We’re delighted to welcome back Ullapool Museum as guest bloggers to update us on their Lost Inverlael project as they finally get out onsite and surveying.
‘Lost Inverlael: A’ Lorg Baile Bhlàir’ is a two year community archaeology project run by Ullapool Museum to explore the lost Clearance townships of Inverlael and Balblair. Over the last six months we have been waiting with bated breath to get onsite for the first phase of the archaeology work. The lifting of lockdown measures in mid-May meant that we have now been out and about and making some really exciting discoveries!
Over the last month we been working with volunteers from the local community and students from Ullapool High School to make a walkover survey, logging any identifiable structures or interesting looking features across the site. This involved using GPS to map each feature and then using poles and tapes to measure and record the details. This has been a huge task and the contribution of the volunteers has been really important. The site has never previously been recorded and the full extent of the township of Inverlael is only now being realised. It stretches across an area of more than two miles; from the visible remains on the current Inverlael Farm and into what is now plantation forest managed by Forestry Land Scotland.
At the top of the glen, beyond the forestry land is the site of the township’s summer ‘shelings’. Sheilings were an important part of ‘transhumance’, a widespread Highland and European cattle herding practice. In the summer months many communities decamped with their domestic animals up to sheltered glens among the hills. This protected the crops growing in the township and the cattle could feed on sweet hill grass. And it was up here that we have made our best discovery to date… an illicit whisky still! We have a site visit planned in July with an expert research team to explore this site further… so watch out for further updates in the coming weeks!
Meanwhile we are continuing our research to find Inverlael descendants and exploring the archives to illuminate the rich history of this now forgotten Highland township.
Discover more about the ‘Lost Inverlael: A’ Lorg Baile Bhlàir’ project on our dedicated Facebook page and also here:
Read the first blog on the Lost Inverlael project here.