Stories from the Crannog: Getting ready for Opening

Chris Bowers


Mr. Michael Benson, Museum Director of the Scottish Crannog Centre at Loch Tay, has asked me to write some word regards my short period of voluntary work on the construction of the New Site situated on the North Shore of the waters.

I should start by pointing out that Mr. Benson and myself go back many years, to a different lifetime in fact. A time when we both worked in the steel industry on Teesside. Teesside Beam Mill, a mill that is still open and producing steel sections for the international market to this day. So we must have done something right.

Not only was it a different lifetime but a totally different world to that of an Iron Age village. Although, strangely enough, very similar.

As a retired gentlemen I did wonder how well I would stand up to the rigours of working on site, but happily I was not asked to do anything beyond my capabilities, thank goodness.

I did find out something new about Mr Benson though, he reportedly comes from the POSH END of Middlesbrough. I was unaware that there was a Posh End, so we all live and learn don’t we Mick.

It was great to see so many different crafts and skills coming together, not only to build but to put a story together.

Reeds and trees, stone and earth, words and images.

The dedication of so varied a bunch of people to do this task justice. Top Show.

And it must be pointed out that ‘blessed are the soup makers, for they shall feed the masses.’ How wonderful to greeted with homemade soup after a mornings work to feed the body for the rest of the day. And it turns out I was even helping here too. A guinea pig for the new kitchen facilities and staff. I never realised how multi-talented I was. But there, we all have our hidden talents.

I could talk about the weather, but the weather was Scotland in March. People got on with it. And this is proved by the New Centre opening on time on Easter Sunday. A testament to the team who made it happen.

And while all this activity was going on the schools were involved on different tasks and learning exercises. So we can add to our list of :

Reeds and trees, stone and earth, words, images, minds and lives.

I have a stand out moment which will never leave me, that of helping, in a very small way, to place a 2500 year old ARD (scratch plough) in its display case. A wonderful moment to be allowed so close to the past. WOW!

I don’t usually talk about the French, but they have a word for being able to taste a place through its produce, TERREUX. I think a straight translations is something like earthy.

What I am trying to say is that there is a sense of place, a taste of past present and future, of the people who once lived on the loch, and those of today.

Thank You for letting me be a part of it.

Chris Bowers from Redcar, it’s the centre of the Universe you know.