Meet the Volunteers!

Post date: Sep 10, 2015 7:42:52 AM

Also taking part in the Kildavie excavation, alongside those on the HARP field school, are community enthusiasts from Northwest Mull and abroad. They represent the broad range of interest which a site such as Kildavie generates.

Many who are involved in Mull archaeology and heritage will be familiar with Hylda Marsh, who stays locally in Tobermory. She is the Archaeology Member with the Mull Museum (who kindly donated our marquee) and has previously participated in digs such as the well-known discovery of the 7thC chapel at Baliscate House. Hylda has been involved at Kildavie for around 4-5 years and thinks that the site has plenty to tell us about pre-Clearance sites in Mull and the surrounding area.

“It’s great having HARP here, they bring a professionalism to the dig.” - Hylda

“Well, my back aches, but I’m happy!” - Karen

Hylda brought two more volunteers along, Catherine Whitelock and Karen Lloyd, two who have been travelling up to visit the Isle of Mull for years. Catherine, who was also at the Baliscate dig, had visited Kildavie when it was shrouded in Forestry woodland and has come back to join in on the dig. It’s Karen’s first time digging at Kildavie too; she’s enjoying her first foray into archaeological excavation. She became interested in the field after previous research in the archaeology and social history for her forthcoming book ‘The Gathering Tide’, about Morecambe Bay. Karen has also, oddly enough, previously shared a classroom with HARP’s social media rep, as she studied Creative Writing at the University of Stirling. Small world, eh?

Two further stalwarts of the dig are Peter Leach and Kevin Luscombe, who helped get the initial survey started around 11 years ago. The site had long been known about, and they had originally heard about it from a local Gael, Donald MacLean of Langamull Farm (whose daughter also took part in the dig this year). Peter and Kevin are busy trying to determine if the settlement of Kildavie has an accompanying burial ground, as discussed in a previous blog post. They combine knowledge concerning the early Christian church in the Inner Hebrides, as well as an appreciation for the longstanding history of the Kildavie site. You’ll have seen the photo on our social media of the site from the Iron Age roundhouse… it’s part of a long history stretching back to the Mesolithic.

“The folk memory is now disappearing in Mull, it’s a real shame. I have a great empathy with the people who lived in this place, having rebuilt my house at Croag. You have to have some sort of connection with those people from living here.” - Kevin

Catherine Evans, neé MacLean, is the daughter of Donald MacLean. Her father, who lived a stone’s throw away from the site at Langamull Farm, had always thought that there was something special here at Kildavie. But at that time, decades ago, much of the community held interest in such things as abandoned villages. Catherine, like her father, continues to be involved with Kildavie, and has made it along for the past 4 years.