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TITLE
Black Isle Heritage Memories - Alasdair Cameron (25 of 32)
EXTERNAL ID
ARCH_ALASDAIR_CAMERON_03_01
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ROSS
DATE OF RECORDING
2010
PERIOD
2010s
CREATOR
Alasdair Cameron
SOURCE
ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands)
ASSET ID
41090
KEYWORDS
audios
farmers
farming
agriculture
built environment
villages
dwellings
houses
farms
railways
waterwheels

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In this audio extract, Black Isle farmer Alasdair Cameron talks about the Black Isle Railway, local blacksmiths, water power and water turbines.

The audio recording was carried out as part of the Black Isle Heritage Memories Project, undertaken in 2009/2010 by ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands). To find out more about the project, follow the link towards the foot of the page.

Transcription: (Interviewer: Cait McCullagh)

AC: I'm looking at the Black Isle map here which I think must be based on the first edition but it's got the Black Isle Railway added to it. Sometimes it's confusing because I've come across some very early maps that have the Black Isle Railway added and it's slightly confusing. However, this one is one that I've used because I was interested in the various developments on the Black Isle and that what was important at this period. So, they've marked all the smithies, known in this area, in most of Scotland as a 'smiddy'. And if you're working your farm with horses you've got to feed the horse but you've also to look after the horse shoes and that, there was a regular maintenance required to get new shoes made for your horse, and also they might have to get the shoe removed, the foot dressed and refitted. So, an important part of the community was the smiddy. And that there was ones that are spread over the area but also some of the farms had their own smiddy but the blacksmith came to the farm on the appointed day, rather than take all the horses all the way to his smiddy, which nowadays the travelling blacksmith takes everything in his van, and his forge, and goes to the horse. So, my theory is based on the fact that we've got this distribution of smiddies, and where you've got a smiddy, and also a meal mill, because water power and producing meal from the oats was an important part of the survival of a community, so what came first? Chicken and egg situation. I suspect that some of the sites were developed because the water power was there, and there was a meal mill and the blacksmith starts his business there, and then someone decides 'hey this is a good place to have a pub' so you get settlements with all three, and these are maybe the successful settlements that we have today.

Water power was probably the most important power source in the Black Isle and the central ridge of the Black Isle, principally the Mulbuie Common, had the main water sources and because some of it was peat bog it soaked up the rain and released it on a reasonably regular base. So, you've got a lot of artificial drainage work on the higher land was designed to capture the water and channel it towards your waterwheel. And that's a pattern that exists right around the fringe of the Black Isle.

We've also got the more adventurous folks who went in for the modern technology of having water turbines. Now these were relatively small to look at but, dependent on a piped supply of water that came from a dam at a higher location because they worked on the pressure of the water rather than the volume. And one of the first noted ones was on the Redcastle Estate where they had a turbine driving a generator to provide electricity for the castle and the gardener's house. And it was said that, at that period, the Black Isle was a hundred percent self-sufficient in electricity because they only had two customers. On that water supply at Redcastle there's actually two turbines and a waterwheel. The, the other turbine was used to power the barn machinery on the farm which was fairly close to the castle.

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Black Isle Heritage Memories - Alasdair Cameron (25 of 32)

ROSS

2010s

audios; farmers; farming; agriculture; built environment; villages; dwellings; houses; farms; railways; waterwheels;

ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands)

ARCH: Black Isle Heritage Memories

In this audio extract, Black Isle farmer Alasdair Cameron talks about the Black Isle Railway, local blacksmiths, water power and water turbines.<br /> <br /> The audio recording was carried out as part of the Black Isle Heritage Memories Project, undertaken in 2009/2010 by ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands). To find out more about the project, follow the link towards the foot of the page.<br /> <br /> Transcription: (Interviewer: Cait McCullagh)<br /> <br /> AC: I'm looking at the Black Isle map here which I think must be based on the first edition but it's got the Black Isle Railway added to it. Sometimes it's confusing because I've come across some very early maps that have the Black Isle Railway added and it's slightly confusing. However, this one is one that I've used because I was interested in the various developments on the Black Isle and that what was important at this period. So, they've marked all the smithies, known in this area, in most of Scotland as a 'smiddy'. And if you're working your farm with horses you've got to feed the horse but you've also to look after the horse shoes and that, there was a regular maintenance required to get new shoes made for your horse, and also they might have to get the shoe removed, the foot dressed and refitted. So, an important part of the community was the smiddy. And that there was ones that are spread over the area but also some of the farms had their own smiddy but the blacksmith came to the farm on the appointed day, rather than take all the horses all the way to his smiddy, which nowadays the travelling blacksmith takes everything in his van, and his forge, and goes to the horse. So, my theory is based on the fact that we've got this distribution of smiddies, and where you've got a smiddy, and also a meal mill, because water power and producing meal from the oats was an important part of the survival of a community, so what came first? Chicken and egg situation. I suspect that some of the sites were developed because the water power was there, and there was a meal mill and the blacksmith starts his business there, and then someone decides 'hey this is a good place to have a pub' so you get settlements with all three, and these are maybe the successful settlements that we have today.<br /> <br /> Water power was probably the most important power source in the Black Isle and the central ridge of the Black Isle, principally the Mulbuie Common, had the main water sources and because some of it was peat bog it soaked up the rain and released it on a reasonably regular base. So, you've got a lot of artificial drainage work on the higher land was designed to capture the water and channel it towards your waterwheel. And that's a pattern that exists right around the fringe of the Black Isle.<br /> <br /> We've also got the more adventurous folks who went in for the modern technology of having water turbines. Now these were relatively small to look at but, dependent on a piped supply of water that came from a dam at a higher location because they worked on the pressure of the water rather than the volume. And one of the first noted ones was on the Redcastle Estate where they had a turbine driving a generator to provide electricity for the castle and the gardener's house. And it was said that, at that period, the Black Isle was a hundred percent self-sufficient in electricity because they only had two customers. On that water supply at Redcastle there's actually two turbines and a waterwheel. The, the other turbine was used to power the barn machinery on the farm which was fairly close to the castle.