Shepherding remembered among hills of Cairndow

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Not so long ago it would seem unthinkable that shepherding ways in Glen Fyne could be forgotten.

Now the tradition is rapidly disappearing under layers of time.

The knowledge and expertise in shepherding on Ardkinglas Estate is disappearing as sheep husbandry has changed – and in time the people who have this unwritten information will not be around.

In a bid to stop it vanishing altogether, community enterprise Here We Are set about recording as much detail as possible.

Bracken, natural regeneration and scrub is rapidly burying traces of the surviving fanks and other physical traces of shepherding as it was until 25 years ago.

This project was partly funded by Historic Environment Scotland and led by Christina Noble and Dot Chalmers of Here We Are in Cairndow.

Staff at Here We Are worked with archaeologists Tom Addyman, Jenni Morrison and Liz Jones of Addyman Archaeology, Edinburgh, who trained them and local volunteers to survey and record the remains of the 20 sheep fanks, or stone pens, on Ardkinglas Estate.

The result of all this surveying and research is a valuable record of recent farming practices – the results of which are on public display at the Here We Are centre entitled ‘Shepherding on Ardkinglas Estate in the 20th Century’.

A large touch screen, funded by this project, displays the shepherding project along with some of the other projects Here We Are has undertaken.

‘We have been proud to support the shepherding on Ardkinglas Estate project, explained Laura Hindmarch of Historic Environment Scotland

‘We feel that this is a great community-led project that looks to capture local archaeology and histories, including oral history, in a modern, accessible, engaging and interactive format.

‘Little is recorded on this subject and the project allows information important to the local community, that would otherwise have been lost, to be preserved for the next generations as well as future archaeologists.’

The project has been enthusiastically embraced by local people, many of whom were involved in shepherding on the estate in years gone by.

Dot Chalmers said: ‘This project would not have been successful without the participation of many of our community, in particular Roddy MacDiarmid, Alastair MacCallum, and thanks are also due to Ardkinglas Estate for access to the estate archives.’


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