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4 Jul 2022

Behind the scenes this summer

A blond highland cow stands in a meadow with Culloden Visitor Centre in the background.
Our conservation grazing team at Culloden | Image by Alison White
Our expert teams have been working on some fascinating projects to conserve and showcase our natural and cultural heritage.

Digging deep with The Glenlivet

Our Pioneering Spirit whisky project, in partnership with The Glenlivet, continues apace. The Trust’s archaeology team has been working with staff and volunteers to investigate two possible illicit whisky bothies at Torridon and Ben Lomond. At the former a layer of burning was located in the interior. We have collected 20 samples, which will be separated using a wet sieving process to recover both the charcoal and any other burnt plant remains such as barley seeds.

We are also preparing for the next season of excavations at the old site of The Glenlivet distillery. Last year we uncovered the location of both the wash and the spirit stills. This year we hope to find the position of the grain drying kiln and some of the malting floors and warehouse areas.

Read more: the Pioneering Spirit project

Trust Archaeologist Dr Daniel Rhodes preparing to take gridded samples at Torridon

Crafting exhibits for the turf house

At the Glencoe visitor centre, our replica turf house is now open to the public and our team has been exploring a range of different methods to interpret the site for visitors.

One option is to tell the building’s story through items that would have been found in a 17th-century house. Archaeological excavations in the heart of the glen, at the lost settlement of Achtriochtan, uncovered a wide range of different artefacts such as pottery, glass bottles, iron objects (including a lock) and worked stone.

One of the largest finds was the bottom stone of a disc-shaped rotary quern. This would have been used for grinding grain, such as oats for making flour, and possibly also malted and dried barley to make beer and whisky.

The stone we found at Achtriochtan measured about 60cm in diameter and had a central hole for a wooden spindle, around which the upper stone would have been turned. We are now searching for two suitable flat stones of similar schist geology from the scree slopes near to Achtriochtan, so that our stonemasons at Culzean can create a working replica for the turf house.

Read more: Glencoe turf house keeps heritage building skills alive

Conservation grazing at Culloden

At Culloden Battlefield, our conservation grazing fold of goats, cattle and two ponies have been working hard to catch the new scrub growth on the moor. This season we’ve been delighted to see that the moor is teeming with wildlife, including plenty of skylarks and our first nesting pair of lapwings (a red-listed species) in the past five years.

Views are also opening up here and we are now looking at how we get our grazers out across the remaining 60 hectares of the battlefield in the care of the Trust. As always, we need to make sure that we prioritise the sense of place and the archaeological landscape.

Culloden Battlefield visitor services manager Catriona McIntosh will soon be representing the Trust at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in North Carolina and will be visiting United States battlefield sites to discuss challenges and opportunities with counterparts there.

Read more: Conservation grazing in action at Culloden Battlefield

Part of our grazing team, Highland cows Kirsty and Primrose eating birch at Culloden

Moving pianos at the Georgian House

We have temporarily taken the usual Horsburgh piano off display in the drawing room at the Georgian House to make room for another very special piano, the centrepiece of a fascinating exhibition running from 25 June to 22 October.

Music and Migration in Georgian Edinburgh tells the remarkable story of Felix Yaniewicz (1762-1848), the celebrated Polish-Lithuanian violin virtuoso who settled in Scotland and founded the first Edinburgh Music Festival in 1815.

The elegant Yaniewicz & Green square piano now on display in the drawing room at the Georgian House was found in a dilapidated state in a private house in Snowdonia 20 years ago. It was bought by Douglas Hollick, who recognised its historical interest, and painstakingly restored it. A crowdfunding campaign was then launched by The Friends of Felix Yaniewicz (headed by Josie Dixon, the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Yaniewicz) to buy the piano and bring it to Scotland.

At the Georgian House exhibition, the piano will be shown alongside other historic musical instruments, portraits, letters, autographs and other personal possessions, many of them heirlooms on loan from members of Yaniewicz’s surviving family.

Felix Yaniewicz: music and migration in Georgian Edinburgh

Showcasing a new style of garden at Pitmedden

The much-anticipated official opening on 23 July of the new parterre garden at Pitmedden is perfectly timed to see it in full bloom.

Working with the landscape architect, Chelsea Flower Show garden designer and Beechgrove Garden presenter Chris Beardshaw, we have reinterpreted the classic parterre garden for the modern world.

The new design looks to the future of garden management, with the planting reflecting changing garden styles, and supporting biodiversity and wildlife, while adapting the way we look after our gardens in a changing climate.

The parterre is a showcase of bulbs, herbaceous plants and grasses, embracing the historic roots of the garden while thoughtfully considering more modern approaches.

Read more: Redeveloping the Great Garden at Pitmedden

A view of a floral bed at Pitmedden Garden, beside a gravel path in the foreground. Tall purple flowers grow close to the path edge, with red-pink flowers behind. They are surrounded by large ornamental grass plants.
A floristic combination of grasses and perennials at Pitmedden – Stipa (feather grass), Liatris (button snakewort) and Helenium (sneezeweed) shown

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