Rhynie Wifies bring heritage to life

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A FORMER group of Archaeolink employees and volunteers are not resting on their laurels after the one time prehistory activity and education centre in Oyne closed its doors.

Karen Hudson (40), Carolyn Forrest (43), Pauline Cordiner (36) and Flick Ibbotson (24) have all gained a wealth of knowledge about our ancient heritage through the ages, with particular interest in the iron age.

Explaining the concept of the new educational venture, Karen said: “I suppose the idea came when we learnt that Archaeolink was closing. We decided we wanted to do something similar. All my experience lay in the sort of history and time period covered by Archaeolink and I had the skills. I couldn’t find anything anywhere in Scotland that was doing this kind of thing.”

While some groups were touching on the subject, no-one appeared to be covering the subject in depth. Continuing, Karen said: “I decided to concentrate on the Iron Age because that’s what I know, and straight away I knew my friends and colleagues who had been involved with Archaeolink would be ideal partners.”

Things moved rather faster than the group anticipated. Flick explained: “We had to find a name for ourselves and I put Rhynie Wifies forward as a joke because of the connection to Rhynie Man, the Pictish stone carving which now stands at Woodhill House in Aberdeen. Somehow the name stuck.”

After making an initial approach to Castle Fraser which led to four separate bookings, things have just mushroomed for the group.

Karen commented: “Castle Fraser have been enormously supportive of us and they have a splendid events team. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us because from our point of view it makes a lot of sense to take the Iron Age out to the people, letting them hear about our civilisations and our ancestors.

“We’re so surprised at the feedback we’ve had so far. It’s all mushroomed and we’ve had a huge amount of interest, including from Historic Scotland”

The Rhynie Wifies offer a fully interactive, hand-on experience. They demonstrate wool crafts, cooking, and visitors can try the skills Iron Age people would have had to have in order to survive, and there’s archery, warrior school and warrior face painting too.

Karen said the Rhynie Wifies attract interest wherever they go. “When we’re out and about there’s always a huge amount of interest visually as well as educationally. It is very hands-on involving the public and the emphasis is on fun while we take great pride in portraying the period accurately.”

Rhynie Wifies is a non-profit making organisation. Karen said: Everything we make goes back to provide better kit, better skills and better knowledge.

The Rhynie Wifies will be at the Castle Fraser’s Jousting Weekend this Saturday and Sunday (July 23 and 24).