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TITLE
Black Isle Heritage Memories - Alasdair Cameron (2 of 32)
EXTERNAL ID
ARCH_ALASDAIR_CAMERON_01_02
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ROSS
DATE OF RECORDING
2010
PERIOD
2010s
CREATOR
Alasdair Cameron
SOURCE
ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands)
ASSET ID
75
KEYWORDS
audios
farmers
farming
villages
dwellings
houses
farms
agriculture
built environment
waterwheels

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In this audio extract, Black Isle farmer Alasdair Cameron talks about the water-powered mills in the Munlochy Bay area of the Black Isle.

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: At the other end of Munlochy Bay, near Munlochy, there's records going back to, well, we were talking about Bishop Forbes. Bishop Forbes mentioned that there was two water-powered mills on Munlochy Bay. Sometimes they're referred to as 'salt mills' because it was salt water that powered them.

CM: This was Bishop Forbes who made his famous ...

AC: ... his famous diaries of his trip to the north.

CM: And that was in the eighteenth -?

AC: 1764, somewhere about that, that he mentioned them. I have come across mention of them in some of the Kilcoy Estate papers which are in the Aberdeen University these days. The, another piece I picked up was that, the, the miller was given compensation for the loss of his mill somewhere about the 1836, when it's mentioned that the new road across the bay prevents the tide from going in and out enough to power the mill. And the miller, an unusual name, Mr Provost, he was given, eh, land near Tore. I've yet to discover whether he features in the Tore area; no-one's come across him yet. The exact site, of the, of the mills is not a hundred percent known but sort of, educated guesses have pinpointed a couple of sites. There is a, a millstone in the water just below the farm - I can't quite see its name here if I'm looking at the right one - but it's 544 is the plot on this map. And the story in Munlochy from Mr Alec Taylor who had the, the, tailor's shop, would you believe, in Munlochy ...

CM: Aha, aha [laughs]

AC: ... probably a grandson has the shop today as a, as a grocery store, well, Mr Taylor told me that his family who have been there for many generations knew that, the tradition was that the local farming community were obliged to help the miller to do maintenance on the mill, and that the millstones were conveniently available to be cut out of the hill, behind the mill, known as Drumderfit Hill. And on one occasion they had a freshly-cut millstone and the way of handling them was to put a tree trunk through the middle and wheel it down, but someone decided to take a quicker route down rather than the long way round. The mill stone ran out of control, allegedly went through the house, which was probably a fairly flimsy construction at that period, and landed in the water of the bay. I'm prepared to believe that because the stone that was found there is an undressed stone because a miller wouldn't dress the stone until it was safely secured in the mill, so it's definitely not a remnant of a stone that was used in the original mill. Millstones were much too valuable to leave around if it was dressed. They've got quite a high value even today.

CM: And you've, you've seen this millstone have you?

AC: Yes.

CM: In the water?

AC: It was, it was removed with the help of the fire brigade who helped to flush the mud round about it and it's been set up on the, on the bottom of the road here just below the farm. So that's visible today.

CM: Very good.

AC: I cleared the bushes round it last year for a photograph for a project. So that's something of the interesting bits of Munlochy Bay. It's, it's an interesting geological site; lots of different levels of raised beaches and it attracts geologists who argue as to what happened there. There's even evidence if you look in the right places of a tsunami that hit it probably eight or nine thousand years ago. A fascinating place.

CM: When you say evidence Alasdair what are you, what are you saying?

AC: You would have to dig down into the mud to get the layer and that if you see the particular way the core sand is deposited it ties up with similar deposits, basically from about Fife to, right up to the Orkney Islands. So it all matches up to that sort of period. And that the highest known water level is just about thirty meters. And that there's an interesting notice board just been put up on the, the wild fowlers have erected a viewing hide on the, on the main road, on this map the bench mark eighty-seven point four feet. There is a bird hide there with information on the birds of the bay but also some interesting stuff on the history and the geological importance of, of the bay.

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Black Isle Heritage Memories - Alasdair Cameron (2 of 32)

ROSS

2010s

audios; farmers; farming; villages; dwellings; houses; farms; agriculture; built environment; 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 water-powered mills in the Munlochy Bay area of the Black Isle.<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: At the other end of Munlochy Bay, near Munlochy, there's records going back to, well, we were talking about Bishop Forbes. Bishop Forbes mentioned that there was two water-powered mills on Munlochy Bay. Sometimes they're referred to as 'salt mills' because it was salt water that powered them.<br /> <br /> CM: This was Bishop Forbes who made his famous ...<br /> <br /> AC: ... his famous diaries of his trip to the north.<br /> <br /> CM: And that was in the eighteenth -?<br /> <br /> AC: 1764, somewhere about that, that he mentioned them. I have come across mention of them in some of the Kilcoy Estate papers which are in the Aberdeen University these days. The, another piece I picked up was that, the, the miller was given compensation for the loss of his mill somewhere about the 1836, when it's mentioned that the new road across the bay prevents the tide from going in and out enough to power the mill. And the miller, an unusual name, Mr Provost, he was given, eh, land near Tore. I've yet to discover whether he features in the Tore area; no-one's come across him yet. The exact site, of the, of the mills is not a hundred percent known but sort of, educated guesses have pinpointed a couple of sites. There is a, a millstone in the water just below the farm - I can't quite see its name here if I'm looking at the right one - but it's 544 is the plot on this map. And the story in Munlochy from Mr Alec Taylor who had the, the, tailor's shop, would you believe, in Munlochy ...<br /> <br /> CM: Aha, aha [laughs]<br /> <br /> AC: ... probably a grandson has the shop today as a, as a grocery store, well, Mr Taylor told me that his family who have been there for many generations knew that, the tradition was that the local farming community were obliged to help the miller to do maintenance on the mill, and that the millstones were conveniently available to be cut out of the hill, behind the mill, known as Drumderfit Hill. And on one occasion they had a freshly-cut millstone and the way of handling them was to put a tree trunk through the middle and wheel it down, but someone decided to take a quicker route down rather than the long way round. The mill stone ran out of control, allegedly went through the house, which was probably a fairly flimsy construction at that period, and landed in the water of the bay. I'm prepared to believe that because the stone that was found there is an undressed stone because a miller wouldn't dress the stone until it was safely secured in the mill, so it's definitely not a remnant of a stone that was used in the original mill. Millstones were much too valuable to leave around if it was dressed. They've got quite a high value even today.<br /> <br /> CM: And you've, you've seen this millstone have you?<br /> <br /> AC: Yes.<br /> <br /> CM: In the water?<br /> <br /> AC: It was, it was removed with the help of the fire brigade who helped to flush the mud round about it and it's been set up on the, on the bottom of the road here just below the farm. So that's visible today.<br /> <br /> CM: Very good.<br /> <br /> AC: I cleared the bushes round it last year for a photograph for a project. So that's something of the interesting bits of Munlochy Bay. It's, it's an interesting geological site; lots of different levels of raised beaches and it attracts geologists who argue as to what happened there. There's even evidence if you look in the right places of a tsunami that hit it probably eight or nine thousand years ago. A fascinating place.<br /> <br /> CM: When you say evidence Alasdair what are you, what are you saying?<br /> <br /> AC: You would have to dig down into the mud to get the layer and that if you see the particular way the core sand is deposited it ties up with similar deposits, basically from about Fife to, right up to the Orkney Islands. So it all matches up to that sort of period. And that the highest known water level is just about thirty meters. And that there's an interesting notice board just been put up on the, the wild fowlers have erected a viewing hide on the, on the main road, on this map the bench mark eighty-seven point four feet. There is a bird hide there with information on the birds of the bay but also some interesting stuff on the history and the geological importance of, of the bay.