AS THE National has become media partner for the Caithness Broch Project to build a world heritage Iron Age roundhouse site and visitor attraction in the far north of Scotland, we thought our readers would like to meet the team behind the plans.

Five directors from all walks of life head up the charity and their main objective is to promote, preserve and ensure a lasting legacy for the archaeology of their area.

With the death of the nuclear power station at Dounreay, they believe a heritage broch site and tourism centre celebrating Caithness’s rich history would attract thousands of visitors from all over the world, creating jobs and boosting the local economy.

The team have already lined up a host of exciting events to help raise funds and celebrate the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

More than 300 new members have signed up to support their work but they need more to make their dream a reality.

The project’s chairman and co-founder Kenneth McElroy, 27, currently helps to promote tourism in the North Highlands region as project manager for the North Coast 500.

His interest in promoting the area can be traced back to his time as Wild North Festival Project

Co-ordinator, in which he designed a festival celebrating the culture, nature and heritage of Caithness and Sutherland. He has also previously worked in the heritage sector with the Museums Galleries Scotland “Adopt an Intern” scheme, while based at Orkney Museum.

McElroy said: “Our ultimate aim is to construct a replica broch, which would serve as a first-class visitor attraction and vivid living history experience. We believe this iconic structure would attract visitors from all over the world, providing Caithness with a sustainable asset for the local economy.”

Director and co-founder Iain Maclean, 32, a local builder and a prehistory enthusiast, said the project is of immense importance to the local community and to Scotland itself.

He said: “Rebuilding a broch in full scale will provide insight into many things, such as archaeology, architecture and structural science as well as providing an iconic heritage mascot firmly placing Caithness on the map as a tourist destination to compare with anywhere else.”

Treasurer Jill Smith, 47, is an expert on money matters and has been Caithness Citizens Advice Bureau manager since 2008. Before that she worked for an oil firm and in banking.

“Having only recently joined the Caithness Broch Project I am at the beginning of a steep learning curve,” she said. “I am a native of Caithness and passionate about my county and its heritage. I feel that it is important for communities to get together to develop and promote their cultural assets.”

Project secretary Joanne Howdle, 46, is curator and deputy director of Caithness Horizons Museum in Thurso. She has worked as a professional museum curator in a variety of different institutions including National Museums Liverpool and the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, since 1993. Since moving to Caithness in 2009 she has developed an interest in the Iron Age in Scotland.

Howdle joined the Caithness Broch Project because she believes Caithness is a forgotten gem in terms of its archaeological heritage and wants to make it accessible to local people in order to build community pride and attract more tourists to replace the jobs that are being lost through the decommissioning of Dounreay.

Until this year, project photographer and website manager, Chris Sinclair, 35, worked in the oil and gas and renewable offshore sector as a hydrographic surveyor. He is now based at the archive centre in Wick, in tandem with the Caithness Archive, helping to feed his passion for local history.

“I feel this is a hugely relevant project in the current economic climate of Caithness,” Sinclair said. “We ultimately aim to build a replica of an Iron Age broch, and open it as a tourist attraction, complete with visitor centre, and we need people to become involved now in the early stages. Volunteering and early funding will help us achieve our step-by-step plan of growth, eventually leading to our final goal.”

The newest and youngest member of the team is sixth-year student Alex Paul, 17, from Thurso High School, who is lifetime membership secretary. She believes the project will benefit the local area by helping to create jobs and sustain the local economy, and will provide students such as herself with more opportunities to learn about their heritage and culture.

Project membership secretary Karl Rosie, 53, was employed in the nuclear and oil and gas industries before working as an aid for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP Dr Paul Monaghan in 2015. It was in this role that he met the project’s fellow directors McElroy and Maclean, and was so impressed by their drive and enthusiasm he wanted to be part of it.

A great deal more

THE National is offering new and existing members of the Caithness Broch Project an exclusive discounted deal of 10 per cent off three, six and 12-month digital subscriptions as part of our commitment as media partner.

Members who sign up for a year’s subscription also get a free case of fine wine worth £60 from Naked Wines, an online wine retailer that supports independent winemakers around the world.

To claim your discounted subscription and free case of wine, call us on 0141 302 7733, making sure you quote the Caithness Broch Project.

To become a member of the Caithness Broch Project visit and click on membership.