Ardvreck Castle.

NO 110 - DECEMBER 2000

Grants sought for Assynt £1M historic buildings bid

Assynt Old Parish Church, the MacLeod Vault in the churchyard and Ardvreck Castle and Calda House about a mile along the road make up the nearly-£1million Inchnadamph project being promoted by Historic Assynt. An application to the Heritage Lottery Fund is being completed.

The "arts and crafts" style Inchnadamph Church, built in 1743 on the site of an earlier church and substantially altered 1901-1903 and now C-listed, has the look of a building that is in critical need of some serious repairs and that would be the first phase of the project proper, after all necessary development work -- surveys, studies and archaeology -- are carried out. The alterations designed by Dingwall architect William Joass put four dormer windows in the small church's south wall, making it unusual, attractive and bright inside. Once restored, it could house a local history and genealogy archive and be used for weddings and other services, project co-ordinator Maggie Campbell explained.

First stage is an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for 75% of the estimated £92,000 development work planned for 2001-2002, with CASE, Historic Assynt and others expected to make up the rest of these costs. "It stands or falls on the business plan," Mrs Campbell said.

If successful, Historic Assynt can then look to HLF, Historic Scotland, Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise and others to fund the restoration work proper, provisionally costed at £700,000 for the first four phases but dependent on what the surveys and archaeology turn up.

The church would be restored in the summer of 2002. Then the MacLeod vault, a scheduled ancient monument, will be opened up and renovated. "I have been in correspondence with one of the MacLeods of Geanies. He and his sister were in the vault in 1961. They found an armorial stone of the Macleods of Lewis inside which had fallen off the wall, broken. They put it together and laid it out on the earthen floor. The vault was blocked up soon after that so the armorial stone could still be there," Mrs Campbell said.

Ardvreck Castle and Calda House, both scheduled ancient monuments, B-listed buildings and ruinous, would be consolodated to prevent further deterioration. There would be a public car park at the Inchnadamph Hotel and Highland Council is proposing a small, unobtrusive car park at Ardvreck Castle.

Leases of the four structures have been promised by the Church of Scotland, Highland Council (MacLeod Vault) and Assynt Estates (Ardvreck and Calda). The last two phases (total six) are for relatively inexpensive work at Ardvreck Castle.

Historic Assynt directors are Maggie Campbell of Comunn Eachdraidh Asainte; Willie Morrison representing the Inchnadamph community; Chris Rix of Assynt Field Centre representing Assynt Tourism Group; Assynt Estates factor Peter Voy; Netta MacKenzie, Elphin, representing the Church of Scotland, and Ian R MacLeod of Assynt Community Council.

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