Author: Mrs Clark

Primary 123 Recreate Dunyvaig Castle

We have all been learning about life in castles at Port Ellen this term following our exciting trips to Dunyvaig Castle to take part in the archaeological dig.  Primary 123 have made their own castles with working drawbridges from paper, and they have been researching what people who lived in the castles did.  Here is a clip explaining their work.


On Wendnesday 29th August we went on a bus to go to Finlaggan. When we got there our class was the first to go and see all of the old buildings and island in the middle of the Loch.  When we were finished outside we went inside to see a lot of old things that the Lords of the Isles would use and other things they used in the medieval times and the family tree of one of the familys that lived there and facts about Finlaggan. When we were done that we got back on the bus but the bus was leaking oil so we had to drive to mundells yard to get a new bus and came back to school.

I enjoyed learning facts about Finlaggan and the best part was when we got there.

At a Dig

On Monday 20th   August we went to Dunyvaig. We met Darko Markovic who showed us around the site. First he showed us a burned down house, which they said might have been used for fighting.


After that we were shown a rock with a hole in it which was filled with water. They thought it might have been for taking shells off scallops. Then we went to the front of the Dunyvaig castle where we saw two destroyed houses. We were also told the back story of Dunyvaig castle and we were told that it was good at defending attacks because of its placement and the material it’s made of.However one day it got destroyed by cannons and muskets.


Next we went and started to clean some dirt off a dug out rectangle next to a destroyed house and a sea gate used for boats to get in and for people living in Dunyvaig to escape in an emergency.


We put the dirt in buckets and then when the buckets were full we would give them to some people doing the dig and they would empty the buckets then give us the buckets back to fill up again. To do this we were separated into groups. My group was in a rectangle and the over group was like a curved rectangle. In both of the groups we had our own areas to clean bits of dirt, and we were protective over our areas as we made a competition and whoever filled up their buckets first would win, but we didn’t have time to fill up our buckets completely.


After walking down to a table next to a tent which was used to put in things they were using to dig or things they found in the dig someone showed us some things that they had found in the dig, such as a piece of wood that could have been used to put string through and some rocks from the time of Dunyvaig. After seeing the rocks and other items which were handed around we left the Dunyvaig site and went back to the school. I really enjoyed it.


Dunyvaig Artifacts

On Monday 20th August P6/7 from Port Ellen went to Dunyvaig castle. It was a really fun adventure and we saw lots of artifacts. The first they showed us was a piece of a cannon ball. They passed around little bones in a bag and there was three other bags, in the next bag was a piece of pottery the pottery had a wavy pattern on it. In the next bag there was very fragile shells so we had to be carefull the shells were clean but they still had a bit of brown round the bottom rim. In the last bag there was musket ball out of a musket gun; the bullet was small and round, a little bit smaller than a normal bullet. The cannon ball was all rusted over and broken in half we got told they wouldnt be a perfect circle it would just have to be the right size to shoot out a cannon. Overall the day was good and it was a good adventure.

Aaron and Jack

Kilbride Chapel

On Thursday 23rd March primary 5/6/7 walked to the ruins of Kilbride Chapel in order to survey it as part of the Islay Heritage Schools Project. For this project all the schools on Islay visited the Giant’s Grave earlier in the year and then worked with Reading University to choose a monument close to their school which they would then adopt and survey to find out more about it.  Port Ellen’s site was Kilbride chapel and they surveyed the site using geophysics, archaeology photography, scale drawing and by making a documentary.

Rob showed us how to do the geophysics; there was machine and that went into the ground with electricity to see if they could find anything else about the land around the Chapel. The geophysics worked by sending an electrical current through the ground and if there was a higher reading then there was a rock under the ground this is because it takes more energy to get through the rock. If there was a lower reading that means that there would of been water because it didn’t use lots of energy to get through it. To use the geophysics you would stick both spikes into the ground and wait for a beep then move onto the next spot a certain distance away. We were all glad that people from the University Of Reading to come over and help us as they were very interesting and taught us lots.  The data we gathered from the geophysics will actually be used in the final report on the site which is very exciting.

We were also doing archaeology photography with Alex. Before you take the picture you have to remember two things. The first thing to remember is you need to put the measuring stick onto where you are taking a picture of so you have a scale to know how big the things in the photo are, and you have to remember to use the right size measuring stick. The other thing to remember is to put a chalkboard with the sites name, where it is, what it is and what direction it is taken from. You also need to put a north arrow pointing to north. You have to fill in a register after taking a picture. You have to write the site name and the description from the chalkboard, what direction it was from and lots more. This is so that people in the future know what it was about. The site name was KIL17 for Kilbride chapel in 2017.  We enjoyed taking accurate photos.

We were also did photography and filming and you had to put up a big 5m pole to sit the camera on and you have to make sure that the camera is screwed on properly so it won’t fall off. The archaeologists helped us with all of this. We also made a documentary and it was about what we were doing at Kilbride Chapel and we had to use a radio microphone to record. Showing us how to do things properly is one of the reasons Islay Heritage is so good.

The last activity we did was making an accurate scale drawing of the chapel with Darko. We did this by measuring all the sides and scaling it down properly on graph paper with a scale of 1:50. The picture looked really cool and showed us what the chapel looks like-it had really thick walls and was a lot smaller than we thought it would be.  We checked our drawing was correct using a GPS positioning pole.  We learned lots of new skills and at the end we got to see the results of the geophysics in school and it showed that there might have been an enclosure around the chapel and we were the people who found out that evidence which was very exciting!  We then drew pictures of what we thought it might have been like in the past before it fell down.

We want to say thank you to Islay Heritage because they have helped us with all our archaeological digs and surveys by showing us what you need to know to be an archaeologist .  We have also found out lots more about our local heritage and know that Islay is an amazing place with lots of history waiting to be discovered.  Without them none of this learning would have been possible and they have helped us know more about where we live and what it used to be like. We appreciate all the help we get from Islay Heritage. THANK YOU ISLAY HERITAGE!

By Kaitlyn and Rowan