Category: Port Charlotte Primary

2019 Dunyvaig Dig!

On Tuesday 27th of August the whole school went to Dunyvaig to contribute in a archaeology dig .  A kind lady called Sophie was are tour guide showing us all the stations, for some stations examples there was a digging in the trench, photography and looking at findings and lots more.

Personally I think that everyone loved the digging the most because the pride of finding some thing is just amazing but it was probably because we got to get dirty on a school day! But when I was digging I was the only one who found something from p6/7 and I found a broken part off a clay pigeon. When we were at the photography station we got to use a professional camera and are group made silly videos and I videoed it because I don’t like cameras.

But the last thing my group did was my favorite we got to hold and see all the artifacts from last year and this year.  My favorite thing was the half a cannon ball they thought that it was from a attack when clan Donald attacked Dunyvaig.  And another cool thing from last year was a stamp with a name and date on it.  And their most recent find was a broach from the 17th century.  Then sadly the day had to end.

By Caitidh

Our Seals

We were really excited when we heard that the archaeologists had found the Seal of John Campbell of Cawdor.  We decided to make our own seals.  Our initial designs were quite detailed:

We realised we would need to make them more simple for our seal models.  We used clay to make the seals.

Some of us wrote letters using a feather and rolled them up.

Then we sealed the letters with hot wax.

When we pressed our seals on we could see the pattern we had made.

We realised that this was a good way to make sure your letter was private, like an early way to avoid identity theft!

Our Dunyvaig Stories

We wrote stories about the history of Dunyvaig.  What would it have been like to be there at the time?  Here is one for you to read…


The siege of Dunyvaig 

by Matthew

One day at Dunyvaig castle everything was very calm the villagers were doing their normal thing .

The farmer was just harvesting wheat. Inside the castle John MacDonald, the Lord of the Isles the owner of the castle was just having not a good feeling. The guard in the tall tower looked into the distance and there were about twenty boats coming towards the castle!  They were very far away.  He told John.  John was shocked but he was ready for a fight. The following day the ships

looked gargantuan now. There were so many ships. “They’re coming our way!” said the guard “this is not good! said his friend “we need to get ready for a big battle in one hour…”

The battle began. “They’re surrounding us!” said the guard “the ship looks like it’s looking at me this is really not good”

“We’re trapped. It’s a siege. We’ll soon have no food and no water at all so we’re all dead.” I’ll go and tell the Lord of the Isles. He talked to John MacDonald and John said we have to try to get food. He tried but he could not. One of the Campbells tried to kill him but then he sprinted back inside back inside. He told John he could not get any food at all so he sat down and went to talk to his friend. He said “I need to get food we are all going to die! Look at the villagers they’re all panicking they’re all so hungry.”

From the tower the guards shot about ten Campbells. It was their only hope hardly anybody could survive.  A lot had died. They needed food immediately they could only last about two more days. They were all going to die and John was panicking a lot. I mean a lot.

Meanwhile one of the heavily armoured guards tried to get food but he was speared by arrows three hit his head and two hit his arm. His arm was fine because he had armour on his arm but he forgot to put on his helmet so he dropped dead. John dropped his seal and made a run for it. John was petrified so he ran fast as a bullet, he was absolutely panicking. The guards were shooting lots of Campbells.  John shot the big muscly one in the leg he had steel on his leg so he was fine. He whipped out his bow and the arrow hit him in his chest he was not dead yet. The big muscly one was angry he was furious he came into the castle.  And John Macdonald ran down to the sea gate and got in a boat.  He sailed away to freedom.  Sadly, the Campbells won the siege and got to keep the castle of Dunyvaig.

picture by Louise

Our Trip To Dunyvaig

Dunyvaig Castle

On the Tuesday the 21st of August the P5-7 went on a trip to Dunyvaig castle archaeology site. We all put on our wellies, waterproofs and got onto Mr Mackie’s bus and set off to the castle. I felt so excited when we finally arrived at Laphroaig distillery and got off the bus.

Mrs McLellan told us to go into pairs and we started to walk up the hill to the castle. Once we reached to some houses we smelt wet dog but I forgot about it when I saw Dunyvaig castle sitting on what looked like was a hill of grass.

We walked down a slope and Lauren came and greeted us, she started telling us all about the castle, that the castle we can see is 700 years old and the castle underneath it they think is Neolithic. The also told us that it didn’t actually look like that in the old days.  It is like that because it fell down. Lauren took us to what some of the people were digging up. Lauren said it was some sort of house and we thought it could have been a blacksmiths, you could see what they meant about it being a house, it was as if the roof, walls and everything inside had been taken off the house. Next she showed us artefacts that were in plastic bags, they were bones, animal bones, half a cannonball and what they thought was some kind of fishing weight.

Then we walked into what was a courtyard of the castle, if we looked to our left we could see people digging up the trenches then if you looked to your top right you could see the bit where the boats came in and out, they were digging that up as well. Then Lauren led us out of the courtyard back to where the blacksmiths house and we laid on the grass whilst we waited for what we were going to do next.

Next Mrs McLellan put us in groups, I was with Melody, Hannah and the P5 girls and Lauren took us to the where the boats came in and out of the castle. Lauren gave us a trowel each and lined us along the dig. Lauren said we don’t dig down, we scrape it like as if we are spreading butter on toast and then we started scraping the dirt. We were also told if we had any questions we could ask Nick who was sitting on grass, also if we keep scraping the dirt will change colour a little bit. I found a dead orange bug and some quartz, I felt happy that I had found some quartz and all the colourful little stones in the dirt looked so pretty. I picked up a little stone that felt odd, I asked Nick about it and he said it was sandstone, so I dropped it into my dirt pile and continued digging.

When we had a big enough pile of dirt we could get a shovel and drop it into the bucket. Then Lauren came over and said it was time for us to stop, I was sad but I knew we couldn’t do it all day because we were going to Port Ellen School. We all gave our trowels back to Lauren and she put them into a box and we went with Mr Mackie and Lauren out of the what was a courtyard but now is grass and saw the P5 boys helping dig a part of the wall then the P6s came as well. Finally we said thank you to the archaeologists, I felt sad that we had to go but we couldn’t stay.

I had a really good time digging at Dunyvaig Castle, I looked at the castle one more time, I saw the white tent, the entrance to the courtyard, the remains of the castle and the people dotted around the archaeology site. I carried on walking to Mr Mackie’s yellow bus.

By Neil  MacPherson


More Gaelic Poetry

Here is another example of gaelic poetry from Mara:

Is mise Dùn Naomhaig,             I am called Dunyvaig,

Tha mi mòr,                           I am big

Tha mi casteal,                       I am a castle,

Tha mi fuar,                            I am cold,

Tha i dorcha,                          It is dark,

Tha mi cunnartach,                  I am dangerous,

Tha mi dubh agus donn.             I am black and brown.




Famous People from the Time of Finlaggan

In class we have been researching famous people from the time of Dunyvaig and Finalggan, from Godred Croven to John the II of Islay.  We have learned what life was like at the time and the family tree surrounding the lord of the Isles.  We created posters of the famous figures; below you can see our poster for Godred Croven and Somerled, two of the earliest characters associated with Islay.

Islay Seal





P67 at Port Ellen have been recreating a letter from the time of Dunyvaig castle. They had to imagine a letter that might have been written and had a seal attached.  This is because there was a seal from 1593 discovered at this years dig at the castle; seals were used with wax to seal letters to make them official.  We have been using a seal in class to add to our letters, which we have aged using cold tea.  We melted wax in a spoon over a candle and then used a tree of life seal to imprint in the wax.  We think they look very authentic!

Dunyvaig Letter

We have been learning about Dunyvaig Castle.  Our class did a lot of research and had learned what life was like in Dunyvaig castle.  Also what they wore and what they did in a castle.  We also went to the dig at Dunyvaig and include some of the facts we learned.  After our weeks of research we had to imagine we were someone in a castle writing a letter to a family member or a close friend. When we wrote the letters some of us wrote it from the time 1593 which someone at Dunyvaig found a seal with that date on it.  All of us used all the facts we had learned through are topic about Dunyvaig into our letter and when we went to the dig.  A few people in are class choose a mother or a father but the other people choose some people like Lord Campbell.

Dear Daughter,

I have regretted switching clans this place is falling to bits. Because of those attacks from Lord Campbell. At the moment our leader is planning in the great hall are next attack on the Campbell! So many soldiers have been tacking out of the war and have been sent to the wise woman. If I was them I would not go and see her people have went in with two arms and have come out with one. Our leader is so mad with Lord Campbell.

Today the hunters have come back to the castle with a magnificent deer for dinner tonight. They were very quiet on their horse with the long bow ready to shoot. Everyone was setting the Great Hall up for the feast tonight. The minstrels were ready to sing and dance. At the moment my favourite song is Birlinn Ghoraidh Chrobhain.Finaly they have put the dear on the spit over the burning hot fire and ready to eat.

Yesterday we had a terrible storm we needed five men to close the sea gate. All of our Birlinn got destroyed our lead was so annoyed he said “What are we going to do if the Campbell’s attack us we have no escape boats until next week! “When the storm wa s happening all of the women went up to the solar room to sew a tapestry. It was a beautiful tapestry the embroidery thread added some colour into the castle. Currently everyone is really busies since that storm carpenters are making some more Birlinn in case of a battle. And the Black Smiths are making daggers, swords and spears. That is all for now I will keep you up to date with what is happening. 

Your Loving Mother                                                                       




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.