At Ran­dom

The Oban Times - - Districts - MARTIN LAING mlaing@oban­

Proud of SAMS

I HAVE had the priv­i­lege of vis­it­ing the Scot­tish As­so­ci­a­tion for Marine Science (SAMS) at Dun­staffnage on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions.

I’ve been able to meet some of the teams there to hear about the ex­cel­lent re­search and work that is be­ing car­ried out.

SAMS is a world- class in­sti­tu­tion do­ing cut­ting- edge stud­ies and earn­ing it­self an en­vi­able rep­u­ta­tion for its state- of-the-art work.

So it came as lit­tle sur­prise – though with a healthy mea­sure of pride – when I read that Pro­fes­sor David Pond from SAMS is help­ing to lead a £10 mil­lion re­search pro­gramme that will in­ves­ti­gate how the Arc­tic Ocean is chang­ing.

Pro­fes­sor Pond is one of more than 20 re­searchers from 16 UK in­sti­tutes now head­ing for the Arc­tic.

As we re­port this week, there are 76 sci­en­tists within the pro­gramme it­self, with the lead in­ves­ti­ga­tors based at SAMS. Doesn’t it make you want to puff out your chest just a lit­tle that such in­flu­en­tial work is cen­tred on our doorstep in Dun­staffnage?

Great news for Oban

MORE good news came th­ese past few days with the an­nounce­ment that the Cale­do­nian sleeper ser­vice has in­tro­duced a new bus con­nec­tion ser­vice from Cri­an­larich to the town.

The new ser­vice will, they say, help to make jour­neys from Lon­don to the West Coast more ef­fi­cient.

We have been re­port­ing fre­quently in re­cent times that the econ­omy in Oban and Ar­gyll is boom­ing, with a surge in the tourism sec­tor that is bring­ing in­creas­ing pros­per­ity to the area.

What makes this story even more ap­peal­ing is the fact that the new ser­vice in­volves West Coast Mo­tors in the 14-week trial, which hope­fully will al­low vis­i­tors to take a direct route to Oban with­out hav­ing to wait at Cri­an­larich for con­nect­ing rail ser­vices. With new ho­tels in the pipe­line and the re­fur­bished Perle Ho­tel (for­merly the Cale­do­nian) re- opened, the fu­ture looks brighter than ever.

Deep into his­tory

I WAS in­trigued to learn last week about the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ex­ca­va­tion tak­ing place at Rubha Port an t- Seilich on the east coast of Is­lay.

The dig, ac­cord­ing to Steven Mithen, chair­man of Is­lay Her­itage and a pro­fes­sor of ar­chae­ol­ogy at Read­ing Uni­ver­sity, is help­ing ‘to add a whole new chap­ter to his­tory of Scot­land: it be­gins within the ice age and falls with the Palae­olithic (old stone age) time pe­riod’.

Pro­fes­sor Mithen says else­where in this week’s pa­per that ‘14,500 years ago, th­ese were the first signs that, while the Scot­tish High­lands had still been cov­ered by ice and Bri­tain joined by land to the con­ti­nent, ice age hunter­gath­er­ers had come to ex­plore the fur­thest north-west mar­gin of the ice age world’.

He adds that ‘the Palae­olithic stone tools at Rubha Port an t- Selich re­main undis­turbed where they had once been lost or dis­carded.

‘As such, there is the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pose and ex­ca­vate an ice age camp­site in Scot­land for the first time, al­though quite how much will have sur­vived re­mains un­known. An ex­ca­va­tion and re­search pro­gramme by the char­ity Is­lay Her­itage (www. is­lay­her­ work­ing with the Uni­ver­sity of Read­ing be­gan in April 2017’.

I look for­ward with in­ter­est to hear­ing about more de­vel­op­ments from the ex­ca­va­tions.

What do you think?

WRITE to me at The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB, or by email to mlaing@oban­times.

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