Taking part in the past

Taking Part in the Past ARCH festival, DingwallEveryone is invited to take part in the past in Dingwall Academy  on Saturday 21 April when Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH) is hosting a free family festival celebrating Highland community archaeology. Running from 10.00am to 4.00pm, there will be a packed programme of activities that includes speakers and stalls from across Highland.

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The Gairloch Archaeological Trust (shown at work in the photos) will be talking about their community research: from Assynt there will be studies in Life and Death, John Barber from AOC Archaeology will share the rewards of community broch building, and from Killearnan on the Black Isle there will be a workshop on community gathering of oral history and putting together a display of the results.


ARCH chairwoman Cait McCullagh Gairloch heritage group at workcommented, “The day long festival day will  have something for everyone. As well as opportunities to hear more about the fascinating community archaeology in action across the Highlands there will be chances to participate in practical workshops such as ‘viewing the world from the air’, during which ARCH project officer Cathy MacIver will be sharing tips on how to use aerial photography and GIS to find out more about archaeological features in the landscape. 

Gairloch Archaeology Trust training“There will also be several ‘get involved in archaeology’ sessions, including ‘so you want to be an archaeologist?’ a practical guide on how to become a bone fide trowel bearer - and what the opportunities and pitfalls are when you do. There will also be the chance to try your hand at building a shelter entirely from natural materials; or to explore the rites and customs that are shown in mesolithic and viking burials, and, for those that are feeling energetic, a viking boat race.”

Gairloch Archaeological Trust working with the schoolFor something more relaxed Lizzie MacDougall will share the magic of Highland stories through story and image. Highland Academy students will be showing a series of heritage films that they’ve made, and Highland Council ranger, Corinne MacCallum, will be helping everyone to ‘go potty’ making thumb and coil pots.

Many archaeological and heritage organisations from across Highland - from Strathnaver to Gairloch and Cromarty - will have stalls at the festival, highlighting their activities, ways to become more involved and detailing their summer exhibitions and activities. Skilled craftspeople and heritage booksellers will also be selling their wares at the ‘viking market’, so don’t forget your silver!.

If you are interested in having a stall for the day (free for museum and heritage organisations, £10 for craftspeople) contact Caroline Vawdrey on caroline@archhighland.org.uk or leave a message on 01349 868230 and she’ll be in touch. In addition to wider publicity, ARCH will be sending out programmes and the chance to book workshops to their mailing list, which you can join by contacting Caroline via the contacts above or signing up to the ARCH e-news in the column to the right.

Download our spring newsletter for full programme details



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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: