Unique insight into Iron Age life in Galloway

Mary Nicholson, Trustee of the Whithorn Trust, Tom McFarlane who led the construction of the roundhouse, Emma Harper MSP, Julia Muir Watt Development Manager and Richard Arkless MP.
Mary Nicholson, Trustee of the Whithorn Trust, Tom McFarlane who led the construction of the roundhouse, Emma Harper MSP, Julia Muir Watt Development Manager and Richard Arkless MP.

Dumfries and Galloway MP Richard Arkless and South of Scotland MSP Emma Harper visited Whithorn last week to see first hand the completed Iron Age roundhouse which has been constructed as part of a new educational visitor attraction.

The ambitious project to recreate a replica roundhouse from around 500 BC, began last year and has been lead by Julia Muir Watt of the Whithorn Trust. It was inspired by the discovery of a large Iron Age settlement at the Black Loch which was in such a good state of preservation that it was able to act as a 2,500 year old template.

The roundhouse, which is 13 meters in diameter and nine meters high, has been built to show how people lived in Galloway in the fifth century BC.

Mr Arkless said: “I was just so impressed with the completed roundhouse – it felt very real and gave me a unique insight in to what life must have been like for people in the Machars in 500BC. I am so pleased that Julia was able to drive this project forward so efficiently, and special thanks to Tom McFarlane for his tireless work in leading the team of volunteers who actually built it. Whithorn will soon have a very special new visitor attraction which aside from its historical important may be part of a picture that will attract more visitors to the Machars. It’s a complicated project involving consents and permissions from many organisations which have all been duly obtained thanks to Julia’s hard work.’

Emma harper added: “I am very interested in the science aspect of the project so I enjoyed hearing about the carbon dating of the original woodwork which led to identifying that the original round house dated to 450 years BCE. I look forward to visiting again when the site officially opens and welcome the plans to engage with schools and the wider community. The roundhouse will encourage more visitors to our region and help to support our rural economy.”

Julie Muir Watt said: “We’re delighted that the roundhouse is attracting such a degree of interest, even before its opening! We are on target to open on 31st March. We have already had interest from groups and societies and we’re hoping to have a launch on 1st April.”

“There is a lot to look forward to this year with special events at the roundhouse for the Festival of Museums on 20th and 21st May. We are also moving ahead fast with the development of the Whithorn Way Pilgrim route from Glasgow and we’re hoping our partner organisations progress well with the new Town Hall development which will include as well as a sports suite, a Pilgrim Walkers Hostel. Taken all together with activities carries forward by Creative Whithorn Arts Group, we have a coherent, creative and exciting development plan for Whithorn.”