New project to uncover lost Glencoe villages

A new project to uncover the secret history of one of Scotland’s most spectacular and best loved landscapes has been launched.

The National Trust for Scotland has announced plans for a new project in the West Highland glen which will investigate three lost villages and build a replica of a traditional turf house.

The project will involve the local community in Glencoe and focus on three ‘forgotten’ sites: the townships of Inverigan, Achnacon and Achtriochtan. One of the settlements, now covered by grass, scree and heather, was home to 60 people in 1692.

National Trust for Scotland archaeologists will not only uncover those settlements but provide new insight into the time leading up to the Highland clearances, which saw thousands of people forcibly evicted from their homes and communities.

It could also provide fresh insight into the glen’s most infamous and tragic episode, the massacre of February 13 1692, where 38 men, women and children of the MacDonald clan were slaughtered by two companies of soldiers they had welcomed into their homes.

Neil Oliver, historian and president of the National Trust for Scotland, said: ‘Never before has this type of work been carried out at Glencoe. We now need to raise £300,000 to bring this project to life.

‘This will support our archaeological work and enable us to recreate two turf houses, using traditional methods and materials wherever possible.

‘We need the public’s help to do that and as a charity, we rely on donations to help us share the stories of iconic places like Glencoe.

‘With your support we can bring alive the sights, smells and sounds of the 17th century and help us to remember those who lost their lives in the troubled times that shaped Scotland’s history. This project will also help us celebrate the resilience of the Highlanders and their way of life, now and for generations to come.’

This latest project follows the £1 million refurbishment of the Glencoe Visitor Centre in May, which tells the story of the history and wildlife of the glen while providing an immersive experience for visitors.

Few places reflect Scotland’s story over the millennia than Glencoe, from the magnificent scenery shaped during the ice age to the stories of the clans and people who lived there.

The new centre includes a new film screening area, exhibition space, café and information hub with 3D features.

Simon Skinner, chief executive of the NTS added: ‘It has been an exciting year for Glencoe, one of the most significant and spectacular treasures cared for by the National Trust for Scotland and which is known the world over for its outstanding beauty.

‘We’ve invested heavily in telling the area’s incredible story and the new centre has been very well received by visitors. The glen attracts thousands of people every year from all over the world and this latest project is an opportunity to share even more of its history.’

More than 210,000 people visited the Glencoe Visitor Centre in 2018. This latest project is part of the conservation charity’s five-year plan to enrich Scotland’s built and natural heritage.

Fundraising for the project is now underway.

A donation of £25 will allow the National Trust for Scotland to purchase specialist archaeological equipment, allowing community volunteers to unearth the glen’s history. £50 will help to bring Glencoe’s stories to life and £100 will help source traditional materials to build the turf houses and create a visitor experience.

To find out more about the project at Glencoe and to make a donation, visit