Second dig at High Morlaggan

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Morlaggan-2-wA FURTHER dig is to take place at the archaeological site at High Morlaggan, near Arrochar, in April and May.

This second dig is thanks to a £30,000 grant jointly awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Islands LEADER Local Action Group.

Organisers Sue Furness from Tarbet (left) and Fiona Jackson from Arrochar are now inviting anyone interested in taking part at the site two miles south of Arrochar to apply now. There is no charge.

Sue said: "You will be trained and supervised by professional archaeologists, and people attending for several days will be offered training in a variety of aspects of excavation recording, as well as digging.

"Volunteers can be involved in washing and recording finds from the dig, as well as or instead of digging, especially if the weather is bad."

They are also holding three workshops. The first on Friday April 29 is to learn how to survey a ruined building using a ‘plane table’ — a quick method of mapping features in the landscape using a drawing board mounted on a tripod, with a ruler and a sighting device.

The second on Friday May 6 is on traditional rural skills, such as green wood-working, leather work and weaving willow hurdles, with the National Park's Clanscape group. For lunch, volunteers will grind grain for oatcakes to accompany venison or vegetable stew, and Clanscape will also transport the group back in time to when Morlaggan was once a thriving settlement.

The third on Friday May 13 is on clay pipe making, in which a local potter will discuss the history of Scottish clay pipes and volunteers will try out a range of methods of making their own clay pipe.

High Morlaggan is a ruined settlement above the north east shore of Loch Long, which dates back to 1501. Its intriguing remains have been depicted in old postcards of the area, but all that remains today are bits of walls that have all but disappeared under the bracken. The first excavation of the site was in 2009, and the Morlaggan Rural Settlement Group was born.

Its objectives are to: stimulate public interest in and increase knowledge of the deserted settlement known as High Morlaggan, and in other  similar deserted rural settlements in the area around Loch Long and Loch Lomond; encourage and support people to undertake documentary and field research to improve knowledge and understanding of these deserted rural settlements; and to map the locations of the deserted rural settlements in the area.

Since then the group has presented its findings at a number of national and local conferences, organised information days in the local community, and last year presented the project to HRH The Prince of Wales.

The group’s work on High Morlaggan won the Robert Kiln Trust Award for community archaeology in 2010, and was awarded Highly Commended in the British Archaeology Awards for community archaeology, also last year.

Further details are available on the group's website.