Skip to content

Winter Lectures 2023-2024

Our 2023 – 24 season of lectures covering a fascinating breadth of local heritage topics
2nd Saturday of month 2.30 pm at the Rockfield Centre, Oban unless otherwise stated

Previous winter lectures

All welcome : £3 donation for non members, included in £10 annual 2023/24 membership (£15 joint/family) JOIN US online today

October 14th – ‘Clans, Conflict and Culture in Rannoch in the Later Middle Ages’ Martin MacGregor, senior Scottish History Lecturer at Glasgow University

In the later 15th and earlier 16th centuries, Rannoch became an area of conflict involving a number of clans – the Stewarts of Garth (also known as the Stewarts of Fortingall), the Menzieses, the Macintoshes and the MacGregors. This talk will ask why this was, and explore the events which led to the MacGregors becoming the dominant clan on the ground in Rannoch. Control on the ground had implications for lordship, and at this higher social level mention will be made of the Gordon earls of Huntly, the Stewart earls of Atholl and the Campbell earls of Argyll. Politics and culture were closely related in Gaelic society, and we shall explore the cultural dimension through the experiences and poetry of one prominent professional bard or poet in particular. He was called An Bard Mac an t-Saoir or ‘the Bard Macintyre’, and his poems talk about wolves, Ships of Evil Women, and local saints.

November 11th  (Oban Firestation) : v. Brief AGM : followed by Oban Slideshow with Bob McCulloch – Oban at War 

Oban at War – the highly popular slide show by renowned local image collector Bob McCulloch who has spent a lifetime collecting the image of our town and local area, and the stories that are associated with them.
Slideshow is preceded by a very brief AGM
This meeting will be at the Oban Fire Station not Rockfield

December 9th : Mary Braithwaite : Exploring the Archaeology of Luing 

Over the last few decades a dedicated group of local archaeologists in the community of the Isle of Luing have discovered, uncovered, recorded and shared a quite amazing heritage of the island and its people from the earliest days of habitation in the prehistoric times up to its industrial height.

Mary Braithwaite is a committee member of Luing History Group and a keen archaeologist who has published several books following the work that has been done on the island.

January  13th  : Professor Tony Pollard : Uncovering Waterloo The Archaeology of Napoleon’s Last Battle – a very special lecture from our new Patron 

Our Patron Professor Tony Pollard (Director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Glasgow and archaeological co-director of the charity Waterloo Uncovered, past presenter of Two Men in a Trench) joined us last year, celebrating his archaeological roots with LAHS, having been introduced to his lifelong passion by the late Charles Hunter.

Tonys work on Conflict Archaeology has taken him around the world, particularly working with veterans on the archaeology of battlefields. The site of the battle of Waterloo has been drawing him back for nearly a decade. Last Summer there was another major visit, and Tony will be updating us on the finds and discoveries over the last years.

Waterloo Uncovered is a remarkable project – you can learn more before the lecture here

January 27th : online introduction to Contributing to Canmore : Neil Fraser HES

Many of us spend time on Canmore researching the archaeological and historical sites of our area, and we are also taking photos of how places look now, learning more from other resources. MyCanmore is a facility to add more information into the national database but it can be confusing as to how it works, what can be added. 
Neil Fraser will be giving us a guided tour of Canmore and an introduction to how we can participate and contribute into Canmore with a live Q&A session at the end. 

February 10th : Ewan Kennedy : Somerled his legacy

Somerled and his Legacy

Somerled is arguably one of very few early figures about whom it can be said with certainty that he really did exist. Ewan Kennedy will have a look at his times and the chaos that followed him, leading eventually to the signing of what must be our longest lasting treaty at Perth in 1266. The talk is aimed at those new to this important period in our history, but Ewan hopes to raise a few points to provoke discussion among old hands.

February 24th : –  The people of the Oban Caves: an archaeological detective story : Dr Alison Sheridan / Dr Angela Boyle – Studio theatre, Corran Halls, Oban NOTE DIFFERENT VENUE

We are very honoured to being offered this lecture exploring very new research on the DNA and osteology of the remains from the caves of Oban. 
Human remains have been turning up in caves in and around Oban since the late 19 th century, and these remains, along with the artefacts found in the caves, have had a major influence on the definition of the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) in Scotland. Recent research – and in particular, DNA analysis and radiocarbon dating – has, however, revolutionised our understanding of the people who were buried in these caves (and in the rock shelter at Carding Mill Bay), and has revealed that these caves were used at several different periods in the past. In this lecture, osteologist Dr Angela Boyle and archaeologist Dr Alison Sheridan take stock of what is known about these fascinating sites and the people buried in them, and tell some of the stories that have been emerging.
More details here : The People of the Oban Caves

March 9th : meeting cancelled,  apologies 

March 23rd – A Celebration of the Life and Work of Donnchadh Bàn Macintyre (1724-1812), Anja Gunderloch, Lecturer in Celtic, University of Edinburgh

Donnchadh Bàn Macintyre is one of the great Gaelic poets of the eighteenth century.  He was a maker of songs, and some are still in the repertoire of Gaelic singers.  The poet was born in the small farming settlement of Druim Liaghart in the domain of the Campbell Earls of Breadalbane and enjoyed a degree of patronage of successive earls and their associates which we can trace in his songs.  During his youth he absorbed the rich oral traditions of his home district and made the poetic and musical models that were current then the foundation of his own song-making practice which spanned six decades.

From his work and from what we know of his life, the poet emerges as a man of many facets;  although he was non-literate in Gaelic, he saw the publication of three collections of his work during his lifetime.  His finest work is in praise of nature, composed during his time as gamekeeper to the earls of Breadalbane, yet he spent almost half his life in the Lowlands as a member of the Edinburgh Town Guard.  He was not interested in detailed political analysis but commented, sometimes obliquely, on the important events of his long lifetime as they impacted the Gaels:  e.g. his less than successful participation on the Hanoverian side in the final Jacobite Rising and the impact of the Act of Proscription, the accession of George III, the restoration of the forfeited estates and the repeal of the hated Act, or the beginning of the Clearances in his home district.  A number of Donnchadh Bàn’s songs give glimpses of the life of small Highland communities in the pre-Clearances period while others are in praise of Campbell gentry of his acquaintance.  He excels at colourful and detailed description and he often displays an engaging sense of humour, sometimes at his own expense.


April 13th : Inaugural John MacFarlane Memorial Lecture : Gaelic in the landscape – Ross Christie

Gaelic in the Landscape : Inaugural John MacFarlane Memorial Lecture
In May 2023 we lost John MacFarlane, one of our most treasured local historians, and long time supporter of Lorn Archaeological and Historical Society.
We wanted to continue his legacy and passion in some small way.
Ross Christie will share his own passion for the Gaelic language and culture, how it is bound into our landscape, helping us develop a deeper understanding of the places around us and the heritage of our past.