Source: The Scotsman
May 30, 2011
Charlie Allan in his role as a Barbarian chief in Gladiator
Gladiator star Russell Crowe checks out his Scottish roots - and a medieval fort
By Susan Smith
Hollywood star Russell Crowe is making his first trip to Scotland this Sunday - to get a glimpse of what the country was like in the middle ages. The Oscar-winning star of Gladiator will visit Duncarron Fort in Stirlingshire where history enthusiasts are building a painstaking recreation of a medieval Scottish fort and village.
The project, which will cost around £1 million to complete, has been underaken by the Clanranald Trust, a volunteer group set up to promote Scottish history.
Announcing his visit on Twitter, Crowe said: "On June 5 I'll be at Duncarron to view the Clanranald Trust Medieval Fort. Scottish heritage in my family, first time in Scotland, special."
The star has been a long-term supporter of the project, and earlier this month used Twitter to highlight it to his 200,000 followers as well as tweeting First Minister Alex Salmond urging him to show support for it.
On 14 May, he tweeted: "How many folk on here from Scotland? Just saw some awesome photographs of the Clanranald Trust Duncarron project."
Last year Crowe also helped raise awareness of the trust after he persuaded Universal Pictures to donate a £60,000 battling ram from the Ridley Scott film Robin Hood, in which Crowe starred, and paid for it to be transported from Pinewood Studios to Scotland.
Charlie Allan, who runs the Clanranald Trust, met Crowe on the set of Gladiator, where the pair met during the filming of a battle scene.
Speaking from Germany, where the Clanranald Trust's pipe and drum band Saor Patrol were performing this weekend, Mr Allan said: "He's basically coming to see me but he wants to see the fort too and consider whether it could be used for films. I'll show him around and he'll meet some of the volunteers and see what progress we've made."
The trust is now recognised as a world leader in battle re-enactment, and its volunteers have featured in films such as Gladiator, King Arthur, Robin Hood, and, most recently, Kevin Macdonald's The Eagle.
Mr. Allan appeared as the chief of the Barbarian hordes in the opening scene of Gladiator. He and Crowe bonded over their mutual love of Harley Davidson motor bikes and have stayed in touch ever since.
"When we arrived on the set, he galloped across the beach to meet the crew," said Mr Allan. "We spent a lot of time together over the next few weeks. There was a lot of singing and music on that set."
Mr Allan says the actor is a genuine and generous supporter of the trust."He's a really nice guy," he added. "We'll be getting together and doing the usual, having a few beers and going out for some nice food. We talk about Harleys and music and tell funny stories - he's got some crackers."
The Clanranald Trust started work on the fort in 2008 and since then the 50 regular volunteers have created earthworks, a palisade, paths and an office. They are about to start work on the first of four long-houses, which, along with four roundhouses, a tower and a smithy, will make up the village.
History brought to life More than 15 years ago a group of history buffs decided they wanted to build a living museum without glass display cabinets that would allow Scots to interact with their history.
Now Duncarron fortified village in the Carron Valley is set to do just that.
The group have consulted archaeologists, historians and architects and have created a new career for themselves as specialists film and television extras in a bid to fund the project. The building work is being done by volunteers and offenders on community service.
Russell Crowe gave the group a £60,000 battering ram from his film Robin Hood.