Duncarron Medieval Village will be officially launched next month with a colourful celebration of indigenous cultures and performers from all over the world.
With support from celebrity backers including actor Russell Crowe, the Clanranald Trust has worked in association with Scots-based Hollywood stunt team Combat International for 23 years to bring the interactive and fully functional immersive history experience to life.
Located near Kilsyth the 20-acre site has been hand built by the team, who planted more than 5000 tree-sized wooden posts and built a lookout tower, longhouse, cabins and workshops using traditional medieval construction skills, such as wooden dowels and pegs.
When it opens for business Duncarron will welcome visitors, educational groups and community groups to get a hands on experience of 12th century medieval life in Scotland.
Attractions include a prop-used battering ram from the Ridley Scott blockbuster Robin Hood, as donated by Russell Crowe from the set of the film, a working trebuchet catapult donated by the crew of Netflix’s Outlaw King, and an incredible collection of authentic replica weapons, costumes and equipment.
Duncarron will launch on May 18/19 with a celebratory opening weekend featuring a series of appearances and performances by an international community of indigenous peoples from all over the world, including Aztecs from Mexico, Maoris from New Zealand, Aborigines from Australia, Cree communities of Canada, Italians of the Bergamasc regions and groups from Germany and Poland.
Clanranald Trust founder Charlie Allan from Cumbernauld set up the charity in 1996 as a response to what he felt was a lack of Scots history being taught in school.
He dreamed of creating a visitor and education centre that could help bridge that gap and get young people interested in Scottish history.
He then set up Combat International to further help fund the construction of Duncarron, providing expert advice and combat and stunt performance for high end TV and big budget films.
Charlie and the team have played key parts on screen in films and TV shows such as Gladiator, Robin Hood, King Arthur, Valhalla Rising, The Eagle of the Ninth, Thor: The Dark World, Transformers; The Last Knight, Outlander, Norseman and Outlaw King.
Charlie said: “I’ve had a dream of creating a historical experience for more than 20 years. In school, we were never properly taught our own culture and the history of the Celts, known as Picts, was never touched upon.
“But it wasn’t until I later travelled around the world that I realised almost every other country did teach their own native culture and I was inspired to do something.
“Old friends thought I was just being a dreamer but it’s great that these same old friends will be attending the opening to support the project now.
“It has taken a little longer than I’d ever anticipated. We’ve had no funding from the Government or the Lottery, but we decided to do this ourselves and it’s been worth it because so many people have all come together as we worked on it.
“It is amazing to see the village finally coming to life, and with an ongoing purpose now.
“I can’t wait to open the doors. I’m really excited at the response from schools. Some are coming from as far as Inverness for the experience which is incredible.”
Duncarron has been backed by Hollywood star Russell Crowe, who worked with Charlie and Combat International on Gladiator, Robin Hood and The Water Diviner.
While on Robin Hood he personally arranged for the battering ram to be donated to Duncarron. Russell visited the site under construction in 2011 and one of the buildings is named ‘Crowe Tower’ in his honour.
Charlie said: “Russell has always been a good friend of the Trust and has at times given great help and advice.
“While on film sets he’d often invite me and one or two of the lads back to his camp for a barbecue on the beach in Wales during Robin Hood.
“He really is one of the most generous guys you could know. Russell secured for us the battering ram, Rosie, from the set of Robin Hood, and paid for its transportation up to Scotland.
“We renamed the watch tower, which looks over the ram, as Crowe Tower, in gratitude and respect of a friend and supporter.”
Russell, who won an Oscar for Gladiator, added: “I’ve known Charlie a long time now, since 184AD in the border forests of Germania.
“It has been incredible to watch the growth of Duncarron over time. To see this vision come to life, and the extraordinary effort of all involved, it’s a monumental achievement.
“To honour the event and those who’s efforts have brought Duncarron to life, I’ve requested some Maori warriors to attend, represent NZ and make those walls ring with a thundering Haka in respect of Scottish culture and heritage.
”In my family I have three direct Scottish connections – Wemyss, Fraser and Cunningham – painters, photographers, sheep farmers and scientists.
“I have a great deal of respect for the relentless effort a dream like this takes to be realised.”