Work has begun on a new £2.5million heritage centre in Royal Deeside this week, but more than half the funds are still needed before completion.
In June, planning permission was granted for a Highland games centre at Braemar – the first purpose built attraction of its kind.
Incorporating a gallery, exhibition hall, cafe and gift shop, the centre will tell the story of royal links to the village and of the early beginnings of Highland games across Scotland.
President of Braemar Royal Highland Society David Geddes helped staff from building contractor Gordon Mitchell start with the ground clearing in the Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park.
It is hoped that the facility will be completed in time for next year’s Gathering on September 1.
And Mr Geddes appealed to fans of highland games to get behind the project and plug the £1.5million gap in funding.
Significant backing has already been secured in the form of £250,000 from the Duke of Rothesay’s Dumfries House Trust and £500,000 from local hotelier Iwan Wirth.
Mr Geddes expressed delight at the news a further £250,000 had also been committed from the Braemar Royal charity, meaning that there is a £1.5million shortfall in the project total.
“Following years of planning, the ambitions of the Braemar Royal Highland Charity are coming to fruition with our visitor centre,” he said.
“I feel this will help the future of the sport and to preserve Highland traditions, making the history of the games more accessible to the public, and providing an archive and exhibition for the 200-year history of our society and its links with the Gathering.”
He added: “With this great start, we do hope that others will join HRH in making this project possible and help us achieve the £1.5million still needed. “
The new structure will be situated near the entrance to the park.
The Prince’s Foundation of Building Community is responsible for the design of the new centre, which has been influenced by local architecture.
Donations can be made via the website: www.braemargathering.org