- SPA News
- No comments
Stornoway Port Authority is re-thinking its future plans to help preserve a piece of the town’s history.
The authority has postponed a project to extend its office at Amity House on Esplanade Quay, close to the ancient centre of Stornoway, after archaeological investigations revealed remnants of a substantial and historic stone wall on the site.
Experts believe the structure, more than 2.5m thick and 1.5m tall, is part of a medieval fort built by Oliver Cromwell’s army in the 17th century and occupied by a garrison of English soldiers for around a decade. They say the find has the potential to impact evidence from early periods of the town.
The office extension was proposed to cater for new staff as the Port Authority develops its 20-year Master Plan which will bring substantial economic benefits to the islands. Alternative accommodation has now been identified and the potential for additional office space in another location may be re-visited at a later date.
Alex Macleod, Stornoway Port Authority’s Chief Executive, said: “This is a significant, historic find and an integral part of the town’s past. We are keen to preserve this medieval discovery for future generations.
“As the Master Plan progresses, the Port will need additional office space. However, our current priority is to advance projects, including the new marina and deep-water port, that will stimulate new economic growth for our community which themselves will also be part of Stornoway’s story in time.”
Mary Peteranna, of AOC Archaeology, said, “We have uncovered one section of a substantial wall surviving up to 1.5m high. The wall face is very well-built and comprised a battered, or slightly sloping outer face; and this, together with its breadth of about 2 metres, tells us that it’s not just a building wall. The structure was built for a more substantial purpose, and we believe it formed part of the Cromwellian defensive rampart.”
Evidence of such a building had been discovered while digging for drains adjacent to Amity House in 1919 as mentioned in W.C. Mackenzie’s “Book of the Lews: The story of a Hebridean Isle” but no further investigation had been done until now.
Malcolm Macdonald, co-author of the recent publication, The Darkest Dawn: The Story of the Iolaire Tragedy, said: “The Stornoway Historical Society is delighted that the recent discovery of walls belonging to the 17th century Cromwellian fort, establishing the precise location, permits historians to mark the site for posterity.”