As noted, we had scheduled another island visit to complete survey work on November 16, but we missed our short window of lower loch levels and are still waiting for another opportunity. In the mean time, Tom Addyman has continued his work to record the tower structure and recently completed digitization of stone-by-stone drawings. The EVPF Board covered in excess of $1700 for work performed in September (as a donation by the Board to EVPF) and authorized several thousand dollars of additional work. Currently, two visits are pending scheduled dates. The first is a visit for final definition of work required on masonry and stone work to preserve the tower itself. The team there will be Tom Addyman and John Sanders. David Connolly will be leading the second visit for survey work ... when water levels are low enough to properly record the outer walls. Tom's trip isn't dependent on water levels and should happen in the next month or so.
We are working on Christmas ornaments. The Board is paying to have an iron made with the design shown above for use in the creation of ornaments. We have an extremely limited supply of the wood from the Scots Elm that was removed from the doorway of the tower cellar in 2013, but we may try to produce additional ornaments from domestic wood. We hope to spend time processing the stored Scots Elm wood during one of the future Scotland trips so that we will have more ornaments of that wood to offer for next year.
Happy Thanksgiving to those in the States! Thanks to all for continued interest and support!
Bruce and Katherine
Well ... we were "on call" throughout the summer in hopes that we might get back out to the island when the water levels were low ... but Mother Nature did not cooperate and we looked to September/October. Tom Addyman and an associate are planning a trip shortly to get more specifics on potential masonry work and reparations. We may join if water levels are reasonably low and if we can mark some of the outer walls in shallow water. Loch levels are back down to normal, but not cooperating with low levels. If not a trip sooner, we are targeting a trip November 16 .. and hoping for low enough water levels.
Apologies for the sparse communication in this period. We kept expecting to have news of a trip ... and then, of course, Katherine had to head back to U Chicago. She just missed an opportunity to do some work directly with the OI there, but is working on the Hittite Dictionary project between classes. We have learned to be patient and persistent over the three years we have been working on this as EVPF.
The EVPF Board continues to cover the costs of these interim projects. We will solicit and build more donations to support the next phases and projects after the current reports are finally complete and the next Historic Scotland approval (SMC) is granted. Designing signage is likely the next major step. Unfortunately, I haven't made more progress on the 3d modeling of the tower due to time limitations, but will get back to that when time permits.
As we have said, we are in this for the long run!
Thanks for your support!
Several key survey points were still under water as of the March 2015 trips and, yes, another trip will be needed. (See the photo in the March 16 entry below. If you know the island, you'll recognize that the water was at a high ... lapping at the base of Building 1.) The EVPF Board is funding the additional trips directly. The initial survey work and drawings look great and we hope to have the report done by year end.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (LLTTNP) have graciously offered to help with design of educational signage ... which will be the subject of the next application to Historic Scotland. We will also have recommendations for further preservation as part of that report and hope to include specifics in the resulting Scheduled Monument Consent application.
First off, a big thank you to David Connolly for his continued contributions to EVPF! Recently he sent us a "small treat" as he put it - a lovely 3D model of the vaulted cellar room integrated into a website called Sketchfab. We have received a few emails notifying us that the 3D models we have provided can be a little glitchy, so hopefully this web model will allow more people to enjoy the site from afar. David's web model is available here
, but don't forget to check out our entire 3D modeling page
My father and I continued working on the tower model while I was home from break, so hopefully we will be able to provide y'all with a more complete model soon.
Thank you everyone for your continued support!
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (LLTTNP) rangers have been very kind to support our efforts! Our February trip was scheduled for March 9 with transportation to be provided by LLTTNP. Katherine had "finals", but I made the trip ... hoping the weather would clear. Unfortunately, gale force winds added to the rain on Monday and the LLTTNP rangers wisely cancelled the trip. Since they were booked until Friday, I was left to find a way over to the island to salvage my trip. The weather forecast was "partly sunny" with winds abating for Tuesday ... but for Tuesday only.
Our friend, Bill Porter, is back on the water in his Beneteau, but was fully booked for Tuesday. The folks at Can You (out of the Loch Lomond Shores Mall in Balloch) were able to help with a canoe, but didn't have racks. Fortunately, TISO in Glasgow had both canoe and racks. They are in the opposite direction from the airport to the loch, but are a reliable source for canoe or kayak and were very helpful this trip!
After dropping my key at the Ardlui Hotel, I made my way south to the third lay by south of the Pulpit Rock construction ... the one with the large rock along side and long enough for three cars to lay by lengthwise. There's a relatively sharp eight foot drop down to the water, but it was easy to slide the canoe down to the flat bedrock at the water's edge. The loch was particularly high this trip.
I had a little wind to contend with on the paddle over, but it only took about five minutes to make the crossing. The drizzle had stopped and the clouds began to clear as I reached the beach on the north end of the island. It proved to be another gorgeous day on Eilean A Vow!
The archaeologists were re-scheduled to come over later in the week, so I focused on photogrammetry. Eight tall, but light traffic cones were place carefully on or near the tower with the camera pole ... as points of reference. With the vegetation down, I was able to get about 500 shots ... but photogrammetry still has an element of "art" to it and the "jury is out" on whether I got all the necessary shots for good 3D modeling. The initial run was promising, but will take a lot more processing.
Feeling fully satisfied, I paddled back across a glassy loch ... having the whole loch to myself, it seemed.
The three archaeologist (Fiona, David, and Tom) were scheduled to be on the loch today to complete the survey work. The weather seemed good from the forecast, but I haven't gotten word yet on whether the trip was successful. I hope to provide a full update in the next few days. Thanks to LLTTNP, thanks to the archaeologists, and thanks to you all for your support!
(and Katherine, in absentia)
The next island visit is now scheduled for March 9. The goal of the trip is to finish survey work that was obscured in August due to foliage. In addition, we hope to do more photogrammetry ... ultimately hoping to create 3D models of the tower and site. More to follow ...
Thanks for your continued support!
Bruce and Katherine
We hope 2015 will be a wonderful year for you all! Thank you for your continued support and words of encouragement! The next trip to the island is firming up for the end of February. More to follow!
p.s. If any readers have insights into how we can better leverage social media to get updates out to our supporters, please do let us know.
Bruce, Katherine, and Kelty
As all our donors know, we use PayPal to receive our donations and to track funds. EVPF also has a small business bank account with Bank Of America (BOA) ... intended for facilitating bank transfers to the archaeologists and others who perform services on EVPF projects. When the BOA account dips below $3000, a fee is charged and the EVPF Board has been paying these bank fees. Bank fees have been significant this year and the EVPF Board has deposited a non-donation amount of $3000 into the BOA account to stop the bank fees. Since we have recently learned that we can transfer funds internationally via PayPal with much lower fees, we may move to close the BOA account and operate solely from the PayPal account. We welcome any comments or suggestions on this.
We have advanced 1150 GBP to the archaeologists for processing work on the surveys and will continue to fund that work from donations and EVPF Board personal funds. Recent Donations from Clan Macfarlane Worldwide, for example, have contributed to the advance for the report consolidating the topographical survey, the buildings survey, and archaeological survey work to date. Our archaeologists are largely booked through December on their many projects. We look forward to another clear day in February, hopefully, to survey the remaining bits of the site and to take more photographs for photogrammetry. Note our Three Dimensional Modeling tab for 3D models as they evolve.
Back office work continues on the topographical survey, standing buildings survey, preservation recommendations, and report. We are planning yet another day in February to survey the sections of the island that were still too overgrown in August to survey.
I should say here that I know and trust our archaeologists implicitly. I have worked closely with them in the EVPF visits to the island and have seen their commitment to the work. I have seen the intermediate work and, if told we need another day of survey with less foliage, I know that is the case. We are hoping to have first drawings to share shortly. I mention this because we did have one sponsor complain about statements that we had finished field work only to find that we needed another day. We are being very good stewards of your donations and, in fact, the vast majority of this project is being funded directly by the EVPF Board ourselves.
We had reported earlier that we had entered into negotiations with The International Clan MacFarlane Society (CMSI*) for sponsorship of exclusive projects within the EVPF program. Although we have doggedly held that the work on Ellan Vhow must be open to all, we had offered to allow exclusive sponsorship of specific projects in response to requests from CMSI and had published their commitment to fund the Phase III project in our Projects tab ... anticipating successful confirmation of conditions and agreement. Unfortunately, we were not able to agree to exclusive fundraising requirements and terms and CMSI has withdrawn from sponsorship of EVPF work. Changes have been made today to the site to try to reflect this. More unfortunately, representatives of CMSI indicated that they felt we were not negotiating in good faith. We consistently responded that we were only trying to get clarification on aspects of their conditions that might play into ownership disputes over the island or that might play into the tensions between the three Macfarlane clan societies that we are aware of. We would continue to welcome any involvement that CMSI would like to have in this program in future and remain grateful for their response in the earlier applications for work approval with Historic Scotland.
We continue to be independent of any particular society and inclusive of all. We are grateful that the other two societies have made, and continue to make, unrestricted donations to this work and do hope that there will someday be unity amongst the clan again.
There is plenty of good work to be done ahead, and we hope to continue to work through the prerequisite work to enable eventual stabilization of the castle structure and exploratory excavation. It will require patience, commitment, and perseverance.
Thank you sincerely for your continued support!
September evaporated, but David progessed the survey work ... delivering an early draft ... and Tom continued to work on the Standing Buildings Survey. Katherine is safely at the University of Chicago ... including Hittite amongst her courses ... and loving the campus and, particularly, the Oriental Institute.
The "office work" continues and we hope to complete that so that Schedule Monument Consent can be submitted for the next phase of work.
We have recieved some very generous donations recently and we are exceedingly grateful for these. These unconditional gifts reflect so positively on those genuinely interested in supporting preservation of this site for all to share and enjoy. Thank you!