Black Isle Heritage Memories




Local people are an underrated resource for our heritage.  The focus of this project has been a series of oral history sessions at which members of Black Isle communities have been gathering together to remember buildings, sites and other aspects of their heritage, using old maps and photographs as inspiration.  In the past, there has been a great deal of work on oral history as a way to record social history, but very little work focussing on heritage.  Given the rapid changes in this area as a result of factors such as building development and climate change the need for this drawing in of local knowledge is urgent.

The ‘Remembering your Community’ sessions took place in Culbokie, Tore and Avoch. In each community, participants gathered around copies of the 1st edition of the Ordnance Survey Map sheets for their areas and considered what had changed, disappeared and been newly developed since the maps were surveyed in 1872.  Each site, feature and historic building that we discussed was given a unique number, signified on the map by applying a numbered sticker, and notes were taken to record the locally known place/building names, the condition that it is in today and peoples’ knowledge and recollections - both their own and those passed on through family and friends.  All of the entries will be added to the Highland Council Historic Environment Record, a database of all the archaeology and historic buildings known throughout the Highlands, within which information, historical accounts, reports, images and associated maps, plans and drawings are stored and can be accessed by members of the public.  Click here to visit the HER and to make your own contributions to that record.

Funded by Awards for All Scotland and the European Community Highland LEADER 2007-2013 programme, this pilot project has been extremely popular – and people want more!  The community sessions and the individually recorded interviews that were recorded using ARCH’s easy to operate digital audio recorder - available free of charge to community groups on the Black Isle - have inspired all who took part to value and share what they know about their heritage and to find out more.

A picture of the Laundry at Avoch, taken in the 1930s and contributed by Catriona Gillies, member of the Avoch 'Remembering your Community' group.

As part of the project ARCH also offered sessions for people new to using the internet, or who wanted the chance to explore the Historic Environment Record. It also contributed to the forum on this website, so that people could share ideas and questions.

 ‘Remembering your Community’ has resulted in over 100 entries that will be added to the HER, and we hope that this is only the beginning - so the more people who can submit their own entries the better!  The infromation has also been submitted to the the Am Baile website. The results of the project are celebrated in a booklet available from the ARCH office. This publication also gives guidance for people who want to start a similar project in their community. An archive of results and maps have also been left in the three communities which took part in the project.

If you would like to find out more and if you would like a similar project to run in your area please do get in touch, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Vist the Black Isle Heritage memories Facebook page and meet some of those who have been taking part in the project. 

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Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH), The Goods Shed, The Old Station, Strathpeffer, Ross-Shire, Scotland IV14 9DH
Tel: +44 (0)77888 35466 Email: