Archive for October 2010

Another landmark…   8 comments

I’ve just noticed this morning that the blog has just passed another landmark, with an unbelievable  10,000 views!

Thank you all once again for your support and interest. When I started this wee experiment I really had no idea how it would be received and have been truly bowled over by all the messages of support and continued interest in Eilean Donan.

Sincere thanks.

David

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Posted October 29, 2010 by eileandonan in Miscellaneous

October Update   3 comments

So I’ve finally managed to catch up with the work that piled up while I was away on holiday, and thought that it was about time I got back into the blogging saddle.

October is quite an odd month for us all at the castle as things start to wind down. There’s always a slight feeling of anti-climax amongst the team after a busy summer period, and 2010 was our busiest yet. I guess it’s partly because when we open for each new season in March, it takes about 5 months for daily visitor numbers to peak, and yet it only takes about 5 weeks from the end of August for the business to slow up to a relative trickle. That said, the staff really need a bit of a breather after the exertions of August, with over 100,000 visitors to the site.

There’s been quite a lot of activity here during October with one thing or another, and I thought I’d bring you up to speed with what’s been going on.

As I type the Archaeologists, (who have been here for the last 5 weeks) are back-filling this years excavations. They have been focussing on the same area as last year, on the north of the island, or to the right of the castle as you look at it from the shore. This is the area where we have discovered the most intact remains of the medieval castle. The first priority this year was to remove the back-fill from their 2009 activities to get down to the same levels. Once this was done, the painstaking process of extending the research area was started. The one thing I’ve learned about Archaeology in the last few years is that very often findings will present more questions than answers, and this was certainly the case last year. Hence why further investigation was required in the same locality this year. There has always been something of a mystery surrounding Eilean Donan’s construction timeline through the centuries, and we’ve been hoping to shed some light on the issue.

Although this years full Archaeological report won’t be available for some time yet, I can tell you that we’ve discovered clear evidence and remains of three very distinct and seperate construction periods, believed to be between the 13th and 16th centuries. There has been sufficient material found within these three areas to make specific carbon-dating viable, so some of the mysteries will definitely be solved. There’s something quite eerie about looking down at uncovered walls and constructions that have been lying undisturbed for centuries, but it has certainly helped to better define the lines of the medieval castle walls. Once I receive the full report, I’ll post the info up here.

In other matters, a film crew was here last week, using Eilean Donan as a location for filming an advert for VisitBritain, so those of you in the UK might be seeing a lot more of the castle on your TV screens in 2011. Watch this space!

We’ve also had 5 beautiful weddings this month, although the weather gods could perhaps have been a little more generous with 2 or 3 of them! Wedding bookings for 2011 have gone through the roof for some reason, and I think we’ll host over 80 ceremonies next year, so marriage doesn’t appear to be going out of fashion.

The autumn has brought some wet weather, and has highlighted a bit of a major problem with a section of the castle roof. The area above the kitchens and back service areas appears to have sprung several leaks and upon investigation, it seems that we are going to have to replace a great deal of it. We’re hoping to eventually open up new areas of the castle to the public, specifically some of the areas below the kitchen and scullery, but we really can’t consider this until that whole section of the building is completely watertight. The exposed location of the castle on the island means that it really does have to face some  pretty heavy weather, particularly in the winter months, and given that the original construction methods used were somewhat different to those used today, the main castle keep can prove a bit like a massive sponge, drawing in water from all angles. It’s always a battle to keep the place dry, although the introduction of a small army of dehumidifiers a few years back does help to keep the worst of it at bay. The new problem looks like much more major work is going to be required though.

Sunday is the last official day of the season, so I’ve been busy planning the staffs End of Season Party; always a memorable event! It’s my, and the Trustees opportunity to say a massive thank you to the whole team for all their efforts. Visitors will always remember the castle itself, but without the dedication and care of this wonderful team of people, the visitor experience might be very different. The party itself will take place on the 5th of November, so there’s bound to be a few fireworks! Any incriminating photographs WILL be posted!

Although we close most of the Visitor Centre this  Sunday, with the exception of the Gift Shop; next week will see the start of the first ever trial of some limited winter opening hours in the castle. I’ve seen how many more people are now coming to Skye & Lochalsh in the winter months, and as the biggest Visitor Attraction in the area, feel that it is time we tried to offer some services to these winter tourists. Hopefully, if it’s successful we can extend this next year and beyond.

As a reminder for those of you that might be visiting, between 2nd of November and 19th of December we’ll be opening the castle on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays between 10.00am and 3.00pm. We’ll also offer the same facility in February, although please remember that everything will be closed during the month of January.

Anyway, that’s enough from me for now. Have a great weekend folks wherever you are!

 

Posted October 28, 2010 by eileandonan in Miscellaneous

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