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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 17th March 2001
Issue No 223

Fury as Kings Battlefield Becomes Playing Field

A battle site regarded by historians as "the birthplace of the Scottish nation" is to be converted into rugby pitches, to the dismay of politicians and archaeologists.

Construction work has already begun at the site on the campus of Stirling University where King Kenneth MacAlpine defeated the Picts in the ninth century to unify parts of Scotland. The battle, which took place in 834, led to the establishment of a Gaelic speaking kingdom of Scots and Picts north of the Forth, and the emergence of a distinctive Highland culture. Historic Scotland, the government agency, said it believed the site was safe after it intervened to protect a 10ft standing stone that commemorates the battle. But despite appeals to halt the building work, the university insisted that it had received few complaints and intended to carry on. George Reid, the local Scottish National Party MSP, expressed concern about the development, adding: "Scotland's battlefields are part of our important national heritage. My main concern is to see this matter treated as tastefully as possible within the environment." The permission granted for the pitches prevents building work within 50ft of the standing stone, but archaeologists said the measures did not go far enough. Lorna Main, an archaeologist with Stirling Council said: "I am not happy about the situation and we have raised objections since the application first came in." Historic Scotland said the council had ignored its advice and the development would "destroy the romance of the site for ever". After his victory, King Kenneth moved the religious capital of his new kingdom from the island of Iona to Dunkeld in Perthshire, but was unable to conquer the Angles in Lothian.

Highland Marathon

An award winning Highland pilot recounted a marathon flight over 50 North airstrips at RAF Lossiemouth recently. Tim Whittome and his wife Jenny, picked up the Pooly's Award for completing a dawn to dusk flight which saw them pass over 50 airstrips in the Highlands and land at 31 of them last July. The husband and wife team from Aviemore set off from Glasgow on July 19 at dawn and finally landed on Unst, Shetland, at 9.30pm. The ceremony for the annual competition was held at the Landsdowne Club in London. Tim and Jenny beat off challenges from 15 aviators who had also attempted arduous tasks. The flight also raised 1,000 for the Scottish Air Ambulance Association. Mr Whittome, president of Dalcross based Highland Aero Club recounted the flight to an audience in the officers mess at RAF Lossiemouth.

Mythical Planet Mix Up

Residents of a Stirlingshire village have gone on line in a bid to end a mix up with a mythical planet featured in the Star Wars series of blockbuster movies. Locals in Balfron say they are becoming fed up of inquiries from Star Wars fans who confuse the leafy village with an obscure planet of the same name in a faraway galaxy. The inhospitable planet, famous for its ferocious cave dwelling natives and radioactive atmosphere, is a far cry from the former cotton making village, with 2,000 residents. However, that has not stopped inquiries from tourists in the area who are obsessed by the tiniest details of the popular blockbuster. Members of the Balfron Heritage Group have now set up a promotional website in a bid to finally end confusion. Chairman Jim Thomson said the group wanted to promote the village for sometime but had been spurred into action by the mix up. The school's head teacher said: "I first came across the confusion when I was logging on to the Internet to find out more about the village. "The first thing I was directed to was a website listing hundreds of planets in the Star Wars books and movies which featured one called Balfron. "We get thousands of tourists a year in this area and many of them recognise the name as there are still scores of devoted fans out there. "I would hate for us to be compared to the planet as it seems a pretty grim place from what I have read about it. We hope that the new website will encourage people to the much less bleak and far more welcoming Endrick Valley." Lucasfilm, the company owned by Star Wars creator George Lucas, was recently reported to be buying up website domain names relating to the original films. It is not known if the decision will lead to a conflict of interest with the name of the obscure planet and the Stirlingshire village.

New Home Wanted

A sheepdog is in need of a new home after being abandoned by his owners - because he is scared of sheep. Border collie Mack was one of a litter of pups brought up on a farm where he was expected to earn his keep as a working dog. But while his brothers and sisters soon got the hang of herding flocks of sheep, a nervous Mack kept running in the opposite direction. The youngster was spooked by the presence of the sheep and could not be persuaded otherwise by the farmer. Too busy to retrain his wayward dog, his owner took him to a vet to be destroyed after he failed to get over his phobia after a year on the farm. But the vet persuaded the farmer to hand him into the National Canine Defence League. Now, centre bosses are appealing for a peaceful new country home for Mack - preferably one without sheep. Staff have so far failed to rehouse the energetic collie, now aged two, but are still hoping to find him a quiet country retreat. Sandra McNee, assistant manager of the Canine Defence League rehoming centre said: "Mack is a lovely dog, but he is terrified of sheep, and he just wasn't suited to life on the farm. "It's an unusual problem for a sheepdog, but he is quite a twitchy dog and I think he just used to run away from them. "Everyone at the centre adores him but he needs someone who has time to spend and play with him because he is quite a nervous dog, which is making him difficult to rehouse."

Iron Age Dwelling

A mystery in the sands off Ardersier is posing a puzzle for professional and amateur archaeologists. The remains of the large circular structure, measuring more than 20 metres in diameter, were revealed following stormy weather which swept away sand from the beach. Now archaeologists are hoping Historic Scotland will fund an investigation into the structure to discover its true function. Suggestions range from a prehistoric hut circle to a much more recent structure connected with the fishing industry. Amateur archaeologist Sandra Low, who lives in the village, brought the strange structure to the attention of Highland Council archaeologists after it was first pointed out to her by another local resident. "It's just below the sand level, but seaweed is attached to the stones that form the circle," said Mrs Low. "It's quite substantial because all this bad weather hasn't really eroded it that much. The local man who pointed it out to me said it had been there these last few summers, but it hadn't been so prominent." Mrs Low could only make a guess as to its function, but was inclined to believe she had stumbled across the remains of a prehistoric dwelling. "It could be a prehistoric building - a Bronze Age or Iron Age hut circle," she said. Alison Fox, of Highland Council's archaeology unit, hoped that Historic Scotland would come up with the funding for research to be carried out, including radiocarbon tests to date the structure. "There are all sorts of things it could be," she said. "The most common interpretation for things like this is that it could be a crannog, an artificial island dating from prehistoric times. It is of the size and shape that it could be a prehistoric hut circle, but it is one of those sites where it is difficult to find artifacts because it is so subject to sea movements."

Discovery Aid Plea

The grandson of explorer Captain Robert Scott has appealed for help to save the historic ship used by his grandfather on his voyage to the Antarctic from Dundee. Falcon Scott, visited the city recently to promote a campaign to raise 500,000 towards the 1.4 million restoration and preservation of RRS Discovery. The programme coincides with the 100th anniversary of the ship's voyage towards the South Pole. Mr Scott said fresh water leaking into the RRS Discovery was gradually eating away at the structure and she could fall into disrepair. "This ship is very special because it was built specifically for the expedition at a time when most explorers were just using converted whalers. Ships like this just don't exist any more. "I think it's great that the ship is a centrepiece of the city and every time I come to Dundee I feel very proud to be connected with it. It is vital that she receives the support she deserves during her centenary year." Dundee Heritage Trust, custodians of the RRS Discovery, have seen visitor figures at Discovery Point, where the ship is based, plummet by over 20% since last year. Trust chief executive Alan Rankin said: "What would be the biggest help to us would be visitors."

Games Bid

Shetland launched its bid to stage the biggest community and sporting event in the islands' history. The aim is to stage the Island Games in 2005 for sportsmen and women from 22 island groups, as far afield as the Falklands in the south Atlantic and Greenland in the north. No other island group has entered the race for the 2005 Island Games - but Shetland still has to present a powerful case that it can handle such a huge project. With a population of 22,000, it would be the smallest island group ever to host the games. "It is the biggest ever community event Shetland has staged," said Sandra Simpson, chairwoman of the Shetland Islands Games Association. A video and brochure have been produced to promote Shetland as the perfect venue for the 2005 games. These are being sent to the Island Games Committee in the Isle of Man and to 21 other island groups. The committee will decide this July whether Shetland is up to staging the games.

Charity Event

A total of 740 was raised for the charity Children 1st recently from a concert held by young musicians in the Eastgate Centre in Inverness. Inverness Junior Singers, Millburn Academy string group, Inverness Schools Wind Band, Avoch Primary School, Fortrose Academy String Orchestra and Harper's dance squad all to part in the annual event.

Political Roundup

Class of 2001 Give MSPs a Lesson

School pupils from across Scotland debated the health of the nation's youth at the Scottish Parliament recently - and were told they could teach MSPs a lesson on behaviour in the chamber. The Young People's Health Congress involved about 100 pupils from over 30 schools in every part of the country. They discussed measures which could be taken on smoking, alcohol, illegal substances, sport, exercise and healthy eating at schools. They presented a mock bill, the Health Standards (Young Persons) (Scotland) Bill, which was carried, with 18 amendments, by 86 votes to three, with three abstentions.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Bright sunny periods. Wintry showers. Winds moderate NE'ly. Temperature 3c to 7c.
Saturday Night
Isolated wintry showers. Clear spells. Frosty. Winds mod E-NE. Temperature -4c to 1c
Snow flurries developing mainly over hilly areas, more frequents NW &W. Light NE'ly winds.
Mainly sunny. Generally dry, a few wintry showers on hills. Increased cloud/showery rain on W coast by night.

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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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