News Archive 2008

Dateline: Friday 26 December 2008

Boxing Day visitors

Our now traditional Boxing Day opening once again proved popular as a steady stream of visitors and some familiar faces visited the Farming and Crofting exhibition and were rewarded with mulled wine, shortbread, cake and a cup of tea or coffee. Daisy Cowe obliged once more, allowing visitors to experience milking a cow 'first hand', although she did insist they warmed their hands first.

 

The exhibition focuses principally but not exclusively, on the history of agriculture in Olrig parish, from early settlement, pre and post mediaeval, the 18th and 19th century improvements to the 1950s.

The age of the horse, steam and tractor, crops, stock, rents, clearances, living conditions and socialising are all featured, together with associated trades and activities.

Castlehill Heritage Centre will be open as usual over the festive season - why not drop in to explore the Crofting and Farming exhibition - Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays 2-4pm.


Dateline: Saturday 20 December 2008

Merry Christmas from Castletown Heritage Society

Castletown Heritage extends seasons greetings to all our friends, members visitors and supporters.

Castlehill Heritage Centre will be open as usual over the festive season - why not drop in to explore the Crofting and Farming exhibition - Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays 2-4pm.

Open Boxing Day 2-4pm - Join us for mulled wine and shortbread.


Dateline: Wednesday 10 December 2008

Daisy Cowe meets the 1st Dunnet Bay Cub Scouts at the Castlehill Crofting & Farming Exhibition

Among many recent visitors to Castlehill Heritage Centre was Daisy Cowe, making a nostalgic trip to research her ancestors who had long and close links with the Castletown area. Daisy, who presently works in the tourist industry based at the Animal Centre at the Castle of Mey, was taken by friends to Castlehill. There she occupied the same stall in the former dairy as her great grandmother had done.

Tracing her ancestry to even earlier times, she heard how land owner James Traill had introduced a new dairy herd of Ayrshires to his Castlehill farm in the late 1700s.to improve milk yields. The herd was accompanied by an experienced Ayrshire dairy-maid. Success came quickly and Castlehill cheese was sent south to the Edinburgh market, where it was much in demand as a quality product.

During her visit to Castlehill, Daisy met Cub Scouts from the 1st Dunnet Bay Scout Group. Thanks to Daisy's patience, the youngsters received hands-on experience of milking supervised by Christine Crowden. They also turned their hands to churning butter with the assistance of Neil Buchan, and making hand-made ropes and nets under the watchful eye of Hugh Crowden.

Browsing for information

Akela helps out

Hugh demonstrates making a fishing net
That's the way...
Testing a newly made section of rope
Muriel explains about crofting life
Please Miss, I know the answer!

Having a go at churning butter

The exhibition is open every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday from 2pm - 4pm. Other times and special openings or activity evenings for groups by arrangement.


Dateline: Wednesday 3 December 2008

Looking for Vikings - Sat 6th & Sun 7th December

The second post excavation workshop which was due to be held on Sunday 9th November at Castlehill Heritage Centre from 10 a.m. until 4.00 p.m. has been postponed until early in the new year.

Watch the website for further updates on revised dates.

To reserve a place contact castletown.heritage@talk21.com


Dateline: Wednesday 19 November 2008

Crofting and Farming Exhibition - Sat 21 November

This weekend Castletown Heritage Society launches its winter exhibition on crofting and farming. Displays focus principally but not exclusively, on the history of agriculture in Olrig parish, from early settlement, pre and post mediaeval, the 18th and 19th century improvements to the 1950s. The age of the horse, steam and tractor, crops, stock, rents, clearances, living conditions and socialising are all featured, together with associated trades and activities.

The exhibition opens on Saturday 21 November and will be open from 2pm - 4pm every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday afternoon over the winter. Other times by appointment.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Flagstone Village - Available to purchase on CD ROM

In 2002, the Society published a comprehensive and highly popular 144-page illustrated book on the history of the village and parish.

Sadly our stock of books is exhausted however the book is now available to purchase in pdf format on CD ROM, priced at £15.

Copies are on sale at Castlehill Heritage Centre or can be ordered by contacting us at: castletown.heritage@talk21.com Post and packing will be charged at cost.

Available now - ideal Christmas gift!


Dateline: Monday 2 November 2008

Northern Glow - Biomass heating open day success

Jon Priddy in action

Visitor book feedback

Castletown Heritage Society and Community Energy Scotland held an open day last Saturday, 1st November, demonstrating the new log boiler heating system installed in the Castlehill Heritage Centre. Our state of the art installation burns from the Dunnet Forestry Trust community woodland in a modern log boiler - the heat is stored in a special tank and then used by the underfloor heating and hot water systems in the building as necessary.

The event was opened by CHS Chairwoman Muriel Murray, after which committee member Neil Buchan, gave a detailed presentation on the design, procurement and installation of the system, fielding many questions from a well informed and enthuiastic audience.

After a tour of the system and installation, Jon Priddy, Community Energy Scotland North and East Highland Area Manager, gave further examples of community led renewable energy installations and information on the range of grants and assistance available from CES.

The event concluded with an excellent lunch provided by the St Clair Arms Hotel, Castletown and overall was judged a great success, as evidenced by the very positive comments in the visitors book - see above.

Ancestral Research - Thursday 4th November

Taster presentation on Ancestral research for heritage groups. Full course available to undertake as a winter study opportunity and is free of charge. CHS have got an hour 7-8pm at Thurso College on Thursday 4th December. Any one interested please get in touch in usual way.

Tel: 01847 821204 or castletown.heritage@talk21.com


Dateline: Thursday 30 October 2008

Looking for Vikings - Sunday 9th November

Following this summer's successful archaeological training project, in conjunction with AOC archaeology, Castletown Heritage can now confirm details of the first post excavation workshop. This will be held on Sunday 9th November at Castlehill Heritage Centre from 10 a.m. until 4.00 p.m. and will be led by Dr Andy Heald. A light lunch will be provided.

A warm welcome back to all those who took part in the summer activities and also to any new budding archaeologists who may like to attend. A second two-day workshop is planned for the weekend of the 5-6 th December.

To book a place contact castletown.heritage@talk21.com


Dateline: Sunday 12 October 2008

Wash and Brush Up II - Painting Classes by Helen Moore

Starts Monday 13 October

Returning by popular demand, CHS will be hosting a series of art painting classes in Castlehill Heritage Centre. The tutor for the sessions will once again be local Castletown artist Helen Moore who specialises in oils, acrylics and oil pastels.

Selection of paintings from the sessions held in June - click to enlarge

The sessions will run on Monday evenings, starting on on Monday 13 October. Beginners are especially welcome and will receive a free introductory session. Sessions will run from 7-9pm and cost £8 per evening plus materials. Juniors and OAPs £5.

To book a place contact castletown.heritage@talk21.com or come along on Monday 13 Oct. For further information click here.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Croft Crafts - Traditional Skills workshop - Sat 4 Oct

Following the success of the event held last year as part of the Highland 2007 Year of Culture Community Programme, Castletown Heritage Society staged a second workshop on Saturday 4th October. On offer were spinning, carding, fleece preparation, crochet, rag rug making and quilting. The workshop was fully subscribed, highlighting the strong local interest in preserving these traditonal skills.

A third workshop will almost certainly be included in next year's line-up of events.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Never felt better! - Felt scarf workshop - Sat 15 Nov

Break the mould and prepare yourself for that Caithness winter chill with a warm and stylish nuno-felt scarf.

Join local artist and tutor Joanne Kaar for this innovative, practical workshop and learn how to prepare the materials, design and then create your very own scarf, which will be yours to take away.

The workshop will be held in the Castlehill Heritage Centre on Saturday 15 November.

All materials will be provided (at cost - £13) - your imagination comes free!

Numbers will be limited therefore booking is essential - telephone 01847 821204 or email castletown.heritage@talk21.com for more details and to secure your place.


Dateline: Wednesday 19 August 2008

Flotsam & Jetsam - Driftwood Sculpture - art workshop

The next event in the Society's summer programme is the second art workshop by John Macleod of Thurso.

John will demonstrate how to transform innocuous looking pieces of driftwood into stunning examples of creative driftwood sculpture. Workshop participants will be guided through the process as they create their own work of art.

The workshop will be held in the Castlehill Heritage Centre on Sunday 31 August. Materials will be provided.

Booking is essential - 01847 890983 and for more details.


Dateline: Saturday 2 August 2008

LOOKING FOR VIKINGS! - WEEKEND MEDIEVAL POTTERY WORKSHOP

Pictured in action is George Haggerty, one of UK's leading experts on medieval and post medieval pottery, kicking off the first day of the weekend workshop. A charismatic and entertaining speaker, George kept the band of enthusiastic workshop members spellbound as he explained and demonstrated how to recognise, identify and date pottery and ceramic material from the medieval period onwards.

Did you know that fired clay material can turn out red or grey dependant on the oxygen levels in the oven at the time of firing? Do you know the distinctive features of Aberdeen-shire clay based artefacts that have found their way all round Scotland? If you want to find out more, come along to the public lecture taking place this evening at 7.30 in Castlehill Heritage Centre. Its free and all are welcome!

Castletown Pupils' magnificent mural now on display

Senior pupils from Castletown Primary School recently took part in a Highland-wide initiative called "Salt of the Earth" which seeks to explore in creative and inventive ways the significance of local characters who have made their mark in the new Scottish landscape.

One of only five communities chosen to take part in the initiative, the pupils chose to investigate and showcase the life of William Angus, a journeyman stonecutter from Castletown who emigrated to New York in 1866, and who used the skills learned in Castletown to build mansions on New York's famous Fifth Avenue.

Local artist Joanne B Carr has transformed the pupils' artwork, created during a two day workshop within the Castlehill Heritage Centre, into a magnificent mural which is now proudly on display to the public in the Centre.

The project was funded and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Community Foundation, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and An Talla Solais (Ullapool Visual Arts).

 

Woodturners turn it on at Castlehill

Members of the North Highland Woodturners Association pictured this morning, hard at work at their craft during one of their Saturday morning workshop sessions, which take place in the Multipurpose Skills Workshop Area within the Castlehill Heritage Cantre.

Castletown Heritage Society are delighted to welcome the NHWA as regular users of the facility, the theme of their activities being entirely in keeping with the aims of the Society in preserving local and vernacular skills.

 

Flower Power at Castlehill

The hard work put in by local volunteer Irene Wares with help from Hugh, Christine and Muriel earlier in the season has been rewarded by a lovely show of summer blooms in and around the Castletown Heritage Centre grounds.

Most of the plants were sourced from our local Woodside Garden Centre who have been very supportive of the Centre. Why not give them a call - you too could have a show like this!

 


Dateline: Wednesday 30 July 2008

LOOKING FOR VIKINGS! - WEEKEND WORKSHOP

The Castletown Heritage Norse and Viking Heritage Project continues apace. This weekend’s workshop (Sat 2nd – Sun 3rd Aug, 10am to 16.00pm) is being hosted by the leading expert on Scottish medieval and post-medieval ceramics, George Haggarty.

George is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and sits on the council of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He is also a Research Associate at the National Museums Scotland. He has published almost 90 papers or articles on ceramic material dating from the 12th to 19th centuries and is currently working towards the distribution in the Journal of the Northern Ceramic Society, of two ceramic resource disks, on 17th and 18th century ceramic material recovered from archaeological excavations carried out at kiln sites near Prestonpans, East Lothian. Keeping up his interest in medieval pottery he is also involved with a Historic Scotland funded programme of ICP-MS chemical analysis on medieval and latter Scottish redwares, and the publication of a number of ceramic assemblages from urban sites.

Whilst the overall Castletown community project is tailored to finding Viking and Norse archaeology we also aim to learn about the other material and structural remains of other ancestors who lived and died in the area. This weekend’s workshop investigates the material evidence for individuals who lived and died during the post-Viking period. George is planning an ambitious programme that involves not only lectures but also hands-on teaching from his extensive pottery collections. George will also deliver the Saturday evening lecture (in Castlehill Heritage Centre, 7.30pm).

It really is a coup for Castletown Heritage to get someone of George’s standing and what he doesn’t know about medieval and post-medieval ceramics isn’t worth knowing! He is very enthusiastic about the area and the project, so much so that he will speak about the possibility of creating a more formal fieldwalking project in the future. Whether fieldwalking or excavating, you nearly always encounter med and post med ceramics.

As always the Weekend workshops are free to attend, are open to all and there is no charge for any part of the project. Workshops run from 10am – 4pm and are held at Castlehill Archaeological Research Facility within the Castlehill Heritage Centre, Harbour Road, Castletown. We hope to see you there.

If you would like to take part in the project please contact: Mrs Muriel Murray, Castletown Heritage Society Tel: 01847 821 204 Email castletown.heritage@talk21.com

CLICK HERE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND A LINK TO THE DAILY WEB DIARY

The project has been generously sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund, HIE and the European Fund.


Dateline: Wednesday 9 July 2008

LOOKING FOR VIKINGS!

Castletown Heritage Society (CHS) has embarked on a major community project to investigate possible Viking and Norse heritage around Dunnet Bay on the north coast of Caithness.

Central to the project is the involvement and training of the local community. As well as undertaking a six-week field project, the programme will involve public lectures, training days on artefacts, survey, excavation, post-excavation and publications, web diaries and open days.

This ambitious project kicks off at Castlehill Archaeological Research Facility, Harbour Road, Castletown on Saturday 12th July 08.

The programme for the first weekend - Saturday12th and Sunday13th July from 10 am to 4 pm including a public lecture on Saturday at 7.30 - will outline the project and provide an introduction to the archaeology of the area, with a particular focus on the Vikings, and be complemented with a series of artefact recording workshops specific to the project.

Everyone is welcome and there is no charge for any of the project.

If you would like to take part in the project please contact: Mrs Muriel Murray, Castletown Heritage Society Tel: 01847 821 204 Email castletown.heritage@talk21.com

CLICK HERE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND A LINK TO THE DAILY WEB DIARY

The project has been generously sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund, HIE and the European Fund.


Dateline: Wednesday 11 June 2008

Towards a sustainable future for Castletown

The Old Parish Church, built in 1840 served the parish until 1929. In order to help build up a picture of public opinion on possible ways forward for the village, the Princes Trust for the Regeneration of the Built Environment has asked Castletown Heritage Society to research the feeling of the community on the future of the old parish church.

If you would like to express an opinion, you can:

  • email comments to castletown.heritage@talk21.com,
  • call in to the Castlehill Heritage Centre on Saturday 14th June, from 2pm to 4pm or
  • send your comments to Castletown Heritage, Castlehill Heritage Centre, Harbour Road, Castletown, KW14 8TG

Dateline: Tuesday 3 June 2008

Wash and Brush Up - Painting Classes for Beginners by Helen Moore

Over the course of the next few weeks CHS will be hosting a series of art painting classes for beginners in Castlehill Heritage Centre. The tutor for the sessions will be local Castletown artist Helen Moore who specialises in oils, acrylics and oil pastels.

The sessions will run for six consecutive Mondays starting with a free introductory session on Monday 9th June. Sessions will run from 7-9pm and cost £8 per evening plus materials.

To book a place contact castletown.heritage@talk21.com or come along to the free taster session on Monday 9th June. For further information click here.


Dateline: Thursday 24th April 2008

CHS Chairwoman Muriel Murray (right) gets the opening ceremony underway

 

Dr John Barber of AOC Archeology Group

 

Local man Jimmy Gunn and Lord Lieutenant of Caithness Anne Dunnett cut the ribbon to officially open the Castlehill Archaeological research Facility

 

The dry room where detailed analysis and cataloguing of finds will take place

View through the public viewing gallery

Official Opening of

Castlehill Archaeological Research Facility

Paul Humphreys of Caithness Archaeological Trust demonstrates the wet sieving equipment

 

Wet sieving equipment and settling tanks

 

From left: Dr John Barber, Muriel Murray, Paul Humphreys, Jimmy Gunn, Lord Lieutenant of Caithness Anne Dunnett

 

John Barber complements Paul Humphreys on his design of the wet sieving equipment, manufactured locally by Gows of Lybster

 

Local builder Tony Birdsall (AJ Building Services) and CHS committee member Hugh Crowden (left) enjoy a well earned rest from construction of the facility

Thursday 24 April saw the culmination of two months hard work to construct the Castlehill Archaeological Research Facility within the 'long building' at Castlehill Heritage Centre.

The facility has been created by Castletown Heritage Society and will be leased to AOC Archaeology Group. Working in partnership with Caithness Archaeological Trust, CHS and AOC will use the facility to support the River of Stone Programme of trial digs and excavations due to get underway shortly throughout Caithness.

The opening ceremony was ably performed by Lord Lieutenant of Caithness Anne Dunnett and local Castletown man Jimmy Gunn who used to work on Thurdistoft farm.

During his entertaining speech, the invited guests heard Dr John Barber, Managing Director of AOC Archaeology Group invoke the blessings of God or the benign indifference of the universe on the enterprise at Castletown and associate himself and AOC with Muriel Murray’s earlier acknowledgement of the roles played by funding agencies, Castletown Heritage Society Committee and others in the realisation of the project. The provision of analytical facilities at the Castlehill Archaeological Research Facility forms part of the overall strategy of the River of Stone programme.

Prepared by AOC at the request of Caithness Archaeological Trust, the River of Stone Programme proposes extensive Fieldwork and Excavations throughout the county. By providing fundamental sample, finds and data processing facilities within Caithness the likelihood of attracting leading scholars to undertake Fieldwork in the county is greatly increased. At the same time these facilities allow AOC to provide training and employment for local community members in archaeological methods. In turn access to trained personnel also makes working in the county easier and more attractive for archaeological groups.

AOC in partnership with Castletown Heritage Society and Caithness Archaeological Trust very much welcome the creation of these new facilities at Castlehill, which they see as a beginning of a process rather than the successful culmination of a project, although it is undoubtedly the latter also.

Investment by CASE (now HIE) and EU Funding in the project has been encouraged by AOC’s leasing of the facilities from Castletown Heritage Society for a minimum five year period. From the outset AOC will employ two archaeological technicians at Castlehill supported by a part time manager, all employed locally. As works progress further works opportunities will emerge. AOC is committed to a spend of £250k - £300k over the five year period. During that time further archaeological projects will be undertaken in Caithness, which will multiply the investment many times over. Sample processing from these projects will of course be undertaken at Castlehill.

Next steps include the creation of an IT hub, an archiving facility and field research facilities in Caithness to provide a comprehensive infrastructural base that will allow the execution of the interesting and exciting projects within the River of Stone Programme.

Castletown Heritage Society gratefully acknowledge the support of local contractors A J Building Services, Duncan Gray (electricians), Corrie Group (plumbing), and Gows of Lybster (plant and equipment) in helping us deliver the facility on programme.


Dateline: Wednesday 23rd April 2008

Annual General Meeting

The old maxim 'Ne'er shed a cloot ere May is oot' was kicked into touch on Wednesday when the fifty five strong audience were met by a warm and cosy Castlehill Centre, a bit too warm in fact! With the new log boiler based heating system only being commissioned the previous day the heating control system was still in the process of final tweaking - it certainly works well!

Chairwoman Muriel Murray presented a comprehensive resume of the Society's achievements over the past year, which included a full programme of events and workshops as part of the Highland 2007 Year of Culture, completion of the building works for the Castlehill Vernacular Skills Facility and the official opening of the Centre by Lord Maclennan of Rogart in November and more recently, completion of the building works to establish a new Archaeological Research Facility within the 'long building'.

A full programme of events is now in place for 2008, which include dry stone dyking, beginners painting classes, basic fieldwork in archeology, driftwood sculpture, croft crafts and felt scarf manufacture. The major summer exhibition will be on the flagstone industry, with particular emphasis on the impact it had on Castletown and the Parish of Olrig - the birth of the village and the social implications of the rise and fall of the industry.

In presenting the accounts for 2007/08, treasurer John Moar observed that in recent times have grown in complexity due to the extensive capital works undertaken and the management of grant funds from a variety of agencies. John has stepped down as treasurer after many years service to focus on his studies. Also retiring from office was Secretary Fiona Bremner.

Interim Chairman Will Menzies presided over the election of office bearers for 2008 as follows:

Chairwoman: Muriel Murray

Vice Chairwoman: Liz Geddes

Treasurer: John Crowden

Secretary: Anne Smith

Committee: Neil Buchan, Hugh Crowden, Christine Crowden

Due process having been completed, guest speaker Dr John Barber of AOC Archaeology Group gave an informative and at times highly amusing presentation on the planned activities at the newly established Castlehill Archaeological Research Facility and the River of Stone Project. More on this later!

Photos - Left: John Barbour in action - Right: Muriel Murray, John Barber and Catherine Green, both of AOC Archeology Group


Dateline: Tuesday 22nd April 2008

The Heat is ON!

Tuesday was an important day, thermally, for the Society when our biomass log boiler and accumulator system was fired into life for the first time. In the space of only five weeks the system has been taken from a bundle of components to a fully functioning state by Society volunteers, all working in their spare time. Peter de la Haye, renewables consultant and supplier of the system components travelled north from Duns to sunny Caithness to carry out a full system inspection and to oversee the commissioning.

Declaring the system fully fit for service and "one of the neatest installations I've ever seen" Peter handed over the completion certificate to Neil Buchan, CHS Technical Project Manager.

The BAXI 50kW log boiler operates in conjunction with a hot water accumulator which has been sized at 3,000 litre such that the boiler will only require to be fired once per day in the depth of winter. This approach will significantly reduce the operational burden on the volunteer staff manning the centre. Hot water for the underfloor heating system is drawn directly from the accumulator through a temperature balancing system. The domestic hot water is heated indirectly via a heat exchange coil within the accumulator.

The system has also been designed to accommodate future addition of other renewable energy sources, which will be developed as funds become available. Such potential sources may include solar water heating, a ground source heat pump and ultimately, a micro wind turbine.

Consistent with our aim to support our local community, logs for the system are being sourced from the Dunnet Forestry Trust.

The installation was made possible thanks to the award of a grant under the Scottish Community and Householder Renewables Initiative (SCHRI), managed by the North Highlands branch of the Highlands & Islands Community Energy Company, and match funding from the Highland Council Landward Caithness Ward 4 Discretionary Budget.


Dateline: Wednesday 9th April 2008

Castlehill Archaeological Research Facility

Exciting news! We are delighted to announce that the Opening of the new Castlehill Archaeological Research Facility by Miss Anne Dunnett, Lord Lieutenant of the County will take place on Thursday 24th April 2008.

The frenzy of building activity over the past few weeks is almost complete and will see a new, community-owned archaeological research facility operational within within the 'long' Castlehill building. Codenamed 'Phase 2 devlopment', the project has been undertaken by Castletown Heritage Society with financial assistance from HIE (Caithness and Sutherland) and the European Fund. The facility has been designed to process materials from excavations and its creation forms part of the River of Stone Programme, promoted by the Caithness Archaeological Trust (CAT).

This will be a collaborative venture with a commercial archaeological company, AOC Archaeology Group, assuring the viability of the project. Local community members will receive training in archaeological work and the processing of material from other excavations undertaken in Caithness, both those from within the River of Stone Programme and independent of it. Two full-time and one part-time job for local graduates will be created by AOC at the site and they will work on materials from sites excavated throughout the United Kingdom.

The Castletown site will be linked to AOC's computer network and all information will be shared in real-time. The processing to be undertaken at Castletown comprises the wet sieving and sorting of archaeological soil samples, the documentation of the results and the dispatch of materials for expert analysis, mainly at British Universities and Museums. Some routine laboratory analyses will be added to the workload following training of the staff. Processing will begin with the soil samples from the programme of broch excavation along Sinclair Bay, undertaken by the National Museum of Scotland, Nottingham University and AOC Archaeology Group.

Very shortly, CHS will also be announcing receipt of funding for a significant project on the Dunnet Bay area, also part of the River of Stone programme and of course materials from this site will also be processed at the new facility. In time, materials from many more sites will follow.

The building works have also included the creation of a new multi-purpose activity room and a large store for the extensive collection of artefacts of which Castletown Heritage is custodian.

Photos to follow after the grand opening!


Dateline: Sunday 30 March 2008

Annual General Meeting

Followed by a talk

"Looking for Vikings"

by Dr John Barber, AOC Archaeology.

First public viewing of new Castlehill Archaeology Research Laboratory. Refreshments provided.

Wednesday 23rd April 2008, 7.30pm

Castlehill Heritage Centre, Harbour Road, Castletown.


Dateline: Sunday 30 March 2008

Programme of events for 2008

The provisional programme of events for 2008 is now available - click here for further details.

Building on the success of last year's programme, Castletown Heritage Society will once again run a series of hands-on vernacular skills workshops, kicking off with our ever popular dry stone dying course in May.

The Society will also run a series of themed exhibitions throughout the season, the first of which appropriately enough will be an exhibition opening in May on the Flagstone Industry and it's impact on the people and the built environment of Castletown and the Parish of Olrig.

For further details of the events and confirmed dates, email: castletown.heritage@talk21.com or phone 01847 821 204. Early booking is advised to avoid disappointment.


Dateline: Sunday 30 March 2008

What's going on here then?

Anyone passing by Castlehill Heritage Centre over the past few weeks is likely to have noticed a frenzy of building activity taking place in and around the Long Building. The Phase 2 development is rapidly approaching completion - but what is it all about? Come along to the AGM on Wednesday 23rd April and all will be revealed!


Dateline: Saturday 29 March 2008

Biomass Heating System progress

The installation of the biomass log boiler and associated hot water accumulator is now well advanced, with all the plumbing associated with the underfloor heating system and the domestic hot water system completed. The boiler to accumulator feed circuit is also completed as far as it can be at this stage, pending final positioning of the boiler (right) which awaits delivery and installation of the flue components, anticipated later this week.

The system is being installed by Society volunteers and subject to component delivery it is hoped to have the system commissioned ahead of schedule and in time for the AGM on 23rd April.


Dateline: Monday 10 March 2008

Castletown and the Sea exhibition closes after successful run

This week-end marked the end of a very successful winter exhibition mounted by Castletown Heritage Society at our recently re-furbished premises at Castlehill. The building will now close for a few weeks to allow building work to be completed. Separate areas will be created for heritage collection storage, traditional crafts and an exciting new archaeological project, details of which will be announced shortly.

As predicted by the society, the exhibition featuring Castletown's maritime heritage created a great amount of new material and information. With the help of our web-site contacts have been made across the globe with descendants of local 19th century sea-farers, mentioned in the displays. Great interest was expressed by a specialist in ships' carvings in the figure-head of the " Flower of Olrig", and new information has been collected on sail-making and on the internal workings of lighthouses.

Perhaps the most astonishing story to be discovered, was that of "Forby" Sutherland, a native of Olrig, who was recruited by Captain James Cook, to join his South Seas expedition in 1766. Unfortunately Forby died of T.B in 1770, and was buried at Botany Bay, apparently the first white man to be buried on the east coast of Australia. CHS are currently researching the story of this son of Olrig parish.

The CHS policy to remain open to the public on Saturday and Sunday afternoons throughout the winter has proved to be both prudent and rewarding. Visitors to the winter exhibition have included locals, holiday-makers, surfers, Guides and the Dunnet Bay Beavers, whose visit featured a quiz along with Viking and pirate activities. All visitors recorded positive and encouraging comments.

Watch this space for details of the forthcoming programme of events and exhibitions for 2008.


Dateline: Monday 10 March 2008

Things are starting to hot up at Castlehill Heritage Centre

Following a successful application to the North Highlands branch of the Highlands & Islands Community Energy Company, Castletown Heritage Society has been awarded a grant under the Scottish Community and Householder Renewables Initiative (SCHRI) to support the installation of a biomass log boiler system to supply the underfloor heating and domestic hot water needs within Castlehill Heritage Centre. We are also delighted to have been awarded match funding for the above grant from the Highland Council Landward Caithness Ward 4 Discretionary Budget.

Construction of a new plant room to house the boiler, accumulator and associated equipment is now well underway and last week saw the delivery of the 3000 litre accumulator vessel and the log boiler itself. There were a few anxious moments when negotiating the accumulator through the arched access door at the end of the building, however the careful advance measurements proved to be correct and the vessel was coaxed in with literally an inch to spare!

The boiler will operate in conjunction with the hot water accumulator which has been sized at 3,000 litre such that the boiler will only require to be fired once per day in the depth of winter. This approach will significantly reduce the operational burden on the volunteer staff manning the centre. Hot water for the underfloor heating system is drawn directly from the accumulator through a temperature balancing system. The domestic hot water is heated indirectly via a heat exchange coil within the accumulator.

The proposed system has also been designed to accommodate future addition of other renewable energy sources, which will be developed as funds become available. Such potential sources may include solar water heating, a ground source heat pump and ultimately, a micro wind turbine.

Consistent with our aim to support our local community, logs for the system will be sourced from the Dunnet Forestry Trust.

To minimise expenditure, the system is being installed by skilled Society members and on completion will be inspected, commissioned and certified by registered biomass consultant and system supplier Peter de la Haye Engineering, thereby ensuring the appropriate technical, installation and system performance standards are met. It is hoped to have the system fully operational around the end of May.

For further information on the proposed development of renewable energy at the Castlehill Heritage Centre click here.