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Distributed with The Times Scotland 18 January 2017
2017â€Ś the Year of
History, Heritage and Archaeology
history heritage & Archaeology
2017… the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
18 January 2017
Fiona Hyslop with schoolchildren at the lauch of the Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology at Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh
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Heritage underpins our tourism offering – let’s make the most of it The Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology will bring Scotland’s stories alive By Fiona Hyslop Ask anyone in the world what springs to mind when they think of Scotland, and our history and heritage will feature highly. With an estimated 50 million people claiming Scottish ancestry, more often than not the past comes to mind as they reflect on their ancestral home. 2017 is the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. We are extremely fortunate to have such fascinating and inspiring history and heritage, which brings the stories and spirit of Scotland alive. This year brings us significant anniversaries and events. Edinburgh will celebrate its 70th anniversary as the world’s leading festival city in 2017. First held in 1947 in the aftermath of the Second World War, the Festival has provided a strong and lasting platform for international creative collaboration. Today all our festivals, and their strong value of internationalism, continue to reinforce the richness of migration and our shared histories. Edinburgh Georgian Shadows (February to March) will mark the 250th anniversary of the New Town Plan, where six of the most historically significant buildings will be bathed in light each evening to draw attention to their distinct architectural features.
Coupled with Edinburgh’s Old Town, the centre of our capital enjoys the prestigious designation of UNESCO World Heritage status. Staying with World Heritage, this
year will also mark the completion and opening of what will be the third major bridge over the Forth in three centuries – the Queensferry Crossing. This has been the biggest transport infrastructure project in Scotland for a generation and is a vital project to our economy. This latest bridge will continue to make the Firth of Forth a unique part of our historic environment – with the original – the Forth Bridge – having recently been inscribed as Scotland’s sixth World Heritage Site. On World Heritage Day (18 April), we will celebrate our six iconic sites World Heritage Sites with six events from dawn to dusk. Full details are yet to emerge, but I can tell you the day will involve a Great Roman Bake Off. Later in the year, a spectacular sound and light projection will illuminate New Lanark World Heritage Site. Edinburgh’s Tradfest in Spring will enable people to experience some of the less tangible aspects of our heritage – our diverse myths and stories, music and traditional crafts. The Festival of Weaving is confirmed in Paisley in July, and Purvai – a celebration of the history between Scotland and India – in An Lanntair in August. September brings us Mary Queen of Scots Festival at Kinross and Loch Leven, a Vikings festival in the Shetlands, and HorsePower – a celebration of our relationship with and reliance on the
horse – not surprisingly taking place at Falkirk’s Helix Park, home of the magnificent Kelpies. Our heritage, history, archaeology and culture are key attractions and underpin the experience which our tourists seek out. I now have the added responsibility of Tourism in my Government role as Cabinet Secretary and I am determined that we make the most of the connection. My first visit as Tourism Secretary was to Almond Valley Heritage Centre where Scotland’s fascinating story of industrial archaeology and the role of the West Lothian shale miners is told.
“We know through evidence from VisitScotland and other research that our history, heritage and archaeology are major drivers for the tourism industry”
The Scottish Shale Oil Museum holds all kinds of items related to the shale oil industry – from large machinery to documents – while the Five Sisters ‘bing’, which forms a prominent landmark, is rightly protected as a nationally important site. Few people are aware that Scotland was home to the first commercial oil refinery. We know through evidence from VisitScotland and other research that our history, heritage and archaeology are major drivers for the tourism industry – with 32% of visitors citing ‘history and culture’ as a key motivator for their trip – second only to ‘scenery and landscape’ at 49%. This themed year presents a great opportunity for us to build on this performance. Our themed years are delivering – each year provides a fresh impetus, a new focus, and galvanises our 200,000-strong tourism workforce to work across boundaries and create a strong collaborative platform to promote Scotland and its people. Our heritage and archaeology capture the imagination of millions – many of whom travel thousands of miles to experience our rich heritage and trace their ancestral roots. Physical evidence of our history goes back through millennia – from surviving Neolithic tombs and homes and enigmatic carved stones, to medieval castles, renaissance palaces and some of the finest surviving Georgian urban-planning in the world. We have great stories to tell – let’s celebrate them in 2017. Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs
18 January 2017
history heritage & Archaeology
Hacked up pieces of silver are helping to unravel the story of early medieval Scotland They will feature in Scotland’s Early Silver exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland this autumn By Alice Blackwell The 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology will see an innovative and award-winning partnership between the commercial and cultural sectors celebrate its ninth year. The Glenmorangie Research project is based at National Museums Scotland and investigates the archaeology of early medieval Scotland (AD300–800). Since 2008 I have been privileged to be the researcher on this project, a dream job that allows me to get up close to some of Scotland’s most iconic objects, helping National Museums Scotland investigate its collections and communicate their stories to people. What you might think of as the Dark Ages has produced rich archaeological evidence, including some of the most sophisticated and technically advanced pieces of art made anywhere in Europe at this time. This is the period that saw the emergence of the first recognisable kingdoms within Scotland, the kingdoms of the Picts, the Gaels, the Britons and the Anglo-Saxons. What happened between AD300–800 laid foundations on which the first medieval kingdom of Scotland was built. Since the project’s inception we have found hidden meaning in intricately decorated brooches and massive early Christian stone monuments, and rediscovered craft technologies and a lost silver hoard. In early medieval Scotland people used silver to show their power and
wealth. Why silver rather than gold? Where did it come from? And how did this precious metal influence geopolitical developments of the day? These are the questions that our current research is tackling and our findings, alongside an amazing collection of silver objects, will be showcased in Scotland’s early silver, a free special exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh from October 13. Silver was introduced to Scotland by the Roman Empire. With little evidence for the early medieval exploitation of Scotland’s silver resources, it seems that this Roman silver provided the raw material for the next 400 years, until the arrival of new metal supplies with the Vikings. From the later 2nd century AD coins were used by Rome to buy off threats and gather allies – excavated examples help us plot changing Roman frontier policy. These coins were not used as currency, nor melted down for their bullion value, but were clearly symbols of social status and power amongst local communities, used to flaunt connections or buried as sacrifices to the gods. The supply of Roman coins created a local desire for silver, and it rapidly became the main material of power and prestige amongst the inhabitants of Scotland, a role it maintained for the rest of the first millennium AD. By the 5th century AD there was an im-
portant change in local attitudes towards Roman silver: it began to be seen as bullion, raw material that could be recycled and remade. The substantial Traprain Law treasure, around 22kg of Roman silver buried at a major Iron Age hillfort in East Lothian, gives an idea of the amount of this precious metal that was available. Most of this treasure had been hacked up: plates were neatly quartered,
Alice Blackwell with some of the collection at NMS
composite objects taken to pieces, small pieces of silver folded into parcels. Since its discovery almost a hundred years ago, our understanding of the Traprain treasure has changed. In the past hacking was blamed on vandalism by uncultured barbarians; now we recognise that this hacking was done within the empire, as silver was transformed into bullion for payments and bribes. But with the crumbling of the western Roman Empire, supply routes for many materials – including silver – dried up. In Scotland and across northern Europe, people had to manage dwindling sources of precious metals. This takes us into the murky but pivotal 5th and 6th centuries AD. It has been hard to pin down archaeological evidence from this period, between the end of Roman influence in Iron Age Scotland to the emergence of early medieval kingdoms. But our research on silver is providing a new and exciting stream of evidence. For the first time we can see how these limited silver supplies were man-
aged. Thanks to revisiting old finds and identifying new ones we have 270 objects and fragments from two hoards: from Norrie’s Law in Fife and Gaulcross in Aberdeenshire. These two hoards from about 130 miles apart are closely related, interesting in itself, and contain many rare or unique types of local silver objects. They demonstrate the amount of recycling that must have happened – as archaeologists we have lost whole types of objects to the silversmith’s crucible. The importance of this research on early medieval silver has recently been recognised by one of the UK’s public research funding bodies, the Arts and Humanities Research Council. They have awarded us funding to create an international network of scholars working on the topic to situate the story of silver in Scotland within its broader European context. This research will compare the picture from Scotland with elsewhere along and beyond the old Roman frontier.
The silver hoards from Traprain Law, Fife and Aberdeenshire will be at the heart of the Scotland’s Early Silver exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland this autumn. They will be accompanied by a range of other stunning objects – the early medieval treasures that were the fruits of recycled hacksilver hoards. Powerful objects like massive silver chains, the largest made from around 3kg of solid silver, and richly decorated brooches show the visual language of power in Scotland from the 5th–8th centuries AD. They often steal the show, but the hacksilver hoards tell the real story, built on detective work from tantilising fragments. Thanks to support by The Glenmorangie Company and their funding of a research post we are building a much stronger picture of the emergence of early medieval Scotland and the particular and spectacular role that silver played in its creation. Alice Blackwell, Glenmorangie Research Fellow, National Museums Scotland
Public will be invited to name their ‘best-kept secrets’ By Kevin O’Sullivan Members of the public will get a chance to vote for archaeological ‘bestkept secrets’ as part of plans to engage people in their local heritage sites. Scotland has six officially designated World Heritage Sites which will be celebrated on World Heritage Day on April 18, in an event called ‘Scotland in Six’. But there are plans afoot to launch a campaign the following day when local
authorities and community groups will nominate a site of their own. Each of the 32 council areas across the country will get the chance to pick one site of historic or archaeological interest and a public vote will run until the end of July. Following that process a winning list of six ‘alternative’ sites will be chosen and events held at them to coincide with Scottish Archaeology Month in September. Dr Jeff Sanders is Project Manager at Dig It! 2017, an archaeology public
engagement programme, coordinated by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Archaeology Scotland for the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017. “We’re basically saying we’ve got six amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites but hopefully we can get the public engaged in a campaign to promote the best kept secrets in their area. Of course we have these amazing, worldfamous sites but let’s stay and explore some of the hidden gems as well.”
Scotland’s six World Heritage sites are the Roman Antonine Wall running across central Scotland, Neolithic Orkney, New Lanark, the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh and the islands of St Kilda. Celebrations on St Kilda - because of its remoteness - will be complemented by the use of technology, with a series of events running in the Western Isles using virtual reality and the popular gaming platform Minecraft. Sanders says technology is really
helping archaeologists bring ancient sites to life. “Minecraft in particular is a brilliant way of accessing things, because it’s relatively cheap - you buy it once and you never have to pay for updates - and with virtual reality too that is a technology that is becoming much more readily available through phones and Google Cardboard. “A lot more people will be figuring out how they can get information and stories about the past out there.”
history heritage & Archaeology
18 January 2017
Scottish archive collections to be captured in a single online resource More than 70 private and public collections will be catalogued as part of a four-year project By Kevin O’Sullivan An ambitious project is set to capture Scotland’s historic archive collections in a single online resource for the first time. The Scottish Council on Archives, in collaboration with The Scottish Archives Network and National Records Scotland, will begin scoping work in the next year on the enormous task of collecting together detailed information from over 70 archives across the country. The work, which will be gathered together as a vast digital resource, will feature detailed descriptions of what the archives contain and the facility for ordinary members of the public to add their own supplementary information
to both national and local records. Such material combines resources from a vast array of public and private sources. It includes records held by health boards, universities, local authorities, businesses, churches as well as archives held in some of the most important private collections in Britain. “This is taking Scotland’s archives a big step forward,” says Dr Irene O’Brien, Chair of the Scottish Council on Archives and Glasgow City Archivist, who is helping to coordinate the project, which will take up to four years to complete. “What we have now is a summary of the collections but this will give us detail down to individual items. It’s a huge project that will open up Scotland’s archives.” She adds: “But it’s also to be much more than that. There will be a website that provides all sorts of different learning and access possibilities. Community participation will allow citizens to add details of what they know, because very often local people know a
lot about their area, thus adding value to a catalogue description. So it’s about making information available digitally but also about making it accessible in a participatory way.” The Scottish Council on Archives will be working to secure external funding to take the project forward over the coming year. O’Brien sees VisitScotland’s Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology as the perfect opportunity to drive home the importance of archive records. “This year has got archives written all over it - it’s the raw data of all our history,” she explains. “We will be encouraging the whole sector to take advantage of it, because it’s a big opportunity for us to promote the archives and it’s important for Scotland’s heritage and history.”
O’Brien says another big focus of the year will be on digital preservation - making sure existing and current records being created survive for future generations to enjoy. Part of her organisation’s remit extends to making sure people are equipped with the right skills to ensure that happens. “Most people now create a record digitally and it’s making sure they are captured so that those stories from the 21st century survive as well as those that did from 15th century,” she adds. Another key driver will be ancestral tourism: as a result of the upsurge in popularity of genealogy - in part due to BBC shows like Who Do You Think You Are?, international visitors are increasingly coming to the country to research their family trees. She says: “It’s is a huge area of development because we know a lot
Photo of family from North Shawbost, Lewis, c.1905, from Dr Norman Morrison archive. Courtesy of CEATS-Siabost, the West Side Historical Society, Lewis and Tasglann nan Eilean.
of people - particularly from North America, Australia, New Zealand, and from England and Ireland - want to come to Scotland to trace their ancestors. Notwithstanding putting these catalogues online, very often people want to come and visit and see what was actually kept in the archives - they actually want to be there and experience it.” To find out more about Scotland’s archives and events taking place throughout the year, follow us on @Scotsarchives or visit www. scottisharchives.org.uk
Study will map out activities of hobbyist metal detectorists in Scotland Research aims to forge better links between amateur relic finders and archaeologists By Kevin O’Sullivan A research project mapping the extent of metal detecting in Scotland is due to be published as part of efforts to forge closer links between archaeologists and amateur relic hunters. ‘Hobbyist Metal Detecting’ has been commissioned by Treasure Trove Unit and Historic Environment Scotland and aims to ‘encourage engagement with the metal detecting community and ensure they can contribute positively to our knowledge of Scotland’s past’. The Treasure Trove Unit (TTU) is a specialist division whose authority in Scotland is vested in the Queen and Lord Treasurers’ Remembrancer (QLTR), which ultimately reports to the Crown Office. In practice, the unit has an office at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and handles all objects of
archaeological significance found by members of the public. Dr Natasha Ferguson, Unit Officer, says there has been a hundred per cent increase in reporting to Treasure Trove in the last five years, thanks in large part to the outreach work it does with the public. Last year 1,060 artefacts were reported to TTU, from which 199 cases (objects allocated to a museum) were claimed as Treasure Trove. Ferguson points out that those cases may include multiple items such as coin hoards containing, for example, 47 individual coins. So the true figure of what goes to museums ended up being around 500 individual items. The data showed there were 179 individual finders and from that 93.5% were hobbyist metal detectorists. Other finders from the general public include farmers, construction works, walkers and gardeners. “We have a good relationship with the public and metal detectorists and we have a good system of people reporting; there are maybe around 500 metal detectorists in Scotland and that’s compared to around 20,000 in England and Wales,” says Dr Ferguson.
“It’s a very small community who I think have a very good understanding of what they need to do. And from the research we’ve done with Historic Environment Scotland, they see it almost as a natural part of the process, to report.”
A First World War propaganda medal, a bronze age arrow head and a gold Roman coin are all examples of recent finds handed in to the Treasure Trove Unit
However, there are caveats and whilst Dr Ferguson is careful not to criticise the work of metal detectorists, she says it can be “problematic”. “It is a recreational activity and although it has a real positive contribution, it can be a little bit problematic because it’s a recreational activity interacting with the archaeological record,” she says. “Archaeologists spend years and years working and have a research framework, and it’s all about gathering data in a very technical way so they can understand it whereas with members of the public you have people who are just finding things, especially with metal detectorists where they’re deliberately going out to find objects.” She says: “We have to make sure that they are aware of what they need to do, the recording context, record the find spot; the kind of information
we would need from them so that this information is viable archaeological data: you can have the object but if you don’t know where it’s from, it’s meaningless.” There are also finders’ fees for artefacts deemed of value to the national record. In 2013/14 total awards amounted to £50,070 with individual payments ranging from £10 to £5,500. Unlike in England where objects must contain 10% precious metal to be considered ‘treasure’, any objects in Scotland can be treated as such if they are of archaeological significance. Dr Ferguson mentions an item recently handed in, a bronze First World War propaganda medal, which would have been sold off to fund the war effort, would not have been classified as treasure in England, but under the Scottish system it has been handled differently and has been allocated to the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. She adds: “It’s a 20th century object, made of bronze, but the cultural significance of what that actually says about that time, in 1914, the cultural connotations are really important. So we felt that had archaeological significance despite the age and material.”
18 January 2017
history heritage & Archaeology
The Bank of Scotland was founded by an Act of the Scottish Parliament on 17th July 1695. It is Scotland’s first and oldest bank, and post-dates the Bank of England by just one year. Images courtesy of
Lloyds Banking group; photograph by Antonia Reeve
The Museum on the Mound: a bankable experience for Scottish financial history Through banking, the museum offers a rich insight into Scotland’s social and political story By Kevin O’Sullivan On paper, bank notes to be precise, Scottish financial history is not something likely to get most history buffs out of bed in a hurry. It’s perhaps why Edinburgh’s Museum on the Mound, nestled within the depths of the Bank of Scotland’s headquarters, entices passers-by with the prospect of viewing a ‘million pounds’. It is indeed an impressive display, encased in glass, a cool million, albeit in cancelled and therefore worthless notes. But when I get talking to Doug MacBeath, the museum’s curator, it’s clear that the exhibits - amassed by the Bank of Scotland since its founding (by Englishman John Holland in 1695) - tell a much richer story of Scotland’s social and political history. Holland’s own original contract of employment is one of the records on display, and which states he was entitled to ‘one tenth of the bank’s profits’. By any measure that would be a banker’s bonus-and-a-half, although my inquiries into what successive Governors were paid, (think of it as being a proto ‘Fred the Shred’ scoop, even though he was RBS), prove to be unfruitful. I am, however, indebted to bank archivist Hania Smerecka for indulging several requests, more of which later. MacBeath takes me on a whistlestop tour of the exhibits, and there is no shortage of interesting material.
There are documents highlighting the bitter rivalry with the Royal Bank of Scotland, and others charting the rise of other provincial banks in Scotland, which at one time numbered 38, and which by and large printed their own bank notes. When people ask MacBeath why Scotland still has its own bank notes, he says the more appropriate question should be why did England stop? If only you could convey that sentiment in a conversation with a London cab driver. At any rate, by 1810 Scotland had more banks per head of the population than anywhere else in Europe, owing in some part to the fact people didn’t travel much and needed a bank that served them, and partly because so much trade with the Americas was based on the west coast of Scotland. One of the most eye-catching
artefacts among many on display is a gigantic metal chest, called a ‘kist’. It is one of three exhibits that the museum is putting forward for inclusion in a tourist trail being developed by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group later this summer. The others are the Founding Act for the Bank of Scotland, and the building’s original plans. “When Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Highland army occupied Edinburgh the bank put all its valuables in this chest, the kist, and carried it up to the castle where it got locked away,” says MacBeath. “It contained all its money, its ledgers, everything of value. It’s very heavy, it takes six people to lift it empty - so you can imagine how difficult it was to load it onto a cart.” It is a fascinating insight into the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, but despite picturing the scene - of the bank’s valuables being rushed up to Edin-
burgh Castle, which managed to hold out against the 20,000-strong army - MacBeath says no evidence can be found that the bank was either for or against the insurrection. “There is a lot of speculation where people say the Bank of Scotland supported the Jacobites and the Royal Bank of Scotland supported the Hanoverians but there’s no evidence of that in the minutes,” he insists. “It could be that individuals within the bank supported one side or the other, but there is absolutely nothing in the surviving records or the board minutes saying that the Bank of Scotland was officially supporting the Jacobites, and even unofficially. If you were supporting somebody you wouldn’t close down your business and go and hide all your valuables when they came calling. I think it’s one of these things that it’s a good story but there’s absolutely no evidence we can find.” Following the visit, I speak with Hania at the bank’s archive centre at
“We’re not the only example of a specialist subject but when you scratch the surface it’s a very interesting specialist subject”
Bank of Scotland 12 pounds Scots, 16 Apr 1716.
Images courtesy of Lloyds Banking group; photograph by Antonia Reeve
Sighthill, which contains up to 10km of material. My quest to find what individual Governors were paid is anticlimactic, but Hania duly sends copies of a number of artefacts, some of which can no longer be held on permanent display because of their fragility. One is Scotland’s oldest surviving bank note, dated 16 April 1716. MacBeath tells me the Bank of Scotland was the first European commercial bank to issue paper notes in set denominations and that it survived because it was evidence in a forgery case. The paper note, for Twelve Pounds Scots (the equivalent to a pound sterling at the time), reads: “The Governor & Company of the Bank of Scotland constituted by Act of Parliament Do hereby oblige themselves to pay David Spence or the Bearer Twelve Pounds on demand.” Another artefact is a copy of
Sir Walter Scott’s life assurance policy from December 1824 with Scottish
Widows, for which the bank also holds archives. Sir Walter was 54 when he took out his policy and, according to his application, was in ‘a good state of health and not subject to any disease which tends to the shortening of life’. The years following, however, were not happy ones. In 1826 his wife Charlotte died. They had been together almost two decades. And that same year he suffered financial catastrophe. For MacBeath the year of History, Heritage & Archaeology has a “lot of potential” for museums like his - which opened in 2006 and gets around 50,000 visitors a year - to be promoted. “I think there’s an awful lot of heritage and history even in Edinburgh that gets overshadowed by the castle, and overshadowed by the National Museum, and Holyrood,” he says. “But there is so much more to offer - we’re not the only example of a specialist subject but when you scratch the surface it’s a very interesting specialist subject.”
history heritage & Archaeology
18 January 2017
A ‘splash of tartan’: the great clans gear up for a show-stopping romp through Scottish history Clansmen and women will take part in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in August By Kevin O’Sullivan For members of the great Scottish clans who marched up the Royal Mile in Edinburgh during The Gathering of 2009 it was a rousing, unforgettable moment. Some tartan-clad men and women - bearing the standards of their clans and families - even described it as one of the most memorable moments of their lives and that it helped breathe fresh life into an ancient fealty system whose societies and membership grass roots had waned over the course of previous decades. Although the larger Homecoming event of which the clan gathering was part came in for criticism over its finances, there was no doubt in the mind of Jamie Macnab, heir apparent and now Chief of the Macnab Clan - whose family burial ground in the village of Killin, Stirlingshire, is one of the most picturesque locations in Scotland - that the procession from the bottom of the Canongate to the Esplanade at Edinburgh Castle had been nothing short of a triumph. “It was absolutely phenomenal,” says Macnab. “I don’t think anyone who took part that weekend will ever forget it.” Macnab, a Director of Residential Sales for estate agents Savills, is hoping for a similar impact this year with a number of clan-themed events, backed by the Scottish Clan Event Fund, scheduled to take place around Scotland. He has personally taken up the role of Project Coordinator for a rolling series of clan parades to take place each night of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle in August.
He volunteered for the post after Brigadier David Allfrey, the show’s Chief Executive and Producer, approached the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs last August to garner support for his ‘Splash of Tartan’ theme - which will run throughout the annual event this year, and will also provide an important platform to promote ancestral tourism to international audiences. This is one of the reasons ministers were apparently keen Scottish clans had a prominent role during VisitScotland’s Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology. Whilst Macnab is clearly enthused by the initiative, he says the initial task of getting clan Chiefs signed up for the 25 performances was relatively straightforward, but getting enough people to follow in the retinues behind their Chiefs, is proving to be the difficult part. And he has only until March to get it sorted. “I had to get 25 Chiefs and I’m currently on 53. That’s two a night, and three on some other nights,” he says. “I’ve done the easy bit and got all the nights now filled but the next bit is making sure the Chiefs generate their own support; there’s a great disparity in that some clans have already got 90 or 100 people signed up to come, and other clans haven’t got around to inviting anyone.” For logistical and safety reasons, the retinues can only be up to 100 per clan; politically, Macnab also discovered that coupling certain clans together in a parade (because of their warring histories), required a sensitive hand. But the main challenge is to get enough “meaningful support” for the whole endeavour to succeed, especially from native Scots who perhaps have not taken part in a clan event before and see it all as a bit twee, a bit ‘tartan and shortbread’. Macnab says his one great aim for the year would be to try and reposition
the notion of clan heritage. He admits that it’s marketing manna from heaven (overseas visitors lap it up), but he would like to try and modernise the image of clans and make membership something people might seek out. “We have the best national brand, and it’s everywhere around the world,” he says. “I accept that it’s not for everyone, though, so I would like to modernise that, make it relevant and contribute to modern day Scotland, to business, to everything we’re talking about. “It’s a very personal thing for me. I’m in to this to have a more modern engagement with people in Scotland. You want people in Scotland to be aware that it’s accessible to them - it doesn’t have to be boring. If they go to a Highland Games why not go to one on home ground where they can wear their tartan and find lots of other people doing the same.” He adds: “My hope is that our involvement in the Tattoo will get some home-based engagement and Scots will don their tartan and go, ‘Right, I’m putting my kilt on and going on my clan night.’ I mean, I think this is the first time the Tattoo has ever done anything like this so hopefully it will generate some interest.” Macnab is nevertheless expecting much of the interest to come from overseas. Practically as we speak, the
“My hope is that our involvement in the Tattoo will get some homebased engagement and Scots will don their tartan and go, ‘Right, I’m putting my kilt on and going on my clan night.” Jamie Macnab, above
Convenor of the Standing Council, Sir Malcolm Macgregor, has been out in the US drumming up support with the likes of the American Scottish Foundation, which is an important business and civic link. The Scottish diaspora has travelled far and wide, and Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa have active clan societies. For his own part, Macnab has even discovered familial ties to Hawaii, and briefly the image of a tartan grass skirt is a cause for some mirth. But America is undoubtedly the biggest market for the clans, where there are very active societies, gatherings and annual Highland Games. Macnab tells me of groups of wealthy benefactors from the US who would even like to buy back his own clan’s former properties in and around Killin, a not inconsiderable investment. However, for him, the idea of clans is not about money. That may seem strange from a man whose job often sees him sell country estates to billionaire Russian and Chinese buyers, but he seems very rooted in the ancient principles of clan membership. “It might be a romantic, nonsensical view but to me kinship and friendship are more important than money. There are some incredibly wealthy clan members and also some incredibly poor clan members - so it shouldn’t really be a criterion. It’s more the commitment in time and involvement.”
18 January 2017 As VisitScotland research shows, history and heritage is the second most popular reason cited by tourists for visiting the country, after landscape and scenery, and those visitors are also likely to spend more. Ancestral tourism is now a large and growing business, fuelled by the explosion of online genealogy services, and also the likes of TV hit series Outlander - which has over a million devotees in the US. Whilst in the past, family tree research was limited to births, marriages and deaths certificates at local register offices, archives are now increasingly online and the advent of DNA paternal line genetic testing is coming down in cost. It is a route that Macnab himself has recently gone down, ably assisted by one of Scotland’s most foremost genealogists, Dr Bruce Durie. After taking a swab of his inside mouth he posted it off in a bottle to America for DNA testing, and was surprised by the results. “The Macnabs by tradition descended from Kenneth MacAlpin, the first unified King of Scotland after the Romans left, who had originally thought to have been a Dalriada Scot, a Scot who had come from Ireland. “But the first test I did I was told I was a Pict and not a Scot, which would mean they would have to rewrite history; it seems strange to me that spitting in a bottle could have such a profound effect.” However, Macnab admits he has been ‘warned off’ trying to put too much store in that particular theory, as you would need a much larger cohort of people to determine whether a bloodline was what it was originally thought to be. And he confides that it is entirely possible that an ‘accident of birth’ is more than possible covering a period of time which goes back to the 9th century. “I cannot take on academic
history heritage & Archaeology
The great Scottish clans will be on parade every night at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in August historians,” he says. “But it would be profoundly embarrassing having to rewrite it on account of me spitting into a bottle. You could find that DNA could prove anything, and you might not be who you think you are at all.” Dr Durie, who I later speak to, confirms that is indeed the case for many of the Siol of Alpin (the seed of MacAlpin), the seven clans who have for centuries associated themselves with MacAlpin, but for whom DNA testing has turned out to prove something they were not expecting. “The DNA thing is overturning a lot of origin myths, there’s no question,” he says. “And that’s a good thing - most people are embracing it. It’s authentic, it’s science. One or two people have
cut their wrists and jumped off a high building because it doesn’t fit with their preconceptions of who they are.” Dr Durie has carried out some ‘meta analysis’ of DNA results and has found that whilst many of the Siol Aplin do in fact correspond to what would be expected from the gene pool, one or two have not, and have registered their displeasure at finding this out. “I haven’t exactly had hate mail but I’ve had a few hard questions asked,” he says. Dr Durie concedes that the analysis he has done has not been academically published, but that he has been greatly involved with DNA testing relating to clans. He says also that scholarship by 19th century historians like William Forbes Skene, which
helped establish the Siol Alpin, was “inadequate”. But Durie insists the fact that Macnab turns out to be a Pict and not a Dalriada Scot is evidence that he is actually in keeping with the Siol Alpin line as MacAlpin is now recognised as a Pict. Whatever the story, the fact that DNA testing - for a couple of hundred pounds - is now more affordable than it has ever been, is leading many Scots to ask the question, ‘Who do they think they are?’ For information and to register for an allocation of clan tickets at A Splash of Tartan, at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, visit www.clanchiefs. org.uk
The Scottish Clan Event Fund is supporting nine more events throughout 2017 to the value of £37,800, including: l Clan Maclean International Gathering 2017 (20 - 25 June 2017) l Burnett Gathering (31 Jul - 5 Aug 2017) l Clan Hay ‘Tartan Ties’ (3 - 6 August) l Clan MacPherson Annual Gathering (4-7 August) l Stewart Highland Games (8 July) l Clan Carmichael International Gathering (21 - 26 August) l 2017 Elliot Gathering (24 - 27 August) l Clan MacThomas Gathering 2017 (23 28 August) l Clan Lamont Society Annual Gathering: ‘Hands Across the Seas’ (1 - 3 Sept 2017)
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18 January 2017
‘The Bar Hill fort in VR; the remnants of the actual construction are strategically located looking north over the Kelvin Valley to the Campsie Fells, to the north-east of Glasgow
How to experience what the Romans actually did for us Historic Environment Scotland is realising the potential of converting its Scottish Ten data into exciting new content platforms By Kevin O’Sullivan When a group of project workers set off in 2009 to digitally scan five of Scotland’s World Heritage sites, and five more from around the world – including the likes of Mount Rushmore and the Sydney Opera House – the technology content platforms to deliver the data they were collecting in novel and engaging ways simply did not exist in a format that would have made its dissemination commercially viable. Conservation scientists, surveyors, and archaeologists from Historic Environment Scotland spent the next five years 3D laser scanning and using stereo photogrammetry to record some of the world’s most recognisable historic sites. By good fortune, the gaming industry was at the same time developing immersive virtual reality technologies and the combined results have the potential to transform how we engage with our past. The Scottish Ten project, which involved Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation & Visualisation (both partners came together as the Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation) was a significant piece of Scottish Government-funded work and
deliberately designed to help Scotland project its influence on the world stage, by forging close ties with international colleagues at places like the 11th century Rani Ki Vav royal stepwell in India, and the Eastern Qing Tombs in China. But it is only now, with the advent of affordable virtual reality headsets and smartphones which can deliver that data to people’s fingertips in a range of different formats, that the work that was done can literally be brought to the masses after, in the words of Dr Lyn Wilson, who steered the project for HES, the technologies “caught up” with the data that was captured. “When we started the Scottish Ten the technology wasn’t there for us to disseminate any of this information that we had collected, so the best we could do with our data – unless you had really specialist software that cost a lot of money – was to create an animation or a still image of 3D data,” Dr Wilson explains. “But in the last 18 months, the arrival of affordable easy-to-prepare data for virtual reality headsets – and that’s really been through the explosion of gaming technologies and software platforms such as Unity and Unreal Gaming Engines – have let us put our 3D data from the laser scans into these gaming environments, which in turn has let us put them into the VR environments.” I cannot satisfy my curiosity about how these sites look in virtual reality without giving it a go. The next day I meet James Hepher at a squat, unprepossessing industrial unit in South Gyle on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
I’m not sure what to expect, but have an idea in my head that I would be led to some kind of experiential gaming suite, perhaps with some calming mood lighting. Instead James, a surveyor and spatial analyst at HES who travelled around the world to record the data at the sites, sits me down in the kitchen, where some of his colleagues are busy having lunch. Surrounded by kettle and food prep noise, James initialises a Samsung Gear VR headset and checks its vital signs. All good. He hands it over and suddenly I am transported to the courtyard of Stirling Castle. It must be an odd site for people lunching to see me wearing a pair of goggles, craning and tilting my head to look up to the Great Hall and the castle’s parapets, making what can only be described as gentle cooing noises. Next, I am transported to the Sydney Opera House, followed by Rani Ki Vav and then to the 5,000-year-old Mae-
‘Being immersed in this environment is exhilarating and the only regret is my blasé attitude to warnings about motion sickness’
showe Chambered Carin, which is part of Neolithic Orkney, one of Scotland’s very own World Heritage Sites. Maeshowe in VR is astonishing. With the use of a PlayStation controller I enter a narrow passageway and all of a sudden I am standing in a vast tomb, confronted with a series of options to read some of the inscriptions on the wall of the chamber, left by Vikings in the 12th century. Much of it is basically graffiti, the latter-day equivalent of ‘Olaf woz ere’, but the ability to see into this chamber – which in reality can only accommodate up to 20 visitors at one time – has huge potential for disabled visitors who would be unable to squeeze through the entrance, for which crawling is required. It also has an application for people who may suffer from claustrophobia and for cruise ship visitors, who can arrive in numbers of 500 a time. What I have been most looking forward to, though, is ‘visiting’ Bar Hill Fort, a Roman fortification whose foundations along the Antonine Wall – built from AD142 to 144 and which ran across Scotland for 37 miles (60km) from Bo’ness on the River Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde – have been meticulously reconstructed from all the available data captured by the project, and even feature the reimagining of some of the artefacts excavated from some sections of the wall. Being immersed in this environment is exhilarating and the only regret is my slightly blasé attitude to James’s warnings about motion sickness, telling him that my wife occasionally suffers from it (not me) if she tries to read in cars. I duly set off at such a
pace around this maze-like construction – unsuccessfully trying to enter a tent at one point – and descending and ascending gangways at a frenetic rate, delighting in seeing what a Roman encampment might have looked like, that I completely forget the warning. Within a few short minutes the headset is removed and I’m asking James for a glass of water. That’s the only downside of this experience, as far as I can see it, but Dr Wilson tells me that the latest VR platforms, such as the HTV Vive, come with in-built motion tracking, and so in time, once developers have harmonised visual processing with how the balance centre of the inner ear copes with the sensation, that feeling of nausea is likely to disappear altogether. As a newfound convert to VR, it’s a prospect that already has me enthralled and the hope for HES is only to add to what has been achieved through the Scottish Ten. The next step, Dr Wilson tells me, is to try and secure Heritage Lottery Funding to ensure HES realises its ambitions to turn these data sets into viable educational material for schools and community groups. As we speak she tells me of a headset that has winged its way to classrooms in Orkney. And in time she hopes that the Rae Project – a separate piece of work to 3D image all of HES’s 336 properties – will add yet more to the billions of data points already collected by the organisation. “Once we have the data the possibilities are endless in terms of what we can do with it,” she says.
18 January 2017
history heritage & Archaeology
Looking ahead to a historic year The man at the helm of Historic Environment Scotland is determined to make sure the next 12 months add up to a year to remember
are 60,000 jobs associated with the sector, and 14m visitors (of which 3.5m visit HES sites) flock to heritage sites each year. Heritage tourism is big business, with research showing that it’s the second biggest reason for visitors to come to Scotland just behind landscape and scenery. The organisation itself is only in its second year – resulting from the merger of Historic Scotland (HS) and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) – and employs around 1,200 permanent staff nationwide, an expanded talent pool of people which has inevitably led to a broader remit. Archaeologists, art historians and conservators work alongside traditionally skilled craftspeople such as stone masons and carpenters (for which HES supports apprenticeships), not to mention the many staff who work at the sites, or help to curate
and promote databases which contain millions of historical records, including photographs, paintings, documents, letters, and other artefacts. And that’s not counting the wider 17,000 volunteers who help conserve, protect and champion Scotland’s rightly cherished national history. Strategically, Paterson - who before his current role spent six years at the helm of Highlands & Islands Enterprise - is setting a number of objectives for the organisation to achieve during the course of 2017. Firstly, he sees the themed year as an opportunity to highlight the value and contribution of the sector and wants to maximise awareness of that; secondly, he wants to promote heritage directly to tourists; the third element is about engaging new audiences, particularly young people and the fourth priority is to create a legacy for the future. Of those objectives engagement is clearly key: the organisation would like to inspire existing audiences and reach new ones. Although the full programme of events and activities planned for the year will be unveiled over the upcoming weeks, Paterson is happy to give me a flavour of what’s in store. One of the interesting elements is the sub-theming of each month of the year; January is being promoted by HES as a month of ‘song, music and poetry’. The following months will also have their own themes - and will be promoted via social media -- as ‘classic castles’, ‘industrial heritage’,
‘archaeology’, ‘maritime’, ‘food’, and ‘war and conflict’. Paterson says an expanded, “bigger and better than ever events” programme for HES will take place over the summer, including signature events at Stirling Castle and Fort George, an 18th-century fortress near Ardersier, to the north-east of Inverness. One project which Paterson is particularly enthused about is the Engine Shed, Scotland’s building conservation hub, located in Stirling, which will open this year. Describing it as a place where the skills and expertise of the heritage sector can be showcased to the public, as well as where day-to-day work can be carried out by the scientists and craftspeople who do so much behind closed doors for HES, Paterson says it’s already a place that is exciting international interest. He says: “The Engine Shed will be a world-class facility for building conservation in Scotland, bringing together centuries old skills with cutting edge conservation science, and digital documentation work. This major project will allow people to explore Scotland’s built heritage, as well as the skills and materials which helped to create it. One of the things that I’m hoping to convey is: yes there are traditional skills, but at the other end we have got serious high-end technology in this sector. It’s an exciting sector, that is contributing in many different ways and there’s never been a better time to get involved or find out more.”
twenty-two of us have around 290,000 sites falling under our remit, with thousands more being added every year. Working with the commercial sector we try to add economic value to new developments through incorporating elements of the past. We ensure new information about our past is not lost forever. Our heritage is a finite resource, one which we try to manage sustainably. It is after all a vital part of our nation’s identity and economy. By identifying where work is required we are in the privileged position of seeing new discoveries from our past being uncovered first-hand. Last year alone our members generated over 1600 projects across Scotland. However, I am the first to admit that we are not always great at sharing those stories with you. This is why celebrations such as 2017’s ‘Year of
History, Heritage and Archaeology’ are so important. They provide an opportunity for everyone to learn about those stories, to celebrate our heritage. Therefore, ALGAO members will, throughout the year, be taking part in events across the country. Ranging from social media campaigns to guided walks, from lectures to community excavations, we will be sharing some of the hidden stories in each region. As a teaser I will end with a short story from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. Archaeologists recently working in advance of a new housing development found a group of worked flints dating to the end of the Neolithic period, about 5,500 years ago. Made by the first farmers such finds are not unusual in Scotland. However, amongst the finds was a stray one, lost by an individual long before those other tools were made.
Local authority archaeologists have been responsible for many digs, including this excavation of a skeleton in Edinburgh’s Leper Cemetery, from approximately the year 1590
By Kevin O’Sullivan “It’s a year that’s got our name written all over it,” says Alex Paterson, who as the relatively new chief executive of Historic Environment Scotland, is clearly relishing the prospect for maximum engagement with the public during this Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology. After joining the organisation in September, one of Paterson’s key early tasks is to set out his vision for the next 12 months to ensure HES takes advantage of the opportunities of VisitScotland’s themed year for 2017, an organisation which helped put the spotlight on innovation, architecture and design in 2016. Now it’s the heritage sector’s turn and with a full schedule of events and activities due to be unveiled over the next few weeks by HES, many of which will take place across the public sector body’s portfolio of over 300 properties and sites from Edinburgh Castle to Neolithic settlements on Orkney, Paterson has the bit between his teeth.
Alex Paterson wants to inspire existing audiences and reach new ones “We are the biggest paid-for visitor attraction operator in Scotland,” he tells me. “We have a very broad remit and history, heritage and archaeology is our day job. But it’s how do we leverage a year that has got our name on it?” It is clearly a question into which Paterson has been investing a lot of thought, time and energy. “From our perspective the themed year has a number of benefits - just in terms of the focus it brings,” he adds. “That focus will bring opportunities for increased collaboration and joint working with different partners and we want to use the year to highlight the importance and reach of the sector. It’s one of these sectors which is on everybody’s door step, almost literally whether they realise it or not, but the truth is we don’t just look after old properties - we’re a very big economic contributor.” The stats clearly back that up; there
No, not Dr Jones – meet the local council archaeologists As uncelebrated as they are Scotland’s 22 local authority archaeologists are responsible for around 290,000 heritage sites nationwide By Bruce Mann ‘Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers Scotland’ does not roll off the tongue easily. What’s more, once you have mastered the name “ALGAO” there will probably be surprise that we even exist. I often feel we are a form of secret organisation, hidden deep within the halls of local government. There are now only twenty-two of us archaeologists employed to provide services across thirty-one of the Local Authorities (Inverclyde being the exception). We are a rare breed. Yet we have what can be argued to be the biggest role in protecting Scot-
land’s heritage. We assess the potential impact that every planning application may have on the historic environment, and what can be done to avoid adverse impacts, or mitigate against those that can’t be. We provide guidance to bodies responsible for forestry planting, agricultural schemes, and utility works. We help landowners with management advice, provide guidance to individuals on what they have found, support community projects, and provide 1,200 people each year with volunteer opportunities. We provide oversight of regional academic research, help develop tourism opportunities, and are the main reason that a commercial sector exists in archaeology. Whether it be helping to develop national policy or advising Police Scotland on a chance find of human bones, our jobs are varied, complicated, but above all, rewarding. So, as the responsibility for managing 90% of the historic environment falls on your council’s archaeologist, you’re probably wondering how on earth we cope. At the last count the
It was a large flint blade, confirmed as the first of its kind from north east Scotland. What is remarkable is that the blade was made some 5,000 years before the Neolithic tools, and pushes known human activity in the region back by at least 1,000 years. A single find changing our understanding of pre-history. I wonder what else will be unearthed in 2017 that will rewrite history in a flash? Bruce Mann, Archaeologist for Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus and Aberdeen City Councils, and current Chair of ALGAO Scotland
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All signs point to a luxury landmark Perched on the breath-taking northerly tip of the Caithness coastline, Natural Retreats John O’Groats provides luxurious self-catering stays for adventurers exploring the scenic North Coast 500 route. The iconic Inn at John O’Groats (originally built in 1875) has been lovingly and sensitively restored by Natural Retreats, to preserve and strengthen this legendary landmark’s history and encourage new explorers to this stunning corner of Scotland. Reimagined with eco-sensitivity, traditional Scottish themes and cosy interiors, the boutique apartments and adjoining luxury lodges, offer weary travellers a whisper-soft bed alongside all the thoughtful touches that make discovering the Scottish Highlands even more enjoyable. Celebrating Scotland’s unique heritage, the on-site Storehouse Café also stays true to its roots, offering a smorgasbord of regional delights including Caithness Smokehouse Salmon, Arran
The iconic Inn at John O’Groats has been lovingly and sensitively restored
Dairies Ice Cream and Orkney brewed beers. Stepping off the North Coast 500 route, another celebration of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology can be found across ‘the Minch’ where Lews Castle by Natural Retreats forms an iconic silhouette on
the Stornoway skyline. This category-A listed, mid-nineteenth century building, designed by Charles Wilson in the 1840s, has now been bought back to life with the restoration of the grand ground floor reception rooms, where traditional
techniques were used to uncover the unique Victorian decorative schemes. Natural Retreats’ addition of a traditional Storehouse café, well-stocked Outfitters store and exceptional selfcatering accommodation amongst the towers and turrets of the castle, has
revived this much-loved landmark back into the hub of the island community. To secure your stay with Natural Retreats, call their dedicated Xplore Team on 01625 416430 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Take a journey through time – experience the North Coast 500 Stunning, deserted beaches roll across a layered landscape, giving way to majestic mountains, as rugged cliffs and rolling pastures vie for your attention, in the land of long views and big skies. The North Coast 500, one of the world’s top coastal touring routes, is rightly renowned for its extraordinary scenery: but this area can also lay claim to having a fascinating past, a history as rich and exciting as the landscape itself. Several Neolithic cairns can be found in Caithness, including one of the oldest structures in Scotland – the 5,000-year-old Grey Cairns of Camster. Fast forward 2,500 years to the Bronze Age, and visit another famous cairn setting , Clava Cairns, only a few miles east of Inverness. Watch out for the ‘split stone’, supposedly one of the inspirations for the Outlander series! The Iron Age brochs of Sutherland and Caithness are some of the most enigmatic and imposing prehistoric structures to be found on the route. Carn Liath, just north of Dunrobin Castle, is situated only metres away from the main route, whilst Dun Dornigail, near Tongue, still stands at an impressive 6.7m (22 ft) high. Traces of Scotland’s Pictish past can also be uncovered throughout the North Coast 500 – Groam House Museum in the Black Isle, Tarbet Discovery Centre in Easter Ross and Caithness Horizons Museum all house astonishingly beautiful Pictish carved stones –
relics from a race long since lost. If there are two historic sights you should visit, then make it the precariously-positioned Sinclair Girnigoe Castle, which hugs the cliffs near Noss Head in Caithness, and Ardvreck Castle, which lies on the shores of Loch Assynt. Both structures are a photographer’s dream. Across the route you’ll notice hundreds of ruined croft houses, relics from a troubled and tragic chapter in Scotland’s story, The Clearances. Timespan and Strathnaver Museums in Sutherland both tell this story in detail but for a more sobering experience visit Croick Church, near Ardgay. The Clearances, however, gave way to the fishing boom of the late 19th and early 20th century. Visit Wick Heritage Museum to understand how industry developed, and just how you could cross Wick harbour without getting your feet wet. Don’t forget to visit the nearby Whaligoe Steps, and imagine the struggles of those who hoisted their livelihoods up and down the 330 steps, carved into the cliffs. To travel the North Coat 500 is to understand the story of Scotland itself: from ancient beginnings to the beginnings of modern Scotland. It is a land of remarkable beauty, a place punctuated by mysterious ancient monuments and iconic castles; where vanished peoples roam, and their memory fades from the hillsides. It’s time you create your own story, and experience the unforgettable North Coast 500.
ARTS & CULTURE
18 January 2017
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Key dates for your diary Signature Event Programme Edinburgh Georgian Shadows 23 Feb – 26 March, Edinburgh Scotland in Six 18 April (World Heritage Day), Scotlandwide Tradfest Edinburgh 26 Apr –7 May, Edinburgh Paisley’s International Festival of Weaving 1 & 2 July, Paisley Purvai August, Stornoway Follow the Vikings 2 & 3 September, Shetland Roadshow & Festival 8 & 9 September Horsepower 9 September, Falkirk Mary Queen of Scots Festival September, Kinross and Loch Leven Shining Lives Autumn, New Lanark World Heritage Site Exhibitions & Festivals Burns Festival January-May, Various Celtic Connections 19 Jan – 5 Feb, Glasgow Stanza: Scotland’s Poetry Festival 1-5 March, St Andrews, Fife Edinburgh International Science Festival Apr 1 -16, Edinburgh Festival of Museums 19-21 May, Various Bonnie Prince Charlie & the Jacobites 23 Jun- 12 Nov, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
Spectacular Jousting 29-30 Jul, Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfries Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo August, Edinburgh Celtic Summer Harvest Festival 27 August, Aberfeldy, Perth & Kinross Siege on the Forth 2-3 Sept, Blackness Castle, Linlithgow Largs Viking Festival 2-10 Sept, Largs, North Ayrshire Adventurous Archaeology WINTER WALKABOUT: CLEARANCE COAST Highlands - Highland Council Rangers 27 January Discover the contrast between Skye’s beautiful scenery and its turbulent past ARCHAEOLOGY AND LANDSCAPE AT INVEREWE (ALIVE) Highlands - The National Trust for Scotland 23 to 27 April Drop by or jump in and help unearth a prehistoric roundhouse 1,000 YEARS OF SANCTITY ON THE MAY ISLAND Fife - Scottish Natural Heritage May to September Journey to this island in the Firth of Forth to explore an excavated monastery Delicious Archaeology HAWICK REIVERS FESTIVAL Scottish Borders 24 to 26 March Refuel between re-enactments with a banquet and literary high tea ROAMING ROMANS – INVESTIGATING THE PAST LAUNCH
North Lanarkshire - CAVLP Heritage 1 July Whet your appetite with Roman and Celtic cookery classes before exploring local archaeology FOLKTALES BY THE FIRESIDE Highlands - Hugh Miller’s Birthplace Cottage & Museum 27 April to 28 September (most Wednesdays) Unbolt the (previously locked) kitchen door and settle by the hearth for ghostly tales Inspirational Archaeology TREASURES OF HISTORIC BANFFSHIRE Aberdeenshire - Duff House Until 26 February Come face to face with the famous Deskford Carnyx, an ancient musical instrument REFLECTIONS ON CELTS Dundee - The McManus Until 26 March Marvel at Iron Age mirrors and Celticinspired paintings and replicas ANGELS, MYTHS AND FABLES East Ayrshire - Dean Castle & Country Park Until 30 April Explore the Renaissance through musical instruments, decorations and textiles PAINTING THE PAST Aberdeen – Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 14 February Uncover the stories that are hiding within the pigments from Roman painting.
Dig It! 2017 will be promoting a series of archaeological events across the country
‘Ordinary people’ to be the focus of arts and culture evocation of Scotland’s past Through its new strand The People’s Heritage, TradFest will eschew the tendency to look at history through royalty or well-known historical figures By Kevin O’Sullivan As well as offering people the chance to delve into the nation’s rich past, the year of History, Heritage & Archaeology will also showcase Scotland’s vibrant arts and cultural traditions. The traditional arts – music, song, dance and storytelling - have long enjoyed a deep attachment to the Scottish psyche and evoke a strong sense of place and ‘self’. Now, that melting pot will gain added impetus this year with a series of events supported by TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland), a national network which brings together the Traditional Music Forum, the Scottish Storytelling Forum and the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland. One of the largest gatherings for arts
and culture in 2017 will be the weekand-a-half long TradFest (Dùn Èideann), which takes place in Edinburgh from April 26 to May 7. Themed ‘Rooted in the Past. Resonating in the Present,’ the event, now in its fifth year, will embrace music, storytelling, dance, folk film, literature & talks, crafts & visual arts – at venues across Scotland’s capital. “From a modest pilot in 2012, TradFest has expanded far to include over eighty events and establish itself as a unique and important part of Edinburgh’s calendar,” says Daniel Abercrombie, Festival Manager. “It’s not just a listing of events, but a genuine, dynamic festival experience grounded in the city’s environments, people and cultures. “TradFest is delighted to partner with the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 to deliver an exciting new strand called The People’s Heritage. This new events programme features fresh, creative responses through story, song and dance, to heritage and archaeological sites in and around Edinburgh. The People’s Heritage interprets the city through the lives of ordinary people rather than royalty or well-known historical characters, and will reveal completely new areas of the
The People’s Heritage is to become a new strand of the annual arts and culture festival TradFest and promises to reveal new areas of Edinburgh’s history Photograph: Mike Andrews
city’s history for visitors,” he adds. “The Festival also celebrates the trad arts community activity already happening, as well as hosting an excellent folk music programme based at Summerhall and a wide-ranging mix of activity at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, from Giant Stories in Nordic
and Celtic mythology to a Sean-nós dance workshop to explore the rhythms of traditional Celtic music.” 2017’s edition includes a Battle of the Bands, in which new and emergent folk bands compete for a Hands up for Trad accolade; Jock’s Jock, a theatrical evocation of the experiences of WWI
frontline ranks collected from first-hand testimony by Jock Duncan; and the Voyage of Discovery Project encouraging the next generation to embrace the rich maritime heritage of Leith. There will also be a May Day procession to Scottish Parliament, on Sat 6 May, and a Celebration of 30 years of Beltane on Calton Hill, as well as The Soundhouse Organisation series at Summerhall, showcasing Scottish talent Dean Owens, Kaela Rowan, Rura and Dallahan; Irish groups Lynched and Connla, plus international flavours from Fourth Moon, Géza Frank and Jean Damei, Americana from The Lowest Pair, Appalachian artistry from Anna and Elizabeth and country from Western Centuries. Young people will be inspired by Artie Trezise MBE, who returns with his Tartan Tales for the family, and a fascinating event exploring the Big Beasties of traditional Gaelic storytelling lore, like the Five-Headed Giant, are also among the highlights.
A Canongate Communications supplement published in the Times Scotland, Wednesday, January 18.