NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Scalan: Work starts on preserving secret seminary site in Moray

Work site
Image caption The project is expected to be completed by the end of October

Work is under way on a £400,000 project to preserve the history of buildings on a site which once housed a secret Roman Catholic seminary.

The small community at Scalan was created in the 18th Century in the Braes of Glenlivet in Moray.

The seminary was built in the guise of a farmhouse in 1767, and was used to train priests at a time when Catholicism was still illegal in Scotland.

The conservation project being carried out by Crown Estate Scotland aims to conserve and repair the Scalan Mill buildings which accompany the relatively intact seminary.

It is hoped that the work will allow visitors to access and enjoy more of the site.

Image caption Work restoring the site's north and south mill buildings has begun

Work to restore and repair the site's north and south mill buildings - which were added in the 19th and 20th Centuries - is now well under way.

Graffiti dating back to 1874 is still visible in the mill buildings, which Simon Ovenden of Crown Estate Scotland describes as a "hidden gem".

He said: "We've got so much of this graffiti. It's a farming notebook, a farming diary, that refers so much to the history of the mills here and the situation and the location of Scalan.

"This is such a valuable piece of history, it's pretty much unique."

Image caption Historic graffiti found in the mills will be preserved

He said the project was on track to be completed by the end of October.

Tomintoul and Glenlivet Landscape Partnership (TGLP) is a programme supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to regenerate the area.

Amy Woolvin, who works for TGLP, said: "With the historic graffiti we can find out what they did on a day-to-day basis.

"There's so many hidden stories on this site, so doing this work means that we can share that and celebrate it with a lot more people."

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