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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 1st June 2002
Issue No 282

New Centre for Culloden By 2005

A new 1 million-plus visitor centre is on the cards for Culloden Battlefield and it is hope the new look eco-friendly centre will be operational by the start of the 2005 tourist season.

Hugh Allison, acting property manager for the National Trust for Scotland at Culloden, said they realised in 1998 that the present building was inadequate to cope with the vast numbers of visitors who flocked to the famous battleground each year. And he confirmed: "A study was done to look at the future for Culloden and to establish a timescale for the development. "Now the trust is moving forward with its plans and it should mean very exciting times ahead for the battlefield and the staff who work here." The man heading the project team to bring the scheme to reality is Alexander Bennett, Highlands and Islands conservation manager for the trust. He has been with the trust since 1979 and has worked on projects in Iona, Canna, the Fair Isle and St Kilda. He said their vision for the Culloden Centre is it should first and foremost embrace ecological principles as an example of sustainable development in order to support the trust's commitment to conservation. "We will be engaging the same principles that were employed with the new Glencoe Visitor Centre which is regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly in Europe. It quite literally has been bolted together and not one nail has been used in the whole building. It can be taken apart and adapted or extended with the minimum of disturbance to the local environment." He said the trust had a fairly open mind about what should happen in the revamp of the visitor centre at Culloden. As part of the consultation process a public meeting was held recently. "More than 250 years after the battle emotions can still run high. Thoughts and plans were looked at. We said what our vision was but we want to involve people in its development. Anyone with an interest in Jacobean history was there to put their thoughts and ideas into the process." Mr Bennett said he expected it would take two years to plan and fund the project and a year to build the new look centre. "There has been no decision yet as to whether it will be a complete rebuild. But what we have agreed is that there will be no further encroachment on the battlefield site itself or towards Leanach Cottage which is another important feature of the Culloden story. Any extension would go in the field to the rear of the existing visitor centre."

Blood Sweat and Cheers

Budding actors and actresses looking for work this summer could face a real blood bath. The National Trust for Scotland are auditioning in its visitor centre at the living history exhibition for role play characters at the Battle of Culloden. And acting property manager Hugh Allison says they have already received an encouraging response. He says he is confident they'll fill the post before before rehearsals begin this month. "We are looking for someone with previous experience in drama who will be performing alongside Duncan Cook, a local postman, who has played the role of the surgeon for Government troops in the midst of the battle for several years now," he explained. Hugh said they were looking for flexibility because the roles change as they do two or three different playlets during the course of a season. "We have been quite fortunate with Duncan providing a lot of continuity. He's a member of the White Cockade Society and has an intense interest in 18th century military history." In recent years, the trust has employed a number of women to play the role of Mary Chisholm who was an assistant to Surgeon Grainger in tending the wounds of Government troops. The playlets run six or seven times a day lasting about 15 minutes. Duncan said: "We a re hoping to change the play slightly to bring in a surgeon's mate as well as Mary Chisholm. We are also considering providing a surgeon's tent which people can go in and view and see how an 18th century surgeon would have treated his patients." Rehearsals start this month and the play goes live in the middle of the month, continuing through to September.

Top Homes Snapped Up

Almost half of Scotland's most exclusive homes are sold to non-Scots, it was claimed recently. Some 49% of houses worth more than 400,000 are sold to buyers from outside Scotland, according to property consultancy Knight Frand International. And the vast majority of househunters are from South of the border, with English people snapping up 46% of exclusive abodes and the remaining 3% being purchased by overseas clients. Growing finance and insurance sectors in Scotland and the soaring price of homes in London and South East England have made the migration possible, according to research. But Knight Frank International partner John Coleman said the reason people wanted to move north was to escape the stress associated with "where they lived." The growing importance of Edinburgh as a financial centre has meant it is easier to get transfers to Scotland and the cost of house prices in the South has provided English people with more buying power, it was claimed. Mr Coleman said: "The Scottish buyers are less likely to be able to compete with the money that people are getting for selling their houses down South." English homebuyers seeking top range homes were mostly with young families or those thinking of starting a family. Mr Coleman said: "The biggest money is for the country houses, the real manor homes with 50 acres of land that are an hour's drive from Edinburgh - either in East Lothian or Perthshire."

Loch Ness Marathon

Tourism in the Highlands should receive a huge boost this year after an announcement that Loch Ness is to host a marathon. The Scottish Community Foundation has revealed that the first one will take place on Sunday September 29. The event, which could become a key date in the international running calendar, is expected to attract runners and visitors from the United Kingdom and overseas. The race will start between Fort Augustus and Foyers and follow a route along the south eastern shores of Loch Ness and finish at Queen's Park Stadium in Inverness. The news was welcomed by Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber MSP Fergus Ewing, who has run in both the New York and Chicago marathons. Speaking recently at the event's official promotion at Castle Urquhart, Mr Ewing said the Loch Ness Marathon was a terrific opportunity for the Highland economy. He said: "I would say that this is one of the biggest opportunities for Inverness, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus and the Highlands as a whole for many years, and I say that as someone who has participated in both the New York and Chicago marathons and have seen first hand the massive boost they supply for their economies. "There are a huge number of people from throughout the world willing to travel to other countries to do a marathon and a bit of sightseeing, so why not Loch Ness?" Mr Ewing added: "Perhaps stupidly, I have confirmed that I will be participating in the race, if the old body hangs together this year." Marathon director Malcolm Sutherland said: "Having spoken to Inverness & Nairn Tourist Board, the Highland Tourist Board and the Highland Council, the fact that we can bring up to 2,000 athletes, along with friends and families, to the area for quite a long period of time has been well received. "They can make it a big family holiday and the investment they make in that can only be good for the area."

Belgium Show

A special Flemish tartan made by an Inverness firm appeared at a major event in Belgium recently. The Caledonian Society of Ghent celebrated its 25th anniversary. Ian Chisholm, managing director of Chisholm's Highland Dress in Castle Street, took part in the celebrations which included a Scottish Exhibition. The event featured displays from many Scottish businesses and was attended by around 15,000 people. The Caledonian Society of Ghent, led by Scots expats John and Lesley Wembridge, has about 1,000 members, nearly all of whom are Belgians. They are daft about Scotland and have their own pipe bands, Highland dancers and Scots country dance team. Of Course Inverness has significant links with Belgium as a number of Flemish people settled in Loch Flemington just outside Inverness. Mr Chisholm took about 20 kilts in the special tartan to Belgium for people attending the society's celebrations. He said: "The design is based on an old setting. It's a strong blue with black and gold overcheck and with a white line running through it. It is basically the colours of Ghent and of the Caledonian Society of Ghent." Mr Chisholm added: "We have done kilts for the society before. We have even kitted out the local police chief, who is a keen piper, with an outfit." The show which attracts people from throughout Belgium, Holland, Germany and France, traded in Euros for the first time.

Banner Back on Display

A historic banner raised on the battlefield of one of Scotland's fiercest religious conflicts has been saved in a 10,000 restoration scheme. Experts had feared the silk banner, flown at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge in 1679, faced destruction after decades of hanging on a library wall. It was thought the 323 year old Covenantors' flag would have to be removed permanently from public display at Airdrie library in Lanarkshire because of its fragile condition. But now the historic relic, which was used as rallying point for Scots fighting for religious freedom from the English Crown, has been saved. Specialists from the Scottish Museums Council have restored some of the banner's delicate lettering and motifs in a massive 18 month project. Experts also spent more than 200 hours cleaning dirt and corrosive debris from the delicate flag. The historic artefact, emblazoned with the Latin phrase Nemo me impune lacessit (No ne provokes me without impunity), is one of only two such banners thought to survive in Britain. The flag has now been put back on display within a protective glass case to shield it from harmful sunlight, historians insisted it had been vital to save it for future generations. Neil Ballantyne, curator of social history with North Lanarkshire Council, said: "The banner is not only of huge importance to this area but the whole of Scotland. "Very little physical material, other than some pieces of armour and weaponry have survived from this particular period so it was vital this artefact be preserved." The banner was flown during the battle of Bothwell Bridge. On June 22, 1679, more than 6,000 Covenanters gathered a mile outside Hamilton, Lanarkshire, to defend Presbyterianism against forces loyal to King Charles I's introduction of the English prayer book.

Date for Ancient Isle Castle

A tourist gold rush could be on the cards after jewellery made from the precious metal was discovered on the only surviving medieval castle on the Western Isles. The object thought to be an item of 12th century secular jewellery, was unearthed in archaeological investigations carried out at Kisimul Castle, Castlebay on Barra. The castle hit the headlines nearly two years ago when its hereditary owners, the Macneil and Mrs Macneil of Barra, handed the building over to Historic Scotland on a 1,000 year lease for an annual rent of 1 and a bottle of whisky. The cylindrical gold object, measuring just 18mm, is thought to be possibly from the draw string of a purse or lace around a cuff. It was unearthed by a team of five archaeologists from Headland Archaeology in excavations carried out on behalf of Historic Scotland. The excavations were organised to clarify the date of the castle, the sequence of its construction, and to determine whether the island on which the castle stands had been occupied or used before the castle was constructed. The piece of jewellery, decorated with double and beaded single filigree, has been provisionally dated to the early 12th century. It fits well within the filigree tradition in the West Highlands and Ireland. It was discovered in a part water logged floor deposit which had survived in the basement of the tower. The object is with Historic Scotland for conservation. Only further investigations will tell whether it has any bearing on the date of the castle, but it does indicate high status activity on the island. "The object has been examined by a number of experts who all agree it is an exciting find for the Western Isles," said Jenni Morrison, project supervisor. "It is extremely unusual to have something of that date and quality of filigree from the Western Isles." Kisimul is the best preserved upstanding castle in the Western Isles. Early recorded references to Kisimul Castle are lacking and estimates of its age range from 103AD to as late as the middle of the 15th century. The castle has local, national and international significance as the official seat of the Macneils of Barra.

Charity Event

Members of a Highland autistic group received a bit more than expected during their recent trip to the supermarket. For Tesco Metro in Tomnahurich Street, Inverness, donated 3,000 to the Highland Developmental Coordination Disorders group - a charity which supports children with conditions such as autism and dyslexia.

Political Roundup

Youngest MSP to Take a Break from Politics

Scotland's youngest MSP said recently he was quitting the Scottish Parliament to pursue a career in law. Scottish National Party Highlands and Islands list MSP Duncan Hamilton, who received an LLB from Edinburgh University and was a Kennedy scholar at Harvard, Massachusetts, said he would not be seeking re-election to Holyrood in 2003. In an open letter to his Argyll and Bute constituency party, the Ayrshire born MSP indicated he might seek a return to parliamentary life in the future.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Mainly cloudy in the NW. Brighter, drier in the E. Winds light/mod S'ly. Temperature 13c to 20c.
Saturday Night
Outbreaks of rain across the NW with heavy spells elswhere. Wnds light/mod SE'ly. Temperature 8c to 11c.
Sunday
A mixture of sunny spells and scattered light showers for most of the day. Some heavier showers am.
Monday
Some heavy showers will spread East over areas am. Bright conditions developing in the afternoon.


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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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