In a unique project that will link the Inner Forth’s industrial history to its future landscape, the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative is commissioning Ballatine’s Castings, in Bo’ness, one of the UK’s last working iron foundries, to cast 11 cast iron totems to be placed all around the Inner Forth estuary.
Some of the IFLI team were lucky enough to be invited to watch the first one being cast at Ballantine's on 22 August. The cast iron Markers are over 2m tall, and watching the skill and craftmenship of Ballantine's staff as they constructed the mould and poured the red hot (1400C!) molten metal into it was an absolute privilege.
The totems, which IFLI calls Markers, will highlight important places within the Inner Forth landscape, and the links between them. The aim is to encourage people to value and celebrate the fascinating natural and historic heritage on their doorstep. IFLI also hopes the markers will also show how these sites are linked by a shared heritage, to promote travel around the area to visit other sites.
The Markers have been designed by the team at Bright 3D, an Edinburgh design company that have been commissioned by IFLI to manage all the design work for the project. The designs aim to capture the shapes and textures of the estuary, and to carry key messages about its history and wildlife. They will be installed at Torry Bay, Charlestown Limekilns, Valleyfield, Clackmannan, Kennetpans Distillery, Black Devon Wetlands, Cambus Pools Nature Reserve, Cambuskenneth, Higgins Neuk, near Airth, Skinflats Nature Reserve, and Kinneil Local Nature Reserve in Bo’ness.
The Markers will complement a suite of seven interpretive installations, called Beacons, which are being constructed at key sites within the Inner Forth, and are also due to be completed in September 2018. Both form part of a project called Telling the Inner Forth Story, one of 54 interlinked projects that make up the partnership initiative, which aims to reconnect people with the historic, cultural and natural heritage of the Inner Forth, and conserve and enhance its heritage, funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.
You can watch footage of the various stages of the casting process on our YouTube channel here.
Ballatine’s is one of the few remaining iron foundries in the UK. Founded in the 1820s, it has created some of the country’s iconic ironwork, including the railings and dolphin lampposts on the Thames embankment, and the replica cannons on Edinburgh Castle. IFLI felt it would be entirely fitting for this historic local company to create the interpretation that will help to point people towards the Inner Forth’s unique historic and natural heritage in the heart of Scotland.
The Inner Forth is an incredible place that has been formed by nature and shaped by people. A place steeped in history that holds so much importance to the wildlife and the people that have lived here, both past and present. A place that deserves to be recognised and celebrated for its cultural, natural and historic heritage.
RSPB Scotland worked with Edinburgh-based animators Interference Pattern to create an animation about the Inner Forth – a snapshot through time that looks at the changes in its landscape, industry and wildlife. The film starts with the last Ice Age and ends with what the future may hold.
Ami Kirkbright, Project Assistant for the Inner Forth Futurescape Project, tells us more:
‘The aim of this animation is to create a learning resource for local schools and students to learn about the Inner Forth – its incredible history, how it was formed and what has influenced its changes. It was both easy and extremely hard to research and create this animation. With so much to tell, how do we fit it all in! Working with Interference Pattern has been a delight – they have truly captured the vibrancy and diversity of the area in a dynamic and captivating way, with the wonderful colours and animation style.
We wanted to highlight the Inner Forth’s incredible story and importance. To show school students that they live in this fantastically diverse place full of history and amazing wildlife. We want to show them how the landscape has changed dramatically over time to become what we see today. If you look you can see evidence of this all around. We want to inspire people to venture out and see for themselves the incredible landscape right on their doorstep: visit RSPB Black Devon Wetlands and enjoy the wildlife and countryside; climb one of the Ochil hills and look down to the flat valley that was once full of ice; visit Kinneil Museum or Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway to learn about the local history of the area. So much to do and see, the only problem is where to start!
You can watch the animation for yourself on IFLI's You Tube channel here.