Venture North with….Caithness Broch Project
We caught up with Kenneth McElroy, volunteer director and co-founder of Caithness Broch Project.
My name is Kenneth McElroy, and I am a volunteer director and co-founder of Caithness Broch Project, an archaeological charity seeking to promote Caithness as a heritage tourism destination, and especially its many 'broch' sites!
(Image credit: University of Glasgow)
What do you love about what you do?
I love archaeology and I love Caithness, so this project is the perfect combination for me! Aside from that, my 'work' is tremendously varied - I could be out taking photographs of broch sites for social media, or working on event management, or fundraising, or running schools activities. It's given me an insight into so many different professional aspects, too - from running a charity, to merchandise, to project management. It has been an education!
Why Caithness and Sutherland, how did you come by what you do?
I was born in Caithness, and have spent most of my life here, although I am now based in Glasgow studying archaeology. Myself and Iain Maclean, another local Thursonian, founded Caithness Broch Project in light of the decommissioning work at Dounreay. It is due to close in the next 25-30 years, and this is a growing concern in the community. We need to think of ways to mitigate the issues surrounding this closure - and so we both thought that Caithness, given its fantastic archaeological landscape, was underselling itself in terms of tourism. Our aim is to share to the world the many fantastic archaeological sites in the area; but our flagship project is to build a replica broch in Caithness, which would serve as an unmissable tourist attraction and an 'icon' for Caithness.
What are your top five places to go in the area?
Croick Church, near Ardgay - a hauntingly peaceful place, cut off from the 'hustle' of the North Coast 500. A tragic Highland Clearance story can be found here, literally written on the church windows.
Loch Eriboll - stunning views across this sea-loch. It's full of history, too - you can read more in this article I wrote for Venture North several years ago, or watch my colleague Iain Maclean in action with Paul Murton in 'Grand Tours of Scotland's Lochs'
Sannick Beach, near Duncansby - a beautiful wee beach with a secret poem carved into the rocks!
Ousdale Burn Broch - probably Caithness' best brochs; a real sense of history as you walk through the post-medieval village beforehand, before the 2,000-year-old structure appears before you. It's almost like a Hobbit house the way it's been built!
Buchollie Castle - one of the most precipitous castles you're ever likely to find - only for those with heads for heights!