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27 Jan 2020

Building history with Glencoe turf house

Archaeologists investigating the site of a traditional building in Glencoe.
Archaeologists investigating the site of a traditional building in Glencoe.
Thistle Campers will help build a replica turf house in Glencoe this summer.

The Trust has offered an unusual holiday experience for 2020 – the chance to help build a replica 17th-century turf house at Glencoe Visitor Centre.

Informed by archaeological discoveries, it will help give a glimpse of how people once lived in Scotland’s most famous glen.

The holiday may appeal to those with an interest in Scottish history or traditional crafts, or simply outdoor enthusiasts looking for a holiday with a difference. Participants will get involved in a wide variety of tasks, from whittling wooden pegs to weaving wattle walls, archaeological excavation to mud daubing. Around 70 places were available on these Glencoe Thistle Camps ... and they sold out fast!

Glencoe Operations Manager Emily Bryce said: ‘It’s nearly a year since we revamped our visitor centre; this project, with the support of public donations, is our next step in sharing the story of this incredible landscape which we are so proud to protect.’

“It’s very exciting that we’ll be able to involve the public and visitors in such a hands-on way. We’ll also be working with our local community and schools, and we’re keen to make sure that the whole area benefits from this project.”
Emily Bryce, Operations Manager at Glencoe

The Trust has recruited a team of Scotland’s most experienced traditional building craftspeople to work with their archaeologists on the building design. This follows a series of archaeological digs investigating long-lost historic dwellings at the heart of the glen at Achtriochtan.

These specialists (in turf-building, heather thatching, wattle and daub, timber creel and cruck-frame structures) will lead trainees and volunteers over the course of the year in this unique experiment in historical reconstruction. The building will be located in the grounds of Glencoe Visitor Centre, offering access for over 300,000 visitors every year.

The project is being made possible thanks to members of the public from around the world who donated to a fundraising appeal last year. We’ve also launched our Hugs of Heather campaign, which will give supporters the chance to show their love for the glen and support the project too.

In 2019, we invested over £1m at Glencoe Visitor Centre, transforming the existing eco-friendly buildings into a more modern, immersive and welcoming ‘gateway’ to this world-renowned glen.

The visitor centre has a 50-seat film screening space showing a specially commissioned film. This takes viewers on a 10-minute journey from the glen’s volcanic origins, towards the tragic events of the 1692 Glencoe Massacre, and on to its popularity today. A large 3D map and knowledgeable staff in the Info Hub help visitors planning their adventures and share advice on how to explore responsibly.

With a new café and shop too, the visitor centre plays an essential part in generating income to support the National Trust for Scotland’s conservation work in Glencoe National Nature Reserve, where we care for over 5,600 hectares, including 60km of footpaths and 8 Munros.

A view of the shop in the visitor centre, with products displayed on shelves and tables.
The revamped Glencoe Visitor Centre welcomed 300,000 people last year.