16 February 2014
This winter’s second walkover was perhaps the most enjoyable and fascinating so far. Led by Douglas Breingan, local historian extraordinaire, a dozen of us spent a rare, sunny afternoon exploring part of the Fiart area, followed by tea at the café.
We began by investigating and recording Miller’s Port. Douglas Breingan pointed out several unusual features, such as the odd dyke of erratics leading towards the mill and a mysterious agricultural implement lying nearby, but the most interesting sight was the old mill itself: still in relatively good condition and not difficult to figure out.
Bob Hay was able to help us with census data which all suggests that it was in use up to the 1850s. Perhaps as fascinating were the ruined buildings nearer the shore: these give every appearance of having been for some marine purpose, situated just by the inlet and not large enough for permanent habitation.
The group went on to Fiart Broch, where cameras held underground showed up what a person on the ground could not see: the internal space between the exterior and interior walls, all now buried. Discussion focused on the location of the broch, and whether it could communicate with the many others in the area. But the day was not over, as we also saw what looks like a 19th century fish ladder going up to the loch, and a ruined settlement that might be where cottars lived before being moved from Fiart.
We now have photos and GPS coordinates of everything we saw, ready for the museum archive.
Watch out for publicity about the March walkover which will probably focus on the southern end of Fiart.
Script Douglas Thorburn
Photos Pauline Dowling