Writing Workshop with Mandy Haggith

Community Archaeologist and Assessor Rachel writes about joining author Mandy Haggith for a writing workshop.


Mandy Haggith is a writer based in Assynt, in the north-west highlands of Scotland. Her work includes poetry, fiction and non-fiction and is mostly concerned with trees, bears and the sea.

Mandy Haggith was absolutely brilliant! She engaged us all in the history of the brochs she has researched, and the extraordinary adventures of the Greek explorer Pytheas (one of my favourite historical figures of all time).

We went on a journey with her to travel the route he took as he sailed from Marseille, up the West coast of Britain, up to where the ‘sea turns to slush’ and then back down. This encouraged us to consider what it would have been like to meet someone from a different culture; to not even share a language, but to share experiences, trade objects and tell stories – which is very similar to what many of us do at the Crannog Centre, using objects from 2500 years ago to bring the past to life, unable to speak to our ancestors but to catch glimpses of their lives through the things they made, and to create our own stories around this to keep their memory alive. We then chose our own artefacts that inspire us from the Crannog Centre collection, and Mandy guided us to create Iron Age crannog dwelling characters around them, as someone who may have owned the object, or used it, or even lost it. We had to think deeply but creatively about who they were, what they might like/dislike, what they ate, even what they danced like.

These characters will influence our work with the Live Theatre group who we are hoping will perform at the Museum in summer 2021, using some of the ancient people that we have created over the winter.

It was a great experience, both for the apprentices and for assessors, and we hope to see Mandy again soon when she comes to the Crannog for an author workshop with her latest novel ‘The Lyre Dancers’, which features not only a lyre of which we have an original 500BC bridge in our collection but also a visit to a crannog!

(Funding for the apprenticeship programme kindly supported by the Gannochy Trust, Museums Galleries Scotland, Perth & Kinross Council and SSE Renewables)