As a result of discussion at the 2012 Friends’ Day, volunteers mounted a series of Archaeological Walkovers in one part of the island during winter 2013. The aims were:
•To encourage community involvement in exploring our heritage
•To photograph, and locate with GPS co-ordinates, every interesting aspect of the historical built environment and store this data in an island archaeological inventory
•To use this as the basis for illustrated leaflets for islanders and visitors, taking them on trails through the most interesting sites.
This year we explored the Kilandrist, Portcharron and Baliveolan townships and all the photos and GPS data are now being collated for the inventory. About twenty islanders took part, most taking photos and, very importantly, many providing information from their family histories or local folklore to explain what we saw on the ground. We also had the benefit of historical maps of Lismore land-holdings and data from early censuses. Each walk lasted an hour and a half, and ended appropriately with a cup of tea!
In these visits we think we saw an early Christian henge, a mediaeval well, the ruins of a well- established village with buildings and enclosures dating across a couple of centuries, a 19th century school, and an illicit whisky still. This area is closely associated with Alexander Carmichael, the Gaelic scholar, and we saw several places where he lived or was schooled. Some historical mysteries about what we saw continue, unsolved, but as a result of our work future generations will be able to consult the inventory to study the evidence of what remained in 2013.
Work is currently being undertaken on the first Archaeological Trail leaflet, which we hope to have available for April 2014. This will feature the most interesting ruins and sites in Kilandrist and Portcharron.
Our intention is to continue the series this winter with monthly walks in Kilcheran from January to March, the best time of year for archaeological exploration as the ground vegetation is then at its least and so the building remains are at their most visible. Any enquiries: contact Douglas Thorburn via the Heritage Centre.