Looking for a holiday? Try housebuilding in Glencoe

Visitors will have the chance literally to build history as they work on a replica 17th-century turf house at Glencoe visitor centre.
Visitors will have the chance literally to build history as they work on a replica 17th-century turf house at Glencoe visitor centre.
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It will be a holiday where you can really spend time out – in fact about 400 years out of time.

The National Trust for Scotland is offering an unusual vacation break – the chance to help build a replica 17th-century turf house at Glencoe visitor centre.

Informed by archaeological discoveries, it will help give a glimpse of how people once lived in Scotland’s most famous glen.

Those with an interest in Scottish history, traditional crafts or simply outdoor enthusiasts looking for a holiday with a difference will be able to take part in the project by signing up for one of a special series of working holidays taking place in the glen from April to September.

There will be the chance to get involved in a wide variety of tasks, from whittling wooden pegs to weaving wattle walls, archaeological excavation to mud daubing. Around 70 places will be available on these Glencoe Thistle Camps.

Glencoe operations manager Emily Bryce said: “It’s nearly a year since we revamped our Glencoe visitor centre and this project, with the support of public donations, is our next step in sharing the story of this incredible landscape which we are so proud to protect.

“It’s very exciting that we’ll be able to involve the public and visitors in such a hands-on way. We’ll also be working with our local community and schools too, and are keen to make sure that the whole area benefits from this project.”

The trust has recruited a team of Scotland’s most experienced traditional building craftspeople to work with their archaeologists on the building design. This follows a series of archaeological digs investigating long-lost historic dwellings at the heart of the glen at Achtriachtan.

These specialists in turf-building, heather thatching, wattle and daub, timber creel and cruck frame structures will lead trainees and volunteers over the course of the year in this experiment in historical reconstruction. The building will be located in the grounds of Glencoe visitor centre, offering access for more than 300,000 visitors every year.

The project is being made possible thanks to members of the public from around the world who donated to a fundraising appeal last year.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, the charity is launching its Hugs of Heather campaign, which will give supporters the chance to show their love for the glen and support the project.

The conservation charity that protects Scotland’s national and natural treasures last year invested more than £1 million at Glencoe visitor centre, transforming the existing eco-friendly buildings into a more modern, immersive and welcoming ‘gateway’ to this world-renowned glen.

The visitor centre has a 50-seat film screening space showing a specially-commissioned film that takes viewers on a ten-minute journey from the glen’s volcanic origins towards the scene of the tragic events of the 1692 Glencoe Massacre.

The massacre took place on 13 February 1692, with the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe slaughtered while they slept by Captain Robert Campbell and his men.

The day is imprinted in Scottish history, not only because of the number of people who lost their lives, but because the men had enjoyed their victims’ hospitality in the days leading up to the massacre.