Ruined buildings are powerful elements in the landscape. Ruins are particularly abundant in Argyll and Bute across the social spectrum, from cottar and tenant classes up to Clan Chiefs and landlords, who left many major houses and ruined castles.
This fed romanticism among early tourists to Argyll, which persisted even while communities which had farmed the area for hundreds of years abandoned homes, adding further to ruination in the landscape.
The need to try to anchor a family story to a place is a fundamental need in emigrant populations. Thousands of family descendants come to Argyll and Bute every year in search of their homeland.
For local communities, the settlements and other structures present different challenges. There is a memory of the people who left, and stories retold down families who stayed. There are childhood memories of these places as playgrounds and new perspectives by more recent settlers. There is a shared sense of responsibility for their history and for their future.
New initiatives by national bodies are supporting programmes of survey and research. Community organisations are developing exciting new ways of enabling local people and visitors to understand and connect with the landscape.
The next phase of heritage investigation on Bute focuses on the archaeology of a farming island. This is a key theme in the Archaeological Research Framework for Bute, developed during the ‘Discover Bute Landscape Partnership Scheme’ which ran from 2008 to 2012.
Homeland Argyll and Bute now brings a new multimedia approach with film, an app and an online exhibition forming part of this ongoing story.
The Bute community is continuing to develop its understanding of the landscape, with ambitious survey and digital projects in prospect. All these activities highlight how much has changed over the last 10 years in the ways local heritage can be explored using technology, and the possibilities for joining forces with partners in other places.
SOUTH ISLAY PATHWAY
The Kildalton stories will soon be able to be safely explored on foot or bike along the South Islay Distilleries Pathway, under development by Islay Community Access Trust.
Now partially open, it is to be finished in 2015, complete with interpretation of habitat, history and wildlife along its 5km route.
The pathway leaves the busy road which serves the distilleries of Laphraoig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. These survivors of Islay’s industrial past lead the commercial and tourism activities in the area, but the Pathway route widens out the story. It loops among the working farms which survived the land changes, and the abandoned townships that did not, explaining the prehistoric and early Christian sites, and exploring the area’s industrial history.
The legend of the piper at Dunyveg Castle with Florrie MacAllister
Eleanor MacNab remembers finding a cannon ball at Dunyveg