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Proposed Caithness Archaeological  Trust

Yarrows Heritage Trust
Public Meeting Held 10 April 2002 - Thrumster Village Hall

The Newly formed trust held another public meeting to keep local people informed about the progress of the new trust towards fulfilling its ambitions of opening up and publicising the huge numbers of archaeological sites in Caithness.  They are concentrating on a small area that forms a triangle between Camster, Hill O' Many Stanes and Haster.

The trust has been very active in its short existence of just a few months and already has put in place several funding routes that they are following up with Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise and the Highland Council.  They are also looking to approach trusts such as the Leverhulme foundation for more funding to carry the work on the sites forward.

Highland Council Archaeology department have provided the trust with details of 53 scheduled monuments in the triangle and given them a copy of 100 pages of information about the monuments in the area they propose to develop for local people and visitors to the county.

Reports were given by Amelia Pannet on the work she has been doing in the last couple of weeks as a follow up to her field work last summer at Oliclett on the Thrumster estate.  Amelia has been studying the chambered cairns in Caithness and has with the help of a team from Cardiff university followed up the Mesolithic discoveries made last summer.  Over 1200 flints and over 80 microliths - the tools used for fashioning the flints into useful material - from that period were found in a small sample area.  This period of Caithness history is completely new it having been thought that man did not appear in the Caithness landscape until much later.

So in addition to dealing with the monuments listed from later periods , many of them Neolithic there is work to be done on the recent discoveries. 

Richard Tipping a Soil scientist from Stirling University has been back and taken core samples from the area but funding is required to do the detailed work on the core samples.  This type of funding may be difficult to obtain but the group are not giving up hope.

Ms. Pannet gave a short talk on the findings and explained what she hoped the trust might do in tidying up some of the monuments that were in some cases in a very poor state suffering the neglect of centuries and even the digs undertaken in the nineteenth century where the need to excavate was given priority but often no follow up work to put the stones back in place with spoil heaps left where they were when the sites were abandoned. 

The soil scientists think that there was probably a river flowing through the area draining a loch that was once part of the landscape but which was later drained as part of the agricultural improvements in the county.

There is a need to have interpretive information available for the public who often pass through Caithness on their way to Orkney where much work has been done to tell people what is there.  Caithness has significantly larger amounts of archaeological sites but by comparison has little information or sign posting to let people know they are passing through a very rich historical area.  This is part of what the trust hopes to improve on.

The trust hopes to begin to produce a quarterly newsletter to let everyone know what progress is being made.  Funding  has been agreed for the development of a five year business plan.  The business plan will be drawn up by Cameron Taylor who helped Orkney Island Tourist Board develop many of their plans in the past.

A walk from Yarrows Broch up Warehouse Hill shows the range and diversity of many of the monuments but there are many others hidden from site that take some time to find and there is little information on the sites to allow the public to understand what happened in the area thousands of years ago.  There is a trail marked out that has been their for many years and it is hoped to bring continuing improvements to this and the monuments on the route.