Skye is really out of this world!

By Roz Macaskill

When two geologists set out to explore on Skye, they never imagined their discovery would date back 60 million-years.
Dr Simon Drake and Dr Andrew Beard from Birkbeck, University of London visited Skye to examine the volcanic rock in an area south of Broadford. Dr Drake recalls his adventures, saying: "Getting up to one of the sites was horrible! It was very boggy and I said to Andy: 'This had better be worth it!'"

It was! The boggy walk ultimately resulted in finding something unexpected: evidence of a 60 million-year old meteorite impact. "We thought we were looking at ignimbrite, a volcanic pyroclastic flow deposit," says Simon.

However, when they analysed their samples they found something never discovered on Earth before: the meteoritic minerals niobium-rich and vanadium-rich osbornite.

The minerals matched particles collected from the Wild II comet trail by Nasa in 2005. "I have some osbornite sitting on my desk at the moment - it should probably be locked away somewhere," laughs Dr Drake.

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Searching out a medieval harbour complex

 

By Roz Macaskill

It’s in the Glenbrittle area, boasts a tremendous view of the Cuillins and is made of water…but what is it?

"The Fairy Pools" or "Glenbrittle Beach" might be two obvious guesses - but there is also an ancient water feature that promises to take you straight back in time.

This medieval harbour and canal is located at Loch na h-Airde on the Rubha an Dunain peninsula..

In late 2017, the site was given Scheduled Monument status by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), ensuring its national importance is recognised. Describing the monument as rare, the paper states that the size of the docks and boat shelters suggest that this was an important harbour site in the medieval period. The complex could potentially have been associated with boat repair and construction or for overwintering boats.

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A garden of history in south Skye

  

By Roz Macaskill

History-soaked ruins, breathtaking gardens, a fascinating museum and an impressive archive – one could spend all day exploring south Skye's Armadale Castle, Garden and Museum of the Isles.

Whether you want to ramble through woodlands, admire the manicured lawns or enjoy the spring colours, Armadale Gardens provides a welcome retreat - and a chance to step back in time.   

The woodland garden was formed in the early 1800's - with some trees dating back almost 200 years.

Situated in the historic gardens, the Museum of the Isles tells the stories of the Highlands & Islands through the history of the powerful Clan Donald. 

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Joining up dots across world…rare book returns home

By Roz Macaskill

When bookseller, Gilleasbuig Ferguson, bought a new book he found himself falling into an adventure as exciting and mysterious as any of the tales for sale in his shop!

A member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association, Skeabost-based Gilleasbuig never dreamed the purchase of a book would result in him having to turn detective.

The volume in question was from the 2nd Edition of Origin of Species (1860) by Charles Darwin. Located in New Zealand, the book was up for sale online. "It was on the market for weeks without any photographs," explains Gilleasbuig.

The description contained unpromising adjectives, such as "worn," "rubbed," "split," "ex-library" and "shaky." In a moment of boredom, Gilleasbuig emailed the seller to ask for photographs. "I goggled, my eyebrows intertwined, at one of the finest copies of an early Origin that I've ever seen," he laughs. "I was scrambling for the mouse to buy the book before someone else did!"

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Art aims to mark the pace of history

Two artists presented ideas for a Crofters’ Memorial for Staffin during a week in March 2018 with a showcase of work at Staffin Community Hall.

Since 2014, ATLAS Arts has been working with the Staffin Community Trust/Urras An Taobh Sear and the community to explore what a contemporary memorial that acknowledges the historically significant crofters’ land struggle in the Staffin area could be.

ATLAS Arts is a visual arts organisation dedicated to commissioning contemporary arts, culture, heritage, and education and is based in the Isle of Skye.

In 2017, following an open call for applications, sculptor Henry Castle, based in Windsor, and design collective Lateral North based in Glasgow were selected. Over the last 12 months both have spent several weeks in Skye conducting research.

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