Crannog Archaeologists at Boreland
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 Sunday is 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 Pies from 15.00 – 17.00. Come and enjoy some seasonal goodies and good company.