Highlands & Islands

Lottery funds for Coigach-Assynt conservation work

Coigach-Assynt landscape
Image caption A project to restore woodlands and blanket bogs forms part of a wider 40-year vision for the area

An effort to conserve the landscape of Coigach and Assynt in north west Scotland has received a £3m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) is leading work to restore blanket bog and heath moor, repair paths and reconnect fragmented native woodland.

Funds will also go towards excavating and preserving Clachtoll broch, an Iron Age settlement.

The project is part of a 40-year vision for Coigach and Assynt.

SWT is involved in Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape (Call), a partnership set up to regenerate the area.

Viv Halcrow, Call's project manager, said: "This Heritage Lottery Funding could have a great impact across the whole Coigach-Assynt living landscape.

"It would not only benefit the natural, cultural and built environment, but could help to increase integration between communities, landowners, and organisations."

'Enormous pressures'

The Heritage Lottery Fund describes the area as one of the remotest areas of Europe.

Colin McLean, head of the fund in Scotland, said it has "astounding scenery".

He added: "However, the enormous pressures upon these landscapes mean that we have to tackle their restoration and conservation on a bigger scale than ever before."

Simon Milne, chief executive of SWT, said the trust was delighted with grant award.

He said: "This money brings environmental benefits through the myriad of restoration projects planned such as native Atlantic oakwood restoration as well as social and economic benefits for the entire community in the Coigach-Assynt area by providing jobs and promoting tourism."

Image caption The scenery in Coigach and Assynt is described as "astounding"

It is thought Clachtoll broch was built and occupied by a sophisticated maritime culture stretching up to the Northern Isles and out to the Hebrides at a time before the Roman conquest of southern Britain.

The tower may have been seen by ancient Greek geographer Pytheas during his circumnavigation of Britain.

Last year, archaeologists said they uncovered the remains of what they believe could be a Bronze Age bathing site, or a sauna, in Assynt.

The metre-deep pit with a channel to a nearby stream was discovered at Stronechrubie.

The find was made by the Fire and Water Project, which is run by archaeology and history group Historic Assynt.

The project team had been trying to understand what a crescent shaped mound of stones had been created for.

Excavations at the mound by archaeologists and volunteers unearthed the pit and channel from beneath a layer of clay.

Archaeologists believe it may have been created for bathing, or as a sauna.

They said other possible uses for the site included cooking and feasting, or perhaps brewing.

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