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Behind the scenes this season

A man is on a ladder leaning across the tiled roof of a stone barn, beside Preston Mill.
Preston Mill
The Trust’s teams of expert staff and volunteers work all year round, carrying out important tasks to conserve our natural and cultural heritage. Here, we share updates from just a few of them.

Repairing the roof at Preston Mill

Work has recently been completed on Preston Mill’s iconic orange pantile roof, using traditional techniques to protect the building. Some of the roof tiles had been in place for more than 100 years, and over that time the lime mortar surrounding them had eroded. As a result, the tiles were at risk of falling and breaking. A local resident, who had her own roof replaced around a decade ago, donated us her old tiles – these were perfect for filling in the gaps without looking out of place. ‘As much as possible, we replace materials with historically appropriate materials’, says Fraser MacDonald, Visitor Services Supervisor at Preston Mill. ‘You should come to the mill and not really notice that it has changed at all.’

Archaeological investigations

A project to better understand how coastal erosion is affecting the Trust’s archaeological sites has entered a new phase. Using geographical and historical records, Trust archaeologists Derek Alexander and Dr Daniel Rhodes have identified locations at 17 Trust places that could be threatened by erosion in the near future. They are now in the process of visiting each of these sites to determine how serious the threats have become. By the end of the year, they will have evaluated each location, and a five-year plan will be introduced. This hopes to engage local communities with the at-risk sites as well as extract as much information as possible from those that could be engulfed or eroded in the coming years. Locations include sites at Balmacara Estate, Kintail and Torridon.

A ruined and roofless stone house stands at the very edge of a small cliff, with the rocky shore seen below.
Coastal sites like this are vulnerable to erosion in the coming years

Campaigning for our seas

The National Trust for Scotland is one of a growing number of organisations – including coastal businesses, community groups and fishermen’s organisations – in the Our Seas coalition. We are campaigning for an urgent change in the way Scotland’s inshore fisheries are managed, in the hope of better protecting marine habitats and coastal communities and safeguarding important carbon sinks. Our Seas is calling for the reintroduction of a coastal limit so that bottom trawling and dredging cannot take place in the areas immediately surrounding the shore. Such practices devastate habitats that act as both coastal protectors and carbon sinks, and can cause fish stocks to collapse. We believe that a transition to more selective, less damaging ways of fishing would generate less carbon, improve biodiversity and create more jobs.

Watch The Limit – a 30-minute campaign video from Our Seas that explores the issue more fully

A seabed covered in waving seaweed is seen underwater. The water is clear and bright blue.
Our marine environment must be protected

Making covers for Castle Fraser

At the start of each winter season, teams at many Trust properties cover up furniture and objects from the collections to keep them safe during the coldest months of the year; it’s known as ‘putting to bed’.

Although we've been welcoming visitors back to the castle since late March, we're still looking ahead to winter. A group of volunteers have been coming into Castle Fraser every week to make bespoke covers for the collection. The team have been hard at work for several months, cutting fabrics and sewing in the Great Hall, working room by room, to ensure each object has its own cover ready to be put to bed towards the end of this year. Due to the scale of the collection, this project will likely take some time, but it’s been a rewarding endeavour and volunteers have enjoyed sharing their sewing skills.

Two large collection items are covered in white sheets in a large stone hall of a castle. Two wooden shields hang on the stone wall above them.
Covers on collection items in the Laigh Hall, Castle Fraser

Thatching on Skye

The team sent to repair the thatched roofs at the secluded Beaton’s Croft on Skye were met with strong winds – resulting in the loss of the giant tent they had constructed in the hope of having a dry work environment. Such harsh conditions are the very reason that the roofs needed attention!

Beaton’s Croft is a traditional category A-listed building, which dates back to the 19th century. It’s the only original cottage of this style on Skye and sits alongside a thatched byre, where animals were kept. Repair works to the thatch of the house and roof of the byre are essential to the conservation of this unique building, which is now available as holiday accommodation. In March, our team partially removed the roof of the byre to replace some of the timbers. Turf was then added, before thatching commenced, using long stems of common rush.

A white thatched cottage stands in a grassy field, with a smaller thatched outbuilding beside. The cottage has a chimney either end, and a small red front door. Mountains can be seen in the background.
Beaton’s Croft on Skye

We’d like to say a very big thank you to everyone who has supported this work by donating to our Protect our Places, Protect our History campaign.

Protect Our Places, Protect Our History

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