The Trail is a unique interneship project which, since 2013, has striven to demonstrate that just because significant local archaeological sites are invisible – ‘our deep time’ as we call them – this does not mean that they are not of cultural, educational and social value to the area’s residents, its visitors , and all those interested in Scotland’s pre-history. and, therefore worthy of ‘showcasing’ and promotion.
The Trail, which is located entirely within the grounds of Crieff High School and the Strathearn Community Campus takes visitors around sections of the Campus grounds and highlights our key archaeological sites and remains by means of a series of information and interpretation panels, and a half sized replica of the adjacent Pittentian Timber Circle. The Trail is designed for self-guided visiting, with a free, full colour leaflet available.
The landscape of the Campus is built upon a rich collection of archaeological sites. dating from the first farmers up to the Crieff Stayt, a medieval mound where the Earls of Strathearn meted out justice to the local community.
The various phases of development of the Trail entailed a series of excavations of previously known, and also unknown, sites – most of them prehistoric. These suggested this (the immediate environs to the school/Campus) is a significant landscape from the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods, including one of the largest Neolithic Curcus monuments in Scotland, several timber circles, and several Bronze age burial monuments.
Critically, none of the featured sites are visible on the landscape today, having all been found either as cropmarks, or in excavations in advance of major infrastructure developments in the vicinity in the past dozen years; including the new Campus and High School, the new Crieff Primary School, and a large electricity tower carrying the Beauly – Denny transmission line southwards past the town.
Much of the resulting archaeology excavated was unknown – this being why the Trail is so important.
Funding for the project came from Perth & Kinross Council, SSE/Hydro and their main contractors, Strathearn Archaeological and Historical Society, Historic environment Scotland, Crieff Rotary Club, Crieff Development Trust, and a local resident who wishes to remain anonymous.
Professional input, advice and support was given on a Pro Bono basis by archaeological staff at Glasgow University, Perth College/UHI, Duncan of Jordanstone College/Dundee University, Perth Museum, CFA Archaeology, Alder Archaeology, Archaeology Scotland, Historical Environment Scotland, and George Logan; Photographer.
Special thanks go to the successive Head Teachers and Campus Leaders, Christine Deeley, then John Donnelly, and their staff and pupils for their enthusiastic help and participation over the past seven years, and to Colin Mayall – local historian and author – who has campaigned for greater recognition of Crieff’s rich archaeology for many years.
Supporting StatementOur Society has nominated this project for the following reasons:
It brought together a cadre of like-minded individuals and groups who grasped a narrow window of opportunity to finally 'showcase' Crieff's rich archaeology as a result of co-incidental and increasing interest in Strathearn's archaeology in recent years; national publicity resulting from a Royal Visit to unveil the first-stage element
(the re-imagined timber circle); the unifying element of the recently developed School/Campus grounds as the ideal venue for such a project; the availability of grant and donor funding and the validation of the project's integrity, relevance and coherence by both academic and professional archaeologists and educationalists.
The project has been identified as a case study of best practice in community partnership working by the national heritage body Historic Environment Scotland; and - as a celebration of the ancient and invisible - a fine example of Scotland's Archaeology Strategy in action, providing engagement and participation in terms of learning about the past, enhancing a sense of place through foregrounding the 'deep time' hidden beneath the ground, and providing a wide educational role in the community.
The Trail demonstrates to others with similar challenges that buried archaeology can still play an important,
multi-faceted role in society today, with a little imagination, determination and good deal of patience.
The Trail adds an additional community benefit, in addition to the high school,community library, swimming pool and sports facilities located on the Campus. As the Campus grounds are already well used for recreational purposes; from family walks and informal sports activity, to picnics, and dog walking; our Trail signage was designed to use natural materials - mainly sustainable timber - to be unintrusive and complimentary to the rural situation and superb vistas of upper Strathearn.
We know of no other of Scotland's senior schools to have such a feature, therefore it is unique (for the time being). It has been featured in a number of professional and academic and history journals in recent years.
Publicity about the Trail brought forth a generous anonymous donation which allowed us to commission the crafting of several museum-quality replicas of Neolithic and Bronze Age artifacts excavated locally. These are on display with the high school.
It delivers an honest proposition and promise to the area's population and visitors: STRATHEARN COMMUNITY CAMPUS ARCHAEOLOGY TRAIL - A PLACE OF LANDSCAPE AND COMMUNITY.