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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 22nd January 2000
Issue No163

Cursed Stone Returned to Clava

A Belgian tourist who claimed he had been cursed after stealing a stone from a historical site outside Inverness has sent it back to bemused tourist chiefs in the town.

The man said he had been plagued by bad luck since taking the stone from Clava Cairns, an ancient site to the East of Inverness. Staff in the Inverness Tourist Information Centre received the unusual Christmas present with a letter from the man, who wished to remain anonymous, asking that the stone be returned to the ancient site in a bid to break the curse. In the letter he explained that his family had been experiencing terrible luck since he took home his souvenir. His daughter had broken her leg, he had lost his job and his wife had become ill - and he was convinced that the stolen stone was the cause. Bob Hunter Dorens, a visitor services assistant at the tourist office, said staff were surprised by the mysterious parcel. He said: "The stone itself weighs a couple of pounds so it would have been very expensive to post it from Belgium, but the man was keen to get rid of it and try to break the chain of events. "He apologised for taking it and said he understood if it all sounded a bit strange but he had traced the family's bad luck back to when he took the stone. He asked us to please take it back." Mr Hunter Dorens agreed to take the stone home for safe keeping and return it in the morning but admitted that he kept it in the garage overnight rather than taking it into the house, just in case the curse was true. He added that this was the first time staff had been faced with the situation but Barbara Fraser from Historic Scotland, which maintains the site said it was not an unheard of experience. "Our Northern Office has had a few similar instances over the years although we are unaware of this one," she said. "Often people's guilty consciences get the better of them - this is not the first stone to come back from Clava. "There was one instance a few years ago when a chap took a stone but eventually took it back to the National Trust with a donation asking them to return it." The site was thought to have been built and in use before 2000BC and is part of an extensive cemetery covering the valley floor. Ms Fraser added that there is little that can be done to prevent people from taking souvenirs because it is an unmanned site, although it is visited by a monument warden during the year.

Bronze Age Sauna

A Bronze Age sauna has been discovered for the first time on Lewis. The mound of burnt stones found in the northerly part of the Western Isles is believed to be around 3,5000 years old. The find made in Five Penny, Ness shows widespread use of these sites, which could also have been cooking areas. It is likely a water trough is situated under the mound. A similar site was uncovered recently during sewer work near Beechwood Business Park in Inverness. While the mound at Inverness has been mostly ploughed away over the years, the trough is unique to the Highlands as it is wood lined, unlike stone or clay one found previously. Two others have been found in the southern isles.

Second Award for Hero

Rescuing drowning people is becoming something of a habit for Inverness based policeman Peter Wemyss. He recently received his second award for bravery for diving into the fast flowing River Ness. All other rescue attempts using ropes and life rings from the bank and bridges had failed to rescue a man who had fallen into the river in the early hour of a freezing morning in January last year. It was then that Sergeant Wemyss decided more direct action was required. Stripping off his jacket he jumped into the cold water and carried out an unassisted rescue. Sgt Wemyss said modestly: "I took the decision to enter the water in a last ditch attempt to rescue the man after all other attempts had failed." The previous award was for rescuing a woman who fell off the Ness Bridge in Inverness in December 1996, when Sgt Wemyss dived in and dragged her to safety.

Argyll 'Rain Forest'

Even though it is miles from the Amazon, an ancient Atlantic oak woodland in Argyll is classed as a rain forest. And now the future of Crinan Wood, one of the last remnants of this type of ancient woodland in Scotland, is being secured through work being carried out by the Woodland Trust. Trust staff are planting oak seeds and felling non native trees to preserve the rarity, with help from the Bank of Scotland. A spokesman for the Woodland Trust said: "It's classed as a rain forest because it gets so much rain and because it's home to so many species. "Unlike the Amazon, which is a tropical forest, Crinan is termed a temperate rain forest, because the climate is so mild." The project to safeguard the Crinan Wood is part of a Scotland wide scheme by Bank of Scotland, Our Future for Forests, to help woodland initiatives undertaken by a range of charities.

Rescue Underway for Black Grouse

The Game Conservancy Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have been appointed joint lead partners for one of the UK's most endangered and spectacular birds, the black grouse. The organisations have been appointed by the Government following the launch of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan for the species. Black grouse have declined by 75 per cent in the last decade. The action plan identifies the measures, particularly changes in agricultural, deer management and forestry policies, which need to be taken to help black grouse recover their range and numbers. Scotland holds most of the UK's black grouse. Once common in the south of England, the species is now extinct there.

Exhibition in Town

A major natural world exhibition featuring an award winning picture by and Aviemore wildlife photographer is in Inverness as part of a UK tour. After being shown at the Natural History Museum in London, the exhibition, which displays the 142 winners of the BG Plc Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, will be in Inverness Museum until 28th January. Aviemore man Neil McIntyre was highly commended in the British Wildlife category of the competition for his photograph of a young rabbit. Mr McIntyre described how he would lie in wait at the entrance to a burrow 100 metres from his home for the rabbits to emerge. His award winning profile shot was taken with the last frame of his film.

Teaching Gaelic

The learning of Gaelic should be open to all primary school children in the Highlands, two councillors have claimed. Councillor Allan Beaton chairman of the local authority's Gaelic group and councillor Michael Foxley, have asked education director Bruce Robertson to see if teaching the language could be extended beyond the council's Gaelic medium units. The call follows a study carried out by Professor Dick Johnstone of Stirling University which showed Gaelic medium pupils performed better in maths and English than those taught only English. However, the study revealed Gaelic medium pupils performed less well in science. Councillor Foxley said: "Over the next few months, with the help of the Scottish Executive, we must look at how we can carry out a massive expansion of Gaelic medium education throughout the Highlands."

Charity Event

An Inverness woman was given the royal seal of approval recently for 25 years of charity work when she was made an MBE. Catherine Matheson was honoured for her volunteer work with the local Guide Dogs for the Blind Association which included organising sales of work and other events to raise money for the organisation.

Political Roundup

'Mither' Tongue

The status of the Scots language in the Scottish Parliament looks set to grow. Holyrood's procedures committee recently agreed to recommendations which could see more opportunities for the use of 'mither tongue' in both the chamber and the parliament's committees. The procedures committee accepted that MSPs should be able to give the oath in Scots, and that when Scots is spoken, it should be recorded in the official report. Scots signs, to add to those already in English and Gaelic, will also be considered.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Some rain in the West a.m. Bright in the East. Locally heavy rain later. Wind light to moderate South Easterly. Temperature 12c to 16c.
Saturday Night
Locally heavy rain. Misty. Winds moderate to strong Easterly. Temperature 8c to 12c.
Bands of showers across the region. Bright with sunny spells. Moderate North Westerly winds. Fairly mild.
Mainly dry. Fairly cloudy with limited sunshine. Light Southerly breeze. Mild temperatures.

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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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