It’s been a busy month in the area, with lots to report on.
Living on Water Archaeological Dig
The archaeologists from the Living on Water Project have been back in the Loch Tay area this month.
Their project is focussed on the early Iron Age (800 – 400 BC) and on trying to understand whether or not the 18 crannogs in 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). They are also trying to determine whether or not there was a land-based population living close to the crannogs at the same time – which would also affect the busy-ness of the landscape.
Last year, The Blog met Dr Michael Stratigos, when he and colleagues were excavating an area at Boreland and we were delighted when he got in touch again this year to invite a group from Fearnan to visit their current archaeological dig.
And so it was, that a small group of present day Loch Tay residents came to be standing high above the loch at Easter Croftintygan, on the site of a ring ditch house that had belonged to some Loch Tay residents from a much earlier time.
The special grasses and flowers growing on Easter Croftintygan Meadow make it a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), so the archaeologists have had to take care to disturb the site as little as possible, and to carefully preserve the turf that they lift and, ultimately, to replace it exactly as it was before.
A ring ditch house was essentially a house with an internal ditch around it and they were common in the period 1000 BC to 1000 AD. It is a laborious task for the archaeologists to remove the soil from the site gradually and reveal its features. Fortunately for us, this work had already been done when we arrived, and even more fortunately, we had Michael to explain the site and paint a vivid picture of life in this house some 2000 years ago.
He drew our attention to the area where the house had stood, and its surrounding ditch, along with features that the untrained eye would miss – such as changes in the colour of the soil which suggest activities by the occupants that the archaeologists are able to interpret, ‘a shallow cut charcoal spread’ that not only indicated the hearth of the house, but should also yield material that can be radio carbon dated to help establish the period of occupancy, and post holes for the timbers that supported the house. He also showed us features in the land that indicate there had been a second building, at some point, immediately adjacent to the house being excavated.
It is unusual to find any actual remains on-sites from this period. These sites lie just below the surface of the land, and over the centuries will have been ploughed, and animals will have burrowed into ground. Easter Croftintygan yielded a few fragments of animal bone. By contrast, the crannogs yield a very significant amount of Iron Age remains that have lain undisturbed in the cold, peaty, but preserving waters of Loch Tay.
While we were on-site, a Whatsapp message came from other members of the archaeology team who were excavating a site at Ard na Gaul, near Killin. The tip of a wooden stake had been recovered at the site and this is ideal material for accurate radio carbon dating.
When the archaeologists have finished at Easter Croftintygan, the site will be carefully covered over again, but not before a 2019 penny has been placed on the house platform, to help future archaeologist identify the date of earlier excavations of the site.
Heart 200 Update
As some of you already know, the Fearnan to Coshieville stretch of single-track road has been taken out of the official Heart 200 Route. H200’s on-line maps have been amended accordingly. This change came about as a result of pressure from a number of sources – the Community Council, Fearnan Village Association, lots of individual who wrote letters of protest and, in particular, Jenny Penfold who has been a fantastic campaigner. Many thanks to everyone involved.
We are pleased that we have been listened to, and while there will still be many a motor home and motorbike, along with other assorted vehicles, making their way up Fearnan Brae, on route to the Fortingall Yew and beyond, hopefully we will not see a significnt increase on existing traffic levels. The rest of the Route launches on the 1st July, and we will continue to campaign for the lessons of the North Coast 500 to be taken on board, and for more imaginative, greener, sustainable tourism initiatives to be developed, that will generate visitors who will stay for days at a time to enjoy our peaceful environment, rather than drive through one day wonders.
Last week, BBC Scotland’s The Nine produced a report on the NC500 and covered some of the issues and questions it has raised. The report included a short section on the soon-to-be-launched H200.
They had found the Fearnan Village Association Blog and our article on how lessons could have been learned from the NC500 experience ahead of H200’s launch.
BBC Scotland came to Fearnan to interview Jenny and Fiona and, although only a short section of the interview was used in the final piece, many of the issues we raised were covered in other parts of the report.
Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir
The Blog just loves a success story!
This year’s Perthshire and Angus Provincial Mod was held on 14th and 15th June in Aberfeldy. Known fondly as the Aberfeldy Mod, this is a celebration of Gaelic culture and music where participants of all ages, from all over Scotland and beyond, come to compete.
Not surprisingly, the Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir – whose members include Fearnan’s Fran Donovan, along with June Riddle who is a regular attender at our events – took part .
The competitions the Choir entered were:
The May Mitchell and Frances Matheson Cuach (Puirt a Beul) where they were were placed 3rd behind Lothian Gaelic Choir (last year’s Royal National Mod Winners) and Cumbernauld Gaelic Choir. So far, so good.
But when it came to The Westcroft Trophy, which is the main competition (Choral Singing: 2 songs, own choice) they were placed ……….. FIRST for Music (The Janet MacIntyre Memorial Cup), FIRST for Gaelic (The Cuach Chlachmhor in memory of Helen T MacMillan) and, therefore …….. FIRST overall (The Westcroft Trophy).
Well done, girls and boys of the Choir! Here are some of them with their new silverware!
Pop Up Coffee Shop
The June Pop Up was a more restrained affair than usual, but some new faces joined us and there was certainly plenty of cake for everyone – including one or two trial runs for July’s Strawberry TeaZ.
Fearnan Book Club
Linda Milne writes:
Our June read “It’s all in Your Head: Stories from the Frontline of Psychosomatic Illness” by Suzanne Sullivan was described as an inspired choice, very interesting and thought provoking, as it was a very different read for our group.
It was an eye opener, which was largely enjoyed by the group. We felt that the title was perhaps slightly flippant as it belied the depth and detail of the content. However it was a serious subject described in depth, very sensitively and informatively and for a wide audience. It wasn’t a book to be read from cover to cover but rather in sections to allow time for reflection. The book focussed on a wide spectrum of cases with patients’ progress being updated throughout.
We felt sympathy for the brave author whose diagnosis of psychosomatic illness was often rejected by the patients and indeed by some of her medical colleagues. We were also horrified at the extent of the debilitating, life changing symptoms experienced by the patients resulting in an extensive cost to the NHS. One observation was that this not so prevalent in America due to the cost of health care!
This led to a discussion about mental illness in general, and related misunderstandings and misconceptions. We all agreed that the impact of stress should not be dismissed or treated lightly. This book resonated with many of us who felt we knew people who perhaps would have benefitted from psychiatric support or even from reading this book. It would be hoped that reading this book would help to detoxify negative reactions to sessions with psychologists or psychiatrists. We compared the treatment and attitudes to mental illness in the past including experiences of asylums and the increase in mental illness in teenagers today including self harm.
Some of us felt frustrated that the author didn’t round off her cases with eventual outcomes and was apt to go off on tangents. All in all, the book was very informative and in depth discussion showed sensitivity to the subject.
A murder mystery, a lighter read, has been selected for our July session. It is “The Lost Man” by Jane Harper, an award winning author, whose previous books we’ve enjoyed. Although this is a stand-alone novel, it provides an opportunity to ‘compare and contrast’ with her other two books and is also set in the Australian outback.
What’s On Next
Breadalbane Heritage Society are holding their summer party on Wednesday 10th July at the Scottish Crannog Centre. It is open to non-members, and if you would like to attend, please contact Ian Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place.
And finally……………don’t forget that it is nearly time for the FVA’s strawberry extravaganza! A feast for the eyes, as well as the tastebuds.
From strawberry sandwiches to strawberry fizz, by way of strawberry tarts, flans, sponges, mousses, pavlovas and much more. (And if none of those tempt you, you can always have good old strawberries and cream.)
Strawberry TeaZ is on Saturday 20th July, from 3 – 5pm. £7.00 pp at the door; children half price; pre-schoolers free.