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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 14th December 2002
Issue No 310

Dupplin Cross Returns Home

A decade of hard work came to fruition recently as Perthshire residents celebrated the return of their 9th century carved Pictish cross - and lifted the lid on one of the artefact's most recent secrets.

As crowds of Strathearn residents gathered to mark the return of the Dupplin Cross from a three year loan to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the identity of the expatriate Scot who bankrolled their successful campaign to keep it was revealed for the first time. The Rev Colin Williamson, who as leader of the Friends of the Dupplin Cross was at the forefront of the effort to keep the artefact in the area, said the man who funded their work was Neil Rose of Vancouver, Washington State. Mr Williamson made the revelation on a hill above Forteviot, by a plaque marking the spot where the nine foot cross stood exposed to the elements since the time of Kenneth McAlpine, first king of a untied Scotland. Thanks to the efforts of the Friends alongside the Dupplin Parish Historical Society, plans by museum chiefs to remove the cross from the area permanently were converted into a compromise, with a temporary loan to the National Museum and a return to nearby St Serf's Church, Dunning. The event saw the crowd move across the countryside to St Serf's itself an important landmark owned by Historic Scotland, to see the Dupplin Cross safely installed indoors to protect it from the weather. Mr Williamson said: "This is what the Americans call 'closure'. It is to mark the conclusion of a process, which was, 'Where best for the Dupplin Cross'? "It's one where many people have been involved and its conclusion, we believe locally, has been the most satisfactory one."

Light Up Appin

Residents in a tiny West Highland village can claim to have taken recycling to fresh heights. Not content with saving glass, paper and metal, they have now recycled a lighthouse. When the Northern Lighthouse Board decided to replace the outdated Sgeir Bhuidhe Light off Appin, they agreed to donate the top lantern section to the local community. With funding from the Lottery Heritage Fund, a four strong team of volunteers from Appin Historical Society have now refurbished the lantern. Panels illustrating local history, wildlife and the light itself have been added, and it was unveiled at a ceremony recently held at its new location alongside Port Appin Village Hall. The Northern Board decided to replace the lighthouse - built in 1903 - which had been powered by bottled gas, because it was not safe nor efficient. They originally proposed to put a modern rectangular structure in its place but local opposition forced a rethink and it was replaced with a new look alike fibreglass structure. Sgeir Bhuidhe lighthouse hit the headlines in February last year when pranksters, believed to be protesting against its demolition, painted it pink in a Mr Blobby style figure, which earned a severe reprimand from villagers and the lighthouse board.

Skye Museum Honoured

The Museum of the Isles on Skye was recently commended in this year's Scottish Museum of the Year Awards. The museum - a relatively new development managed by the Clan Donald Lands Trust in Arvasar - tells the story of the Clan Donald from medieval Lords of the Isles to 19th century emigration. Almond Valley Heritage Centre in Livingstone won the title of Scottish Museum of the Year 2002. The museum was recognised for the recent developments and alterations to the centre, which has greatly improved access and created additional learning opportunities. The project upon which their application to SMOYA was based included the creation of a new fossil section, a laboratory area for children, major changes to the presentation of the oil shale industry, a new museum store, a picnic barn for group visitors and an extension to the main museum to provide a new entrance hall and shop.

Favourite Flower Sought

Invernessians who feel their area is the flower of the Highlands were invited recently to help chose a new floral symbol. As part of a nationwide project to celebrate Jubilee Year, wild plant conservation charity Plantlife asked people across the UK to nominate a wild flower to represent their county. As voting stands, the twinflower is leading the race to become Inverness-shire's wild flower symbol. The twinflower, or Linnaea borealis to botanists is found on woodlands and heaths across Northern Europe, Siberia and North America. In summer, it produces the pair of nodding pale pink flowers which give the plant its name. The flower is facing competition, however, from blue heath, heather and oxeye daisy. "Twinflower would be a great choice for Inverness-shire's county flower," Niall Bennett of Plantlife said. "It's a beautiful plant with bell shaped flowers and an excellent choice for any Scottish county."

2006 Year of Culture Bid

Highlands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise are gearing up to work with the Scottish Executive to organise a Scottish Year of Highland Culture in 2006. The agencies have been given the go ahead by First Minister Jack McConnell to form a task force to progress plans for celebrating a renaissance of Highland culture. The development was revealed by Councillor David Green, convener of Highland Council at a reception to thank all those involved in the Inverness Highland bid for the European Capital of Culture in 2008. The bid was no shortlisted, but those involved are determined to take forward many of the plans. Councillor Green said: "The show goes on and hopefully two years ahead of schedule. I am delighted we have the support of the First Minister to proceed with plans for a Scottish Year of Highland Culture. This will concentrate on presenting an exciting and quality programme of events during the year and taking some of the major works throughout Scotland. We want to promote our cultural pledge to the 34,000 pupils in Highland by offering them free access to a wide range of cultural and sporting activities. We also intend to develop our partnerships with the key Scottish agencies who showed such support for our bid."

Ancient Castle Backdrop

The third annual Dunrobin Castle Piping Championships were held at the beautiful venue recently. Spectators enjoyed a high standard of piping in both senior and junior sections. The competitions are sponsored each year by various estate proprietors in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross-shire, and the organising committee were most grateful for their support. Committee convener Fraser Wilson said: "The judges of all sections were well pleased with the overall standards." The competition is open to pipers who have not yet won the Gold Medal or Grade A March, Strathspey & Reel at Inverness or Oban. The top award in the senior section, The Glencalvie Gold Medal, was won this year by Brian Mackenzie, of Rosemarkie, who won the Piobaireachd, M.S.R. and Hornpipe & Jig competitions. The prizes were presented by Lady Strathnaver. Fraser Wilson said that the Committee greatly appreciated the co-operation and help given by Lord Strathnaver in organising the event.

Buzzard Puzzle

Rare honey buzzards from the Highlands are being tracked on the Internet as part of a pioneering project to solve the mysteries of the birds' annual migration. The Forestry Commission is working with the Highland Foundation for Wildlife to trace the routes and wintering sites of the small population of honey buzzards which breed in the forests of the north. The progress of an adult honey buzzard, fitted with a lightweight satellite transmitter can be followed through two linked websites - and
Inverness Forest district manager David Jardine believes the project will give fascinating new insights into the lives of these rare birds and help secure their future. "We're delighted to be involved in funding this project which enables people to learn about these magnificent birds of prey and follow their epic migration to equatorial Africa," he said.

Charity Event

A group of 15 friends handed over a 1355 cheque recently after successfully scaling Britain's highest mountain for charity. The walkers were inspired to donate sponsor money from their Ben Nevis climb to the Cancer Research Campaign after their friend, Anne Cowley contracted the disease. The ascent went ahead despite torrential rain and funds were further boosted by a raffle in the Smithton Hotel.

Political Roundup

New Gaelic Man For Parliament

An officer appointed to raise the profile of Gaelic at the Scottish Parliament has taken up his new post. Alasdair MacCaluim has been appointed the Parliament's Gaelic outreach officer, charged with forging stronger links between Holyrood and native speakers of the language.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy in E with isolated showers, wintry on hills. Winds mod E-SE'ly. Temperature 2c to 7c.
Saturday Night
Showers in the E. Largely dry in W with clear spells. Winds mod E'ly. Temperature -2c to 5c.
Cloudy with rain or showers. Dry with long sunny periods on W coasts.
Overcast with rain or wintry showers in many parts. Becoming brighter in S later.

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