Castle is home to new exhibition

Richard Stroud (former chair of Aberdeenshire Education Committee) cuts the ribbon at the Auchtavan exhibition opening ceremony at Braemar Castle. He is accompanied by Aboyne Academy principal teacher of humanities, Michael Foy, modern studies teacher, Jane Summers, and Tarland fiddler, Paul Anderson. Also in the picture are two Braemar Castle volunteers.
Richard Stroud (former chair of Aberdeenshire Education Committee) cuts the ribbon at the Auchtavan exhibition opening ceremony at Braemar Castle. He is accompanied by Aboyne Academy principal teacher of humanities, Michael Foy, modern studies teacher, Jane Summers, and Tarland fiddler, Paul Anderson. Also in the picture are two Braemar Castle volunteers.

Aboyne Academy pupils have launched an exciting new exhibition at Braemar Castle.

It represents the culminating point of a groundbreaking school archaeology project believed to be the largest of its kind in Scotland.

Working with Braemar Castle, run by Braemar Community Ltd, the youngsters planned and designed an exhibition which tells the story of the now abandoned community of Auchtavan on the Invercauld Estate in the Cairngorms National Park.

With the help of local expertise, the pupils have converted one of the castle rooms into the inside of an 1800s cottage complete with a fireplace and hingin’ lum. The free exhibition is designed to appeal to all ages and includes interpretation panels, a dressing up box, DVD and ‘talking’ porridge pot!

A lively opening event was held at the castle recently, which was attended by over 75 people including pupils, parents, project partners and invited guests.

Music was provided by local fiddler Paul Anderson and members of Aboyne Academy ceilidh band.

Paul was commissioned to write two new tunes for the project - ‘Auchtavan’ and ‘Glen Fearder’ which can be heard as part of the exhibition.

In session 2010/2011 more than 130 incoming S1 pupils from all ten feeder schools to the academy worked with local and national archaeology groups on the ‘Lost?’ project. Running for eight months during term time, the project saw pupils use a combination of field archaeology and research to bring the story of the local clearance community back to life.

Pupils worked with the support of many local and national organisations without whom a project of this scale would not have been possible.

Principal teacher of humanities, Michael Foy said: “Working in partnership with a range of local and national organisations, as well as our ten associated primary schools, brought the project to life in a very powerful way for the pupils.

“The exhibition will be a very positive legacy for the project and another addition to the visitor experience at the castle.

“The pupils are delighted their work will be shared with visitors to the castle who come from across the world.”

Aboyne Academy rector Raymond Jowett said: “The project provided these pupils with a unique learning experience to blend skills, knowledge and understanding from across the curriculum as they worked towards a meaningful and lasting outcome for the community. “As a school, we are developing strategies for interdisciplinary learning that will help us on the journey towards Curriculum for Excellence, this project will certainly help us on that journey.” The exhibition is free and is open at weekends, from 10am to 4pm.

* Ferm touns were once an integral part of the North-east way of life, now few survive. Remnants of the once thriving community of Auchatavan, high above the River Dee in Glen Fearder, can still be visited. Countless generations scraped a living in these remote places in the centuries before the industrial revolution. Now all that’s left of many are rows of stones marking where the houses once were.