As the ravages of the prolonged Ice Age activities here receeded the land would have recolonised with species of vegetation that would have gradually matured into climax forest species : Scots Pine, Oak, with birch, hazel and other natives.

Early man would have managed the forestry.
There are papers on forest pastures in ancient times.

1700s - The iron foundries created significant demand for timber.
The minister for Kilchrenan and Dalavich outlined the importance this assumed in terms of employment: 'Inclosing, cutting, barking or peeling, and coating the extensive woods in this parish, employ many hands'. The main beneficiaries were the landlords who sold timber to the Lorn and Argyle Furnace Companies. During 1774 for example Donald Campbell of Balliveolan sold wood from Colliviack, Drimvick and Tarafuchan to the Lorn Furnace, while in 1780 Duncan Campbell of 81Glenure received £4,200 for all his woods over a seven year period.
The profits from timber contracts heightened the landlords' determination to increase proprietorial control over their estates, which was also crucial to the transformation of the agrarian system. This, however, brought the landlords into conflict with the 'commonalty' who regarded it as customary to remove wood for their own use. Belief in this ancient right coalesced with hostility to tree planting, which was deemed prejudicial to crops1

The company did not confine themselves to smelting iron ore, they also entered into several other commercial speculations. At that time Glen Etive and other glens were clothed in lofty pines and spreading oaks. Their timber was far too valuable to be made into charcoal. The company felled these trees and shipped the pine logs · to Ulverstone where they were manufactured into what the tradesmen wanted. The oak was felled in late spring when the sap was rising freely and then the bark peelers were set to work stripping the bark. This work was done by men, women, boys and girls, and it had to be done very carefully as the tanners were very particular as to the quality of the bark. When stripped the bark was stacked in long rows, technically called " sows," with a broad piece placed over the top to prevent the rain entering, and so it was kept until dry. The bark was also shipped away to England.
As may be apprecjated, bark peeling is a tedious business and to relieve the monotony of their toil the workers improvised songs. The words of these songs were very local and I am afraid in most cases vulgar, so none of them has come down to us, but one tune has, that now better known as " The Hills of Glenorchy," or, as it is sometimes known, "The Braes of Glenorchy."
Up to the closing decade of the nineteenth century good quality oak bark fetched up to £16 or £18, that is in our present day money equal to about £70 to £80 per ton. The tanners expected the best quality bark to give at least two " waters."
As oak wood gave way to ).ron and steel in ship bullding the demand for hard wood died away in that industry. But as there was great improvement in agriculture and many new implements came into use there was a demand by the rural tradesmen for it. > Every township had its cart wrights. wheel wrights, carpenters, blacksmiths, and saddlers who all used hard woods in their trades. Thus the forester found a new outlet for his oaks.
Bark peeling continued down to the end of last century, but only in a small way; about 1880 a German chemist invented a chemical way to do the work of tanning hides.
In England the industry is not quite dead as oak bark is still used to make expensive leather.
After stripping the trees of their bark they were shipped to England. It will be remembered that the late ejghteenth century was a period of great expansion of the navy because of the many wars carried on at that time. It is a thought that some of the oak trees from Glenetive helped to build the wooden walls ~at drove Napoleon's fleet off the seas, winning such decisive victories as Aboukir Bay and Trafalgar.
The iron company also bought hides and all other items that they could find a market for in England.
Their labour force amounted to about 600 workers
About the beginning of this century another industry sprang up in Muckairn. This was the broom work, not brooms for sweeping the floor but bunches of birch twjgs sent to the steel smelters in Lanarkshire, and up to the o~tbreak of the first great war was a thriving business.
The business was started by a local gentleman, who also erected a sawmill, manufacturing fencing stobs, rails, battens, and all other types of timber required by a rural community. It was a success, and after the founder's death was carried on vigorously by his two sons, who expanded the business.
The making of brooms was a sideline to the sawmill. Birch trees were bought and felled. Then the workers, men, women, boys and girls, set to with their knives to sever the twigs and form them up into bunches ; a bunch was as much as could be held in one hand, then with the other a pliant twjg was tied round the bundle, and thus made a broom. These brooms were stacked like hay until a sufficient quantity was ready to send to the steel works by rail. The work was carried on in the winter months when other work was scarce and when the trees were bare of leaves. The knife used by the workers was shaped something like a housewife's kitchen cleaver and a razor keen edge was kept on it. Payment was made by piecework and an active worker could make hjgh wages in the course
of a week.
Of necessity trees had to be purchased within reasonable distance of a railway station as transport at that time was by horse and cart. Large quantities of brooms were dispatched from Taynulit, Benderloch, and other stations on the Callander and Oban Railway system. I understand the birch brooms were thrown into the molten steel for the sake of the pyroligneous acjd the twigs contained ~o produce high-class steel for making surgeon's instruments, and all other things where an exceptionally high quality steel was required.
Since the war the industry has died away ; overhead costs have killed it.

Estate owners in the 1700s were keen to increase the variety of profitable and useful timber species so the likes of Sycamore, Larch, Beech and more would have been planted.
Others planted Specimen trees, avenues, and other landscape features.
There is a lovely Sequoia tree as a legacy from the Barcaldine house gardens.

Natural Forestry development is also of interest
Vegetation history, human impact and climate change during prehistory : an island perspective of the isles of Tiree, Coll and north-west Mull - PhD

Charcoal was a vital economic product for the woodland around the lochs several centuries ago.. and would have reached a height when the Iron Furnaces were developed, first at GlenKinglass, and then Bonawe, Taynuilt in the latter part of the 1700-1799's.

Breadalbane papers for Lochetive side
Title Papers relative to sales of wood to the Lorn Furnace Co
Dates 1773-1776

2-17. Draft and copy contracts between Colin Campbell of Carwhin, factor for Lord Glenorchy, and Richard Ford and Co, ironmaster, of Grisdale near Kendal, for sale of woods of Glenoa and Duo, Inveryensachen and two Barrs on Lochetive, and Letterbegg and Lettermore on Lochowside, all in parishes of Balliveodan or Ardchattan and Muckrairn, lordship of Lorn, and 27 merkland of Lochow in parish of Kilchrennan and Dalavich, lordship foresaid, 1751-2.


GD170 Papers of the Campbell Family of Barcaldine 1539-1961
Country code GB
Repository code 234
Repository National Records of Scotland
Reference GD170/2491
Title Letter from Thomas Kennedy to Sir Duncan Campbell of Barcaldine, 1st b.t.
Dates 19 Mar 1814
Access status Open
Location On site
Description Can supply Barcaldine with scotch fir, larch, oak, elm, spruce and white American spruce, ash and mountain ash trees. Dated at Oban.

The King's Forest, Black Mount up in Glen Etive was a nationally important deer forest, run as part of the Breadalbane estate. Campbell of Monzie also had ownership of Glen Etive at some times.

Doogan, Brian(2004) A social and economic history of the Blackmount Deer Forest, Argyllshire, 1815-1900. PhD thesis. 404 pages This paper has great insight to the running and even some of the names of people involved in the forestry of the Blackmount Forestry. It is a wonderful resource, full of detail and lots of further references.

1916 - reference to mature oak, birch, hazel with extensive lichen in a paper about commercial lichen collecting for dyeing (

In the 1900's forestry was once again an important part of our local land use.
Much of that planted is currently being felled; the changes in our landscape are profound, if temporary as ground is re-planted.
1924 Much of the remaining Campbell of Barcaldine land (10.500 acres) was sold to the forestry commission, they were taking over millions of hectares of land.
The house and unplantable land was subsequently sold leaving the FC with 4000 acres

when acquired, about 1200 acres were covered with oak, birch, and hazel scrub, with clumps of maturing or mature conifers, chiefly Scots pine nad European larch. One particularly fine stand of Douglas fir planted about 1870 is still in existance (1950s)

History of Barcaldine Forest 1924 - 1951 by Forestry Commission

Forestry buildings and communities are scattered around the parish : for example - Achacha : North Connel :

Modern forestry Management plan

there were some big teams based here, and others that come up seasonally to work here.
do you know these men .. would love to know more : click HERE to see bigger image and more details, names etc:
Barcaldine Forest Office presentation 1979
Photograph courtesy of Malcolm Wield, Dingwall.Loch Etive Sawmill
Contributor: Heritage North
186.jpgContributor: Heritage North
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