An Eigg-cellent Adventure

Posted by in Education & Outreach, Events, Placement, Skills for the Future

Three trainees, two archaeologists, and one project manager walk onto a remote Scottish island…no, its not the beginning of a very niche joke, its the Skills’ latest heritage adventure!

After finishing our time with Collections in early August, and a two week break, we returned to begin the next phase of our traineeship, Community Engagement; which, little did we know at the time, would culminate in one of the greatest adventures of our working lives – a trip to the Isle of Eigg, to run a series of community-orientated archaeology events. For three weeks hence we immersed ourselves in all things Eigg, creating a range of events from cheese and wine receptions to photo exhibitions to primary school learning activities, and, finally, on a mild misty day in September, we set sail for the island itself. Below is our photo diary of the week (extended from a mere five days due to becoming storm-bound, which no-one was particularly upset about!) we spent there, and some of our favourite bits 🙂

Day One – A Walk to Braigh

In which we see whales and seals, are wowed by vegetarian cuisine, and conduct a community walk to Kildonnan cemetery (7th century AD) and Braigh township (abandoned in the 19th century)…

Day Two – Eigg Primary School and Cheese, Wine and Back in Time

In which we engage kids and adults alike, with a visit to the school, and an evening of cheese, wine, and talks from the archaeologists Mike and Adam…

Day Three – Five Pennies and a Date with the Oracle

In which we visit Five Pennies township, spot a Bronze Age cairn, and, with a handful of super-intrepid attendees, hike to the wonder that was the Oracle Cave (a presumed Late Iron Age man-made cave possibly used for pagan rituals under the cliffs of Struidh)….


Day Four: Chips, Caves, and the Travelling Viking Salesman

In which we hold an exhibition of photographs of Eigg through the ages, run an expedition to the Massacre Cave (site of a 16th century genocide of the entire island’s population by the Macleod’s of Skye), experience a bit of local colour (and archaeology!) at the tearoom, and intercept strangers with handling boxes…

Day Five: Grulin-g Weather, but Spectacular Scenery

In which we follow Eigg local Damien’s advice to visit the ruined township of Grulin, joined by a party of 20 plus locals and visitors of all ages – our most successful walk!


Day Six: A Break in the Week, and a Break in the Weather 

In which Mike and Adam brave the Sgurr, the Skills and Jill check out the craft shop, and everyone gets overwhelmed by the beauty of Eigg…

Day Seven: There, and Back Again

In which Eigg makes it reeeeeaaallly hard to leave!


We couldn’t be more grateful for the hospitality, enthusiasm and contributions from everyone we met over our week-long stay; for us, it was a priceless experience both professionally and personally, and the response we received from the wonderful community was tremendously encouraging.  The trip’s success shows that there is a valuable and necessary place within the heritage sector for similar projects, and we hope that the outcomes of this are long-standing for the community of Eigg – the experience certainly will be for us. 🙂 We hope to return very soon to catch up with all we had the pleasure and privilege of meeting, and for another Eigg-cellent adventure!

Instagram – @skills_hes

Twitter – @SkillsHES


All photos copyright of Historic Environment Scotland and Lewis Matheson