Gazetteer 17th July – 8th August, by Ali Campbell 2012
The Gazetteer Project is about how the land has changed from the 1900’s to 2012. This project will reveal how, and why, the look of the landscape of Cairndow parish changes. It will monitor how its land use has been affected by changing social and economic factors. It will focus particularly on the underlying economic reasons and food production. It will be a study to map the land use of a West Highland parish over the 20 century, with emphasis at three key points. 1905, when the Nobles bought all of the parish as a sporting estate and cleared the sheep for stalking; via 1950 with its post war changes but farming practices relatively traditional (and clearly remembered by older people here today) to the end of the century with multiple land owners and the changing and diverse economy. We would look, discuss and make notes about how the land has changed and at the end of our 4 weeks at Here We Are we would put all this information together and submit a report. The main factors that affect the land of Cairndow are the following: the climate, altitude and terrain, soil, landownership and landowners priorities, transportation and communication, government subsidies and tax interventions.
On my first day at Here We Are which was Monday the 16th of July, Frazer and myself went onto the computers and listened to audio tapes of Ernie Macpherson and Alistair MacCallum. They were talking about what life was like when they were young boys, what they got up to as boys, how they found school and what they worked as when they left school. We also wrote down any words which they talked about which we never understood. For example, Ernie Macpherson talked about a word called “Hirsle” which I never understood. So I went and researched this word and found out that it meant ‘an area on the land where a shepherd would work on’
The next day, Tuesday the 17th of July, we interviewed and recorded Alice Beattie. We asked lots of different questions in which Alice answered them all. It was very interesting to listen to how her life was when she was a young gild compared to my life today. She had to cycle most of the way to school where as I just catch the bus.
On Wednesday the 18th of July, we went onto the computers and looked at OS maps of Cairndow from the 1990’s and again from the early 2000’s. We took notes of how the landscape had changed from the 1900’s to 2000’s. We then printed out lots of detailed pictures of various places in Cairndow such as, Loch Fyne Oysters, lots of the fields and the loch itself. I found it really easy to read the OS maps as I had learnt how to in Geography at school. On Monday the 23rd of July, we went and found a very large map of Cairndow and we then traced out all the fields on the paper. We tried to figure out what all the fields names were called and what was in them in the 1950’s. To help us find out some of the fields names that we never knew, we called Alistair MacCallum and he came into Here We Are to help us. He was the farm manager at Clachan so he knew most of the names. I already knew Alistair and Ernie very well before they came to help us at Here We Are so that was good.
The next day, Tuesday the 24th of July, Frazer and myself cycled to work then cycled up to Achadunan and then right up the Glen. We were doing this because we had to write down on our paper what was in all the fields. For example, there could have been lots of sheep and Highland cows in one field with medium grass.
On Wednesday the 25th of July, we cycled down to Alice Beattie’s house where she had written out on paper how her and her family made the hay back when she was a child. It was very interesting to read and it involved a lot of hard work and time. We both then cycled down to the bottom of Ardno on our bikes to do the same as yesterday, write down what was in all the fields we had marked out on paper.
The next week, Monday the 30th of July, Frazer and myself interviewed and recorded Peter Manson. Again, the same questions that we had asked Alice, Alistair and Ernie, we asked Peter. After the interview we worked on the computers. We were finding out the value of ‘money’ back from the 1900’s to 2000 in 10 year cycles. This was very interesting as the prices varied dramatically. After we had finished this, we had to go outside and do lots of weeding which looked very good after we had finished.
On Tuesday the 31st of July, We went up to Pole Farm to work with Davie, Jack and Richard Jackson. We had to put sheep into a separate pen and then shear them. With the shaved wool we then had to role the wool up and them place it into large bags that had to be sent away to get more money. We done about 190 sheep that day. After this we put the lambs into another pen where we marked them all. Then after we marked them we took them back down into the bottom field with their mothers. This day was my favourite day. I really enjoyed it.
On Wednesday the 1st of August, we printed out another very large map and then had to sell tape it together. The rest of the day we done lots of weeding and trimming back the trees around Here We Are to make it look more appealing for the customers.
The next week, Monday the 6th of August, we cycled back down to Ardno to take lots of pictures of all the fields. We then cycled back round to Here We are and printed these photographs out.
The next day, Tuesday the 7th of July, Frazer and myself had to do lots and lots of weeding around the back of Here We Are. It was a very hot day which made it thirsty work. We were at the weeding all day as there was so many of them.
On our last day at working at Here We Are which was Wednesday the 8th of August we had to meet at work for 9 o’clock. We were heading up the Glen (to the very top) to look at all the old ruins. I had already been up the Glen 2 times before. This was another great day as the sun was shining and it was very interesting to go up close and see the ruins with your own eyes. Ernie Macpherson also came along with us as he had been one of the shepherds up that Glen.
I wanted this job because I wanted to learn how the landscape of Cairndow had changed over the years since the early 1900’s. I also wanted this job to earn myself some extra money over the summer holidays. The thing I have mostly learnt is that farming has changed the most. In 1950 there were 45 cows and 200 sheep up at Achadunan Farm whereas in the 1990’s there were no cows and no sheep.