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NEWSLETTER No.19 - Spring 2020

We hope that you're all well, and coping with the lockdown. 

The efforts made by Team Tarbert, the Community Trust, and other volunteers, to help those who need it, are remarkable, and our community is very fortunate to have such people around us in these trying times.

CASTLE SITE PROGRESS

Our own volunteers have been checking our sheep, but all other work on the site has more or less stopped.

During the winter, working with Tarbert Academy pupils and Guides, we planted some 200 trees.  The woodland will be available for future generations, and this work expanded it close to the village.  We also completed new handrails and safety strips on steps and landings.

The orchard trees have been all been mulched/pruned and, throughout the site, we've made progress with cutting back of rampant bramble growth.  Unfortunately for our volunteers, we've no option but to keep on top of this repetitive task.  Thankfully, though, there are other tasks available, so it never needs to get monotonous. 

We started the work on the improved interpretation area, but had to abandon that during the present lockdown.  We'll get back to it, as soon as we can.

FUTURE ACTIVITY

We now have Scheduled Monument consent in place for

  • A new archaeological dig, to explore the possibility of an eastern entrance
  • Construction of the improved interpretation area
  • Consolidation work to allow us to leave visible to the public the location of the discovered western entrance

Securing these consents took considerable effort with Historic Environment Scotland (HES), mainly due to staff problems at the latter (now resolved).  We express our thanks to Roddy and all those who supported us.

Design work is complete. and materials have been sourced for all of this work, so, as soon as we think it is safe to do so, we will progress it on site. 

FUNDING

The new on-site visitor donation arrangements, which we organised last year, were working well, and our maintenance costs were on course to becoming sustainable.   But, unfortunately, Covid-19 caused our income  -  in common with that of many others  -  to crash, and our visitor numbers are unlikely to recover in the near future.  This may delay some activity, but we're looking at how to overcome the problem.

The plans for the improved interpretation area include preparation for contactless donations to be made on site, but, as this is costly to establish and run, we can't proceed immediately.  However, it's almost certainly the way ahead for us, as soon as we can afford it.

MEANTIME

If there's anyone out there who can spare us an hour or two.....
There are still brambles to be cut back in woodland areas.  And some strimming of new bracken growth, where we have planted trees this year, would be helpful and appreciated.  
In the shelter, there's a very long bent-prong rake which we've been gifted, and it is excellent for removing weed from the woodland pond.

Please bear in mind that, if you are working alone, you should take a mobile phone with you, in case of accident.

Keep safe,

Robert

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Charity No. SC043056
Secretary/Treasurer: Robert McPhail MBE, Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, Tarbert, Argyll, PA29 6TU
E-mail: sonamarg@btinternet.com                                                                 Tel: 01880 820643

 



AS WINTER ARRIVES, here's some very positive tree-planting news from the Castle Trust...
 


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NEWSLETTER No.18 - November 2019

TARBERT  :  OUR CASTLE OF KINGS

"TREES  -  LOADS O' THEM!"

 

Volunteers at Tarbert Castle have been planting trees again this year (2019) as a community contribution to reducing the effect of carbon emissions and mitigating climate change.  The work is all part of a national programme to deal with the urgent crisis affecting the world.

We have 160 new trees, and associated protection and fertiliser, supplied through a grant from the Tree Council’s “Tree Futures” programme and from the “I Dig Trees” programme organised by TCV Scotland, and with help from “Volunteering Matters” action earth programme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planting is being carried out by Tarbert Academy’s Forest School and a group of senior pupils who do their “Rural Skills” practical work at the Castle.  Our own dedicated volunteer team is organising and assisting with the activity and will be planting during our volunteer work parties.

 

 

 

Robert McPhail, secretary and treasurer of the Trust, explained that, during the last 5 - 6 years, the Trust and its volunteers have planted over 1000 trees in the Community Woodland and Orchard,  which form part of the Castle’s Heritage Park.

During spring, summer, and autumn 2019, the Trust recorded over 40,000 visitors to the Heritage Park as a whole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you'd like to be part of the ongoing activities at our Heritage Park please get in touch with us.  Here are our contact details:-

TARBERT CASTLE TRUST
A community based organisation to protect, care for and expand the educational potential of Tarbert Castle.
Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Charity No. SC043056.
Secretary & Treasurer: Robert McPhail MBE, Sonamarg, Ileene Rd., TARBERT, Argyll, PA29 6TU
E-mail: sonamarg@btinternet.com
Tel: 01880 820643


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NEWSLETTER No.17 - Summer 2019

TARBERT  :  OUR CASTLE OF KINGS

Our dig is completed, but for some backfilling and removal of excess stone.  If you would like any stone for your garden projects, it is free  -  just contact us to discuss.

The dig has exceeded our objectives, with more volunteers and young people involved than planned.  Finds of medieval pottery, etc., and the discovery of a never before recorded main entrance from the west, with dressed stone reveals showing an opening some 3m wide, door check and portcullis slot.  This entrance must have been imposing; approached by a ramp, with the older castle on the right, and King Robert the Bruce’s tower on the left.  There would be an archway over, with a compartment above to allow the portcullis to be raised.

exposed-doorway-tt-castle-june-july-2019
Above: Entrance excavation, showing door check and portcullis slot

The weather was great, and, apart from having to abandon the site one day at lunchtime due to midges, every programmed day saw enthusiastic, if sometimes very heavy, work by volunteers and our professional archaeologist Roddy Regan.  Kilmartin Museum’s education team managed large groups of young people from schools in Kintyre and Knapdale and great weekend organised by Tarbert Guides.  Return visits will be made to schools in a feedback program by the education team.

We wish to record our thanks to ALL those involved, including funders, and I think we can say it was enjoyed by everyone who took part.

Roddy will now be taking some time to prepare, study, and seek, where required, expert advice on finds and features discovered and their significance in the castle’s story.  The final report will be published early next year, and will be available to download through our website.

Tarbert Castle Trust (TCT) will also assess how to best interpret results for visitors, and Tarbert & Skipness Community Trust (TSCT) directors have agreed that, where possible, finds will be displayed at “Tarbert Life”  -  the village’s fascinating new heritage centre.

WHAT NEXT?

Those who took part, and others, are asking if we will do more exploration, and I think this is a certainty in future years if funding can be achieved.

We’ve received a grant from the Tree Council for more tree planting, and Rural Skills pupils from Tarbert Academy will assist with this in the autumn.

We’re continuing to monitor the numbers accessing the site, with more than 6000 visitors during the dig, most interested in what we were doing and asking numerous questions. 

Meantime, due to 100% commitment during the last two months, a great deal of work is required on the orchard, woodland, and the site generally, and we need all the volunteer help we can muster.

Our next volunteer work party will be the first Saturday in August (Saturday 3 Aug), but meantime, if you can help, there is strimming and cutting back growth that can be tackled anytime.  E-mail or phone to discuss  -  sonamarg@btinternet.com or 01880 820643

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Charity No. SC043056
Secretary & Treasurer: Robert McPhail MBE, Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, Tarbert, Argyll, PA29 6TU
E-mail: sonamarg@btinternet.com       Tel: 01880 820643

 


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NEWSLETTER No.16 – Spring 2019

TARBERT : OUR CASTLE OF KINGS

 

We are still fundraising to maximise the community engagement, feedback and young people’s participation in our Archaeological dig but are on course to make a start this summer as planned.

We have some 200 bookings to take part from Tarbert, Carradale, Campbelltown and Lochgilphead residents with others as far afield as Oban, East Lothian, Glasgow, Arran, Bute and York. Schools throughout Kintyre and Knapdale are to take part and all will receive basic training in Archaeological skills.

An additional benefit from the dig is the considerable publicity our village and Heritage Park has been given through the fundraising, booking and information out there in print, on the web and social media about our proposals to explore the Castle’s history in a way never before achieved.

We are again monitoring visitor numbers and the early months of the year indicate that there will be an increase in excess of 25% since we last did this in 2014 with total accessing the site exceeding 20,000 over the year.

The only downside of the increased usage of the site is the wear and tear on the access paths etc and the consequential effect on the extent and cost of maintenance.

OUR VOLUNTEERS

Helped by Tarbert academy “Rural Skills” group our volunteers continue to put in a considerable effort. We have recently created and new entrance arrangement from the village steps and are trying to achieve a donation funding level which will establish a sustainable future for the whole site and its contribution to the local economy. If anyone has any suggestions on fundraising activities we are listening !         

Next volunteer work party will NOT be first Saturday in May but will be SATURDAY 11TH MAY when we need help to set up for the dig.

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Charity No SC043056
Secretary / Treasurer Robert McPhail,MBE Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, Tarbert, Argyll PA29 6TU
E Mail sonamarg@btinternet.com       Tel 01880 820 643

 


 

 

             

You can now donate to project through our CROWD FUNDING portal

https://www.mypark.scot/projects/our-castle-of-kings/

 

Contractors Laing Traditional Masonry have been been working over a period of three years, with a total contract value of £750,000, to consolidate stonework on the Tower House.  This work is now complete

We are looking at new proposals for community archaeology on the site, working with Adopt-a-Monument and Kilmartin House Museum.

We have determined that twelve sheep is the ideal number for the site.  The sheep are on site for conservation grazing, and this is very effective in achieving low-maintenance cropped turf, rather than the big task of strimming, which would be the only alternative.  TCI volunteer shepherds continue to look after the flock each day.

We have a new project on land behind the Castle  -  the Castle's very own Community Woodland  -  and volunteers have completed clearing the ditch, forming the pool, planting trees, and preparing fencing and paths.

Volunteers and artists are now working on a Sculpture Walk.

This winter, we have just completed a new boardwalk, linking the Castle area to the woodland and sculpture walk, and providing a circular route to walk around the site.

Our Community Orchard is now complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main access route has been upgraded, with the help of Tarbert & Skipness Community Trust (TSCT) and Paths for All.

See our menu item ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG for a summary of this new project, which is now programmed for 2019, and for which we hope to raise funds of £25,000.

The Castle property and surrounding area, which includes a Community Woodland and Orchard, is a unique heritage park, with something for everyone.

For activity information, check our Tarbert Castle Facebook page and our Twitter account.

Contract Start
Contract Start
By helicopter is the only way to lift building materials into the site
Scaffold in Position
Scaffold in Position
This is a considerable engineering exercise, as the scaffold cannot be supported from the fragile structure itself
Work Underway
Work Underway
Pointing with lime mortar to the agreed specification
Wall Heads
Wall Heads
Clay and turf capping to the wall heads
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