Highlands & Islands

Rock and purl: Five unusual things about Belladrum

The Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival opens later this week.

Held at Beauly's Belladrum Estate, in the Highlands near Inverness, almost 17,000 people are expected to attend over the event's two days of Friday and Saturday.

The acts performing will include Sir Tom Jones, Razorlight, Billy Bragg, Reef and Frightened Rabbit.

While set lists, loud music and drinks in plastic cups are festival staples, what about knitting needles, a metal detector, personal ads, hot coals and stunt bikes?

1. Lonely hearts club

Image copyright Paul Campbell

Tickets for the 11th Bella sold out a record five months before the event.

And some of those going are also looking for love, according to the festival's organisers.

This year, for the first time, Bella is offering a free service publishing small personal ads in a new Festival Lovers column in the event's souvenir programme.

Couples have previously met at the festival and even got married in the Belladrum Temple during the festivities.

2. Craft work

Image copyright Thinkstock

In the walled garden of the Belladrum Estate there will be a tent where festival-goers can knit hats, ear warmers and floral brooches.

Other activities will include headband-making, crochet and sugar paste modelling.

3. Walk in fire

Image copyright PAul campbell

In the countdown to the festival, people are being invited to sign up for the fundraising Belladrum Celtic Firewalk.

This year's walk is in aid of The Archie Foundation Raigmore Children's Ward Appeal and Tir na nOg Holistic Centre, near Glasgow.

4. Manic street bikers

Image copyright Handout

Drop and Roll, a new bike show formed by professional street trials riders Danny MacAskill, from Skye, and Duncan Shaw, of Inverness, will make its first ever UK festival appearance at Bella.

MacAskill said: "After doing shows out on the continent with the team it is going to be amazing to come and do a show a lot closer to home. I am sure the Bella crowds are going to be great."

Shaw added: "It has been hard work getting the whole team together and the show ready over the past six months but now it's all set up the fun can start."

5. Heavy metal

Image copyright Thinkstock

A metal detector is a key tool during the clean up of the festival's camp site, a field that at other times is used for growing hay or grazing livestock, after everyone has left.

The device is used for finding discarded tent pegs.

But in 2012, the festival's Eric Soane picked up something very different with the detector - part of a Roman coin hoard.

A dig led by archaeologist Dr Fraser Hunter went on to uncover the rest of what was the first Roman coin hoard to be discovered in the Beauly area.

Some of the 36 denarii date from the mid-Second Century.

Festival promoter Joe Gibbs said at the time: "Left-behind tent pegs can be dangerous to stock and can damage machinery.

"We like to get rid of as many as possible. But it was an unexpected bonus to find the coins."

He added: "Heavy metal isn't generally a genre we go in for at Belladrum, but perhaps we should revise that as clearly there is a precedent, albeit 2,000 years ago."

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