Appeal for information after caravan is dumped near historic Ousdale broch
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Directors of a Caithness-based archaeological organisation are incensed by the latest act of fly-tipping to occur near the site of an Iron Age broch they recently restored and are appealing for information.
As part of the Highland Archaeology Festival running through September and October, Caithness Broch Project (CBP) hosted a tour of its recent conservation project at Ousdale broch but just a day later found a caravan had been abandoned in the purpose-built car park of the site.
Dawn Mackay, one of the CBP directors, said: “It was very encouraging for us to see so many people keen to visit the broch and learn about its history. Everyone was so impressed by what they saw and it makes all the work we have put in to promote the archaeology and history of Caithness well worthwhile."
Despite the poor weather at the start, there were "16 hardy souls" who turned up, keen to see the broch and the restoration work that had been carried out to conserve the site. CBP had been assisted by funding from Historic Environment Scotland’s historic repair grant scheme, Highland LEADER Programme and Beatrice Caithness Community Fund towards the consolidation of the broch, as well as the installation of a new trail, interpretation panels and a car park.
Dawn added: "Unfortunately, only 24 hours after the visit, we learned of yet another fly-tipped caravan being abandoned in the small car park. It must have been left there between 3pm on Saturday the 9th of October and 4pm on Sunday the 10th.
"This is the second caravan which has been dumped on the site along with lots of other waste. There has been garden waste, tables, general rubbish, plus more recently a huge pile of soil and gravel obviously dumped by a tipper truck directly onto the middle of the car park."
Iain Maclean, another CBP director, led last weekend's walk from the car park next to the A9 and down the newly installed path towards the broch. There were stops at each of the five interpretation panels for a short discussion on the way down.
On arrival at the broch the weather had improved and the CBP team noted how the visitors were very impressed by the broch which is regarded as one of Caithness’ most outstanding Iron Age structures. The visitors enjoyed the description of the conservation of the broch and discussion on how it may have been used throughout its long history.
The CBP team later said on its Facebook page that "it was a pleasure to show all the attendees the hard work and love we poured into Ousdale Broch – it really was a massive team effort and one we're really proud of".
With regard to the fly-tipping, Dawn stated: “We managed to raise funds to install a CCTV camera and are currently awaiting its delivery. We believe the rubbish is coming from within the local area, which is even more disappointing given the effort we are making to promote our county and provide an interesting place for all to visit."
The latest fly-tipping incident comes not long after a sculpted wooden head, known as the Ousdale Mannie, was stolen from a niche within the the broch.
Iain Maclean, who sculpted the head, said at the time: "It's such a shame really, we've had enough bother with fly-tipping at the car park as it is." The broch project team have offered the reward of a specially designed printed Caithness map for anyone who reports information that would lead to the safe return of the Ousdale Mannie.
CBP is now appealing to anyone who may have seen the abandoned caravan on its route to Ousdale or have any information which may lead to a prosecution, to get in touch with them via Facebook messenger or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org