CAHS Meetings

The Society meets at 7:30pm in St John’s Church Hall, Victoria Road, Dunoon unless otherwise indicated.  The following talks have been arranged and if you are interested in learning about the history and ancient sites of Scotland and beyond, you are welcome to attend. 

2010/2011 (Golden Jubilee Programme)

Date Speaker
2010 5th October Neil Ramsay (Heritage Paths Scotways) Mapping Scotland’s Old Roads and Tracks
19th October Open Meeting The Society –all welcome
2nd November Melanie Johnson (CFA Archaeology) The Prestongrange Community Archaeology Project
16th November Hugh Andrew (Birlinn Publishers) The Fading Map – The written word and identity
7th December Social Evening Christmas Special – all welcome
2011 25th January Andy McLintock (local artist)
Aspects of Kilmun local history
8th February Sarah McKinnon (Strathclyde Building Preservation Trust) Preserving Argyll’s Architecture

22nd February Joyce Steele (Regimental Museum, Stirling Castle) Seven Hundred Glengarried Men – The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Volunteers
1st March Andy Buntin (Forestry Commission Scotland) The Forestry Commission and archaeology on its sites
15th March Alec Galloway (Stained glass window restorer) A Fragile Heritage – restoring our stained glass windows
12th April AGM


Date Title Presented by
7 October 2008 West of Scotland Local History and Archaeology Research Framework Isabel McDonald, Social history curator Glasgow Museums
21 October 2008 Discovering Dunollie – the history, stories and challenges of opening a 1500 year old site to the public. Catherine Gillies, Project officer, MacDougall Trust
4 November 2008 Finlaggan, the MacDonalds and the Campbells Dr D Caldwell, Keeper of Scotland and Europe, NMS
18 November 2008 Clyde Built and the American Civil War 1859-65 Dr Eric Graham, Maritime historian and author
6 January 2009 Members' Night
20 January 2009 The Firth of Clyde, the Gall-Ghaidheil and the making of Greater Galloway Prof Thomas Clancy
13 February 2009 The clearances and the isle of Lismore Russell Hay, Local historian
17 February 2009 The M74 Project – A Motorway into Glasgow’s Industrial past Robert Coleman, Headland Archaeology
3 March 2009 Ancient worked trees as archaeological evidence Peter Quelch
17 March 2009 Baldred’s Auldhame – excavation of an early-medieval church and graveyard. Erlend Hindmarch, AOC Archaeology Group


Date Title Presented by
9 October Saving our threatened heritage. Community excavations at the Scottish coast
Tom Dawson, University of St Andrews
Summary: Due to illness, Labhaoise (Louise) McKenna was the Speaker on behalf of Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion (SCAPE). Former livelihoods were gained from fishing, whaling and travel by sea was the best mode of travel. Coastal erosion means that more and more of the houses etc being lost for ever. Many monuments, including WWII defences, are situated on the coast and particularly in the Western Isles with the increased storms, these are being lost.

She explained how communities could work with SCAPE, funded by Historic Scotland, in order to preserve what is at risk. Any work has to use similar materials to the original (e.g. clay and water) and in many areas this action may only last 5/10 years.

Local areas of possible erosion are Lazaretto Point, Holy Loch, Toward Point and Hunter’s Quay (old Victorian Boathouse under the road opposite Renfield Lane)
23 October The metal detectorist and archaeology Alasdair Hacket, Scottish Detector Club
Summary: Alastair Hacket, Secretary of Scotland’s oldest established metal detecting club - the Scottish Detector Club - was a particularly interesting and well received speaker. Alastair showed us his metal detector and explained about the various types of detectors which are programmed for the various ranges of metals. For instance gold is in a similar range to iron but you soon learn to distinguish the characteristics of each. Practice on the beach and garden to become familiar with how it works! 99% of finds are rubbish!

Treasure trove is more likely to be found in England as a result of the larger number of invaders compared to Scotland (Romans, Angles, Saxons, etc) Such hoards are of national importance. In Suffolk in 1992, 14,000 Roman coins, jewellery, vases, etc were found buried and this find, for which the finder was paid £1.75M, remains the most valuable find in Britain. In the Manchester area in 2000, 2.5lbs of gold items unique in First Century Europe were found on top of a small hill and are thought to be religious offerings - reward £500,000. The Club regularly holds rallies at Snape Castle, Yorkshire where over the years the following have been found - Henry III silver penny of 1220; silver denarus from 198/210AD; 1st century dragoness brooch and Roman key handle from the reign of Emperor Caracalla. These items were passed round for us to see.

Following the fire which raged in the peat at Traprain Law, East Lothian last year, several axe heads were found and work is still proceeding at the site. The Club assisted at the dig at Killicrankie; with a survey near Edinburgh Airport where there was a Cromwellian skirmish and were involved with the Time Team during the ’Royal dig’ at Holyrood Palace. Alastair explained that, in Scotland, any reward for treasure trove should, by gentleman’s agreement, be split 50/50 with the landowner.

POSTSCRIPT: Betty Rennie informed us that before the local Woodland Garden Centre at Hafton was created, a metal detector was used, and, remembering that the area was previously used as a Camp for Girl Guides, many, many Guide Badges were found!
6 November Documenting Scotland's rural past - a new project Tertia Barnett, RCAHMS Project Officer
Summary: The subject of Tertia Barnett’s talk was about ‘Documenting Scotland’s Rural Past’. Working with local communities to record and raise awareness of our rural heritage before the buildings etc disappear for ever. The period from medieval times to the 18th century was when many people lived and shaped the countryside, but now there is little evidence of this past in the ruins they left behind. Thousands of abandoned settlements are scattered across Scotland, yet the location and condition of many have not been documented in any detail, if at all.

By finding deserted sheilings, farm buildings etc in a local area, groups of people can receive training regarding the method by which these settlements can be recorded. This can be field work or researching the history of a particular area, through the use of old maps; by investigating local place names; and various historical documents etc.- all to build up a picture of the type of people who resided there and how they might have lived.

From pictures, we saw how over a decade or so, the abandoned property was reduced to a few stones.
20 November Prehistoric pots to modern mansions: archaeology in the West Region of the NTS Derek Alexander, National Trust, Scotland
Summary: Derek Alexander, Archaeologist for the National Trust for Scotland was a most interesting, entertaining speaker, whose enthusiasm for his work shone through in his talk. Based at Clarkston, his area covers the west region from Iona to Dumfries and Galloway, including Ben Lawers. NTS has 2.5 archaeologists covering Scotland and the excitement of discovering hidden remains are the key to understanding what NTS has in its care.

Brodick Castle Park - cracks in the courtyard wall have led to finding a 14thC ditch 20 metres wide and which seemed to form the ditch round the Castle. Being completed are new description panels showing the Castle at various stages through the centuries.

Weavers Cottages, Kilbarchan- 400 people in 1723, 900 in 1800s but by 1950 there were 4. Walls of the weaving workshops can be seen and several tables full of 19thC pottery shards so far have been excavated.

Crarae Gardens, Loch Fyne - two ditches excavated and chambered tomb found. This has been radiocarbon dated to 4000/4500 BC. As this site is bordered by an existing churchyard and a chapel, it is anticipated that this is an important ancient site worthy of further excavation.

Bannockburn Battlefield - as houses have been built on some of the site, it is not possible to carry out any excavation. Arrow heads have been found on other parts of the battlefield.

Ardress on the lower slopes of Ben Lomond now a hidden history trail. Remains of an illicit still found dating to 1710-1711. Did Rob Roy McGregor use the house?

Ben Lawers - remains of farmstead sites; medieval pottery found; 7200-6700BC Mesolithic hunter gatherers sites found; also Neolithic axe factory; volcanic pitch stone found which could only have come from Arran; and round cup and ring marks aplenty. NTS have maps available. Remains of tracks and structures at intervals running uphill are thought to be stores for stacking peat. Just below the summit of Ben Lawers is the highest scheduled area - a camp site of 19thC when used for mapping and survey work.

Culzean Castle - documentary evidence enabled the glasshouse to be reconstructed while the vinery was reconstructed in 1950s. An older wall near the Castle was excavated and red deer remains amazingly dating back to 40BC-130AD were found. More work and investigations to be carried out. Under the kitchen block are the caves, many of which are two-storey and probably used by smugglers at one time. We even heard of Skipio a slave brought to Culzean but freed and given a house in which to bring up his family. This house has now been identified on an old map of the area to be adjacent to the walled garden. He lived to be 80. A fascinating scan of the Castle and Caves brought this most instructive talk to a close.
11 December Christmas Dinner
8 January Re-consideration of the Neo and Bronze Age of Argyll & Bute Dr Alison Sheridan, Kilmartin
22 January tba Gordon Noble, Glasgow University
5 February Explorations of Brodick Castle, Isle of Arran Thomas Addyman, Addyman Archaeology
19 February Walking with Stone Giants - Easter Island explored Lionel Masters
4 March Recent aerial survey in the West of Scotland David Cowley, RCAHMS
18 March New discoveries from the Scottish Iron Age Dr Fraser Hunter, Principal Curator, NMS
1 April Annual General Meeting


Date Title Presented by
9 January The Need to Communicate the Past. The Work of the Council for Scottish Archaeology Dr Stephen Carter
23 January Somerled Dr Kathleen MacPhee
6 February The Small Isles Mr Steve Boyle
20 February Conserving Cultural Heritage in the National Park Miss Sarah Parkinson
6 March Archaeology at Killiecrankie Dr Iain Banks and Mr I Marshall

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