Comann Eachdraidh Ionadail Phortrigh
Portree Local History Society
Chair: I. G. MacDonald
Secretary: Marilyn Clarke
Treasurer: Rita Campbell
Programme of Meetings: 2008 - 2009
- October 14, 2008
High Pasture Cave and developments at Fiskavaig
- November 11, 2008
MacLean family of Raasay.
- December 9, 2008
NB VENUE: Dunvegan Castle
- The Castle, The Clan, The Homecoming
- January 13, 2009
All Creatures Great and Small- 50 Years as a Vet on Skye.
- February 10, 2009
UHI History Department.
Dr Jim Hunter
- March 10, 2009
St Maolrubha & St Columba.
- April 14, 2009
Col. Jock Collection and Museum of Isles Collection.
Programme of Meetings: 2007 - 2008
October 9 - Ian Suddaby - The Excavation at Home Farm
November 13 - Dr Jeff Stone - St Kilda: Two Decades of Digging and Scraping
(in association with Aberdeen University Centre for Lifelong Learning )
December 11 - Dr Martin MacGregor - The Lordship of the Isles
January 8 - Seonachan MacLeod - Deserted Villages of Skye
February 12 - Professor Brian Sykes - Vikings in the Blood?
March 11 - Murray MacDonald - Mobile Banking by Land and Sea in the Highlands and Islands
April 8 - AGM, with guest speaker - Ronnie Armstrong - Para Handy and the Clyde Puffers
"Skye and Raasay"
Coals to Newcastle might, at first sight, seem to be a proper description of
Norman Newton's talk to the Society,
entitled, simply, "Skye and Raasay". Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.
The talk set out to explore a range of social, economic and cultural issues, and, in Norman's own words,
to be "deliberately provocative"
about a range of perceptions commonly held concerning the two islands. These are some of the key points I identified. I apologise if I seem to have misinterpreted
anything Norman had to say!
Norman began with the story of his own encounters with Raasay, dating back to field archaeological work carried out
in and since the 1970s under the auspices of the University of Glasgow. This led to a questioning of just how much the rugged landscapes are taken for granted,
how much they have been altered, and how they should be presented. Is, for instance, the Industrial Archaeology of an old salmon fishing station as valid a topic for study as
the old field farming traces?
Other issues, such as the importance of "mountain tourism" and the reuse of redundant buildings were discussed, along with what Norman described as the "politics of scenery" -
illustrated by the impact of EU money on the islands' infrastructure.
How should tourism be accommodated in 21st Century Skye? The destruction of the original Flora MacDonald monument was pointed to to exemplify this question. Some
answers might include the development of trails, but to what extent would or should tourist images be "manufactured"?
Throughout the talk, Norman sought to challenge perceived "truths" - not necessarily to disprove them but certainly to
generate discussion and thought. he emphasised how the extended availability of information and resources for study - the "availability" of History - were having an effect on thinking.
- Does "bilingualism" - road signs, etc. - do a disservice to the Norse origins of much of the islands?
- Has, in fact, the Norse past beem airbrushed out of history?
- The complexities of the religious past may be in danger of being over-simplified.
- The symbolic nature of, for instance, the landscape of Glendale, and its relationship with the Land Reform
movement may disguise a story of inward migration.
- Crofting is not a very old tradition but was created to preserve a tenant status where previously landholding had been communal.
- The impact and significance of the Clearances may have been mis-stated in some senses, not in the fact that they were a personal
disaster for many but in that, for instance, it seems many cleared villages were repopulated in a very short time,
and Clearance, in any case, was
not an experience restricted to the Gaeltachtd, or even to Scotland.
We hope many will take the opportunity to discuss these points(and others) through these pages.