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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2007, 08:03 GMT 09:03 UK
First dig at fort site proposed
Remains of the fort at Fort William. Picture courtesy of Dr Tony Pollard
Remains of what was a key fort in the Highlands at Fort William
The remains of a fort and its surrounding settlement could give clues to the impact of an "occupying" army on a Scottish community.

Dr Tony Pollard, of Glasgow University, will lead the first archaeological investigation of the sites in Fort William in Lochaber.

Little survives above ground of the town's military fort.

However, he hopes a geophysical study will uncover more remains and those of a civilian settlement linked to it.

Dr Pollard, director of Glasgow's Centre of Battlefield Archaeology and a presenter of BBC's Two Men in a Trench, said the sites at Fort William and Maryburgh could give an insight into the social impact of an "occupying" force in Scotland.

In a hot summer the outlines of buildings make marks in the grass as the ground becomes parched
Dr Tony Pollard

The fort was built in 1654 on the orders of Oliver Cromwell's General Monck, but grew extensively during the 18th Century.

Troops who committed the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692 were sent from Fort William, said Dr Pollard.

Jacobites also besieged the fort's government Red Coat soldiers before the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

However, a civilian settlement called Maryburgh that grew up around the military base is proving equally as intriguing for Dr Pollard and his team.

He said: "The town of Fort William was larger than it is today. It shrank in size as the importance of the fort waned over the 19th Century and buildings disappeared."

The parade in Fort William. Picture courtesy of Dr Tony Pollard
The Parade is a green and open space today

Remains of some buildings lie beneath the Parade, an area of Fort William where soldiers once marched.

Dr Pollard said: "In a hot summer the outlines of buildings make marks in the grass as the ground becomes parched.

"Ground staff have also said that whenever they try to put in new flowerbeds they come across stone from the foundations."

It is thought the buildings may be those of trades buildings, or of the houses of officers and soldiers.

Dr Pollard intends to be in Fort William from 10 to 21 September.

During his visit there will be a reconstruction of a battle between Red Coats and Jacobites.

The project is being supported by Highland Council and Highland 2007 celebration of Highland culture.


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