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Caithness Field Club

Caithness Field Club Bulletin
2002

A PROPOSED CAITHNESS ARCHAEOLOGICAL TRUST

By Gordon Maclachlan

On Wednesday 17 October last year a meeting was held in the Dunbeath Heritage Centre to discuss the formation of a Caithness Archaeology Trust and a Yarrows Trust. Twenty-one people attended including Field Club Members - Bill Fernie, Barbara and Jackson Hiddlestone, Geoff Leet, George Watson and Gordon Maclachlan. Nan Bethune acted as co-ordinator.

The general feeling, on a show of hands, was to support the possible setting up of two trusts - a general overall Caithness Trust and a selective Yarrows Trust. It was remarked that to set up Trusts a certain amount of specialist knowledge was required. Nan told us that a consultant on such matters who had been concerned with the establishment of the Orkney Archaeological Trust - Cameron Taylor - was visiting Caithness soon and had offered to give us free advice.

On October 25, the Caithness Field Club committee held an informal meeting. The Dunbeath meeting was discussed and in particular the point of having a bigger Caithness body, focussing on the word "Caithness" which, by being big, could attract larger funding. Such a body could be thought of as an umbrella type organisation incorporating the many existing smaller societies with similar interests in the Caithness environment. It was intended that all societies and organisations would retain their own structure and constitutions.
This was proposed by Ken Butler and seconded by Gordon Maclachlan.

At a subsequent meeting in Dunbeath on November 1st twenty people attended. The Wick Society, the Caithness Voluntary Group, the Caithness Business Club and the Caithness Field Club were all represented. Cameron Taylor, who had been involved in forming the Orkney Archaeological Trust, talked on how and why this was done.

He stressed that this was possibly not the right way for us but it had worked successfully for the Orcadians.

In 1995, the Orkney Heritage Society, with a wide remit, a large membership and an active programme felt they needed to look to the future. A "Think Tank" was set up. A visitor survey by the R.S.P.B. showed that 75% of visitors experienced archaeology and 25% of the sample said that archaeology was the prime reason for their visit. Orkney has tourism valued at 16 million. Thus, archaeology was not only a social and cultural benefit to the community, but a significantly economic one.

There followed a broad based discussion encompassing the relationship of existing Trusts and Organisations to the proposed new trust, possible development of existing sites in Caithness, access, car parking, insurance etc.

The proposed plan for a Caithness Archaeology Trust was well supported by those attending the meeting, including representatives from CSA, Historic Scotland, RCAHMS and Highland Archaeology, although these bodies could not offer financial help.

It was agreed to set up a small steering group including Nan Bethune, which would formulate proposals for the formation of a Caithness Archaeological Trust.
They would also discuss feasibility studies for a 5-year business plan and identify possible sources of funding. The structure of the Trust should be set down and progress made toward the provision of a Constitution.

These proposals will be circulated to interested parties and if, as expected, broad agreement can be reached, further meetings will be held to carry matters forward. A progress report will no doubt be given in the next issue of the Bulletin.

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