Royal Opening for Scalan Mills

15 September 2023

A major project to conserve two historic farm buildings was celebrated as His Majesty The King visited the spiritual site of Scalan in the Braes of Glenlivet, on Wednesday, 13 September.

Community members welcomed The King to formally open the restored buildings, marking the achievements of the Scalan Mills conservation project and volunteers’ continuing work to tell the stories of the Scalan.

Hosted by members of the Scalan Association, His Majesty toured the site, viewing the restored buildings which were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to provide corn threshing machines for the Glenlivet farming community. Still in place, the threshing machine in North Mill is one of the oldest surviving and complete in Scotland.

The King also viewed the restored waterwheel and lade in the North Mill and some of the original objects and historic graffiti that covers the walls of the buildings, providing an incredible record of farming life by past inhabitants and workers.

On completing the tour of the site including the seminary, The King unveiled a plaque to commemorate his visit and met some of the many project partners and volunteers who were instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.

The conservation project, completed in 2020, involved restoring the buildings, the water wheel and lade in North Mill, installing interpretation and improving visitor access around the site. This work was sensitively carried out by a local contractor using traditional techniques and materials in keeping with the surrounding environment whilst retaining the historic essence of the site.

The project was led by Crown Estate Scotland, which manages the Glenlivet Estate on behalf of Scottish Ministers, and the Scalan Association with support from the National Lottery-funded Tomintoul & Glenlivet Landscape Partnership. The Landscape Partnership delivered 20 projects with the support of 21 partners between 2017 and 2020 to help regenerate the Tomintoul and Glenlivet area.

The project also provided volunteering opportunities in historic building conservation and recording of artefacts. Volunteers continue to be involved along with local members of the Scalan Association, looking after the Scalan buildings - which also includes a Roman Catholic seminary where young men trained to be priests during the 18th century. Open days are held regularly for visitors and the local community.

Mark Johnston, Crown Estate Scotland’s Head Ranger said “It was wonderful to have the chance to show His Majesty the impressive restoration that has taken place at Scalan, made possible by the hard work of so many people working in partnership.”

Amy Woolvin from the Scalan Association added “We were delighted to welcome His Majesty to Scalan today. Established in 1948, the Scalan Association is a group of volunteers working together to maintain and improve this special place, sharing the powerful story of this multi-layered historical site with as many people as possible and securing it for the future. His Majesty’s visit marks the latest chapter in this richly storied site’s history and is the culmination of extensive effort involving many partners. We hope this important occasion will allow us to welcome many more visitors – and volunteers – in the future and to further develop ways in which people can engage and experience this characterful site.“

Eleanor Mackintosh, Deputy Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority Board and locally elected member said: “Scalan is a unique and very special place in the Cairngorms National Park and the Park Authority is delighted to have played its part in the preservation of these important buildings – from helping secure funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to granting planning permission for the necessary works. It is extremely important that we continue to conserve and enhance the Park’s cultural heritage so that future generations can enjoy and appreciate our distinctive history.”

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