Historic Argyll township attraction to re-open after earthquake damage

A historic attraction battered during an earthquake that struck the west coast of Scotland last winter is set to re-open .

The historic township of Auchindrain, or Bail’ Ach’ an Droighinn, which sits between Inveraray and Lochgilphead in Argyll, was hit by an 3.1 magnitude earthquake last November.

It caused some of the 18th Century buildings in the township, which was the last to survive the Highland Clearances, to crumble.

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Following emergency repairs and ongoing conservation work, Auchindrain will now re-open for the summer, although visitors will only be able to access the township on guided tours.

Beal Poll's house at Auchindrain, the former home of the township's 'wise woman', is being rethatched after the township was struck by an earthquake last November. PIC: David Hawgood/geograph.org.

Bob Clark, director of Auchindrain, said: “The earthquake took its toll on a number of our buildings and, as a result, we will have to limit access to guided tours only until the buildings are made safe for visitors.

“We attract thousands of visitors every year keen to see and experience what life was like in the past in rural Scotland.

“There were once thousands of small independent farming communities, known as townships, spread across Scotland but today Auchindrain is the only remaining living example. We are proud to be able to help people see and enjoy this special and now unique part of Scottish history and will continue to work hard to preserve it for the future.”

Auchindrain stands today much as it did in the late 1700s after surviving the Highland Clearances given its landowner, the Duke of Argyll, rejected advice to break down the township and turn the land into individual crofts.

While his agents proceeded to clear land in his Hebridean estates, the Duke took on Auchindrain as his “pet project” from 1842 and “persuaded” tenants to adopt new farming methods, although his islands such as Mull and Tiree were forcibly cleared.

Incredibly, the township survived until 1963 when the last tenant, Eddie McCallum, surrendered his tenancy with the Duke and left Auchindrain for good. His family had farmed there 1829.

Emergency repairs have been carried out to properties and conservation work is ongoing. A major project has been rethatching the roof of the house that was once home to the township’s wise woman Beal Poll, also known as Isabella McCallum.

Tours can be be booked at www.auchindrain.org.uk.

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