A Fifty Year Journey

This week I am delighted to be back in the “Duthaich ‘Ic Aoidh”. MAAC Studio are in Bettyhill conducting a heritage inspection of Farr Kirk which is now occupied by the Strathnaver Museum.

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Bettyhill with Farr Kirk in the background, Calum Maclean conservation architect

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Here a family photo from 50 years ago, Geordie Nichol in the foreground and Farr Kirk in the background. It’s always a pleasure to return to places that left a lasting impression on me growing up. The landscape, people, history, everything about the place is unique and inspiring.

On this occasion I am excited to be part of a team, offering heritage support and assistance to a fantastic and talented architect, Catriona Hill of CH Architecture.

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Strath Naver Museum, Bettyhill, inspection by MAAC Studio conservation architects

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Carrying out a survey in the North of Scotland, in winter, can be a challenge. Not only is travel an issue, but when roofs and the ground are covered in a heavy frost or snow, it can be impossible to asses the condition of building elements. Cold fingers can lead to almost unintelligible scribbled notes, but at least we don’t have to endure the travails of the Victorian engineers who built the first roads.

In 1802, parliament approved the setting up of the Commission for Roads, the engineer in charge, supervising the construction of the new road network, was John Mitchell. In 1824, John passed away and the work was continued his son Joseph Mitchell, who would go on to have an illustrious career.

In his autobiography, he wrote,

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“Railways did not exist. On the top or inside coaches, in gigs, in carts, on horseback, on ponies and on foot, in boats, and in ships and steamers, by night and by day. I had to make my way, and many a snowstorm, bitter blast and wet jacket I had to endure. Still I had generally good roads and tolerable inns, with the advantage of youth and health. How different was my father’s life! Traversing the country when there were no roads of any kind, crossing dangerous rivers and streams, ravelling in wet clothes and for shelter living in smoky and wretched huts.”

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Bettyhill Strathnaver MAAC Studio survey

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MAAC studio are accredited conservation architects and principal designers working with traditional buildings throughout Scotland. 

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