Until 1814, Rosal was a thriving Highland community. But big changes were coming. Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland owned this land and was more interested in maximising profit than maintaining the traditional way of life of her tenants. The residents of Rosal were told to leave to make way for large scale sheep farming.

After these 'Highland clearances', Rosal remained virtually untouched. In 1962 an archaeologist called Horace Fairhurst carried out an excavation at the site, recording seventy structures, including long-houses, barns, outhouses, stackyards and corn-drying kilns.


More recently, impressive new technology has allowed us to discover more about Rosal. Flying over the site with an aerial laser scanner (ALS or LiDAR) has collected huge amounts of data and revealed features which can be very hard to spot onsite. Visitors to Rosal can now view some of the spectacular new images in a set of interpretative panels and a leaflet guide:

What is aerial laser scanning?

Aerial laser scanning point cloud of Rosal township

Aerial laser scanning uses a dense patchwork of individual laser points to measure the ground. The data from these can be used as the basis for incredibly detailed images, showing features not visible to the naked eye. Can you see the low earthworks of a building in this image? It measures about 10m in overall length. You can also see some trees in the background.

Uncovering the past

Aerial view of Rosal township

This aerial plan, created using ALS data, shows the topography of the site and gives us a glimpse into how the land was used by those who lived there. The low earthworks and the tumbled walls of the buildings and enclosures are all visible – and some of the most obvious features are the areas of rig and furrow where crops were grown.

A bird's eye view of Rosal

Overhead view of Rosal township

Exploring the 3D surface model allows an even clearer view of how the village was laid out. The low earthworks and tumbled walls of longhouses, enclosures and rig-and-furrow cultivation can all be seen within this 3D image. This image (and the plan above) were both used as part of the visitor orientation panels.

Visit the township

If you're ever in the far north of Scotland, why not visit Rosal? As well as having the opportunity to explore the township, you'll be able to hear recordings of a first hand account of the evictions as well as view larger versions of the images show above.

Photo collage showing small girl drawing a standing stone; large group of children watching solar eclipse; lego model of chambered cairn; group of children with exhibition boards

History has shaped us all and exploring evidence from our shared past can help us understand the world we live in. But archaeology is not just about digging trenches and filling museums. It is a methodology and a way of thinking that can help piece together clues from our shared past. Through observation and discussion, ideas and theories take shape. Using archaeological recording techniques at an historic site can be a great way to explore the past and learn in a truly cross-curricular context.

We've published this collection of articles and activities to encourage place-based learning. Through discovery, exploration and sharing, young people can develop their critical thinking skills, creativity, confidence and teamwork.

Outdoor Archaeological Learning bookletAn outdoor resource for teachers

This learning resource is full of great content, with advice and guidance supporting a range of activity suggestions, from time lines to graphic stories (the Celtic myth of The Sorrow of Derdriu and the Anglo-Saxon legend of Beowulf) and cut out models. It's all based around the idea of going to visit an archaeological or historic site, recording and discussing it, then creating an interpretative poster with both factual text and creative drawing and writing.

Outdoor Archaeological Learning (PDF 8.2MB) is intended for anyone taking groups of children to an archaeological site: teachers, youth group leaders and archaeological educators. Delivering Scotland's Archaeology Strategy and supporting Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland.


Na Clachan Aoraidh

The ‘four poster’ stone circle of Na Clachan Aoraidh is our cover star. An archaeological measured survey was recently undertaken of Na Clachan Aoraidh by terrestrial laser scanning, providing an accurate baseline record of the site and this fab 3D animation. The video helps demonstrate that what is square on the outside can appear circular from the inside! You can find out more by visiting the Archaeology InSites pages.


Photos (clockwise from left):

  1. Recording Scotland's archaeology at the Eagle Stone in Strathpeffer, a Pictish symbol stone around 1400 years old.
  2. Place-based learning can blend history with science. These schoolchildren are watching the solar eclipse in February 2015 at the Whitehills recumbent stone circle in Aberdeenshire, a late Neolithic ceremonial site over 4000 years old.
  3. Place-based learning can include a range of follow up work, creating models such as this fine LEGO chambered tomb, based on a Neolithic chambered tomb on Arran perhaps over 5000 years old.
  4. The Inverness Young Archaeologist Club at the hillfort of Torr Dhuin in the Highlands. Following a site visit, the children created a pop up exhibition of their archaeological reconstruction drawings, all based on an interpretative theme or illustrative technique.

Recumbent stone circles are amongst the oldest surviving structures in Scotland. They were built during the Bronze Age, roughly 4,000 years ago.

You may be familiar with stone circles – they are found in many places, from Stonehenge in Wiltshire to Callanish on the Isle of Lewis. However, recumbent stone circles are unique to Scotland’s north-east.

They get their name because one large stone in the circle is laid on its side, or is ‘recumbent’. We think ancient peoples might have used these circles to record the seasons or the passage of the sun and moon. They may have hosted funerary pyres or ceremonial bonfires. Whatever their purpose, they have fascinated people for generations.

whitehills stone circle

The learning resource

We have created a learning resource and supporting loan box for teachers and youth group leaders, hoping to encourage people of all ages be inspired by these amazing Bronze Age structures and the people who built them. These resources are designed to help young people to learn about recumbent stone circles and the solar system as part of the Curriculum for Excellence.


recumbent stone circles learning resource

Recumbent Stone Circles: a learning resource (PDF 2.5MB)

This 50 page document aims to help teachers and youth group leaders explore the recumbent stone circles of Aberdeenshire.

It outlines the scope to study recumbent stone circles as a focus topic, or to support study of the Solar System, weather and climate change, mathematics or local environment and includes information about further reading and guides to more in depth activities.


The recumbent stone circles loan box

We've also put together a loan box of reproduction artefacts and materials from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages to accompany the learning resource. It includes objects such as replica axe heads, arrowheads and a bow drill, as well as examples of materials such as flint, stone, copper, tin, antlers and beeswax.

The loan box comes with notes describing each of the objects and can be loaned from our Moray and Aberdeenshire Forest District office.

This introduction video provides more details of what the box includes:

The loan box was launched at Whitehills stone circle on the solar eclipse on the 20th March 2015, when pupils from several local primary schools got to enjoy the view!

Pupils viewing the eclipse at whitehills stone circle in 2015

Visiting recumbent stone circles

Aberdeenshire council have published a guide to ten of the best stone circles in Aberdeenshire (PDF) which includes the stone circle in Clune Wood and Whitehills stone circle at Pitfitchie.

north kyle fields

As part of our ongoing woodland regeneration efforts, Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) has been considering how best to restore the former opencast mines at North Kyle Forest, East Ayrshire for community use. Over the last few years, we've worked closely with local organisations and community groups to create a 30 year masterplan for sustainable environments and developments on the site. These could enable economic, environmental and social regeneration in the local area.


North Kyle Forest Masterplan

North Kyle Forest Masterplan

 The masterplan for North Kyle Forest (PDF 10.3MB) aims to create a lasting and positive legacy, replacing a blighted landscape and connecting people, place and nature.


Key to the plan is: 

  • Designing an environment that's more natural and more welcoming to wildlife;
  • Connecting communities emotionally and physically with the forest;
  • Providing high-quality opportunities for outdoor education, activity and recreation;
  • Encouraging people to stay healthy and happy;
  • Creating valuable jobs and training opportunities for young people;
  • Helping deliver the Scottish Government objectives for a smarter, healthier, greener, wealthier, fairer, safer and stronger Scotland.

The masterplan shows how a series of practical and creative projects could deliver local and strategic regeneration priorities. This would be facilitated through a combined group including FES, local organisations and national agencies working in partnership to transform the area.

Consultation and Feedback

A key component of the design process has been engagement with stakeholders and the public. The outcomes have been critical to the direction taken.

Extensive consultation was undertaken with local communities and organisations. This included two exhibitions/consultation events and several agency/community workshops. Public consultation on the masterplan took place from October – November 2015. Comments were invited from the public and consultation events that took place in Dalmellington Area centre. Public and stakeholder submissions are contained within the masterplan.

Contact us

If you have any feedback, questions or comments on the masterplan, please contact:

Lyndy Renwick
Community Projects Manager
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Forest Enterprise Scotland
Galloway Forest District
Newton Stewart

0300 0676896
07818 016963

The historic environment on the National Forest Estate is for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone. But archaeological sites are often in inaccessible places or difficult to interpret. Most importantly, our cultural heritage is a fragile resource – once lost it is gone forever.

We’re committed to conserving these ancient treasures, enhancing the way they’re presented and making them safe for people to visit. Sometimes that simply means avoiding damage during forestry work, or clearing trees or scrub to reveal the site.

However, we’re also improving signage and footpaths, producing better interpretative materials and, where appropriate, carrying out sympathetic consolidation and repair.

An interpretation sign at Caisteal Grugaig

Find out more