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2009 Roots and Boughs



We were able to run a varied programme and maintain profile and contact through that
  • We were able to hold events in a range of very small communities which is important for the remote areas
  • We built up the database for e-marketing which has been a huge help in reaching wider audiences; keeping people outwith the area informed and keeping marketing costs lower
  • We ran 22 separate events July – November, mainly in blocks of 2 or 3 days at a time with several different events within one programme to minimise transport and set-up costs
  • We provided seasonal exhibits to Strathnaver Museum
  • We collaborated on research and events with Durness Development Group on the Loch Croispol Project
  • We participated in Homecoming 2009 and gained profile from that too
  • We experimented with merchandise sales and new products
  • New research on The Migrants – Armadale – a lot of new material
  • A total of 1,235 people attended events this year and a wide range of volunteers


In social terms we were able to experiment with new forms of events aimed at producing volunteering opportunities for younger people (16 – 30 years old). In particular we held a ‘21st century ceilidh’ – Club Mhic Aoidh @Skerray – with this aim in mind. It was enormously successful and interestingly also attracted the older generation although it was a ‘techno’ or ‘electronic dance music’ based format. The training and ‘joining –in’ events focused on creating and building a bough tent also attracted a new range of people across all age groups from 6 years old to circa 66 years old.

We carried out new research on the stories of 2 out migrant families to Australia in 1854 via direct links with descendants and archive research ‘at home’. The research highlighted the importance of access to school education to families in that era and the importance of literacy for families hoping to migrate. It was also of interest to note how mobile these families were within the north west mainland and Scotland over several decades in advance of migration. Further research links and additional information was gained via attendance at the Scotland’s Global Impact Conference.

In economic terms we have become far more aware of the wider importance of holding a varied annual events programme not just in order to highlight the results of archive research, to pass on craft skills, to collaborate with local fèisean and to provide an enjoyable form of cultural education but also because of the importance of a critical mass of cultural events and activities for local and regional tourism.

In an effort to further develop social enterprise activity during this events programme we have begun to explore 2 income generation options – events programmes and merchandise. Both will only ever make a modest contribution to running costs but can be very helpful. In the remote areas it should also be noted that financial support remains fundamental in delivering events since venue and audience sizes are very modest. The costs of Hall electricity have recently risen substantially as well. In addition this funding allowed new ‘acts’ to be introduced to the area hence also contributing to audience development and artistic education. These were:


New topics coveredNew ‘acts’ & formats

History of metal working craft skills in Scotland – Arthur DutchHistory of travellers in Scotland – Neat film

Traditional medicine in 18th & 19th centuries in Mackay Country – Mary Beith

Basic Gaelic – school events & adult sessions – Essie Stewart & Catriona Macleod

Cutting hazel boughs (including key Gaelic terms) – Essie Stewart, Calum Millar & David Shaw

‘Setting’ the boughs – Calum Millar & David Shaw

Building a bough tent – Calum Millar & David Shaw

1854 Out Migrants 2 – The Hornet – Issie MacPhail

1890s Credit Crunch in Armadale, Australia – Issie MacPhail

New film installation inside the bough tent for Belladrum by Gavin LockhartNew outdoor film installation by Gavin Lockhart – used at 5 events


Club Mhic Aoidh

  • light & projections by Gavin Lockhart
  • The Geek Brothers – live music from Niall Robertson of The Grousebeaters and Iain Copeland of The Peatbog Faeries.
  • The Two Bens (Ben Hope & Ben Loyal) or Kris Scott and Ben Stickland on decks.


  • Ewan MacPherson – guitarist & singer songwriter
  • Anne Sophie Linge Valdal – Norwegian flute player & traditional singer
  • Both are involved in Scandi-folk and collaborative work between Norwegian and Gaelic traditions
  • New local singers & musicians brought on via Feis Air An Oir – e.g. Celia McDougal plus a range of school age performers including the youngest ones such as Anna Magee


New exhibition – outdoor format during summer (events over 7 days in various locations) by Issie MacPhail

New exhibition – indoors in Armadale Hall by Meg Telfer and Gavin Lockhart


Impacts and benefits


  • We have increased the use of Gaelic in all project work and ran 5 schools events and 3 public events teaching some basic Gaelic
  • We ran a series of training events on how to cut hazel and how to shape it and build a bough tent – all relevant for sustainable use of natural resources and the passing on of craft skills. Thirty people attended at 3 such events. These craft and woodland management skills were also demonstrated for 2 primary school groups
  • The e-database of contacts for marketing and news updates can be built upon to the benefit of the area and the organisation
  • We have become more aware that our habit of working with a range of artists in order to deliver events and exhibitions with good artistic standards and aesthetic impact is very important if we wish to deliver a quality ‘product’ every time – which is what the local and global market demands
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