Sunday 10th July saw the Society's summer day out with a visit to Newtonmore.
The day began when the Highland Folk Park opened at 10.30 am and members and their guests made their way round this award winning open air museum, the first of its kind in the country, which opened its doors more than 80 years ago. The park is divided into two parts, with an early 20th century croft at one end housing, inter alia, black Highland cattle belonging to our council member Angus Macpherson of Biallid. The southern end of the park takes the form of a reconstructed blackhouse township compleete with sheep, poultry, farm implements and guides in period dress sitting by smoking peat fires explaining the harsh realities of 18th century rural Highland life.
The weather was not in our favour and few people lingered in the rain. We gathered for coffee at midday at the Clan Macpherson Museum at the opposite end of Newtonmore, to a welcome from Ewen Macpherson, Chairman of the Clan Macpherson Museum Trust and Royal Celtic Society member. Ewen and his staff gave us a warm welcome and an excellent tour of the museum, stuffed with artefacts relating to the history of the wider Macpherson family. The Clan Macpherson Museum has been supported by the Royal Celtic Society for many years with an annual grant, and Ewen explained to us all that had been achieved over the years as a result of that support, which has included portrait restoration, the construction of glass cases and, more recently, the more mundane but very essential purchase of dehumidifiers to protect the artefacts.
Lunch followed at Creag Dubh House, the home of our council member Angus Macpherson and his wife Valerie. We are grateful to Valerie, Angus and their son Alasdair for their generous hospitality.
After lunch the rain had eased, albeit slightly, and we were able to walk the Coffin Road. The Coffin Road is a famous historic byway connecting the ancient Banchor Cemetery with the ferry across the River Spey, whence coffins were transported from the long abandoned settlements of Nuide and Phones on the other side of the river. Folk chose to bury their dead at Banchor because it is the site of a very early Christian cell and the cemetery, well stocked with Macphersons, is still in use today.