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!
The loch was finally down in late June but the first time we could get the team together was August 4. As I was preparing for the trip, I got word that it was raining and we were all hoping it would clear for our Monday session on the island... and not bring the loch level up to cover the ring walls we have been waiting to survey. Well, the forecast gave me some hope .. seeing nothing but rain across the whole week except for a miraculous clearing on Monday! That's pretty much what happened. The rain continued to Monday morning. We left the dock at Inveruglas in a light mist on the LLTTNP Brigadier with a two man crew. After landing and settling onto the island ... and facing the initial wave of midges ... the sun broke through and the day was glorious. Fiona and David(Rat) surveyed the outer ring walls and jetty, while Tom completed the standing buildings field sketches. Historic Scotland extended our second Scheduled Monument Consent to allow coppicing of three smaller trees at the base of the south wall of the tower and this was perfectly completed as well. All in all it was a great day!
From this visit, it was evident that the Phase II preservation work will be on-going. Even though the tower was still in great shape nine months after our October works, the coppiced saplings were pushing up suckers and regenerating. We will need to plan some regular visits to keep the foliage growth in check. We believe the Phase III survey field work is now complete and there is a good bit of office work to bed done on maps, surveys, and reports. More speciic plans and estimates for future work will spring from all this work in the next few months.
Katherine wasn't able to make this trip, but will be driving updates to extend the project pages with some additional photos from the trip in her remaining days before starting at the University of Chicago.
I'll close with a photo of the team ... a group I thoroughly enjoyed working with once again!
Thanks for your on-going support!
The August 2014 EVPF Team: David, Matt, Fiona, David (Rat), and Tom.
The Internal Revenue Service has been under a heavy load and, after almost two years after application for 501(c)3 status, we received our formal notice today that we are officially recognized as a public charity retroactively to August 29, 2012. All previous donations were deductible under the Gross Receipts exception in any case, but it is nice to have this formalized with the IRS.
Thank you all again for all your support!
Katherine and Bruce
Recent visitors report that the loch levels are down far enough that the outer ring walls of the island can be surveyed. Fiona Baker, David Connolly, and Tom Addyman are scheduled to visit the island for one final day of field work on August 4. EVPF Board members have advanced the funds (1050 GBP) to cover the day's work ... pending donations and/or sponsorship for reimbursement. This should allow the Phase II and Phase III field work to be completed. There is still a week or more of "office" work to do to complete drawings, maps, survey documents and reports. Thank you for all your support!
Bruce and Katherine
Welcome to Ellan Vhow visitors. We understand we had a group visit today and hope all had a wonderful, safe time. We are still waiting for the loch levels to recede before completing the survey work.
See the Catch & Release Artifacts page for tips of where to find artifacts on the island ... to be returned where they were found after enjoyed.
Here's a hint for one of the Catch & Release artifacts. Can you spot it? Don't forget to return it to its original spot!
Thank you for your support!