In past times easy access from the sea has meant that Ardnamurchan and Morvern, though considered remote today, have been continuously peopled since the first settlers arrived in the bronze age.
Throughout this time local people have valued the extensive native woodlands of the area. The survival to this day of many of these woodlands, now widely recognized for their conservation and scenic values is a testament to their careful management over the generations.
Management methods and objectives changed over the centuries, but the forests never ceased to be important to people. During the peak of intensive management in the 18th and 19th centuries, when charcoal and tanbark was produced from the oakwoods, a local population significantly higher than it is today was supported.
The evidence from this and other periods of management, in the form of woodland archaeology such as charcoal platforms, pony tracks, enclosure dikes, and old pollard trees amongst others can still be found in the woods and have been meticulously surveyed and cataloged by local volunteers of the Sunart Oakwoods Research Group.
For most of the last 1500 years, the local culture was predominantly Gaelic. Nature has always had a central place in the lives of Gaels, and its importance is highlighted through the many references to the natural world in song and poetry down the ages. The works of Alasdair MacMhaigstir Alasdair, an 18th-century poet born and brought up at Dalilea on Loch Shiel, are a well-known illustration of this. ‘Green consciousness’ is thus nothing new to the Gael!
In common with much of the Highlands, the fortunes of Gaelic waned during the 20th century in the face of the dramatic changes of the period. Now, however, there is renewed interest locally in the importance and value of the language and traditional culture. This is manifested in a thriving Gaelic medium section at Acharacle Primary School and a successful local Feis involving scores of local youngsters in traditional music.