GUARD at Tigh Caol

Sandbank Gaelic Medium P6/7 class were fortunate enough to be invited to participate in an archaeological dig at Tigh Caol near Glendaruel along with many other schools in the area. The dig was performed by GUARD (Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division) with support from the local community (Forestry Enterprise and Strachur and District Local History Society). Kilmodan and Sandbank both attended on the same day and the pupils were given the opportunity to metal detect, trowel and bag finds, draw the plans of the site and sieve the spoil heap.
Many new skills were learned and the pupils soon began to find pieces of glassware that had lain buried for around 200 years.

Tigh Caol was expected to yield evidence of being a drover’s inn and the finds seemed to bear that out. The inn itself had been exposed and the tracks of the original drove road also had a trench put across them. The metal detectorist had already found a broken part of a horse harness where the road forded the burn. Perhaps a pack horse had lost its load as it made its way up the embankment. We learned that history (particularly in this part of Argyll) is much more complicated than a simple Clearance after the defeat of the Jacobites. Farming and travel were changing anyway. The day of the drover was changing as cattle farming gave way to sheep flocks. New roads had been built such as General Wade’s road after the 1715 Jacobite rebellion which went over the Rest and Be Thankful and Thomas Telford’s road between Bute and Inveraray in 1807 -1812. These roads accomodated carts, so the herring industry used them to transport barrel loads of herring to the cities, leaving the original pack horse routes to become less travelled and resulting in the inn at Tigh Caol to fall into disuse. This information may also explain why our site at Allt na Blàthaich was abandonned too. The skills learned from the professional archaeologists will also help us to research our own site at Loch Eck.

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