Today, the Whithorn Trust has received £22,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, “Whithorn – Hearth, Home and Farm”, to support education and outreach activities focussed on the Iron Age.
Led by the Whithorn Trust, the project will involve families and local Primary Schools in hands-on activities which will explore Iron Age farming and crafts, in a year when a major Iron Age site is being excavated nearby at Monreith this summer. This exciting archaeological site made national headlines two years ago, when it was discovered to be Scotland’s first loch village.
The project will enable local children and families to see how the Iron Age communities of the Machars lived and supported themselves through agriculture. Iron Age crops will be grown throughout the year by local children, with a chance to eat the results when the crops are processed and baked ! There will be opportunities for families and adults too, to experiment with the ancient crafts of dry stone construction, weaving and dyeing, green wood carving, leatherwork, some of which have changed remarkably little in 2000 years.
The Whithorn Trust has always focussed on the origins of Christianity in Scotland, but there is growing interest in what the communities were like which preceded the arrival of Christianity, and this may influence our thinking about how Christianity arrived in Whithorn and what the origins were of the people who were Scotland’s first converts. The simultaneous excavation of the nearby Iron Age site at Monreith offers the opportunity for a unique insight into the earlier period, promising to be one of Scotland’s largest Iron Age settlements, built on peat next to a loch. The Trust project will allow local people and schools to participate directly in these exciting discoveries about Iron Age life.
Commenting on the award, Julia Muir Watt, speaking for the Whithorn Trust, said “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund : this is a great year for archaeology in the Machars, as we reveal the lives and homes of its Iron Age residents. It’s particularly fitting that, in a predominantly agricultural area, local families and children will be able to compare the farming and craft techniques dating back 2000 years with today’s.”
Galloway MSP Alex Fergusson commented: “I was more than happy to support this application and absolutely thrilled that it has been successful. This grant will assist the Trust in continuing its positive engagement with the young people in the area, who will be very much involved in the project, and I warmly welcome it. It also highlights the regeneration of the Trust itself, and I am delighted that it has been given the significant vote of confidence that comes with this award.”