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Barra pupils given taste of Island life (English & Gaelic version)

18 June 2014

Age-old building skills have been brought back to life at Barra’s Kisimul Castle  with the creation of a traditional lime kiln on the island to recreate the techniques used over the centuries.

On the Barra shoreline,Pupil from Castlebay Community School, lights a traditional lime kiln on the Barra shoreline

The activity is part of a community and outreach event being organised by Historic Scotland, in partnership with chief of the Clan Macneil whose seat is the iconic Kisimul Castle, which is managed by the Agency. The event offers Barra people the chance to learn about the traditional skills and techniques which were once prevalent on the island and gives local school children an idea of what life was like living in Kisimul Castle over the centuries.

As part of the event, Historic Scotland staff constructed a lime kiln on the Barra shoreline at Castlebay, which would have been a popular method for making mortar on the island as recently as the 1930s. The kiln was lit on Tuesday afternoon by Chris McGregor, Head of Estates & Major Projects at Historic Scotland, and will be kept burning over the next two days, to facilitate demonstrations of the mortar making process to children from Castlebay and Eoligarry. Schools. The kiln will remain as permanent feature of the heritage trail for the Herring industry.

At the iconic Kisimul Castle, school pupils will be given tours of the building by Historic Scotland learning development officers. They will have the opportunity to dress in period costume to explore the castle through the eyes of fictional historical characters and be encouraged to find out about the materials used to build the structure.

A Gaelic language officer will also be on site to deliver lessons in Gaelic and English, where pupils will have the chance to learn about the people who lived in the castle and handle some medieval artefacts.

Other activities will focus on teaching pupils about the properties of stone and the importance of using suitable materials in buildings of traditional construction. The school children will have the opportunity to take part in hands-on activities including re-creating “lime mortar” by mixing melted chocolate and rice.

These interactive sessions aim to highlight the importance of traditional materials and techniques to the conservation of traditional buildings, such as the use of lime mortar, which not only binds stone together but protects it from accelerated decay – which many of Barra’s buildings suffer from.

Elsewhere on the island there are digital media literacy classes taking place as part of a Scotland-wide project. The Digital Commonwealth Project aims to use the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games as an opportunity to empower communities to tell their stories on digital platforms. The Barra school children will be interviewing members of the local community on their tales of traditional building techniques on the island and recording them for posterity. The interviews will then be compiled into a video, which will be presented to the local historical society (Comunn Eachdraidh) and made available on the project website.

Historic Scotland’s District Architect Jamie MacPherson said: “These activities are the culmination of three years’ work with the Barra community which has allowed us to bring the island’s traditional skills back to life. The creation of the kiln overlooking Kisimul is significant as it has really brought this centuries old technique for creating mortar to a new generation and is leading to a greater understanding of how the castle and many buildings on Barra were constructed. The enthusiasm of the young people to learn more of their heritage has been encouraging and we hope they will continue to find out more about the historic environment that surrounds them.”

Head Teacher of Castlebay Community School, Annag Maclean said: “Thanks to the strong traditions on the island, our community have always been closely bound to their cultural history and traditions. Events like this one help to make that bond stronger, as the activities of this week are Curriculum for Excellence in action and give the young learners a great opportunity for inter-disciplinary learning in a way that is fun and accessible. We are getting a great insight into how many of the old buildings we see around the island were built, and I’m sure we will all have a new-found appreciation of what life was like on the island for many of our ancestors.”

Picture caption:
On the Barra shoreline, Sean MacNeil [left of picture] from Castlebay Community School, lights a traditional lime kiln with Historic Scotland Head of Estates & Major Projects Chris McGregor [right of picture], as part of a project to educate school children on the island on traditional building skills, materials and techniques.

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • Photographs of the lime kiln being lit are available on request.

  • Scotland welcomes the world in the Year of Homecoming 2014 providing a year-long programme of events alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games. The Year of Homecoming Scotland will run until 31 December 2014 throughout the length and breadth of the country. Visitors from around the world are invited to join in a celebration of the nation’s food and drink, active pursuits, cultural heritage, nature and ancestral heritage. Homecoming Scotland 2014 is a Scottish Government initiative being led by EventScotland and VisitScotland, supported by numerous partners. To find out more visit For more on Historic Scotland’s Homecoming activities visit or tweet us using #hshomecoming.

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Thathar air seann sgilean togail ath-bheothachadh ann an Caisteal Chiosamuil ann am Barraigh le cruthachadh àth-aoil (lime kiln).

Chaidh an obair seo, a tha na phàirt de thachartas coimhearsnachd, a chur air dòigh le Alba Aosmhor ann an com-pàirteachas le Clann MhicNèill aig a bheil Caisteal Chiosamuil ann am Barraigh mar chathair. Tha an caisteal suaicheanta seo air a stiùireadh le Alba Aosmhor.

Bheir an tachartas cothrom do mhuinntir Bharraigh ionnsachadh mu sgilean agus dòighean-togail traidiseanta a bha cumanta anns an eilean uair agus bheir e cuideachd cothrom do sgoilearan Bharraigh ionnsachadh cò ris a bha e coltach a bhith a’ fuireach ann an Caisteal Chiosamuil thairis air na linntean.

Mar phàirt de seo, thog luchd-obrach Alba Aosmhor àth-aoil air a’ chladach ann am Bàgh a’ Chaisteil. Bha seo na dhòigh chumanta gus moirtear a dhèanamh suas ris na 1930an. Chaidh an àth-aoil a lasadh feasgar Dimàirt le Chris MacGriogar, ceannard Glèidhteachais aig Alba Aosmhor, agus bidh i a’ losgadh tharais air an ath dhà latha gus taisbeanaidhean a thoirt do sgoilearan à sgoil Bhàgh a’ Chaisteil agus Sgoil Eolaigearraidh air mar a nithear moirtear. Thèid an àth-aoil fhàgail ann mar phàirt den t-slighe-coiseachd the Herring Walk a tha a’ comharrachadh gnìomhachas an sgadain.

Gheibh sgoilearan tursan de Chaisteal suaicheanta Chiosamuil le oifigearan leasachaidh foghlaim Alba Aosmhor. Bidh cothrom aca aodach meadhan-aoiseach a chur orra gus ionnsachadh mun chaisteal tro shùilean charactaran eachdraidheil agus gus faighinn a-mach mu na stuthan a chaidh a chleachdadh gus an togalach a dhèanamh.

Bidh oifigear Gàidhlig an làthair cuideachadh gus seiseanan a chur air dòigh ann an Gàidhlig agus ann am Beurla, a bheir cothrom do sgoilearan ionnsachadh mu dhaoine a bha a’ fuireach anns a’ chaisteal bho bhith a’ coimhead air nithean meadhan-aoiseach.

Bidh seiseanan eile ann leis na sgoilearan a bhios a’ coimhead air stuthan togail ann an obair-togail thraidiseanta, mar eisimpleir diofar sheòrsaichean cloiche agus na feartan aca, a’ coimhead air cho pòrach is cho sùghach sa tha iad. Bidh cothrom aig na sgoilearan pàirt a ghabhail ann an gnìomhan prataigeach, a’ gabhail a-steach a bhith a’ dèanamh aol le teoclaid is rìs.

‘S e amas nan seisean eadar-ghnìomhach seo a bhith sealltainn cho cudromach sa tha stuthan agus dòighean togail traidiseanta ann a bhith a’ gleidheadh seann toglaichean. Mar eisimpleir, bidh moirtear aoil an dà chuid a’ tàthadh clach ri chèile agus ga dhìon bho chrìonadh airson ùine mhòr – rud a tha feumail do sheann thoglaichean Bharraigh.

Aig an aon àm air an eilean, tha cuspair nas ùr-nodha ann le clasaichean ann an litearrachd dhigiteach a’ dol air adhart mar phàirt de phròiseact nàiseanta. ‘S e amas Pròiseact a’ Cho-fhlaitheis Dhigitich a bhith a’ cleachdadh Geamaichean a Cho-fhlaitheis Ghlaschu 2014 gus cothrom a thoirt do choimhearsnachdan na sgeulachdan aca innse air ùrlaran digiteach. Nì clann-sgoile Bharraigh agallamhan le daoine sa choimhearsnachd mu na sgeulachdan aca air dòighean-togail traidiseanta air an eilean agus clàraichidh iad seo airson an àm ri teachd. Thèid na h-agallamhan an uair sin a chur còmhla mar bhideo agus thèid seo a chur dhan Chomann Eachdraidh Ionadail agus bidh e cuideachd ri fhaighinn air làrach-lìn a’ phròiseict.

Thuirt Ailtire Sgìreil Alba Aosmhor Jamie Mac a’ Phearsain: “Tha na gnìomhan seo a’ tighinn às dèidh trì bliadhnaichean de dh’obair le coimhearsnachd Bharraigh a tha air cothrom a thoirt dhuinn sgilean traidiseanta an eilein ath-bheothachadh. Tha cruthachadh na h-àth-aoil seo mu coinneamh Chiosamuil cudromach oir tha e air an t-seann dòigh-obrach seo gus moirtear a chruthachadh a thoirt do ghinealach ùr agus tha e a’ togail tuigse dhaoine air mar a chaidh an caisteal agus iomadh togalach eile ann am Barraigh a thogail. Tha e na bhrosnachadh dhomh gu bheil ùidh cho mòr aig an òigridh ionnsachadh mun dualchas aca agus tha sinn an dòchas gun cùm iad orra ionnsachadh mun àrainneachd eachdraidheil a tha timcheall orra.”

Thuirt Ceannard Sgoil Coimhearsnachd Bhàgh a’ Chaisteil, Annag NicIllEathain: “Mar thoradh air traidiseanan làidir air an eilean, bha ar coimhearsnachd riamh ceangailte gu dlùth ri a h-eachdraidh is a dualchas. Bidh tachartasan mar seo a’ cuideachadh gus an ceangal seo a neartachadh oir ‘s e a th’ annta ach an Curraicealam airson Sàr-mhaitheis an gnìomh agus bheir iad deagh chothrom don òigridh ionnsachadh eadar-cuspaireil a dhèanamh ann an dòigh a tha spòrsail agus ruigsinneach. Tha sinn a’ faighinn deagh shealladh air mar a chaidh cuid de na seann toglaichean air an eilean a thogail agus tha mi cinnteach mar thoradh air seo gum bi barrachd tuigse againn air mar a bha beatha san eilean do na sinnsirean againn.”

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  • Tha Alba a’ cur fàilte air an t-saoghal ann am Bliadhna Homecoming 2014 le prògram fad bhliadhna de thachartasan a bharrachd air Cupa Ryner agus Geamaichean a’ Cho-fhlaitheis. Ruithidh Bliadhna Homecoming Scotland suas gu 31 Dùbhlachd 2014 air feadh na dùthcha. Thathar a’ toirt cuireadh do luchd-tadhal à air feadh an t-saoghail a bhith a’ comharrachadh biadh is deoch, spòrs, dualchas, nàdar agus dùthchas na dùthcha. Tha Homecoming Scotland 2014 na iomairt aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba, a tha air a stiùireadh le EventScotland agus VisitScotland, le taic bho iomadh com-pàirtiche. Airson barrachd fiosrachaidh, faic:

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For further information

John MacNeil, Media Relations Manager
Historic Scotland Media Office
0131 668 8714 or 07854 366 827