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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 6th January 2001
Issue No 213

No Prince Charlie's Cave
Updated 2014.04.01

Literary detective work by a historical novelist has thrown new light on a long standing riddle over the whereabouts of one of Bonnie Prince Charlie's Highland hideouts after Culloden in 1746.

For years, walkers on Ben Alder have been baffled by the absence of a cave where Ordnance Survey maps mark Prince Charlie's Cave. Now, with the help of a scene from Kidnapped - Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of Highland flight - novelist Margaret Elphinstone has concluded there never was a cave. The spot on the maps is almost certainly the original location of Cluny's Cage, a romantic real life house, refuge of the 18th chief of Clan Macpherson, who hid the prince on his five month flight through the Highlands and Islands. Ms Eliphinstone, a lecturer in English studies at Strathclyde University, now believes early mapmakers confused the word cave for cage and the mistake has never been corrected. Cluny's Cage was a camouflaged lattice work of growing trees, heatherrope and brushwood woven into the hillside against two great rocks which disguised smoke from the fugitive's fire as it rose in the air. The cage was on the southern slopes of Ben Alder on the north western shore of Loch Ericht. The key to Ms Elphinstone's discovery was Stevenson's description of the rocks which formed the back of the cage and a natural fireplace. She later discovered Stevenson had borrowed heavily from a contemporary account of the cage by Donald Macpherson, the clan chief's younger brother. Ms Elphinstone went in search of the cave after seeing it marked on maps. "I had always wanted to look for the cave and it is generally known Cluny's Cage was in the area, so I had Stevenson's description in the back of my mind. I could not find a cave but the terrain and rocks fitted the description in Kidnapped. There are rocks slightly higher than the cave on the maps which almost exactly fit the near contemporary descriptions of Cluny's Cage, although the vegetation has gone." Her conclusion has been supported by Irvine Butterfield, author of the classic High Mountains of Britain and Ireland and the Magic of the Munros. "Anyone looking for a cave in that area will have been completely baffled and the mix up in names is highly likely." Ordnance Survey, which relies on local information for names, said: "Cave is a common word, whereas cage, for a landscape feature or place, is not. It is more likely that the word has been misunderstood years ago. We are constantly updating and this sounds like one to look at." Confusingly, the same Landranger Series OS map shows a Cluny's Cave 15 miles to the north - near Ardverickie Castle. And there are at least three other Prince Charlie's Caves in the Highlands where the prince sheltered. Ms Elphinstone said: "Macpherson had more than one hideout, that we know. He was on the run for an incredible nine years. "But it is strange that Kidnapped, a work of fiction, should produce clues to real life events and places."


Iona Abbey is Top Attraction
Updated 2014.04.01

Iona Abbey has pulled in more than 62,500 visitors in its first season as a paid for attraction under the wing of Historic Scotland. Its success as a crowd puller has put the internationally known abbey straight into Historic Scotland's top 10 list of the most popular visitor attractions in the country. Figures released recently showed that the abbey finished in fourth place to Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle respectively. The abbey dates back to about 1200. The Iona Cathedral Trust, which had looked after the abbey buildings for more than 100 years, asked Historic Scotland to step in because of the high maintenance costs involved. Iona itself plays an important part in attracting visitors. Columba founded the original monastery their in 563. All the early Scottish kings, up to the time of Duncan and MacBeth, are buried there. A spokesman for Historic Scotland said: "The visitor numbers to Iona meant that the abbey would be a very significant property for Historic Scotland."

Two Awards for Highland Museum
Updated 2014.04.01

A Highland museum has made history by becoming the first to win two prestigious Scottish awards. The Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore won the Scottish Museum of the Year Award and the Countess of Perth Trophy at a ceremony in Edinburgh recently. Current attractions include a Highland township from about 1700, with costumed interpreters, rare breed animals, a Victorian water power sawmill, a clockmaker's workshop and demonstrations of traditional practices. And it is planned to introduce further attractions at the museum. In a bid to improve services to visitors, the museum's Newtonmore 2000 project has on going research projects on the 80 acre site into Highland rural society over the past three centuries. Reacting to the double award, Ross Noble, the museum's curator said: "This is the culmination of almost 20 years of planning and hard work by a very dedicated team of people." The Newtonmore site has just received a four star quality assurance award from the Scottish Tourist Board and is waiting to be shortlisted under the customer care category for the Scottish Thistle Awards 2000.

Orkney Ale

Beer connoisseurs have raised a glass to a reinvented brew known as "the whisky of beers" and named it Scotland's top tipple. Only months after the recipe for Orkney Brewery's Dark Island received a makeover, the traditional Scottish heavy has won top prize at the national beer championships. More than 100 beers crafted from the Northern Isles to Castle Douglas were enjoyed and ranked by a panel of jolly judges on categories including aroma, taste, aftertaste and clarity. Campaign for Real Ale director Colin Valentine said: "It's a very malty, very Scottish beer. If beer was whisky, this would be it." For the first time, the top three beers were from small firms, as more established Caledonian and Belhaven brands were shunned. Brewmaster Rob Hill said that, despite past prize glory, he had changed the Dark Island formulation after rivals tried to mimic its unique taste. Brewed at a former Victorian schoolhouse in Quoyloo, the water chemistry, malt content, hops and type of sugar used were all altered to foil the imposters. The former engineers said: "It was a nice beer before, but now it's a special beer. It used to be a reasonable well flavoured beer but now really it has layers - a beginning, middle and end."

Highland Fling

Passengers on board selected Brymon Airways flights from Aberdeen to Newcastle, Bristol and Manchester are now being served a new Highland Fling meal menu. Paul Stewart, executive chef at Aberdeen based Regional In Flight Services has created the meals using traditional Scottish ingredients. Dishes include Angus beef stew with Grampian herb dumplings, and Scottish smoked salmon and smoked chicken breast with a sweet and sour beetroot, potato and horseradish salad. Don Yule, Brymons commercial manager for Scotland, said passengers had told the airline they would like to see dishes and products from their local areas served on board its flights. He added: "The introduction of the Highland Fling menu is part of a wider response to that preference across our network. As a regional airline it is only fitting that we promote the best of the regions we serve."

Birdwatchers Descended

A rare bird which was thousands of miles off course attracted scores of birdwatchers to the Outer Hebrides. The stranded long-tailed shrike, known as the butcher bird, normally flies south from the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan to overwinter in India. But this 9ins migrant somehow flew thousands of miles west and ended up in bushes beside the post office in the township of Howmore on South Uist. Scores of birdwatchers travelled to South Uist after reports of its sighting were posted on the Internet. Ross Newham from Maidstone in England, travelled to Inverness by car. He and 18 other enthusiasts then hired a plane to get to Benbecula. They then hired a minibus. Mr Newham said: "We only hope the bird can survive and then get back on course. I am delighted that I have managed to see it. There are people here from all over Britain and this is a day I will not forget."

Bard is Appointed After 200 Years

A Scottish clan has reinstated the ancient post of bard after more than 200 years to ensure that its history does not fade in the 21st century. The MacGregor clan - for centuries persecuted, oppressed and even outlawed by kings and governments - appointed recently professional storyteller Paraig MacNeil to become its first bard since the 18th century. Clan officials said the appointment was, symbolically, its most important move in centuries. Under the old Scottish clan systems, the bard - senneachie in Gaelic - was second in importance only to the chief, of whose household he was a part. He was responsible for the preservation of the clan tradition in a society which depended upon oral history. The bard would be used to praise the chiefly lineage, recite the genealogy of the clan and diminish the opposition through words in times of conflict. Mr MacNeil of Dunblane, said the bard was so important that in battle, even opponents would "pass the sword over his head" to avoid killing off a clan's history. He said: "It's a great honour to serve the MacGregors as their bard. There was a time when bards were very highly valued. "The bard was the oral custodian of the clan's history and was exempt from combat. "Bards would have to fulfill a 12 year apprenticeship before they qualified. They would also have to commit to memory more than 3,000 works of poetry." Much of the MacGregors history was lost after Culloden in 1746 - when the old system ceased to exist - although story telling persisted as a fireside tradition. The clan - whose motto is "royal is my race" - is believed to descend from Griogar, the third son of Alpin, who reigned in Scotland from 833AD.

Charity Event

Merkinch Traders Association chairman Clair Peiraccini handed over a cheque for 250 to Hilary Kirkby, fund-raising manager for Macmillan Cancer Relief in the Highlands. The money donated by the association was the second gift to the charity this year and is intended to support the 1.6 million Macmillan Raigmore Cancer Unit Appeal for a new chemotherapy unit for the hospital.

Political Roundup

MSP Backs Move for North Learning Disability Centre

Shadow Minister for the Highlands and Islands, Duncan Hamilton SNP MSP has lodged a Parliamentary Motion supporting an application to bring the proposed Scottish Centre for Learning Disabilities to Inverness. An invitation to apply for a grant to establish the centre was recently advertised and a consortium of Inverness organisations are currently investigating the possibility of submitting a bid.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Mainly cloudy/showery in the N W. Bright spells in the E. Winds mod/fresh W. Temperature 4c to 7c.
Saturday Night
Showers becoming widespread. Snow on hills in the W. Winds fresh/strong W. Temperature -1c to 3c.
Sunday
Brisk W wind. Cloudy skies with some showers, mostly in the N. Brighter spells in the E.
Monday
A mixed day with sunshine and some showers, heavy at times later. Clear spells/showers by night.


Caledonia



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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