Scranalogue

Culture Heritage Learning

Hand-me-down

22nd November 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

An adventure in women’s domestic needlecraft

Sewing Class, Glasgow 1953

In 2017, the year of History, Heritage & Archaeology, our small social enterprise, Mrs Magooty led by Sarah Longfield and Katrina Caldwell, embarked on an adventure.

Our mission was to scour the archives for examples of women’s domestic needlecraft in Scotland through the ages. We wanted images of normal women sewing, knitting and stitching.  We also wanted to see examples of their work.  Our intention was to then create a video collage of all these images and film snippets and share them in practical textile art workshops to inspire making and sharing of stories about our personal craft heritages.

Sewing Sampler, Leadhills 1891

As you might suspect, we had to search hard. Women’s domestic needlecraft is not the priority for documentation in times past.  However, after many enjoyable hours trawling through a wealth of search terms on Scran, we had a long list of 180 images.  Gulp!  We also rambled through the Moving Image Archive on a similar quest for films. The shortlisting process was both enjoyable and painful. Choosing between these examples of people’s exquisite work and between wonderful images capturing everyday life for women through the ages was no easy task, but eventually 7 film clips and 30 images were selected and licences applied for. Hand-Me-Down was ready to roll!

The response to the video we made was fabulous. For some participants it jogged memories of their school days or of granny, for other participants it was a new window into a past that they hadn’t experienced or had little access to discovering. Each individual in the workshops created a small piece of textile art and we gathered all in to mount our first exhibition at the Project Café in Glasgow. It was so popular we extended the exhibition and it ran through all of January and into February 2018.

Each piece was either a reflection on that person’s craft heritage or was inspired by the film. Below are 2 works which were directly inspired by items in Scran.

“Shrigley Sun” by Katrina Caldwell is inspired by “Festival of Britain 1951” a cushion cover by Kathleen Whyte which was part of The Needlework Development Scheme which ran from 1934 – 1961. The scheme began in Scotland and was a collaborative project between art and design education and industry, commissioning some really beautiful pieces to encourage embroidery and good design. The scheme was financed by JP Coates of Paisley the thread manufacturer. This cushion currently resides at the National Museum of Scotland.   Katrina was drawn to this record and inspired to create “Shrigley Sun” because she loves mid-century design and we wanted to acknowledge the Needlework Development Scheme in our project.

“Mauchline Memories” by Sarah Longfield takes its inspiration from a Mauchline ware box for cotton reels which is in the Nithsdale museum. Thread boxes or places to keep those all-important buttons and bits & bobs are an instant attraction to most crafters and Sarah shares this passion for boxes and tins to put things in. Instead of the portraits of Burns on the original box, this piece incorporates little things from Sarah’s past: a crystal from the necklace worn on her wedding day, a button from her first school jumper and other mementos physically demonstrating her own heritage. It is worked in Miyuki seed and bugle beads, incorporating beadwork stitches: dutch spiral and spiral staircase, plus bead embroidery techniques.

You can see all the ‘Hand-me-down’ work on Mrs Magooty’s social media too.

Images © The Herald, Leadhills Reading Society, Dumfries & Galloway Council, National Museums Scotland Licensor Scran 

 

Stained Glass at the Scottish National War Memorial

5th November 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

The Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle houses a rich variety of artwork to honour & remember those who died in World War One.  When it was built, between 1923 & 1927, over 200 professional artists worked with the architect, Robert Lorimer, to create a suitable tribute.

The interior of the memorial expresses the tragic sense of loss felt by Scotland after WW1. Inside the building, there is a feeling of dignity, pride and a sense of peace. The artists and makers used different materials, including bronze, iron, wood, stone, paint as well as stained glassThe result is impressive.

Air Force window design 1924 by Douglas Strachan

The artworks are designed to pay respect to the individual Scots who died, both men and women in all their different roles. Animals are acknowledged too, in the much loved stone sculpture ‘Remember also those Humble Beasts‘ by Phyllis Bone.

 

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Certainly the most colourful element of the SNWM is the is the stained glass with light flooding in from outside. In the main Hall of Honour the windows provide a lot of information, if you look carefully. For example, there is imagery illustrating what life was like on the Home Front, such as the mobilising of troops at Waverley Station (pictured top).

At either end of the hall, there are windows dedicated to different military services; that is the army, the navy and the air force – land, sea & air. Other windows show the four seasons. Some of the windows have roundels illustrating the different jobs people did or technology used in the machinery of war.

The windows in the Shrine are different to those in the Hall of Honour. These seven windows tell a another story, they use Bible and Christian messages to describe the experience of the War. Therefore they look more familiar to many, perhaps like traditional church windows at first glance.

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The artist who made all of these stunning windows was Douglas Strachan (1875-1950). Strachan was born in Aberdeen and educated at Robert Gordon’s College. He took evening classes at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen. He worked as an apprentice lithographer, a muralist, a portrait painter and then found a passion for working with stained glass. In 1909 he moved to Edinburgh to set up the crafts department of Edinburgh College of Art. He lived in Midlothian where he died in 1950. He worked on many other memorial windows, including a designs for the Peace Palace in The Hague installed in 1929.

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* To see more of the SNWM stained glass windows visit Scran

Images © Canmore Historic Environment Scotland Licensor Scran 

 

Armistice & the Scottish National War Memorial

1st November 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

SNWM Crown Square

Following World War One the first day of remembrance conducted in Britain and the Commonwealth was held in 1919, it was called Armistice Day. Following World War Two, Armistice Day became known as Remembrance Day to include all those who had died in defence of their countries in the two World Wars. The official time and date of remembrance is 11am on 11 November.

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1927 SNWM Postcard

The Scottish National War Memorial was created to honour the dead of the Great War, and is found in Crown Square within Edinburgh Castle. In 1917 before the War had even ended, the idea for the memorial was suggested by John George Stewart Murray – the 8th Duke of Atholl.

His idea caused a lot discussion and debate, not everyone agreed with his vision. Some people were worried it would focus too much on the military, rather than all Scots involved in the War effort. Also, after the site at Edinburgh Castle had been chosen, others were concerned it would look out of place – because of these challenges, early plans for the memorial were changed.

 

Robert Lorimer

Between 1924-7, the building was designed by the architect Robert Lorimer. He suggested an existing building could be changed and altered to form a remembrance hall. Previously the building had been used as a barracks to house soldiers. The architect worked with over 200 Scottish artists to transform the barracks into the remembrance hall & create a shrine.

 

SNWM Fundraising 1920

The memorial was estimated to cost £250,000. Therefore a lot of money that had to be raised, events like Thistle Day took place and fundraising started – for example commemorative postage stamps were issued. The public donated large sums of money in support. In August 1922 the money needed was finally raised, so construction could begin.

 

SNWM Shrine reconstruction 1924

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Architectural Drawings

Inside the building, the long hall has short wings and a central entrance gives the plan the form of the letter E.

The central shrine holds a large casket, which contains the Rolls of Honour. These are lists of over 150,000 names of those who lost their lives.

Space didn’t allow the names of the dead to be carved in stone, so they were inscribed in books of remembrance. Today visitors can still view these books, listing the names of all Scottish casualties of World War One, World War Two & all conflicts since.

 

It took ten years of determined work, however the Scottish National War Memorial was officially opened by The Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VIII, on 14th July 1927.

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Images © St.Andrews University Library, Historic Environment Scotland, National Museums of Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, National Library of Scotland – Moving Image Archive Licensor Scran 

Possible discussion questions for school visitors:

  • Why do you think the Duke of Atholl felt it was important for Scotland to have a National Memorial?
  • What impression do you get from the Memorial?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • Why is it important that we remember?

1791 ‘Currie Powder’ Recipe

23rd October 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

07560042We thought we might whet your appetite for National Curry Week!

This page has been taken from recipe books written by Stephana Malcolm & it dates from 1791. This is one of five recipes for curry powder which she included in her recipe books. Ready-mixed curry powder was available in Britain at this period, but either Stephana Malcolm found it hard to get or she simply enjoyed making her own. Several Malcolm family members lived and worked in India and their influence is seen in the many Indian-inspired dishes in the recipe books from Burnfoot.

Stephana Malcolm clearly had curried dishes often enough that it was worth making powder in bulk. In this recipe she advises storing it in bottles and adding the wet ingredients, such as lemon juice and garlic, just before use. The National Library of Scotland holds a fascinating and valuable series of seven recipe books which survive from the Malcolm family. The earliest was started by Margaret Malcolm in 1782, several were then written by her daughter Stephana and her daughter-in-law Clementina, and the last in the series was written by Margaret’s great granddaughter, Mary Malcolm.

Image © National Library of Scotland | Licensor Scran

5th October 2018
by Scran
0 comments

RMS Aquitania – luxury on the high seas

Four men standing at the bottom on an empty hull, with 12 cranes appearing in the background

The construction of the Aquitania’s hull

Let us take you back to the heydays of shipbuilding at Clydebank, when the engineers and designers at John Brown’s yard built magnificent passenger liners that had the power, speed and comfort to serve the popular transatlantic market.

The talk of the town in the early 1910s was the construction of new luxury liner – the Aquitania.

 

A black and white photo of a four-funnel cruise ship on the Clyde river

The Aquitania on trial

The SS (steam ship) Aquitania, affectionately known as the ‘Ship Beautiful’, was the longest serving Cunard liner in the 20th century. She took three years to build and was launched on 21 April 1913 with accommodation for over 3,000 passengers. This photograph shows the Aquitania on trials in the Clyde.

A souvenir poster of the launch of the Aquitania

 

The launch was a major event, with a number of saloon steamers selling excursions to view the Aquitania. We love this souvenir poster created to mark the occasion. It was collected by James Wotherspoon, who created a pictorial record of shipbuilding and shipping on the Clyde, the West Coast and the Channel. Over 4000 of his meticulously captioned illustrations, photos, plans and newspaper and magazine cuttings are archived at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.

 

A photo of a four funnel cruise liner on the Clyde with some saloon steamers

The Aquitania sailing down the Clyde

‘SS Aquitania, sailing down the Clyde, Sunday 10 May 1914’. This postcard was sent to Fergus Boyter-St Adrain in Cellardyke, Fife, from Scotstoun, Glasgow 8 days later. On 30 May 2014 the Aquitania set off on its maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York, arriving on 5 June. She went on to become the longest-serving ship this century, retiring after 35 years of service.

 

Long bench-like tables with rows of chairs either side. Very austere ceiling, floor and table settings

The Aquitania’s 3rd class dining room

There were marked differences in accommodation and facilities for first, second and third class. During World War I and World War II she was used for transporting troops. She also served as a hospital ship and, briefly, as a merchant vessel. These possibilities had been considered at the design stage, and the Admiralty had checked over the plans.

 

Two men in suits standing on deck

HG Wells and John Logie Baird on board the Aquitania

Between the wars the Aquitania was refitted as a cruise ship with improved facilities, including a theatre. During his 1931 trip to America John Logie Baird (the first person to demonstrate the television) was fortunate to find himself on board the Aquitania with author H.G.Wells. Baird was inspired by Mr Wells’ science fiction books as a child.

 

Copper bell inscribed with RMS Aquitania and the dates of service

Aquitania’s ship’s bell

At the end of World War II the Aquitania transported war brides to Canada. She was returned to Cunard in 1948 and chartered by the Canadian government to take emigrants from Southampton to Halifax, Nova Scotia, before being withdrawn from service on 9 January 1950.

She was the last liner in service with four funnels and the only major liner to serve in both World Wars. The Aquitania’s ship’s bell, inscribed with its dates of service, is in the care of National Museums Scotland.

 

 

A photo of a large mansion house

Boswall House, Edinburgh

Following her retirement the Aquitania was dismantled for scrap at Faslane in the 1950s, however it seems her story didn’t end there. Boswall House and Wardiebank House in Edinburgh are linked by extraordinary ironwork. The unusual and elaborate wrought-iron railings, which incorporate the letter ‘A’ in several places as well as crossed anchors and a trident, are thought to have come from the Aquitania. (If you take a look at the first class restaurant photo below you’ll see the likely provenance).

 

An ornate restaurant with tables featuring tablecloths, napkins, lamps and table settings

The Aquitania’s First Class restaurant

We’re proud that Scran can help piece together stories from the past by reaching into the digital records of so many contributing collections. The images in this blog are © National Records of Scotland, Glasgow City Council, the University of Strathclyde, Historic Environment Scotland, and National Museums Scotland.

If you like this story, please share it with friends on Twitter or Facebook.

Got a story that Scran has helped you tell? Let us know at scran@scran.ac.uk.

Scran contributes to Age Scotland celebration

4th October 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

We were delighted to be invited to contribute to Age Scotland‘s 75th anniversary celebrations this week. The organisation, renamed in 2009 when Age Concern and Help The Aged merged, held a wonderful party at the Scottish Parliament at which MSPs Lord George Foulkes and Christine Grahame both spoke.

Campaigning for and supporting older people in society has always been Age Scotland’s role, going back to 1945 when it was known as the Scottish Old People’s Welfare Committee. The emphasis is slightly less on “helping” the aged or on “concern” for the elderly today (though, of course, Age Scotland still supports those in need); today the organisiation’s new motto “Love Later Life” demonstrates its commitment to activity and independent living in retirement years.

As well as providing images (such as this one) for Age Scotland’s celebratory brochure “Speaking Up For Our Age”, Scran plans to host some of the material that has been rediscovered in the AGE Scotland archives, and this should appear on our site in 2019. Watch this space.

Many thanks to Elizabeth Bryan and Emma Bisset at Age Scotland.

 

 

 

 

 

Stanley Mills Young Curators

4th October 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

HES colleagues at Stanley Mills, a former textile mill in Perthshire, recently organized a fantastic opportunity for young people at Stanley Primary School to curate an exhibition at this historic site in a project supported Skills for Life, Learning & Work.. The pupils did a great job, meeting with HES curatorial and educational staff over 8 weeks to choose, document, assess, describe and display their chosen items, which included a gird and cleek, a strap (used to punish slow workers),  a porridge bowl and spoon, and two shillings (the weekly wage at the Mills for children in the 1830s). The pupils displayed great skill, especially in distilling the caption for each of their objects to 25 words or fewer- no mean feat, as any curator will tell you.

The results were unveiled on Monday before a select audience of parents, teachers, teaching assistants, HES staff and the pupils themselves, and as you can see below the results look extremely professional.

See more of Stanley Mills on Scran here.

 

 

6. Extraordinary Estonia | Erakorraline Eesti

26th September 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

This is the sixth, and final, in a series of travelogue posts about an Erasmus+ cultural heritage, study trip undertaken by Jackie Sangster from the Learning & Inclusion Team at Historic Environment Scotland.

Maarika striding towards Vabamu

Day 6 Freedom

It seemed the time was right, that on our last day we would visit the purpose built Vabamu Museum of Occupations & Freedom. This museum is powerful. I was immersed in the stories from the outset. The interpretation for me was second to none. The use of technology was intuitive and successful. The virtual reality experience of decorating a sparse Soviet apartment was enjoyable. The carefully curated objects and archives reinforced the narrative, all about Estonia’s recent history, making us think about the value of our freedom. The various films with real people relating their personal stories and recollections were the highpoint – genuine, heartfelt, matter-of-fact & authentic. Not surprisingly, the museum touched Maarika most intensely.

Contemporary helped to convey the stories

Personally I know a woman, who as a small child fled, from Estonia to escape the Russian invasion of 1940. She has led an astonishing life. Knowing her, and her family well, made this museum & especially the permanent exhibition, ‘Freedom Without Borders’, resonate for me. I was also able to draw some parallels in my own life. Having grown up during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, I am all too familiar how violence & conflict impacts on life. In fact, afterwards another group member & I were wondering why Belfast did not have such a museum. It saddens me to say, I don’t believe the peace process has reached maturity yet.

A balancing act

Whilst at Vabamu, I read that one of the aims was to create a museum that touches people from all around the world, not just Estonians. It is safe to say I was touched by this place. Later in 2018, I will be attending the Museums Association conference in Belfast. The theme is Dissent: inspiring hope, embracing change – having the courage to challenge traditional thinking to transform museums and society. I think Vabamu has set the standard. #Vabamu

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Tallinna Teletorn

A leisurely lunch & to our final stop Tallinna Teletorn the TV Tower & some matches. After a tour providing the context of the tower’s history. Construction began in 1975 and it was completed for the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics and Tallinn was the host city for the sailing events. The 170-metre-high observation platform and landmark opened for the occasion. Today TV Tower is one of the most important symbols of the restoration of Estonian independence. In August 1991 radio operators risked their lives to protect the free flow media and declaration of independence. We enjoyed the interpretation of these events in a humorous almost slapstick film, nonetheless enjoyable as an overseas visitor.

‘No Bananas Today’ Soviet Daily Life

After taking in the 360 degree vistas of the city & surrounds from the viewing platform we descended again to see the temporary exhibition called “No Bananas Today” – Time Travel to Soviet Daily Life. This was another take on the interpretation of Estonia’s recent pasta and a peek behind the Iron Curtain.

In 1992 I was lucky enough to spend the summer travelling in Russia, so seeing this exhibition brought many memories back through the little details, especially the reconstructed sets of shops, cafes & homes under Communisim. I devoured each interpretation panel as they were loaded with anecdotes about how people endured the Soviet regime by scrimping, saving, stealing or swindling the system. Life was hard and relentless but this exhibition explored what can be now be considered as absurd.

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Finally, back to our hotel in the district of Nõmme & for our farewell dinner with Maarika and joined again by Riin at Mimosa to indulge in some contemporary Estonian cuisine.

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Glehni Castle or Jälgimäe Manor

Spontaneously after dinner, our super hosts decided we needed an unscripted, late-night adventure to see the whimsical Glehni Castle or Jälgimäe Manor. So off we went in the dark to find this medieval castle-style building. Created by Baltic-German owner Nikolai von Glehn in 1886. It has a number of curious features, including an organically formed palm house. Nearby are his statues of Estonia’s epic hero Kalevipoeg, known as the ‘devil statue’ and another of a dragon which looks more like a crocodile.

Tallinn’s district of Nõmme was founded by Nikolai von Glehn in 1878 as a summerhouse district, now it’s referred to as the forest city suburb. The development started around the railway station. In 1926 it was granted town rights, but in the beginning of the Soviet occupation in 1940, it was unified to Tallinn and remains as one of the eight districts of Tallinn today.

Kalevipoeg by night

As if the day couldn’t get any better Riin also invited us into her Nõmme home, this was such a privilege. It was a Soviet house build in a street for artists. Therefore the design incorporated extra studio space and more windows to allow light to flood in. Riin had bought her home form the original owner-occupiers, both of whom had spent their lives working there. They were elderly when they left and Riin acquired a vast hoard of artwork with the house. Some of which was contributed to The Art Museum of Estonia collections. The studio still contains much of their collection & there are sculptures all over the garden. From what I could see in the dark, the fabric of the house for me was exquisite in its simplistic design and built to last surrounded by the forest, idyllic.

It was time for bed.

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Day 7 Departure Day

Hüvasti Eesti

Homeward bound & time to leave Estonia. This study trip exceeded expectations with a great group of heritage sector colleagues, I believe we learned more about Estonian cultural heritage than any of us ever expected to. Hopefully this report encapsulates just some of the joy had on this learning journey. As for our host Maarika, Eesti oli imeline – head aega ja tänan teid väga.

 

 

 

 

 

*NB you can login to Scran with your local library card in Scotland

This is a report on a course developed by ARCH, hosted by Maarika Naagel from Viitong Heritage Tours and funded through the Erasmus+ programme.

Archive Images ©  & Historic Environment Scotland Licensor Scran

5. Extraordinary Estonia | Erakorraline Eesti

19th September 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

This is fifth in a series of travelogue posts about an Erasmus+ cultural heritage, study trip undertaken by Jackie Sangster from the Learning & Inclusion Team at Historic Environment Scotland.

 

Day 5 Time for Tallinn

Like Edinburgh, the historic centre of Old Town of Tallinn is a UNESCO world heritage site & upon arrival it was obvious to see why. Here we met Riin Alatalu, for a walking tour of the city, old & new. Riin is an associate professor at the Estonian Academy of Arts and an expert in built heritage, so we were set for an enthralling walk. Our rendezvous point was outside the Soviet built, 1963 modernist Writers’ House at 1 Harju Street. Today, the ground floor is occupied by a brilliant second-hand bookstore, called Raamatukoi.

This is one of the most important streets in Tallinn, dating back to early medieval times. Most notably in 1944 the Soviet Union performed air raids here, the heavy bombing of Tallin killed hundreds. The last ruins of old Harju Street served as a memorial but after archaeological work in 2007 a park was created. In 1966, this vicinity was the first conservation area established in the former USSR. We wandered with Riin, hearing about the evolution of the city and its diverse architecture – there was a lot of information to absorb.

Marzipan marvels inc. 1980 Moscow Olympic character Misha

Within the magnificently preserved Old Town we witnessed the vast hordes of tourists and co-ordinated cruise ship visitors as they too enjoyed the courtyard surroundings of Katariina Kirik.  Sadly, the oldest working pharmacy in Europe established in 1422, Raeapteek, was closed – perhaps because it was Sunday? However, we were able to pop into the Kalev Marzipan Museum Room to see the mesmerising, medicinal confectionary figures in the 1864 Café, Maiasmokk on Pikk Street.

 

 

Linnamuuseum Tallinn City Museum

At the Linnamuuseum Tallinn City Museum, housed in a medieval merchant house, we went to the exhibition ‘One Hundred Years of Daily Life’ about everyday life the city and how it has changed – it was great! We also saw the permanent display about the history of the city and I learned about the impact of the Hanseatic League. I have since discovered there were settlements associated with Hanseatic trade in Scotland too, such as Hillswick on Shetland. In the cellar, we explored the glorious stores of ceramics & metal.

 

Hanseatic – Hillswick House, Shetland

Continuing outdoors, we wove our way around, spotted more Muhu style doors, many Kultuurimälestis National Monuments and wound up towards Alexander Nevsky Cathedral at the very top of the city by Toompea Castle, where the Estonian Parliament sits. From this aspect, we joined the masses taking in great panoramas of the city and the sea.

After all that we were ready for our evening meal so we set off to the cool Kalamaja district to dine. Today this is one of well-known areas for its hipsters. Beyond the train station, it boasts Bohemian charm and consists of wooden buildings which once accommodated fishermen.

Lender Houses

Before our table was ready at trendy Boheem, Riin had more knowledge to impart about the local architecture. We were surrounded by gorgeous two storied timber tenement houses with symmetrical facades, named after the architect engineer Voldemar Lender who was also the mayor of Tallinn from 1906 to 1913.

Lender House ironwork & windows

These early 20th century homes had been cheap to construct when the city had been growing rapidly. The houses have subtle variations reflecting the owners’ preferences, such as doors with carved details, fanlights or ironwork ornament around the windows. I was captivated by them.

Fishertown housing, Dunbar Scotland early C20th

Scotland’s fisher town communities, such as those in Cromarty or Dunbar, looked somewhat different at this time. The local building material was stone rather than wood, which resulted more often in lower level thatched cottages. Although, Cat’s Row in Dunbar looks like a larger tenement circa 1900.

 

During dinner much to my amusement, a reminder of home unexpectedly surfaced because Belhaven Ale (made in my adopted home town of Dunbar) featured on the foreign beer menu.

Foreign Beers inc. Belhaven Wee Heavy

Later, Riin told us about a travel campaign she’s involved with, that is Visit Baltic Manors. This European Year of Cultural Heritage initiative celebrates 130 historic heritage sites across the Baltic countries; Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania. When given our own traveller’s card, we were pleased to see we’d already been to two! That was Loona mois and Muhu pastoraat.

After dinner, we travelled back to our hotel by train to rest up for our penultimate day with Maarika.

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Our hotel – a Soviet era building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a report on a course developed by ARCH, hosted by Maarika Naagel from Viitong Heritage Tours and funded through the Erasmus+ programme.

Archive Images © East Lothian Museum Service & Historic Environment Scotland Licensor Scran

4. Extraordinary Estonia | Erakorraline Eesti

12th September 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

Rita Valge, museum director

Day 4 Museums, Meteorites & Muhu

Aerial view of Kuressaare Castle, Estonia

This is fourth in a series of travelogue posts about an Erasmus+ cultural heritage, study trip undertaken by Jackie Sangster from the Learning & Inclusion Team at Historic Environment Scotland.

Aerial view of Fort George, Scotland

Moving on from our base today, we packed-up and left for our engagement with the director of Saaremaa Muuseum, housed at Kuressaare Castle.  At first glance this citadel, complete with moat, looks like the stuff of fairy tales and unsurprisingly it is a Kultuurimälestis National Monument. Viewed from above, the aerial plan is reminiscent of our own 1769, HES property in care, Fort George.

Rita Valge, the director greeted us and we enjoyed a whirlwind Castle tour and explored the collections held within. Rita who is relatively recent in post expressed the challenges she faces in her quest to update some exhibition interpretation. Yes, it was apparent that certain collections would benefit from a more contemporary curation and display solutions. Yes, there were some dated mannequins and cabinets not fit for purpose, however the exhibits had charm and offered intriguing insights into Saaremaa’s history.

Scottish connections found on exhibition

There was general discussion within our group about bespoke souvenirs, visitor flow, access issues, promotion … as I have worked closely with digitised archives & collections on scran.ac.uk for ten years, my query was about accessing to the museum collections online. I was also curious to know if Rita was aware of any Scottish objects held within the museum, she was unsure. Later, amongst the collections on exhibition, I was delighted to discover that Scottish connection I was seeking and it came in the form of an enamelled – “Singer Õmblus Masinad” a Singer sewing machine sign!

The household name & sewing machine manufacturers, Singer transferred their factory works from Bridgeton to Clydebank during the 1880s to become the largest sewing-machine factory in the world! To Scots, Singer is synonymous with this Glasgow works.

Singer Clock at Clydebank, Scotland

My favourite part of the morning was the permanent exhibition of contemporary history from 1950-1994 designed by artist Vello Laanemaa. This led the viewer chronologically, up through seven spaces and the various decades of Soviet occupation & Estonian social history. Each flight of stairs connecting the floors contained amusing jokes within the steps, a nice touch. The carefully selected objects succinctly told the stories and struggles of daily life. Time was up at the castle & so to Kaali for lunch.

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Kaali Kraater

Our reason for going to Kaali was to see the noteworthy punch-bowl crater formed there by a meteorite 4,000 years ago and of course to find out about how the heritage is handled – how the community has turned potential interest into practical solutions. There were tales of associated folklore surrounding the site, scientific & archaeological aspects to the crater field and so on. As we made our way back from the site to the purpose-built tourist centre, we were lured by signs of local lace on sale in the school building. There was a wealth of crafts on offer to the international visitors here.

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Tihuse Horseriding Farm.

Crossing the Väinatamm causeway, we left Saaremaa behind and proceeded to its smaller sister, island of Muhu to see some stunning horses at Tihuse Horseriding Farm. The heritage trails at this horse breeding farm were based on various Forest Father stories & memories of the owner’s grandparents. We had the absolute pleasure of jaunting around the forest in two wagons, however for me the well-meaning delivery of the heritage aspect was a little thin & unconvincing. The owner, Ahto Kaasik was supposed to meet us, however he was unable to.  The staff were excellent equestrians, committed to their animals but it was unfair to have them deliver some of the folklore based activities – perhaps the intended Pagan spirituality was wasted on me. The environmental interpretation back at the café didn’t quite convince me either sadly. More positively though, we all fell in love with the five-month old foal.

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Kadri Tüür

Inside Muhu Pastoraadi, now Muhu Heritage School

Our day was still young and we were expected at another Kultuurimälestis National Monument, i.e. Muhu Pastoraadi, now Muhu Heritage School stands beside Muhu Katariina Kogudus (or St. Catherine’s Church), in Liiva. We were met by former pupil Kadri Tüür (with babe in arms), she is the powerhouse behind this conservation project. Funding has been secured from the EU LEADER programme for rural development, to partially restore this 1832 building and we were privileged to have a behind the scenes tour of this historic parsonage. Kadri sought out our ideas how to interpret and revive the building, to usher in its next chapter. Given the traditional methods required and materials such as lime being employed in the fabric of the building, I saw potential links with the work of Scotland’s built heritage conservation centre, The Engine Shed. Interestingly, when asked if the lime being applied was Lubi Ò , it transpired it was not but another brand from another part of Estonia, Savikumaja.

Being watched over by the Muhu Angel

Leaving, we stopped to admire the unmissable Muhu Ingel sculpture, another project by Kadri Tüür – another inspirational Estonian woman who has written a book “The Muhu Angels” stories about Muhu women, heard in the family home.

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Moonland

There was now a little time to stop for supplies, namely the much loved Muhu Leib – a locally produced black bread, before our adventures on the high seas. We set off from Kuivastu harbour on a historic uisk sailing ship called ‘Moonland’.

Sailing toward Kesse on the Väinameri Strait

In 2009 Väinamere Uisk was founded to re-build this traditional wooden vessel. The captain of our ship told us about the origins of uisk which were still in use until the early 20th century. During the Middle Ages people from the Saaremaa & Muhu islands were called vikings and their vessels were named huisk or snake. So, these narrow and relatively light weight vessels became known as serpent ships. It was a breath-taking voyage as the sun set we admired the cliffs on the island of Kesse in the Väinameri Strait.

 

 

 

Anstruther, Scotland c.1900-1933

 

 

Back at the office, I was taken by the similarities of the ships in this photograph, taken of the harbour at Anstruther, Fife in the early 20th century. Apparently sailing ships used Anstruther as a port for sailing to the Baltic – could that be a serpent ship?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Typical striped door, Muhu

When we returned to land our home for the night was at the nearby Kuivastujaani, our second tourist farm stay. Before leaving the next morning to catch the ferry, we were invited to look around at the owner’s beautiful striped doors. The ancient tradition of painting doors and decorating them has been revived in Muhu. We would start to see them everywhere.

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This is a report on a course developed by ARCH, hosted by Maarika Naagel from Viitong Heritage Tours and funded through the Erasmus+ programme.

Archive Images © National Museums of Scotland, Scotsman & Historic Environment Scotland Licensor Scran