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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 8th December 2001
Issue No 260

Fight to Stop Sale of Ancestral Isle Burials Site

Villagers are fighting to halt the sale of half a historic island - because many of their kinsmen are buried there.

Eilean Munde - reputedly the resting place of MacIain, chief of the MacDonalds at the time of the infamous Glencoe Massacre - has been put on the market. Half of the Loch Leven burial island is owned by Callart Estates. But the move by Glencoe Estates to sell its share, along with the remaining remnants of its land, has upset villagers in Glencoe and Ballachulish. Now, trustees of Glencoe Museum have stepped in and are awaiting a response from the vendors to a request that they either sell or gift it to them so it can be held in trust and maintained for the community. "Although there have been no burials there since the 1970s many people locally have relatives buried there or have used the island to scatter loved one's ashes," said museum trustee, Arthur Smith. "They do not want to see the island fall into outside hands and feel it should be treated like common grazing land and brought into community ownership." Mr Smith added: "There has been a lot of feeling about the sale and we took up the issue after some people had offered to raise petitions to try and stop it going ahead." It is being sold by agents for the late Mrs Black, who died over two years ago, a great-great-granddaughter of the former Lord Strathcona, one time Governor General of Canada, who once owned the mansion which is now Glencoe Hospital. The sale also includes a derelict cottage, a riverside building plot, fishing and netting rights on the River Coe and more than 300 acres of grazing land. Paul Nicols, at the Oban office of selling agents Bidwells, said agents were sympathetic to the community's view, but so far had not responded to the trustees' letter. He added: "There has been a lot of interest in the sale from all over the place, but at this stage no closing date has been set for offers." The island, which includes a derelict chapel, the area's only place of worship up until the early 1700s, was used for burials by the MacDonalds of Glencoe, the Stewarts of Ballachulish and the Camerons of Callart. Each clan had its own landing port and, if weather conditions were unsuitable, they had to return to the mainland and try again. Nearby is the island, Eilean a' Chombraidh, or the Isle of Discussion, where locals went to resolve disputes, and Eilean na Bainne, the Isle of Covenant, where agreements were drawn up and sealed. One grave, that of William Mackenzie, shows him taking a Dragoon off his horse at Prestonpans, while three others, with ornate Celtic carvings, are believed to date back to the 15th century. One of several superstitions about Eilean Munde is that the last person buried had to keep watch over the island and could not get free to Paradise until the next person was buried. Another grave bears the inscription: My glass has run, Yours is running, Be warned in time, Your hour is coming.

Black Isle Gets a Voice

Black Isle residents have branched out into forest management as part of a community consultation exercise. More than 50 locals attended a Forests for Real meeting where Forestry Commission staff listened to feedback from the community. The results of the exercise will contribute towards a review of the commission's 20 year management plan. It covered topics as diverse as timber growing and habitat conservation. District forester Jack Mackay said: "The Forests for Real concept is one tool which can be used to help us get the views of people who live close to our forests, or who use them for recreation - be it dog walking or larger organised events. "Naturally, local people have a great interest in what we do, but it works both ways as, at this type of event, we can often turn up one or two nuggets of information we perhaps didn't know ourselves. We're delighted so many people turned out to offer us their views, and I would also add that no single point made will be ignored." The Forestry Commission will make a summary of all the issues raised and present them as a document available to the public.

Re-run of 1806 Canadian Voyage

Scottish islanders are to re-create a voyage in which many of their predecessors headed for Canada voluntarily at the time of the Highland Clearances. The inhabitants of Colonsay aim to sail in 2006, 200th anniversary of the voyage. Organisers have started an Internet appeal for descendants of the original passengers. In 1806, the Spencer set sail for Prince Edward Island with 125 on board. A Norwegian tall ship and a qualified master are available for the repeat trip. Efforts are under way to raise the estimated 60,000 needed. Colonsay and Oronsay Heritage Trust convener Mary Carmichael hoped re-creating the voyage would encourage cultural exchanges with Prince Edward Island. Ms Carmichael said the laird of Colonsay, a McNeill, had begun "encouraged emigration" at the end of the 18th century. "There would have been information coming back from early emigrants - to some people it was the promised land." McNeill paid 6 passage for each emigrant. The emigration helped the laird modernise by clearing land for sheep. Islander Kevin Byrne, who came up with the re-creation idea, said: "There were obviously heart rending scenes, but frankly these people went to a better life." A Canadian census of 1841 showed one voyager, Malcolm Blue, was head of a household of seven and owned cattle, horses, sheep and pigs. His father and brother, who had remained on Colonsay, worked as agricultural labourers for the laird.

Honour for Inverness

GNER officially named a HST 125 Power Car Railway engine "City of Inverness". GNER is teaming up with the Highland Council and Cauldeen Primary School, Inverness, to celebrate the granting of city status to Inverness. The Power Car (number 43105) "City of Inverness" was named by Provost William Smith and will be seen by many thousands of rail passengers who regularly travel on GNER's 920 mile route network. Anne Angus, train service delivery manager Scotland said:"GNER services link the Highland region with Edinburgh, the North East of England, Yorkshire and London Kings Cross. Inverness is Scotland's newest city and we are delighted to join forces with the Highland Council to mark this historic occasion. "By naming a high speed train "City of Inverness", GNER is highlighting its commitment to serving the Highland region," she added. Provost Smith said: "This is a great honour for Inverness. The naming of the high speed train will help spread the news of our new city, the length and breadth of Britain and hopefully bring many new visitors to our area."

New Home for Pictish Relic

One of Scotland's most precious and best preserved Pictish artefacts, said to date back to at least the ninth century, is set to be moved to a new home at a historic church. The Dupplin Stone was at the centre of a fierce controversy three years ago when it was removed from a hilltop near Forteviot in Perthshire, where it had stood for more than 1,000 years, to be restored and exhibited at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Local people, suspicious that the ancient relic would be "pirated" from the area and never returned, formed a pressure group and fought a lengthy battle to ensure its return. Historic Scotland, which owns the ornate carved cross, has said it is set to honour the agreement - made three years ago after a protracted public inquiry - that the cross be returned to Perthshire. A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said it would be placed in St Serf's Church at nearby Dunning. The church is a medieval tower, also owned by Historic Scotland, and the Dupplin Stone will raise the church's historical profile. The spokeswoman said: "We are to prepare a laser record during the winter of the carvings on the cross and it will be moving to its new home early next year. It was agreed at the time that it would be a three year loan period to the National Museum and it was always our intention to honour that."

Another Pictish Treasure

A Pictish stone of national importance has been discovered by an Easter Ross farmer. Turned over by a plough at the end of last year in Ardross and placed at the edge of a field, the stone was destined for infill in a millpond. But, after a winter of being washed by wind, rain and hail, the symbols on the stone were spotted by a local farmer Jeffrey Brown and his sons. He immediately notified staff at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery of the find, and the piece was confirmed as a class 1 Pictish carved stone, common in the North and North East from the sixth to seventh centuries AD. Patricia Weeks, the museum and art gallery's assistant curator, explained: "Class 1 stones are rough slabs or boulders with the designs incised, or cut, into the surface. "The designs are usually images of people and animals, representations of everyday objects, and intricate patterns of geometric and abstract designs. "What makes this new find of particular importance is the occurrence of one rare "L" design on the stone. Archaeologists believe that Pictish stones may have commemorated marriage alliances, marked land boundaries, or functioned as gravestones, with symbols representing personal or tribal details." The stone is being processed through the treasure trove system. Under Scots law, all archaeological finds must be reported to the Crown Office through the treasure trove advisory panel, via a local museum or procurator fiscal. The panel is then responsible for allocating the material to a local museum. It is hoped that the stone will find a permanent home in the Highlands.

Seven Day Railway

Sunday trains between Inverness and Wick, and Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh, will run all year round in future. Maureen MacMillan MSP and Highland Councillor Sandy Mackenzie recently flagged off the new all year round service to Kyle from Inverness Station. Just two and a half hours later the Winter Sunday train set off from Wick. Supported by Highland Council, Ross and Cromarty Enterprise and Inverness and Nairn Enterprise, the new services finally bring a seven day railway to the network in the North of Scotland. Numerous lines in Scotland have started all year round Sunday services in recent years, including the West Highland Line from Mallaig to Glasgow, and evidence now shows Sunday is the second busiest day for travel across the UK. The Highland Rail Partnership is delighted with the new moves which will make it easier for local people and students and, hopefully, help to extend the tourist season.

Charity Event

Tartan Army globetrotter Iain Wilson was on top of the world after a gruelling charity trek recently. Travel agent Iain raised 1500 for the Meningitis Research Foundation by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania - at 19,340ft, Africa's highest mountain.

Political Roundup

MSPs Brush up Their Language Skills

MSPs in the normally English speaking chamber of the Scottish Parliament put their knowledge of foreign languages to the test recently to mark a Europe wide event. They decided to address one another in foreign languages - ranging from French to Russian - to mark the European Day of Languages. Presiding Officer Sir David Steel agreed that those taking part in the debate could make contributions in another language if they wished, so long as they repeated it in English.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Outbreaks of rain in W clearing slowly. Brighter in the E. Winds mod SW. Temperature 8c to 13c.
Saturday Night
Showers in the far N clearing. Dry with cloud breaks allowing a touch of frost later. Winds light SW. Temperature 1c to 3c.
Mainly cloudy/overcast with rain, patchy in the E where a few bright spells could also occur.
A mild but cloudy day with rain spreading from the W towards late afternoon.

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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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