Caledonia Way Interpretation 2012
This is the new set of interpretation panels designed and installed for the Caledonia Way in West Coast Scotland. This is a set of four panels covering historical and natural heritage for the area between Appin and Ballachulish.
The panels include photography and illustration as well as information and a smattering of Gaelic culture too.
We have also recorded the site of the old stations on the railway for which much of the Path follows.
We designed the lectern to reflect the Highland Galley continuing the theme that we began three years ago. This theme can be seen in the gates and other structures along the way.
Here is the text from the Castle Stalker Panel:
You are following the route of the Highways of the Sea Kingdoms.
A seafaring path that took islanders to war and commerce.
The highway of the sea kingdoms
There has been a castle on this site since 1320 and Castle Stalker is one of many sea castles on the west coast of Scotland. They were built on rocks at sea for easier access in an age where there were few easy land routes. The Highland Galley or Birlinn was one of the principal vessels at this time and was developed from Viking lines and enabled Somerled, the founder of Clan Donald, to break the power of the Norsemen in the Isles in the twelfth century. Somerled was thought to be born in Morvern around 1113, and this half Norse, half Celtic warrior defeated the Vikings, who had been the dominant force on Scotland’s west coast for over 400 years. He established a fleet of Birlinns that was able to out-manoeuvre the Viking longboats and by 1160 he had built an island empire that stretched the length of the west coast. Somerled and his descendents – the MacDonalds – became the first of the “Lord of the Isles” or in Gaelic – Triath nan Eilean.
Castle Stalker – Caisteal-an-Stalcairc – the Castle of the Falconer, in its current form dates from around 1450 and James IV of Scotland (1473–1513) frequently stayed in it when on hunting trips. Stewart of Appin was one of the King’s favourites and was appointed hereditary keeper of the castle which continued in the possession of the family until 1645, when Mac Ian Stewart, in a moment of drunken folly, gave it to Donald Campbell of the Airds, receiving in return a Birlinn!
The sea remains an important highway today. Glensanda Quarry across Loch Linnhe depends on the sea to transport up to 6 million tons of granite aggregate a year. Glensanda means Maiden’s Castle in Old Norse and was originally the stronghold of the Macleans of Kingairloch. The entire clan emigrated to Canada in 1812 after their chief gambled away his inheritance, bought a ship and took all 500 people to Nova Scotia.
Here is the artwork: