Allt na Blàthaich

During May – June 2014 the pupils of Sandbank Gaelic Medium Unit P6/7 began to explore and record some old ruins amongst the trees at Ard na Blàthaich on the side of Loch Eck. First of all we mapped the area, photographed the ruins, and measured the walls using tape measures and measuring wheel. We also used a compass to give us the direction that the walls were running in and used some GPS machines that we’d borrowed from Clyde Muirshiel Countryside Ranger service. These gave us a grid reference number that we can now plot on a map.

Back at school we tried to create a scaled drawing of the settlement. This was quite difficult to do as we had found some buildings and quite a lot of field walls. It made us realise how important it is to take accurate field notes when you are on a site. If not, you may miss vital information which affects the accuracy of the map you are drawing when back in class. We visited the site more than once. On one occasion we were accompanied by Mr Stuart, a parent and archaeology graduate, who helped us to recognise other features of the landscape such as a possible charcoal bloomery. He also helped us gather up any pottery lying on the surface of the stream which we will take to be dated at the museum. We had permission from the landowner (FEI) to do so and to survey with a metal detector if we wished. Ranger Steve Gillen also sent us some maps of the area that were drawn up when the Forestry Commission acquired the site and planted the modern trees around the settlement.

Many questions were generated by the pupils as they surveyed the ruins, such as “Who lived here and for how long?”, “Why did they leave?” “Where did they go?”. The next part of our project will involve visiting the archive section of the resource library at Sandbank. We know from our previous topic that we can research census records, newspaper articles and old maps from there. We have already begun to look at local and national history from the last 300 years and have built a timeline from pre-Jacobites up to the Victorian era and beyond. We will also use SCRAN as an online source for our research. Once we have found the answers to our questions we will focus on publishing our research, either as a booklet for the archives or perhaps digitally so that the wider community and tourists can access the information and visit the site.

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