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Russell Crowe returns to ‘medieval’ Scottish roots

HE made his name playing period roles such as Robin Hood and gladiator Maximus but yesterday Hollywood actor Russell Crowe evoked the spirit of a Scots clan chief as he climbed to the summit of a medieval fortified village to pose for pictures and revealed his Scots lineage.

Standing atop the mound of the Duncarron village and gazing down the Carron Valley, the New-Zealand born actor appeared pleased with all he surveyed, admitting the surrounding sheep-filled fields reminded him of his birthplace.

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Dressed casually, he told The Herald: "I’m glad to be here. It’s a beautiful place, gorgeous countryside. Because I have a farm, I always look at the farmland and I’m just incredibly jealous of the grass you have here. I’m sure my Angus cattle at home would be much happier if they got to eat this grass." The Oscar-winning actor made a special visit to Scotland to see the replica medieval village which is being painstakingly constructed by the Clanranald Trust for Scotland after hearing about it from chief executive Charlie Allen. The pair met during the filming of Gladiator when Crowe quizzed Allen about the Harley Davison T-shirt he was wearing and they discovered a mutual love of motorbikes and have been good friends since. In what was a relaxed low-key visit, Crowe chatted with volunteers before making the short hike to the village site which is enclosed by a palisade made from 4200 larchwood logs. The village, which opens to the public next summer but holds an open weekend on July 16 and 17, will be both a visitor attraction and an education centre. "I think the most important aspect of this though is the educational aspect of it," said Crowe, who has two young sons. "Bringing kids into an environment where they are actually standing in living history [means] they get to see something as it really was, as opposed to a photograph of something behind a glass display cabinet." Props will include the battering ram which featured in the film Robin Hood, which Crowe arranged to be donated to the project and is currently stored at a secret location nearby. The final plans also include two 50-metre long-houses and two gatehouses, and the village will be brought to life with costumed cooks and blacksmiths and other artisans. Mr Allen, who runs Combat International which provides actors for period productions, plans to stage fight re-enactments at the site. "When the kids come in along the path they’ll have men with swords yelling things at them. Can you imagine being 10 years old? Whoa, that’s gonna be exciting," added Crowe. The visit is particularly special as Crowe has only recently had his Scottish heritage confirmed. He had always believed his mother’s family --whose surname is Wemyss -- had Scottish roots but as a Christmas present last year, Mr Allen hired a genealogist who was able to confirm this by tracing back several generations to the east coast of Scotland. "I’ve always been proud of my Scottish ancestry," said Crowe. Mr Allen said he was delighted his friend had made the journey to Duncarron. "It’s a proud day. Russell is so busy, he does so much and for him to take the time out to come and visit, you couldn’t ask for better. We really appreciate it." Once open, Mr Allen hopes the replica village will be used by community and theatre groups as well as professional film production companies. "We’ve had interest from a few production companies in the UK and the role-play groups are also interested in using it as a location for one of their events." Asked if he would be interesting in being involved in any film projects at the site, Crowe said: "This fort, which I’ve been hearing about for years and seen photographs of as it’s built up, is just ready-made [for film]. You just have to find the story to tell.

"I’ve sort-of outlined to him a couple of ideas which have come to my mind already, since I’ve been here. It’s an impressive place and I’ve got a visual imagination so when he tells me what is going to go in various places I can see it.

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