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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 5th January 2002
Issue No 264

Bid to Preserve Castle Ruins

The clifftop ruins of a historic Caithness castle have been ranked alongside the Great Wall of China and Egypt's Valley of the Kings in a list of the world's 100 most endangered sites.

The 15th century Girnigoe Castle, near Wick, is in distinguished company in the World's Monuments Fund's Watch List for 2002. Catherine the Great's Chinese Palace and the old city of Damascus are among other entries, with the historic area of Lower Manhattan a late emergency listing. The inclusion of Girnigoe along with the adjoining Sinclair Castle, gives a major fillip to the appeal under way to prevent the ancestral seat of the Earls of Caithness crumbling into the sea. Malcolm Sinclair, the 20th earl, gifted the castles to the Clan Sinclair Trust last year and is championing the international fundraising effort to preserve the ruins. Lord Caithness represented the trust at the publication of the new list in New York with another trustee, far North MP John Thurso, a the recentl launch in London. The earl said the listing was a timely boost for the appeal run by the trust, which has the Queen Mother as its patron. He said: "We view our inclusion on the Watch List as a real coup as the competition is quite immense. It's going to put us on the map in a major way. "I believe there is only one other Scottish site on the list." Lord Caithness, who is chief executive of the trust, said it would greatly help the fundraising campaign and the current grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The castles, three miles north of Wick, are in a parlous state with wind and salt spray having eroded sandstone around doorways and windows. Little remains of Sinclair, an ornate addition in 1602. Architects believe urgent repair work is required on Girnigoe to prevent its feature tower house collapsing into Sinclair Bay. The trust has prioritised work on the cliff face to help stabilise the north facing wall of Girnigoe. This, along with repairs to the masonry on both the north and west walls, has been priced at 1 million. The trust have long term plans to create a nature reserve on adjoining land at Noss Head where a Sinclair clan study centre is being laid. It intends to build a clan centre and museum as part of its drive to turn the site into a major tourist attraction. Girnigoe, built by William, the second earl in the late 1400s, was a natural citadel. Built on a rock promontory, it has sheer drops to the sea on three sides with two deep trenches protecting it from mainland invaders. The castles survived a series of attacks during the tempestuous clan feuds of medieval Caithness but were ruined in 1690 when the Campbells laid siege with cannon. This led to the Sinclairs, for whom Girnigoe had been home to five earls, shifting the clan seat to Barrogill Castle, which became known as the Castle of Mey when it was bought by the Queen Mother in 1953. The site also regularly featured in national history with successive earls dispatching men in large contingents to fight at battles such as Flodden and Bannockburn.

Flight Into Fantasy

Pedestrians passing in Inverness were given the chance to experience a unique form of flight recently. As part of the 'Year of the Artist' celebrations the Highland's premier arts venue displayed a special form of video installation. Beamed on to the front of the gallery's Bank Street premises was a work by artist Pernille Spence entitled 'I look up... I look down'. The video installation, followed a parachutist in freefall and explored notions of flying, falling and the human desire to escape our gravitational pull. director, Gordon Rogers said: "It is a public art work that's touring Scotland, it's been to Dundee and Edinburgh and we were it's third showing. "It was projected into the big arch window so that it was visible from the street." The film features a parachutist in freefall, with isolated moments where the performer appears to be flying with instinctive control, then moments of falling out of control followed by terror or ecstasy. Mr Rogers added: "They looked like they were flying and tumbling, it was beautiful falling through and tumbling through the sky, it's quite dreamy." The piece was composed in response to the 'Give Me One Good Reason' campaign which asked high profile people in public life to give a reason why the arts are important.

Cash Boost

The Scottish Executive handed over a major cash boost to the bid by Inverness to become European City of Culture in 2008. Deputy Minister for Sport, the Arts and Culture Allan Wilson announced the 100,000 handout to help cover the costs of preparing the Highland Partnership's bid. Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the local enterprise network are in the steering group behind the bid to win the title. Mr Wilson made the announcement as part of an additional 3.5million funding package for the arts, sport and heritage. He said: "The Executive applauds the new confidence and determination which have inspired the council, HIE, the local enterprise network and their partners to seek to develop a Highland bid for designation as European capital of culture 2008. "Therefore we're pleased to offer the partnership our support towards the costs of preparing the bid to the extent of 50,000 for this year and last." Highland Council was delighted with the news as the bid could incur some expenses in the short term - although winning the title would more than make up for the initial outlay.

Cadadh Clansmen

A successful Ross-shire entrepreneuse promoted her latest business at the recent Scottish Fair in Aviemore. Mary Buchanan sold off her former business, Slioch Outdoor Equipment, which she ran in Poolewe for 17 years, to pursue her venture, Cadadh. The company, which handmakes 17th century style Highland porcelain dolls, was to have been publicised in the United States last September but that was cancelled after the terrorists attacks. The fair attracted a large number of big and small names to the Highlands. Mrs Buchanan spent last winter teaching herself how to craft dolls. She said Cadadh, a Gaelic word used to describe an old type of tartan, was the result of her wanting to do something totally different. "I make everything myself, apart from the swords and dirks, which are made by an armourer based in Ayrshire who normally makes full size weapons. There are two types of customers for the product: one are people who collect them, and the others are Americans who are interested in clan heritage and history."

Scottish Pub of the Year

A Highland pub has scooped the prestigious Malt Whisky Bar of the Year award. The Uisge Beatha Lounge in the Drumchork Lodge Hotel, Aultbea, landed the award ahead of stiff competition in the 5th annual Scottish Licensed Trade News Awards. The award marks the culmination of years of hard work for owners Frances Oates and John Clotworthy, who took over the lodge three years ago. The partners recently described themselves as delighted and thrilled with the award which they collected from comedian Fred McAuley at a ceremony in Glasgow's Hilton International Hotel. Ms Oates said: "We're delighted. It was a brilliant ceremony." The bar owner put the prize down to the bar's ability to attract a young clientele. She commented: "I would suggest it's down to the type of people we're aiming at - a younger market. "A big majority of our customers are younger people and we've been really successful down those lines. Ian Craig, senior business development manager, representing award sponsors Glenmorangie, said: "Uisge Beatha won the award in the face of stiff competition from some of the best bars in Scotland. "We were impressed by the obvious pride they take in the range of malts in stock and they are always on the lookout for new ones, though with over 300 in stock, there aren't too many they don't have." Bar manager at Uisge Beatha Lounge - Gaelic for water of life - Jeanette Blackley said: "We're all delighted. We hadn't been building our hopes up too high, but we are very happy."

'Trojan Horse' Fort

Archaeologists began a dig recently that could produce artefacts from 2,000 years of Scottish history and uncover the remains of a 700 year old fortress built by an English king to keep the Scots under control. One of the primary aims of the excavation in the grounds of Linlithgow Palace is to look for evidence of a lost fort, or peel, erected by Edward I in 1302 and destroyed by Robert the Bruce after the Battle of Bannockburn. The fort was also the scene of Scotland's own "Trojan horse" incident in which a small number of Scots jumped from a hay cart to slaughter the English garrison. Settlement in the area dates from Roman times and Scottish and English monarchs regularly fought over the site, which was vital to the control of the country. Nick Bridgeland, inspector of ancient monuments with Historic Scotland, said the dig could turn up everything from Roman artefacts to 14th century fortifications and the remains of a 19th century glue factory.

Suits Golfers to a Tee

A Scottish golf caddie has developed the ultimate tee for budding golfers to help them hit the ball in a straight line. Inventor Duncan Bayne, from St Andrews, designed the plastic Projetta Tee after watching novice golfers spend their entire round of golf in the rough. The revolutionary tee claims to send the ball flying straight down the fairway no matter how wildly the club swing. It is inspired by the "plant" shot in snooker, where one ball, touching another, is struck to send its neighbour forward in a straight line. Mr Bayne said his tee worked by placing a cone shaped striker between the ball and the club to produce the same effect. He said no matter which angle the face of the golf club hit the tee at, the ball would always go in a straight line. And he said while the tee would never be allowed in competitions, it would be ideal for new golfers frustrated by losing their ball at every drive.

Charity Event

Teachers and pupils at Drakies Primary School in Inverness have been quick to respond to a plea from the charity Children 1st to collect foreign currency to assist in their work. As part of a national campaign, the charity has called on members of the public returning from foreign holidays to put their loose change towards a worthy cause. Pupils at the school handed over their contribution to the Whole Heap of Change campaign. Two enterprising Primary Seven pupils went further and organised a sale of baking and bric-a-brac during playtimes and raised 140 for the charity.

Political Roundup

Special Measure Plea for the Isles.

An MEP recently told the European Parliament that Scotland's 130 inhabited islands need special measures to counteract their higher transport costs. SNP member Neil MacCormick made a presentation to the Islands Intergroup on the subject of the Scottish islands. He told the European Parliament in Brussels: "Europe must take its islands seriously. They have inestimable value in terms of culture and history, ecology and environment."

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Rain soon clearing then mainly dry. Sunny periods, a few showers in the W. Winds strong S-SWly. Temperature 6c to 10c.
Saturday Night
Mainly dry, clear, local fog later. Risk of drizzle on NW coast later. Winds mainly light/mod SW'ly. Temperature 0c to 6c.
Mainly cloudy with light rain or drizzle in the W. Drier and brighter in the E later. Light SW'ly winds.
Cloudy with light rain or drizzle over Western hills. Dry with some bright periods in the E. Light/mod winds.

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This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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