Alan Hodgkinson on Portencross Castle – Tuesday 12th April 2016
Alan Hodgkinson, a renowned gemologist, gave a fascinating talk to the club on the subject of Portencross Castle and the Hunterston Brooch.
Alan, who has lived in the area since the early 1990’s was one of a number of locals who formed the “Friends of Portencross Castle” and attempted to seek grant funding to upgrade and convert what was by then a derelict structure owned by British Nuclear Fuels into an asset which could be enjoyed by the public and preserved for the future. Through a combination of sources including lottery funding over £1,000,000 was raised and the castle, which dates back to 1363, was acquired and upgraded. It opened to the public in September 2010 with the entire process taking around 12 years.
The area has a rich history with the site of Ardneil Castle, which pre-dates Portencross and has links to David II and Robert II, being located nearby.
Alan is now one of the “guardians” of the castle and also a tour guide with the castle being open to the public at weekends and during the school Easter and Summer holidays. He also found time to briefly discuss the Hunterston Brooch, so named as it was found in Hunterston Bay a short distance north of Portencross in 1826 by workmen. The brooch however, dates back to the 8th Century and is a highly important historical piece formed in gold and silver and inlaid with amber with the ring having a diameter of around 12 cm. There is little known of its history although the brooch has the scratched inscriptions of two former owners, it is thought to be of Scottish or Irish origin and deposited at Hunterston by the Vikings some time after the Battle of Largs. It is currently on display at the National Museum of Scotland.
Kevin Bell gave the vote of thanks for what was a highly informative and enjoyable presentation.