See the Projects
Tab for photos! Phase II
, Phase III
The Team! David, Tom, Fiona, Liam and Derek (L-R).
David Connolly (EDM & Wordsworth Recital), Tom Addyman (Standing Buildings Expert), Fiona Baker (Team Lead & Survey Assistant), Liam Mackenzie (Tree Surgeon), Derek Triplett (Team comedian and Liam's assistant). [David may object to the first annotation on Derek and was quite entertaining in a Scots/British way.] Not shown: Myles Maydew from LLTTNP, who transported us and jumped in to help on all fronts, and me (taking the photo). Katherine was mired in Senior leadership duties ... including Homecoming week. Please see the Phase II and III Projects tabs for some photos.
Phase II is complete, pending the final report. Phase III needs one more day (trip) in April and time to complete the surveys, maps and reports. More to follow ...
This was a great team and the castle is in much, much better shape as a result of this very productive outing!
Apologies. Katherine and I have been swamped with college applications (Unversity of Chicago) and work respectively. We hope to get photos from the projects posted during Thanksgiving. The archaeologists are progressing the various reports and surveys. Much more to follow!
Thanks again for all your support!
Much, much to do with the results of the works earlier this week! We will get more before and after photos posted and new project pages created ...along with a full report. (See one before/after on the Home page if you didn't spot it.) We do have to get the report in for Historic Scotland as a time-dependent priority, but will share more info/photos just as quickly as we can. (We also have college applications and work calling for attention simultaneously this week.)
We had an exceptional team on the ground .. and many, many thanks to them! Fiona did a wonderful job leading the teams and it was a very enoyable bunch to work with. Again, more to follow.
THANK YOU! for all your support!
Bruce & Katherine McFarlin
We are happy to report that the rangers from the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (LLTTNP) have graciously agreed to provide boat transport for the team to Ellan Vhow from the 21st to the 23rd and all systems are "Go" for the preservation and archaeology works. Phase II focuses on the core preservation work at the site and is sponsored by generous donations from many individuals, Clan Macfarlane Worldwide, and The Clan Macfarlane Society Australia, Inc.
In addition, The International Clan Macfarlane Society is sponsoring a Phase III project for an EDM (Electronic Distance Measurment) survey and Standing Buildings survey ... to follow as soon as possible after the Phase II work permits and, most likely, starting the 22nd.
We have to, once again, sincerely thank all of the many people who have helped make this possible. We have a great team assembled for the two phases. This work will help preserve this important site for future generations as well as completing the foundational archaeology work.
Katherine has leadership duties (as well as Homecoming Week) and will not be able to join the team for this part of the project. I will join the team on Monday afternoon (at my expense) to represent the EVPF Board and we are looking forward to a glorious event!
We are sure that the many who are honored or remembered by our donors will be pleased.
All systems are Go for October 21! We are still confirming transportation for the team to the island and are hoping that the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park rangers will be able to provide transport as planned. We also have some skilled skippers locally in the Clan as well. Leads have been working through the final details. More to follow!
In just weeks, from October 20-24, three archaeologists (Fiona Baker, Tom Addyman, and David Connolly) are lined up to tackle the Phase II preservation work on Ellan Vhow and, potentially, Phase III EDM and Standing Buildings Survey! Licensed tree surgeon, Liam Mckenzie, and local bat expert, Helen Lundie, complete the team.
Phase II is committed and funded for preservation of the castle cellar and castle walls ... coppicing threatening trees and trimming ivy to remove weight and retard root damage. Of course, our bat expert will confirm that our guest bat is not resident at the time and the areas around his roost will be undisturbed.
Ellan Vhow is located in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park, but is not part of the park property. It is visited by hundreds of visitors each year who enjoy the solitude and the history ... as well as the flora and fauna.
These works will help preserve this historical archaeological site for generations to come. This has all come to pass from that initial high-school independent study sixteen months ago, a keen eye to recognize the opportunity for an expedited SMC, ficeand the energy inspired in those who had been hoping to preserve Ellan Vhow for two decades.
Thank you for all your support!
Bruce and Katherine
Many thanks to Helen Lundie of Wild Surveys Ltd. for performing the wildlife and
bat surveys for the project this past week! Helen stayed over night on the
island to perform a dusk and dawn survey.
We do have one resident! We have a soprano pipistrelle bat roosting in the main wall of the castle. We will need to work around his schedule and there seem to be a couple of options. First, the window of opportunity for the work is September and October. This is the window when birds have finished nesting and bats are more likely elsewhere. If our bat (we should probably name him) is at home when we arrive to do the preservation work, we would be limited in what could be done and would have to plan a second trip. There are several things we can do to minimize disruption, however, and we still could accomplish quite a bit. We would leave the ivy in the area of the bat's roost untouched in any case.
In parallel, we can also apply for a license with Scottish Natural Heritage to allow us to complete the ivy trimming and to clear the way for repointing and consolidation of the walls. This may be necessary long term. Since the turnaround time for approval tends to be 90 days minimum, this would push the project beyond the optimal September/October window if we tried to do this before initial preservation works and EDM survey.
At present, we are sorting out plans for a September or October visit and discussing which specifics activities and
methods will be appropriate ...with natural heritage given its appropriate
HELEN ALSO NOTED that there were campers on the
island and the several large fire rings had been made from stones from the
castle buildings! We really need to find a way to get some signage on the
island to encourage more respect for this important site! We will work
Also please note that the bat surveys
(including transportation) have been funded from donations made directly by The
Ellan Vhow Preservation Fund Board (us) and no public donations were
More to follow!
We are arranging final dates for the remaining two dusk/dawn bat surveys now. Funds have been provided and all parties are aligned (transportation and WildSurveys) ... we just need to pin down dates. We are optimistic that we can proceed with the preservation works between September and November ...pending the survey results and appropriate approvals.
Fiona suggested that the glass bottle shard found (and left) at the waterfront on the south shore was late 18th century or early 19th century ... so not during Macfarlane occupation. Not old from U.K. standards, but old enough from an American perspective! :-) Similar to Vassar or Yssar glass.
Photos through the east wall air vents showing what appear to be the underside of stairs was interesting and consistent with earlier analysis from the other side. (The indentation on the east wall as you enter the ruin is a stair well rather than a fireplace or cupboard as often
We have plans to update the site to break out the projects into pages and to include some more 3D rotating images. We have created one for the dressed window stone and are hoping to do more .. particularly after the trimming/preservation.
More to follow!
Thanks for your continued support!
Bruce and Katherine
Helen Lundie of Wild Surveys Limited, completed the first part of the natural heritage survey on July 8. From this work, Helen has recommended a bat survey and we will proceed with this as soon as Helen is able to schedule this. From initial findings, and assuming the remaining bat survey finds no evidence of bats at dusk and dawn, we may be able to proceed to the preservation projects in September.
Thanks to all for supporting this effort and, particularly, LLTTNP for providing transportation!
Bruce & Katherine
Just returned from a weeklong visit to Scotland with activities centered around memorial for Robert Lee McFarlin. As part of that, two of his three brothers, Katherine and I made a visit to Ellan Vhow along with my siblings. We were very careful and found that the nesting geese had hatched and moved on ... and that there was much evidence of campers having visited the island already this summer.
Thanks to Peter McFarland, who was our able skipper during the trip. We are planning to follow up with a local newspaper article with Peter.
Of particular note was that we could not locate the artifacts that we had identified and left in place last summer. It is critical that artifacts remain in place, undisturbed on the island. We are concerned that visitors may be removing artifacts. Please help.
In our informal visit, we did find a bottle shard ... which we photographed and left in place ... sending the photographs to Fiona for possible identification. More to follow on that.
We also photographed through the lower air vents on the east and south walls ... revealing what appears to be the lower side of a staircase (just a few steps visible).
We traveled yesterday, but Helen Lundie of Wildlife Surveys had planned to be on the island for the first phase of the bat survey. We hope to hear soon about the natural heritage assessment and what next steps may be required.
Thanks for your continued support! (.. particularly from Australia!). We will update the donors list in the coming week. (Internet access was too intermittent during the trip to support site updates.)