Painting a picture of the past

yac at torr dhuin 2016 b2.jpg

Children from the Inverness Young Archaeologists Club recently visited the hill fort of Torr Dhuin (NH 348 069) near Fort Augustus - and produced their own artistic reconstructions of the fort for a ‘pop-up’ exhibition.

The guided walk, and the young archaeologists’ visit, were hosted by Forest Enterprise Scotland and led by FES archaeologist, Matt Ritchie.

During their visit, the young archaeologists explored the ramparts, learned about life within its hall and heard the epic Anglo-Saxon story of Beowulf as they imagined similar tales being told around the hearth of the hall.

Inverness YAC leader, Susan Kruse, said;

“Based on archaeological evidence, aerial photography and measured surveys, archaeological reconstruction drawings are often used to help people imagine what life was like in the past.

“They can be found in guide books, on-site interpretation panels, illustrating books and in classroom learning resources.

“Torr Dhuin was a great example that let us explain how to plan and create a reconstruction drawing – and the young archaeologists (aged 8 – 16) created a fantastic pop-up exhibition of their own reconstruction drawings!”

Archaeological reconstruction drawings can focus on life inside a site, the clothes that people wore and the wider landscape setting. Others can illustrate a historical event or an archaeological idea or process. The common thread running through good reconstruction drawings is the use of a theme to explain what is special about the site.

Inverness YAC assistant leader Monika Maleszka-Ritchie said:

“Torr Dhuin was once the seat of an Iron Age or Pictish chief but it has never been properly excavated. It’s a very dramatic site, perched high on rocky cliffs above the river far below, so the children could really let their imaginations go wild!”

 “The young archaeologists decided on their own themes and techniques and made good use of different grades of pencil to produce some amazing drawings.”

yac at torr dhuin


The pop-up exhibition was then displayed as the culmination of a public guided walk to the fort, an event hosted by Forest Enterprise Scotland.

You can find out more about Torr Dhuin and archaeological reconstruction drawings in The Picts: a learning resource, recently announced as Highly Commended in the Best Public Presentation of Archaeology category of the British Archaeology Awards 2016!

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment and Forestry Directorate.
  2. Forest Enterprise Scotland is an agency of Forestry Commission Scotland and manages the National Forest Estate on behalf of Scottish Ministers.
  3. Some of the children’s drawings can be seen here, alongside the reconstruction by artist Chris Mitchell that was commissioned for the new interpretation panel. Clockwise from top left: practicing perspective (by Grace); using the cut-away technique to ‘see inside’ the main hall (by Keiran); showing the strong stone walls (by Gabby); inside and outside the fort using annotations (by Sophie); colour and perspective (by Emily); a lookout tower (by Georgina); and the rock cut ditch (by Anna).
  4. Tha Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba na phàirt de Bhuidheann-Stiùiridh na h-Àrainneachd is Coilltearachd aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba. Tha e an urra ri riaghladh agus cumail maoineachadh is comhairle ri coilltearachd ann an Alba. Tha Iomairt Choilltean na h-Alba na fo-bhuidheann aig Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba a tha a’ ruith Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta.
  5. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6507 / 07785 527590 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.