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Crannog Centre boss says £2.3m for new museum ‘means everything’

The Scottish Crannog Centre has been awarded £2.3m in funding, much to the delight of director Mike Benson.
The Scottish Crannog Centre has been awarded £2.3m in funding, much to the delight of director Mike Benson.

Plans to rebuild the Sottish Crannog Centre after a devastating fire have taken a step forward with a £2.3 million pledge from the Scottish Government.

The centre, near Kenmore, was virtually destroyed in June when a fire ripped through the reconstructed crannog, an Iron Age river-dwelling.

Planning was already well under way for a £12.5 million redevelopment of the centre on the north side of Loch Tay at Dalerb when the blaze took hold.

The blaze at the Scottish Crannog Centre.

The plans received a major boost in the Scottish Parliament budget on Thursday.

It is part of a £2.3m funding package, with £1m pledged for this financial year.

Crannog Centre boss hails ‘terrific’ funding

Director Mike Benson said it will allow them to “stride into the future with confidence”.

He said: “The funding means everything – it’s just great news.

“On the night of the fire, I called everyone at 1am and people were just devastated. Most folk were in tears.

Crannog Centre Director Mike Benson.
Crannog Centre Director Mike Benson.

“The fire was emotionally hard for us. We care about the place, the people and the story.

“I said to them ‘this will become part of our story, not the end of it’ but I didn’t know if I believed it.

“Sure enough, it now will become part of our story.

“To go from that sense of loss to where we are now was just terrific.

“We’re now able to stride into the future with confidence and maximise the benefits of our work.”

Plans for new Scottish Crannog Centre

Plans to redevelop the Scottish Crannog Centre have been in the pipeline for some time.

The proposals include three crannogs and a living history museum.

It also features an Iron Age village, woodman’s yard, artists’ hub, performance spaces, café, restaurant and gift shop.

The new centre will boost employment from the current 20 members of staff to over 50.

An artist's impression of the new Scottish Crannog Centre site at Dalerb.
An artist’s impression of the new Scottish Crannog Centre site at Dalerb.

Mr Benson hopes the Scottish Crannog Centre will be in its new home by the end of next year.

He said thoughts would turn to fundraising ideas in the new year.

“I said that we’ll have a couple of weeks off at Christmas and we’ll get cracking,” he said.

“There is a lot of work to do but we’ve got a great team and we’ve had fantastic support.

“It’s going to be hard work and it’s going to be daunting but we can do it.

“We think it’s a brilliant story of these crannog dwellers from 2,500 years ago.”

The seven-figure funding follows £51,000 in August to help the centre recover from the fire.

Crannog Centre funding is ‘wonderful news’

Perthshire North MSP John Swinney welcomed the news.

He said: “The Crannog Centre is one of Highland Perthshire’s most-beloved institutions, as evidenced by the overwhelming outpouring of public support following the fire at the centre earlier this year.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

“It is a tribute to the management team that, in the aftermath of the fire, the centre is emerging stronger than ever.

“This latest investment from the Scottish Government will help secure the long-term future of the Crannog Centre and ensure that it can complete its move to a new site.”

Scottish Crannog Centre was built between 1994 and 1997 by Dr Nicholas Dixon and Ms Barrie Andrian alongside a team of volunteers.

Since it opened to the public the Scottish Crannog Centre has provided many with an insight into life on the water in ancient times.

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