Some of the interesting finds on the beach at Portmahomack, among the common British seashells like whelks, oysters, razor shells, mussels and small periwinkles, were cinders and blackened animal bones. It is probably just a coincidence, but I wondered if these might have any connection the activities of the local monks who occupied a site near to the shore in the early medieval period and specialised in making vellum for manuscripts. Vellum was made from calf skins. Excavations have discovered burnt bones as waste products from this process. You can find out more about this at the Tarbat Discovery Centre.