21 May 2015
A long-lost Skye settlement has been 're-populated' thanks to a new online project which has created a virtual step-by-step guided walk of the ancestral homeland of the MacAskills. ...
A family of MacAskills has created an online information point about its ancestral homeland - an archaeologically unique but largely forgotten settlement on the Isle of Skye. Now, Rubh an Dunain, an isolated peninsula in the foothills of the Cuillins, reached only by a 13km hike, will be repopulated (at least by online visitors) for the first time in 160 years.
The website has been created by descendants of the last chief of the MacAskills, one of Skye's oldest clans and hereditary coast wardens and bodyguards for the great MacLeods.
Scientists believe the peninsula, which occupied a strategic location guarding the western marine approaches to Skye and the Inner Hebrides may have been continuously inhabited from the Stone Age until it was finally abandoned in the mid 1800s. A small loch at the tip of the promontory is linked to the sea by a man-made canal, and a boat timber recovered which has been carbon dated to c1100AD. Could this provide evidence of a Viking harbour or possibly a shipyard?
Marine archaeologist Dr Colin Martin, who will lead field studies in the area this summer, believes that science and archaeology can provide answers about the area: 'The canal, boat docks and submerged quays show that the area has been a focus of sea-faring since the Norse period and probably from its earliest days... the loch deserves special study. It has already provided evidence of boats - more probably lies on the loch bed. Further searches should be made, though only unburied items recovered at this stage.'
A FASCINATING TALE
Mike Cowie, chairman of the MacAskills of the Rubh an Dunain Society, said of the project: 'It's a family thing. Putting our story on the web - and it's a fascinating tale - has taken time and a lot of effort: organising reunions, raising funds with car boot sales, raffles, auctions and family donations.
'Our aim is to demonstrate a tangible link between this ancient site and the present day as well as stimulating wider public interest and further research. We also want to minimise footfall on an archaeologically sensitive and precious area.'
SPECIAL RUBH AN DUNAIN EVENT
This summer, the Highland Council's Countryside Ranger Service will lead a special guided walk to Rubh an Dunain on 14 July to allow visitors to experience the unique atmosphere of the peninsua in person. For more information, or to book a place, contact John Phillips by e-mail or on tel: 01471 820526.
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