This week Inverness will host the first annual meeting of Scotland’s Rural Past, a five-year project to investigate and record Scotland’s rural heritage.
The project, being led by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), takes into account the amount of evidence that still survives of the pre-industrialised countryside. This includes ruined buildings, farmsteads, townships, field systems, earthworks, boundary dykes, limekilns and sheepfolds.
Until recently, farming was the backbone of Scotland’s economy and culture. Countless generations of rural communities worked the land and shaped the countryside seen today. This rural way of life has now almost vanished, leaving only the fading remains of their farms, townships and fields. Evidence of this past is seen in the ruins of the settlements they left behind and in the subtle signs which remain in the landscape.
A new website www.scotlandsruralpast.org.uk will be launched at the conference in Inverness on Sunday 14 October, that marks the end of Highland Archaeology Fortnight.
Most archaeological studies have been more concerned with earlier periods in Scottish history but Scotland’s Rural Past aims to improve understanding, valuing and care of historic rural settlements for the benefits of current and future generations.
Funded by the RCAHMS, Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the National Trust for Scotland, the project will work with local communities across Scotland to discover and record abandoned rural settlements.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is contributing