded in April 1916 and killed in action on 28/3/1918, three days before his 30th birthday.
His father, Peter, was a Gamekeeper but appears to have died during the war years. His mother subsequently moved to Drummond Cottage, Keltneyburn.
Thanks to research by Mike Haig and Mark Duffy (both members of the Great War Forum), we now know that Duncan McPhail signed up with the Scots Guards early in 1915. He is listed in the Parish of Kenmore Roll of Honour (“List of men, natives of the Parish and others residing therein, who have gone forth to serve their King and Country in the War”).
Duncan was 32 years of age and is described as a farm servant. The medical inspection that he underwent after signing up shows that he was in poor health and he was subsequently discharged on account of his health. His Death Certificate shows that he died, not long afterwards, of meningitis.
If anybody can add to the information that we have on these men who are commemorated on the Fearnan War Memorial, we would be delighted to hear from you. You can use the Comments section of the Blog to get in touch.
At first glance, it looked like some of Harry Potter’s witch-y chums had turned up at the Fearnan Coffee Morning, but at least they had brought a fairly decent spread of baking and goodies with them. Happily, they had used conventional recipes and not the ones that start “eye of newt and toe of frog….” so there was much on the table to be enjoyed.
That was the last Coffee Morning of the year. Our next events are the Remembrance Day Service and Mulled Wine and Mince Pies (see below for details)
A Double Page Spread!
There was a nice bit of recognition for our poppy knitters last week, when the Perthshire Advertiser picked up the story from the Fearnan Blog and the result was a double page spread in the centre of the paper.
A big Thank You to Melanie Bonn of the Perthshire Advertiser for helping to raise the profile of the project.
Efforts continue to create the decorative panels for the war memorial on 11th November. Please let Cath have any finished poppies as soon as possible – she can be seen knitting yet another one in the coffee morning pic above!
Co-op Local Community Fund
Fearnan’s McLean Hall has been chosen for the next round of the Co-op Local Community Fund!
Every time members shop at the Co-op, 1% of what they spend on selected own-branded products and services goes to help fund community projects in their own area. If you have a Co-op card, you can now choose McLean Hall as your chosen cause and help to fund the on-going development and maintenance of this valuable local asset.
This month’s Book Club report is a joint effort from Lesley and Linda:
The October book club meeting was held on World Mental Health Day which was an appropriate occasion to discuss Anna’s issues as portrayed in our October read, The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn.
Unlike the protagonists in other psychological thrillers we’ve read, we did like Anna and were on her side. There were lots of twists and red herrings in the plot to keep us interested. Most had not guessed about Ethan. Anna was described as an “unreliable heroine” and we didn’t know when to believe her and how much was delusion, which kept us on our toes! Incidentally, we also didn’t believe someone could drink that much, and pop pills, and stay on their feet!
We enjoyed the way the story was played out in just three weeks and the use of the present tense kept us involved with Anna as the plot unfolded. There was consensus over the sex scene with David the lodger – it was unnecessary and out of place.
At the start, we used an American quiz designed to stimulate conversation on the book. However, this conversation-starter became conversation-stopper owing to the crass nature of the questions – but at least it raised a laugh!
The next meeting is on 14th November, when the book being discussed is Slow Horses by Mick Herron. It is the first book in the CWA Gold Dagger Award-Winning British espionage series starring a team of MI5 agents united by one common bond: they’ve screwed up royally and will do anything to redeem themselves!
At 11.00 on the 11th November, it will be exactly 100 years since the end of WW1. There will be a short Service of Remembrance at Fearnan War Memorialat 11am, and afterwards the Village Association will be serving teas and coffee in the village hall. A collection will be taken for Help or Heroes. If you would like a lift down to the War Memorial, please come to the Hall car park at 10.45.
On Saturday 10th November at 19.30, there will be a Charity Ceilidh in aid of the Scottish Charity Air Ambulance. It will be held in Aberfeldy Town Hall. It is an excellent cause to support, and 2 members of the Fearnan community will be appearing, along with the rest of the Glen Lyon Ukulele Band, for your entertainment! (Calling you out, Cath and Neil!)
Christmas is creeping up on us, and that means that our Mulled Wine and Mince Pies event is just around the corner. Join us for a pre-Christmas glass or two, some mince pies and good company. It’s on Saturday 8th December 15.00 – 17.00, £6 per person. After expenses, a donation will be made from the takings to the McLean Hall fund.
Please note that, unless otherwise stated, the copyright of all text on this website is held by the writer of the article, and the copyright of all photos is in the ownership of the person that took them.
Work has started on transforming the +800 knitted poppies into the panels that will decorate the war memorial on 11th November in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1.
A small group of ‘stitchers’ met on Saturday afternoon in the village hall to start sewing the poppies onto panels so that Cath McGregor’s very striking (and carefully measured!) design can be realised.
If you would like to lend a hand, there will be another stitching session on Saturday 20th October in the hall at 2pm. And if you have any finished poppies lurking in your knitting basket, please could you either let Cath have them asap, or leave them in the box in the hall.
On 11th November, after the service at the war memorial, the FVA will be serving tea and coffee in the village hall. There will be a display of WW1 Memorabilia, and if you have any appropriate family WW1 momentos that you would like to add to the display, please either bring them on the day, or contact Alistair Grier in advance. Items do not need to have a connection to Fearnan – it’s the stories behind them that count.
Many thanks to all those who contributed, in cash, in kind, or by eating lots of cake, to the Macmillan Coffee Morning organised by the Hall Committee. The final sum raised was £250.
The next FVA Coffee Morning is on Tuesday 30th October at 10.30 in the village hall – that’s the day before Halloween, so things might just get a bit spooky and anything could happen!
We have news of 2 events at the Big Shed. The first is a concert by Plaid Song – The Life, Songs & Times of Lady Nairne (1766-1845), on Sunday 25th November at 19.30.
Perth-based duo Plaid Song (Syd House and Nicola Cowmeadow) will perform the songs of Caroline Oliphant, better known as Lady Nairne, and tell the story of her remarkable life.
Lady Nairne was a Jacobite and a contemporary of Robert Burns. She wrote many of Scotland’s best known songs including Charlie is My Darling, The Rowan Tree, Will Ye No’ Come Back Again, Caller Herrin’ and The Hundred Pipers.
Tickets are £10 on the door and £5 for children. BYOB, tea and coffee available.
The second Big Shed notice is a reminder that there is a yoga classwith Emma Burtles at the Big Shed every Friday from 10.30 till 12.00. The class costs £6 and there’s no need to book.
You don’t need any yoga experience and you don’t need to bring any equipment. The class is fairly gentle and it’s not competitive – you just do what’s right for you. It’s great for developing flexibility in the joints and good balance, as well as stronger muscles.
And finally, before you arrange that beehive hairdo or dig out your flares, cheesecloth shirt and cuban heels, the 50s and 60s Night, due to be held in the village hall on Saturday 27th October, has been cancelled to allow work on the hall kitchen to be completed.
Back in July, The Blog reported on the Living on Water archaeologists’ visit to investigate Fearnan Crannog, and their associated diving work.
This week past, the same team has been carrying out some excavation work at Boreland Farm, so The Blog (accompanied by Pat Menzies) went to find out what they were finding out – or hoping to find out.
We met Dr Michael Stratigos and Dr Derek Hamilton, who explained that the Living on Water project is an archaeological research project being carried out by a team at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, along with a number of project partners including the Scottish Crannog Centre. The project is funded by Historic Environment Scotland.
They are focussing on the early Iron Age (800 – 400BC) and are trying to understand whether or not the crannogs around Loch Tay were occupied simultaneously (which would suggest quite a busy landscape) or sporadically over that 400-year period (which would suggest small groups living in isolation). To help answer these questions, they are using radio carbon dating, informed by dendrochronology (information from tree rings), which enables them to date the timbers from the crannogs to within 25 years.
Apart from having neighbours on the water, crannog dwellers may have had neighbours on the land and the test excavations at Boreland are part of the research to understand the terrestrial population of the area at the time the crannogs were occupied.
Although there are many remnants from inhabitants of the area from earlier periods, once you start to look at the early Iron Age period, there are only the crannogs – no artefacts, no cup marked stones or other rock art and no settlements that can be identified.
It is likely that if there were people living in the landscape at this time, they would have built their houses exactly where the village is now – making archaeological excavations difficult. However, more industrial work would have been done outside the old village, making Boreland a good choice for investigatory work.
So far, nothing significant has been found but the team have other on-land sites to investigate around the Loch in this stage of their project. We will keep in touch with their investigations – at the moment they are about half way through their 3-year project.
Whilst up at Boreland, we paused to check out the new dish on the roof of the barn. This is good news for Bogons Internet customers as it is part of an upgrade that will reduce vulnerability to the weather. Once operational, it will boost the broadband signal and help pave the way for improved speeds.
The antennas will be configured and aligned very shortly and then it will be fully live.
Fearnan Film Footage
Another little glimpse into the past came recently, via Aberfeldy Museum. Film recordings of Fearnan in the 1930s are rare things, but this little gem from the National Library of Scotland has a section on Fearnan at the beginning and shows John Stewart, the owner of the Tigh-an-Loan Hotel, with some fishermen and an impressive catch outside the hotel. The two girls in tartan Tammie’s at the end of the Fearnan section are Mia and Dolly, John Stewart’s daughters who, we are told, were very fond of tartan all their lives!
Alastair Barnett recalls that “it was common for us to watch for the boats approaching the hotel pier during the fishing season and dash along to see what the guests had caught that day and then help haul the boat on to the shore.” He also thinks that in the “Peter” segment they could be referring to Peter Malloch, who was a ghillie.
September Coffee Morning
Moving back to the present, this has been a bumper week for coffee mornings! First up was the FVA regular coffee morning which attracted a nice mix of visitors, locals and Charlie (a trainee sheepdog). Although it was a relatively small group, the event went on long past the usual finishing time – always a good sign.
Cath Macgregor brought along some of the +650 poppies that have been knitted so far (thank you everyone!), and there was a chance to see the plans for decorating the war memorial on 11th November. We are being quite ambitious, but we know that many communities have plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1, and we really want Fearnan to stand out. We do need some more poppies, please – just a few red or black ones.
The display for the monument will be put together in the village hall on the afternoons of 13th and 20th October, starting at 2pm. Please come along to help if you can spare an hour or two.
The second coffee morning was the village’s annual contribution to the national Macmillan Cancer Coffee Morning initiative. Fearnan’s bakers had been busy for this good cause and the result was a splendid spread, including some slightly more unusual cakes such as Guinness Cake and Pina Colada Cake.
Many thanks to all who baked and came along. Thanks to their generosity, a good donation will be made to the charity.
Fearnan Art Club
The Art Club programme for the autumn is as follows:
Monday 8th October: Sketching Autumn at the Birks of Aberfeldy, meet in the car park at 2pm.
Monday 12th November: 2 -4pm meet at Heather Lewis’s house (directions from Cath Macgregor if you wish to go).
Monday 10th December: Christmas Lunch, details to follow.
Fearnan Book Club
Due to the renovations in the village hall, September’s book club meeting was kindly hosted by Fran and Elaine and had a different format. The book this month was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It is set in the aftermath of WW2 and focusses on the experiences of the residents of Guernsey during the occupation.
Prior to our discussion, we watched the recently made film of the book, sustained by wine, tea and a variety of chocolate, tablet and biscuits. Suitably fuelled, we then had a lively discussion comparing and contrasting the book and film. As always, the opinions were disparate, which enhances the experience!
The format of the book, which some found took time to adapt to, is a series of letters with stories of life in Guernsey. The complexities of the book resulted in lots of threads which were pulled together, and revelations uncovered, as the story progressed.
The general feeling was that the book developed the characters more than the film. There was an enthusiastic discussion about the main characters. Juliet, the author who bonded with the members of the society, was not portrayed as strongly in the film as in the book where she came across as an independent, feisty woman. Her boyfriend/ fiancé, Mark, did not live up to his attractive description in the book and was less pushy in the film while, Elizabeth’s character was more developed, and her courage highlighted, in the book.
Although very enjoyable, we felt the film lacked depth and that there were the bones for a much deeper film. One comment was that the film was “not gutsy enough” although the scenery and costumes were very realistic and authentic.
As always, we could see the ending coming with the slowly emerging love story resulting in the eventual happy outcome for Juliet, Dawsey and Elizabeth’s daughter, Kit.
This enjoyable format of book/film comparison is one that we will no doubt revisit in the future.
Our next meeting is on the 10th October when we will be reading The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn. It has been described as the hottest new release thriller of 2018.
“Twisted to the power of max” was Val McDermid’s description. What did she see?
Coming Soon ……….
The Bowling Club are starting up again for the season on Monday 1st October, 8 – 10pm in the hall. New members who would like to join, or to come along and try it out, are more than welcome.
The next coffee morning will be on Tuesday 30th October at 10.30 in the hall. It’s the day before Halloween, so things might get a bit spooky ………….
Remembrance Sundayis Nov 11th at 11.00 at the Memorial and after in the village hall for tea and coffee.
On Saturday 8th Dec, the FVA is serving Mulled Wine & Mince Piesfrom15.00 – 17.00. Come and enjoy some seasonal goodies and good company.