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Archaeologists at Historic Environment Scotland, artists from Glasgow School of Art and Scalan Mills Project team invite public to celebration of historic Scalan in Braes of Glenlivet

By Philip Murray

Scalan seminary and steadings.
Scalan seminary and steadings.

THE many stories swirling around an important historical site in the Braes of Glenlivet are about to be celebrated – by artists and archaeologists alike – and the public are being urged to join in.

Artists from Glasgow School of Art, archaeologists from Historic Environment Scotland and members of the Scalan Mills Project team are looking to team up with the public to help celebrate the stories of Scalan this weekend.

Originally this was the site of a hidden Catholic seminary during the 1700s, where young men would train to be priests, known as ‘Heather Priests’. The seminary building became a farm in the 19th century and two additional farm buildings were erected housing corn threshing mills used by the Glenlivet farming community.

The threshing machines and associated water wheels are still in place along with a wealth of historical graffiti written on the wooden walls and doors telling the stories of previous farming inhabitants.

Crown Estate Scotland is leading the Scalan Mills Project in partnership with the Scalan Association and Tomintoul & Glenlivet Landscape Partnership (TGLP), a £3.6m programme supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The celebration event will involve archaeologists from Historic Environment Scotland, artists from The Glasgow School of Art and members of the Scalan Mills Project Team, using creative techniques such as community mapping, site surveys and sound recording, to bring people together to explore past places through creativity, ideas and imagination.

This interactive event will help discover past lives and uncover new stories about the hidden landscapes of the Scalan. People will be invited to share their recent experiences, memories of the past and think about the future of the site.

Amy Woolvin, TGLP’s cultural heritage officer said: “Whether people have been to the Scalan site before or not, this is an opportunity to come along and experience the special qualities of this hidden place which has played an important role in Scottish history as well as providing a unique insight into the everyday lives of those who lived and worked there.”

Andy Wells, head of property at Crown Estate Scotland, added: “This promises to be a great event which will help showcase some of the fascinating, and often unknown, stories behind the history of Scalan.

“Throughout this long history, the site has been an important part of the local community, and we hope that as many people as possible come along to share their memories to help paint the full picture of the events that have shaped Scalan’s story.”

Information will also be available on the Scalan Mills Project which is due to start in April this year and be completed by next spring. The plans aim to conserve the two steading buildings, provide safe access to the buildings to view the historical graffiti and farming artefacts, develop on site interpretation, which tell the stories of this special place and offer conservation skills opportunities. They also include improving access to the whole Scalan site, complementing the seminary building.

This fun event is open to all and will be taking place on Saturday, April 6 between 11am and 4pm.

People are invited to come along any time during that time. Parking is available at The Carrachs car park, located at the end of the road in the Braes of Glenlivet, with a short walk to the Scalan site along a track.

For more information contact amy@tomintoulandglenlivet.com or call 01807 580350.

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