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April 1988 Index

Bulletin Index Caithness Field Club

Caithness Field Club Bulletin
April 1989

Vol 5  No 1                    April 1989

Northern Scotland has a long tradition of interest in its environment and history but there has never been any kind of study institution which could pursue potential economic and educational developments related to the area. 

To remedy this situation an institute to be known as the Northern Studies Centre, has been established to cover Caithness, Orkney and Shetland.  It is a charitable trust which will aim to involve local interest and initiative in the pursuit of activities of a practical, scientific and cultural nature.  Examples of projects which have been identified to date are as follows:-

1.      Climatic change in Northern Scotland: influence of the 'greenhouse effect' on wild plants and agricultural crops in Caithness and Orkney. 

2.      Mesolithic evidence in Caithness and Orkney, and comparison with Shetland settlement in the light of new evidence in the Ice Age. 

3.      Agriculture: land use patterns and rural employment in Caithness, Orkney and Shetland in the context of changing national agricultural and conservation policies. 

4.      Astronomical investigation of stone settings in Caithness and Sutherland. 

5.      Land ownership in Shetland, from an analysis of old records.

6.      Investigation of the decline of seabird colonies in Shetland. 

The Centre will:

1.           Encourage research and initiate projects. 

2.           Liaise with researchers elsewhere in the UK and other countries to assist research on the-northern counties and make the results known in the area. 


3.                  Publish summaries of research and make these available to schools, colleges and libraries. 

4.                  Establish a data base of work published on geology, landscape, plant life, archaeology, history, agriculture, forestry and industry. 

5.                  Help to organise and fund high quality lectures and conferences in the area. 

6.                  Help with courses relevant to the development of the area training for tourism. 

7.                  Produce an annual publication giving an account of its work and its plans for the future. 

Highland Regional Council have made available, on a 10 year lease 2 rooms in Halkirk School for the Centre's administration.  Financial support is being sought from Caithness District Council, Orkney Islands Councils and Highland Regional Council.  Almost 14,000 has been raised privately and an extensive membership and sponsorship appeal for the centre will be launched shortly. 

This is an auspicious financial start to an initiative which will highlight the northern counties, add to the dynamism of the area and increase the awareness of Caithness, Orkney and Shetland as important research resources. 

Further financial support is still needed and full details of the Centre's constitution and proposals are available from the Director, Donald Omand, University of Aberdeen, Department of Adult and Extramural Studies, Braal, Halkirk, Caithness, KW12 6XE. 


Many members will know Eric Talbot, honorary Vice President of the Field Club and formally lecturer in medieval archaeology in the University of Glasgow.  He carried out excavations at the Clow chapel site and the Bishop's Palace Scrabster, and also has lectured on a number of occasions to the Field Club.  His latest venture, in which we wish him every success, is the formation of Mid Wales Tours which specialises in archaeological and historical study tours offering the following services:-

1.           Residential tours, based in Brecon, and covering 'Kilvert Country' at weekends and undertaking 'A Celtic Pilgrimage', during the week.  All tours start and finish at Hereford.  Weekends will involve visits in the Clyro, Hay-On-Wye, Llanthony and Brecon areas whilst the 'Pilgrimage' will take participants as far afield as Llandaff (and the Vale of Glamorgan) and St David's Cathedral.  Bookings can now be made for the period April 21st to October 27th.  Weekend tours start at 2pm on Friday (coinciding with the end of the mid-week tour) and finish at 2pm on Monday - when the week's tour begins.  Prices will vary according to the type of accommodation chosen. 

2.                  A service is offered to organise accommodation, travel and, if required, a courier for those University and fieldworking and extra-mural Departments who would like to take advantage of what southern Powys (i.e. the Brecon Beacons National Park) has to offer.  Neighbouring areas can be covered. 

There is now easy access to mid Wales from major centres of population. 

3.                  A courier/booking/enquiry service can be provided for archaeological groups wishing to organise trips to Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark and Cyprus. 

Further details may be obtained from Eric at Kensington House, Brecon, Powys, Mid Wales, LD3 9AR. 

Four-Posters: Bronze Age Stone Circles of Western Europe: Aubrey Burl: 227 pp: illus: Four-Posters have been recognised as a type of stone setting particularly common in central Scotland.  Four standing stones are set at the corners of an approximate rectangle and often on the perimeter of a circle.  This latest publication gives a detailed account of such sites together with details of their possible origins, distribution, dating and astronomical consideration.  A detailed gazetteer of sites together with plans of the settings is given.  One site omitted by the author is that of Bouilag described elsewhere in this edition of the Bulletin.  Unfortunately reference to this site had been overlooked but it will be included in any future edition.  This is a very well researched book and takes into consideration sites not only in Scotland but includes the whole of Great Britain and Ireland together with Brittany.  BAR Oxford: 15.00. 

The New Caithness Book: Coming soon. 


At the AGM held in April the following members of committee were elected:

Chairman                         Alan Abernethy
Vice Chairman                    Geoff Leet
Secretary                    Marion Owen
Treasurer                       Geoff Leet

Members of Committee - Brian Hughes, Gordon Maclachlan, George Watson, Ernest Jones, Margaret Abernethy, Elizabeth Rintoul. 

The Wick Society are proposing to restore a brig, mill, kiln head and craft house at Milton of Aukengill.  Members of the Field Club who are interested in helping are invited to get in touch with the Secretary of the Wick Society. 

Sunday 30th April
Outing by car to the southern harbours.  Leave Thurso station 10.00am and Wick Market Place 1015am.  Meet Latheronwheel Harbour.  George Watson to lead

Friday to Sunday 19th - 21st May
Weekend at Contin.  Accommodation now fully booked in Craig Darroch Lodge Hotel, 1.25 miles north west of Contin.  Turn left into the hotel drive and arrive in time for dinner.  Allan Abernethy to lead

Sunday 11th June
Visit to Stroma for members only.  First trip from John O' Groats at 9.30am.  Cost 5.00 per person - pay on arrival.  Members must book by phoning Allan Abernethy on Wick 2702.  Please phone by 1st June.  Walking distance "go as you please" and quite easy.  Margaret Abernethy to lead

Sunday 25th June
Skelpick and Invernaver.  Leave Wick Market Place at 9.30am, meet at Thurso Railway Station at 10.00am.  Walking distance approx.  3 miles.  Les Myatt to lead

Sunday 23rd July
Ascent of Ben Loyal with alternative low level walk for non-climbers.  Leave Wick Market Place at 9.00am, meet at Thurso station 9.30am.  Geoff Leet and Ken Butler to lead

Sunday 20th August
Loch Calder.  Leave Wick Market Place at 9.30am, meet Thurso Railway Station 10.00am.  Walking distance 4 miles, fairly easy.  George Watson to lead

Sunday 17th September
Guided tour by Fountain Forestry.  Leave Thurso Railway Station at 9.30am, meet Wick Market Place 10.00am.  Members must book in advance for this trip by phoning Marion Owen, Thurso 62999.  Twenty bookings can be accommodated in Forestry buses.  Further bookings to provide own transport.  Private cars should travel in with 2 or at most 3 people because of rough forest roads. 

DOGS   The committee wishes to emphasise that dogs must not be taken on any of these outings.