About Us

CAHS Committee 2008/2009

The COWAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY started in September 1961, growing out of an extra-mural group which was under the jurisdiction of Glasgow University. The Society started and succeeded with the aim of having lectures on Archaeological and Historical subjects each second Tuesday evening throughout the winter. Now, in 2007 46 years later, over 600 lectures have been given by a multitude of professionals and expert amateurs from all areas of the country. Thus, the Society now, is well known in Scotland. After a few years a summer programme evolved and regular expeditions were organised, some residential, to visit sites of archaeological and historical interest. Although these trips have ceased over the past few years plans are being made to restart them in 2008. The programme of lectures for 2007 – 2008 are given on this web site.

A local gazetteer of sites of archaeological interest which known and newly discovered was started in 1962. The new sites were found by members, some in the course of their working activities as foresters and farmers, and some simply by members when hill walking. The gazetteer has now expanded to seven A4 folders and is partly computerised. Many of the entries were accepted by the surveyors of the Royal Commission and incorporated into the Inventory for ‘ARGYLL’ volumes VI & VII.

A Guide Book - ‘COWAL HISTORICAL GUIDE’ - was published by Birlinn in 1996 and lists and describes many of these sites. It is still in circulation. In 2007 a second guide book – ‘The Cowal Shore’ was published by Argyll Publishing. This book describes only the sites on the east side of Cowal, because as it was argued in the book, the area which is today called Cowal, was before the 14th century, divided into two parts. The east half was part of the territory of the Kingdom of Strathclyde and the west was the territory of the Kingdom of Dalriada.

The Society has undertaken and helped with many projects throughout the last forty years. A multi-period site at ARDNADAM was excavated in the sixties and seventies. Two sites, one, a Neolithic domestic settlement in Glendaruel and another of an Iron Age fortified site at Kilfinan on Loch Fyneside were dug by members of the Society. Later in the nineties two other sites were investigated – an Early Christian site at Ardnahein on Loch Goil and a fortified island on Loch Meldalloch near Millhouse. In the eighties a programme of research by survey and excavation was undertaken to discover an explanation for the presence of thousands of man-made platforms which inhabit many hillsides in the West of Scotland. All of these investigations have been both reported officially and published for the interest of the general public.

In 1994 the site of the Ardnadam excavation in the seventies having been backfilled and landscaped was accepted by the Council for Scottish Archaeology – our umbrella organisation – as a suitable site for an ‘Adopt – a –Monument’ scheme. The site was therefore made accessible by co-operating with Forestry, Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Scotland in creating a Heritage Trail. This entailed making a path to the site which continued through the woods to the summit of the local view point. The Society is responsible for keeping the Ardnadam site strimmed and tidy.

At present a new enterprise has developed which investigates a theory that there was a large Norse presence in the area in the Early Historic Period. Interest in the project has been heightened by the computer programme ‘Google Earth. Ariel views show sites which to date, have not been recognised.

In the eighties the Society’s name was changed to ‘COWAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL & HISTORICAL SOCIETY’ to reflect our interest in later as well as earlier periods in Scotland’s time span. As such we hope to continue to interest the general public in local, national and international archaeology and history for the next generation.

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