Stirling Activities

The BLF Gathering has activities on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons with buses taking delegates to venues outwith Stirling.  Places on buses and guided tours are limited so are ticketed.  Delegates can sign up for activities at the conference registration desk.

Friday: Doune, Charlestown or Dunblane

Charlestown limekilnsFriday afternoon at the BLF gathering is split between Doune Castle and Charlestown. A series of activities has been arranged at each venue. Two 50-seater buses will run between the venues, one to Doune then Charlestown, the other to Charlestown then Doune.  Delegates may choose to visit both venues (time at each will be limited) or spend all afternoon at Doune or at Charlestown.  Or, there is an excursion by train to Dunblane.

Doune Castle Doune Castle is well known to film goers as it features in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Game of Thrones and Outlander.  It began as a medieval stronghold, being rebuilt in the 14th century. The castle consists of two towers linked by a great hall, all within a courtyard bounded by high walls. Delegates may free-range at the castle and at the steading (a 5-minute walk from the Castle) where a small-scale limekiln for burning peat and shell has been built.  There will also be wallhead and scaffolding tours of the castle.

Charlestown workshopsCharlestown is a late 18th century planned industrial village, where the lime industry in Scotland developed from a medieval craft industry into a commercial enterprise playing a pivotal role in the industrial revolution in Scotland. The massive bank of 14 preserved lime kilns supplied around one third of all the lime being used in Scotland. Charlestown is now home to the Scottish Lime Centre.  There will be guided tours of the village and kilns (ticketed), and demonstrations and hands-on activities at  Charlestown Workshops including raw lime plastering, plaster casting, hand modelling lime plaster ornaments, surface repair of stone, stone carving, mud walling, limewashing, lime slaking, and a chance to visit the SLCT building materials laboratory.

Dunblane is a charming town above the Allan Water.  The Cathedral has masonry from the 12th century; the larger part of the building is of the 13th century. Restorations by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson and Sir Robert Lorimer 1912-14 have left a legacy of magnificent woodwork and stained glass. Nearby is the Leighton Library, the oldest purpose-built library in Scotland with a collection of printed books and manuscripts from the 16th to 19th century.

Saturday: Stirling Castle, Bannockburn House and Kinneil House, or Dunblane

Visits have been arranged for Saturday afternoon: a trip by bus to Bannockburn House and Kinneil House, a specialist tour on foot of Stirling Castle, or an excursion by train to Dunblane.

Bannockburn House, hall ceiling

Bannockburn House is a 17th-century A-listed mansion house of around 1675 with a Victorian extension. It has many architectural features of interest including magnificent plaster ceilings which rival contemporary ceilings at Holyrood Palace.  Our hosts are Bannockburn House Trust, which succeeded in a community buy-out of the house in 2017. Tours will be led by the Bannockburn House Trust with contributions from William Napier and James Simpson. Afternoon tea will be served in the Victorian dining room.

Kinneil HouseKinneil House, built for the Hamilton family and now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland, has a rich history, stretching from the Roman era to the Industrial Revolution.  Kinneil is particularly notable for its 17th-century painted decoration.  Ian Shearer, Chair of the Friends of Kinneil, will lead guided tours inside Kinneil while Peter Ransom of Historic Environment Scotland will describe hot-mixed lime work on the orchard wall.

Stirling Castle Great HallStirling is the crossroads of Scotland with many battles fought within sight of its castle, the principal stronghold of Scottish kings until the Union of the Crowns in 1603.  The Chapel Royal has wall-paintings of 1628 by Valentine Jenkin.  The Great Hall has been resurrected from a military barracks in a decades-long restoration project.  The glories of the Royal Palace have recently been recreated with reproductions of the carved oak Stirling heads reinstalled in the palace block. There will be a specialist conservation tour of Stirling Castle led by Jacqueline Mulcair of Historic Environment Scotland.

Sunday: Stirling Castle and Stirling Town

Stirling BB Lintel

Three guided walks have been arranged for Sunday afternoon: one of Stirling Castle, led by Historic Environment Scotland, and two of the built heritage and architecture of Stirling Town, led by Stirling City Heritage Trust.  The tours will end at 1600 at Stirling Castle, giving delegates time for independent exploration (the Castle closes at 1800).

General note

Clothing, especially footwear, must be adequate for scaffolding tours and practical demonstrations: no high heels, sling-backs or sandals.  The venues will provide PPE as required.  There is no disabled access to wallhead and scaffolding tours at Doune.  As places on tours are limited, only one tour per person per day.  The organisers reserve the right to refuse participation should they have any safety concerns.

2024 Conference and Gathering

The next BLF Conference and Gathering will be held in Brighton, 6-8 September.  Booking will open in May, but hold the dates!

Events in 2024

Watch this space for lime days and other events in 2024.


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