Scranalogue

Culture Heritage Learning

3. Extraordinary Estonia | Erakorraline Eesti

5th September 2018 by Scran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is third 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 4 Friday Flounders

Today’s start was not for the faint hearted. There was more culinary heritage to explore and fish was on the menu for the evening – we were to prepare it from scratch. I can’t say I was looking forward to the experience when faced with a bucket of freshly caught flounders, however it had to be done. Led by Aado Haandi at Värava, we were skilfully taught how to gut & prepare these bottom-feeding, flat-fish correctly. Once cleaned and salted, they were hung to dry before being smoked later in the day.

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Abandoned Soviet Border Checkpoint, Kõruse

Ready for adventure after a short drive north west, we set off on our nature hike to the Hariland Peninsula located at the tip of Tagamõisa peninsula once again within Vilsandi National Park.

On our way, I asked to stop at a spot which caught my eye in Kõruse. The place could be described as a ghost town, the inhabitants were evicted by the Russians in 1945 to make way for an army base, a Soviet border out-post.

Kõruse

The place was littered with the remnants of military occupation; a crumbling checkpoint, rusty signs, a faded noticeboard, a monument which was out of bounds and lots of Marston matting. Here this perforated steel planking, often used as portable runways on soft ground for temporary airstrips in WWII, had been repurposed as a small fence.

The place really intrigued me and later in the day we also encountered a stranded boat embedded in dune and a distant line of anti-tank blocks in a field, all linked to the military defences of the past.

 

Marston Matting

If you know where to look in Scotland, it’s also easy to encounter anti tank defences.

Wartime Coastal Defences, Dunbar

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Soviet Naval Remnants

We parked up at the end of the current road, at Harilaiu from here on it was on foot for us. The road once went all the way to the end, past the Kelba Spit, to the captivating Kiipsaare Lighthouse. However, nature has fought back and the Soviet road has long since been consumed by the sea. Kiipsaare Tuletorn was originally built of concrete in 1933 to warn seafarers of the dangers of the Baltic Sea. It once stood on land, but erosion has taken its toll and now the tower stands askew in the water. The walk allowed us to witness the huge diversity of plant & animal life thriving under the care of the Riigimetsa Majandamise Keskus (State Forest Management Company).

Kiipsaare Tuletorn

 

On site the RMK promote positive engagement with the landscape through a series of informative interpretation boards and basic facilities such as composting toilets. The rangers amongst us were in their element, observing birdlife & butterflies all around.

 

Marine Waste

To my lay person’s eye, I would have said the environment was close to pristine, the only unfortunate sight was really rather peculiar. Initially the group was unsure what we were looking at in the distance on the beach, it did not become apparent until we were closer that there was a fridge standing on the foreshore. A reminder that marine waste infiltrates every environment. After our invigorating circular hike, it was back to finish of the fish preparations at base.

The fish which had dried since morning, were now ready to be threaded onto long skewers & hung in the already lit, wood-smoker in the trees. We wondered how they would compare to the more familiar smoked fish found at home such as the Kipper or the Arbroath Smokie?

Our Flounders in the Smoker

Smoking Fish at Gardenstown c1950

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile Maarika had arranged for a local teacher, Paul to deliver an open-air, wood-working session, so we were thrown into creating a variety of artefacts. Despite our language barriers Paul gave us a highly skilled lesson on the steps required, using a variety of manual & power tools. I chose to make a trivet from juniper wood, which I enjoyed making immensely. The scent of the omni-present juniper wood will always remind me of this experience. We also bound together a selection of branches including birch twigs, oak and more juniper to make viht AKA whisks, or whips, for use in the sauna planned for later. After eating our fishy tea, the genuine sauna that evening was a wonderful way to end the day.

Of course, there were ancient saunas in Scotland too, let us not forget the sauna at the Brough of Birsay settlement on Orkney, granted this was no doubt introduced by the Norse men.

We were recharged by the sauna & more good sleep was had, ready for another day in the field with Maarika.

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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 © North East Folklore Archive   & Historic Environment Scotland Licensor Scran

This gallery contains 10 photos

2. Extraordinary Estonia | Erakorraline Eesti

29th August 2018 by Scran

Traditional Knitting by Merika Sepp

This is the second 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 3 Sõrve Sightseeing

We set off early to see this peninsula, sometimes travelling on dusty unpaved roads to the southernmost section of Saaremaa. Along the way, we viewed the raised Kaugatuma cliffs. The previously wooded landscape gave way to a some more open, exposed terrain with thin soils. Although it seems remote today, pre-war this area was the most densely populated, rural area in Estonia. Our first port of call was another family initiative, the Sõrve Wool Factory.

Wool from Sorve

Yarn produced by the Sepp Family

The Sepp family run a business making use of home-grown fleece from herds of sheep, some goats and even a couple of dogs! The wool factory is a cottage industry with industrial carders in-situ to prepare the raw wool prior to spinning, weaving, knitting and so on. Nothing goes to waste here, as we also had a nibble on some tasty home-made cheese. It was time to get hands on, with the choice of weaving or metal work. Having dabbled in weaving in the past, I opted to join Egon outside for the metal workshop under a tar-soaked tarpaulin. It was explained that the area had considerable military significance in various C20th conflicts. During World War II it saw major battles between Soviet and German forces. As a result, the forests are still littered with ordnance remains, so it can be dangerous to walk in the woods.

Rusted helmets sitting on a rock

Wartime metal litters the landscape

However, we were to be using the metal salvaged from a collected shell casing, to create a piece of jewellery. So, after the demo, we set about measuring, cutting, heating, embossing and shaping a ring each, ending up with a unique memento. Not a form of upcycling I’d encountered before.

Highland cross cattle shelter in the woods

Thinking more pop-culture that cultural heritage for a moment, Egon Sepp also happens to be the proud father of the recent winner of Eesti Otsib Superstaari 2018 – Uudo Sepp is Estonian’s latest “Pop Idol”. Music is part of Sepp family life, so before leaving we appreciated some folk singing from Maarika & Merika Sepp and were introduced to their herd of Highland cross cattle who sheltering amongst the trees for shade – another Scottish connection.

Highland Cattle on Tynninghame Estate 1914

 

The Sepp family also produced knitted garments from their home spun wool, using Estonian patterns. The intricate patterns are not entirely removed from the traditional patterns we associate with the northern isles of Scotland, Orkney & Shetland, where of course there are strong Scandinavian connections. Comparisons could also be drawn with Sanquhar gloves.

Scotland has a longstanding relationship with crofting sheep, wool production, fleece, fibre and felt products.

Sepp Gloves – Typical Estonian Knitting Pattern

Made in Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire c.1940

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spinning & Carding wool in 1880s Scotland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anseküla Lighthouse

Anseküla Lighthouse

And then to Anseküla south of Salme, to meet Mari Lepik for lunch at Anseküla Teelistemaja, another former schoolhouse re-purposed in recent years. It serves dishes based on old recipes, many from a 1900 cookbook. Mari Lepik is nothing short of remarkable; not only is she a mother of five, holds a PhD but also launched an ABC book of local dialect & lifestyle in late 2017 – this promptly sold out by Christmas of that year & it is now in its second print run.  She spoke to us all about the research for the publication and her active work to keeping Saareema heritage alive. Through her activities, she aims to engage children and young people with their past traditions. We walked about the village, past the lighthouse to a ruined church. Being unfamiliar with the place, it seemed odd to have a lighthouse in the forest, but we were informed the sea was only a few hundred metres away as we were at the narrowest point of the Sõrve peninsula.

 Spinning Wool

Mari Lepik demonstrates spinning

By the church was a memorial stone to Martin Georg Emil Körber, Mari informed us about the significance of this C19th pastor and his legacy of songbooks and his influence on proud tradition of choir singing in Estonia. Then, we were caught up and joining in local songs, dances & children’s games with Mari and her two daughters. Mari had brought along her research into local traditional costume, which I found intriguing and examples of homemade garments too. We also met her youngest baby son, who she dresses in hand-sewn, traditional shirt dresses – she is undoubtedly passionate about & embraces her heritage in every possible way. She has the conviction of wearing a heritage headscarf when it may be regarded by many Estonians as old-fashioned or a backward-looking statement. It could be said this was a retro look however, I think Mari’s appearance is more than a fleeting trend.

Harvested Red Currants & Gooseberries

This immersion into Mari Lepik’s life wasn’t over yet though, we were warmly welcomed into her mother’s home for a cooking class. At the family home, we all joined in picking a selection of redcurrants, raspberries & gooseberries which were boiled with sugar, cooled to a jam & then whipped-up with semolina to create the yummy Roosamanna ehk mannavaht or semolina mousse served with cold milk.

Puddings without Eggs 1947

Our evening meal

Roosamanna ehk mannavaht & Dumpling soup

Under the direction of the Lepik women, we also dug potatoes, chopped vegetables from the garden and crafted dumplings for a satisfying soup.  Some of the group tried their hand at spinning wool, others leant against the haystack and joined in more traditional songs. After our communal dinner, we bid our farewells to the family and a menagerie of cats.  On our way back to base, we passed the Salme Viking ship burial place.

Just another epic day in Estonia.

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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 Scotland – Scottish Life Archive, Hulton Getty & Historic Environment Scotland Licensor Scran

This gallery contains 14 photos

Extraordinary Estonia | Erakorraline Eesti

21st August 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

The road trip begins with Maarika at the wheel

This is the first 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.

What better time to visit this culturally rich country than its 100th birthday! During this study trip, I experienced & participated in Estonian traditions relating to: dialect, food, daily life, costume, craft, fishing, the natural environment and how heritage may be passed to younger generations. Whilst writing this travelogue, I have drawn parallels and made links with Scottish traditions through the various archives and collections found on scran.ac.uk

Värava Tourist Farm, our home from home

Day 1 Travelling to Tallinn & Beyond. After an early start departing from Glasgow, via Amsterdam our group of eight, eager Erasmus+ participants arrived in Tallinn to be warmly welcomed by the marvellous Maarika Naagel – who we discovered as the week progressed is a font of knowledge & a powerhouse of enthusiasm for all things Estonian.  She chauffeured us, via Virtsu harbour and a ferry crossing, all the way to Värava Farm. We were to reside here at Selgase Village, in Saare County in the western part of Saaremaa Island in rustic fashion for the next four nights.

Kihelkonna colourful vernacular wooden buildings

Day 2 Visiting Vilsandi. Our group had a good sleep as promised on the extensive itinerary for the week – therefore we were prepared for the adventures of the day.  We drove to the nearby village of Kihelkonna, where our host also happens to live, to collect our next mode of transport, the bicycle. Off we set to explore the locality in the 30°C heat, no mean feat for a bunch of Scots. En route we passed by Rootsiküla and Kiirassaare. Specifically, we were making our first visit to Vilsandi National Park to meet with the RMK (Riigimetsa Majandamise Keskus or State Forest Management Centre) Maris Sepp and the junior rangers at Loona Manor. Here we heard from two remarkable young people, Karl & Martyn, about their research, achievements and experiences with the natural heritage of the park. I learned a lot about bat maternity colonies amongst other things and remain impressed by the high quality of their presentations, delivered in flawless English.

Loona Manor school house entrance

Incidentally, the park came about thanks to Artur Toom a lighthouse keeper who formed the Vailka Birds Reserve in 1901 & the national park was established in 1993 to protect the nature & cultural heritage of the coastal landscapes on Western Estonian islands. Whilst cycling to & from Loona Park it was plain to see the rich diversity of species surrounding us and the sheer beauty of this corner of Estonia. The landscape, steeped in forest, was also much flatter than anticipated, which aided our progress. This visit was of particular interest to the rangers in our party, whose primary concern was natural heritage.

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School dinners at Kihelkonna Kool

Upon return to the village, we lunched at Kihelkonna Kool and thoroughly enjoyed our school dinner and a first taste of Sinep Põltsamaa! As a former school teacher I was fascinated to be inside this Soviet built school, observing the details of its architecture & interiors. We wandered around the village looking at the mix of buildings, including vernacular wooden homes, the towering lime-washed St.Michael’s church, the old bell tower and the singing grounds/bandstand. Needless to say, the traditional swing was fun too.

An Estonian essential, the singing ground

The stark contrast between the traditional Estonian and Soviet era buildings was becoming apparent, even in this small rural settlement.

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Next stop, not too far away by Mõisaküla was the Lime & Tar Distilling Park based in a beautifully restored former Moravian church. Resident land expert, Pritt Pannou explained & demonstrated the traditional production techniques employed to create lime from the local limestone quarries. Saaremaa’s geology is predominantly limestone. The lime slaking process demonstration instantly reminded me of the many plaster moulds I once made when studying ceramics at university. However, I now have a much fuller appreciation of how lime is created.

Traditional lime burning kiln, Saaremaa

We learned how to use lime and lime products for renovation and building repairs. During our walk about the park we saw a series of long-established lime and tar kilns in varying scales and states of repair, all fuelled by wood.  As well as being a centre for learning they are a commercial concern, producing ‘Lubjapasta Saaremaa’ Lubi Ò. Later the same day, we were to see a church which had been freshly painted with Lubi lime & and it shone.

Limekilns, Fife

Of course, there is a lime producing heritage in Scotland too, with place names often reflecting this past industry. For example, the existence Charlestown, near the village of Limekilns, in Fife is due to a massive seam of limestone running east/west along the North of the village. Over 11 million tons were quarried here over 200 years. It was processed and distributed over much of Scotland and the works in their day were the largest lime producing complex in Europe.

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Orbu Talu, Leedri

Leedri, Estonian village of the year 2015, was to be the location of our next appointment at Orbu farm to find out about the slow food production of Saaremaa Kadakasiirup or juniper syrup in the new Kadakakoda facility. This artisan production set up by three sisters began in 2011, in the maternal family kitchen on a domestic scale. Today it has grown into an entrepreneurial success story with the support of EU funding. Again, the basis of the business initiative was taken from local raw materials, in this case the juniper bushes and trees found growing commonplace on the island with its chalky soils. Innovation coming from the natural environment.  Juniper is a native conifer in Scotland too, although not so prevalent.

Dry Stane Dyke, Scotland

The adjacent family home, Orbu, also offered fascinating insights into the local heritage. Despite an influx of wasps, the group were able sample the produce, which was testament to its success – just delicious. Like satisfied humming birds, we then enjoyed a walking tour of Leedri guided by the mayor namely Maret, a multi-tasking woman. The community has a variety of popular events which take place in the stunning village house or barn. Most recently, a celebration of midsummer which sounded like quite a party.  The fabric of the village is well-preserved with a historical road network lined with dry-stone walls surrounded by green fields. The dry-stone walls, or stane-dykes, were tall enough to provide privacy in this close-knit community & similar of those found at home too – such as those in Hirta on St.Kilda.

National Monument

It was thought-provoking to hear about the removal of villagers who were sent to Siberia following WW2, empty farm plots remain as witness to those who did not return.  The tour concluded at the restored, fully functional windmill, a listed cultural monument which appears whimsical. Sadly, what remains of Scotland’s windmills is not so well preserved as you can see via Canmore.

This was the first time I noticed the Kultuurimälestis National Monument sign on a building, however I would soon encounter more. Under the Heritage Conservation Act this designation of cultural monument is given to an object of cultural heritage of historical, scientific, artistic, architectural, religious or other cultural value, which is considered necessary to be preserved for future generations.

Anesti farmstead windmill, Leedri

We bid our farewells to Leedri & off to Lümanda for our supper. Lümanda Söögimaja or tavern, is a popular authentic restaurant in an old church school, offering what I would describe as Saaremaa comfort food. So, we enjoyed mountains of mashed potatoes with a traditional meat sauce – we did not go hungry. After just one day, I think we all realised that Estonian hospitality is hearty.

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Lümanda Church painted with Lubi Ò lime

 

In the evening, as an extra-curricular option we had the opportunity to attend a performance Kuressaare Chamber Music Festival. Four of us opted to join Maarika in listening to the mandolin quartet, Quatuor à Plectres de France France. The performance was enhanced further by its atmospheric location, in the refectory of Kuressaare Castle.

But more about that location later…

 

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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 © Charlestown Lime Heritage Trust, National Museums Scotland & Historic Environment Scotland Licensor Scran

 

25th July 2018
by Scran
0 comments

Scran is 21 today!

Scran 1997 screenshotThe world was very different in 1997. Google didn’t yet exist, and the poor benighted users of the fledgling World Wide Web had to rely on Yahoo, AltaVista and Excite to search the few websites that existed. Amazon had not yet reached the UK- instead readers actually had to visit bookstores to buy books. And the only social networking going on happened at cocktail parties.

The Scran database appeared on the Web on this day 21 years ago, though it had been in existence as a project for a couple of years prior to this. Funded by the Millennium Commission (i.e. the National Lottery), it sought to digitize Scotland’s cultural heritage for the first time.  Scran was able to showcase material from many different museums and collections, big and small, and pre-dated most museum websites in Scotland.

Since its first days, Scran has continued to adapt and grow. We introduced Pathfinders, collated groups of related materials, usually from different institutions and linked by specially-written text; we developed Stuff, where users can save their favourites, group them in Albums, edit and manipulate these and share them with other users; and in recent years we introduced Contribute, allowing users to upload their own materials to Scran.

In recent years we’ve become a service of Historic Environment Scotland, which means that we now have access to a huge tranche of new images, and our digital offering can supplement the physical places that HES manages, such as Edinburgh Castle, Duff House and Fort George. There are plans afoot to develop Scran further, along with HES’s other databases such as Canmore, Britain From Above and NCAP, so watch this space. And here’s to the next 21 years.

Arbroath Abbey trail launch

2nd July 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

One of the great things about Scran becoming part of Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is that as well as having over 500,000 amazing digitised records to showcase, we also now get to work with over 300 Properties in Care. This is the technical name for the 300+ important historic buildings and monuments that we look after on behalf of the Scottish public. These range from huge enterprises such as Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle, to standing stones such as Machrie Moor and stately houses such as Duff House.

I got the chance to visit one of our properties, Arbroath Abbey in Angus, last week and see the amazing work that had been done by a group of young students from Arbroath Academy. Calling themselves the “1,2 History Crew”, they are a group of eight S1 and S2 pupils who formed a Friday afternoon after-school club. Colleagues from Scotland’s Urban Past (an HES project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund) and HES itself offered the group an opportunity to design a heritage trail around the ruined Abbey for family visitors. The trail highlights aspects of Arbroath’s past such as the harbour, Signal Tower & Bell Rock Lighthouse, Arbroath Abbey, Arbroath FC, the WWII Drill Hall, shipwrecks, Arbroath smokies and the Declaration of Arbroath. The History Crew researched these historical sites, events and objects, and then chose historical characters linked to their area of interest and went out and about in Arbroath for a historical ‘photoshoot’.

Using the information and photos, the group chose to create a geocache-style trail for other young people to learn about Arbroath’s heritage, creating bookmarks and working with a local artist to design ‘seals’ linked to their sites which were turned into stamps. Stamps and bookmarks then became part of the trail, and these were hidden in different locations round Arbroath Abbey to create the Arbroath Abbey Trail.

The group then put together and delivered a presentation for pupils from Hayshead Primary School, inviting them to Arbroath Abbey for the launch of the trail. They planned the launch event and hosted P7 pupils, leading groups around the abbey to test the trail.

Angus Council offered the group an opportunity to produce banners based on what the young people had created, for display on fencing surrounding a new housing development near the abbey and these were unveiled on 22nd June.

The project enabled the young people from the Academy to explore what their local heritage meant to them, take pride in it and to share it with others. They developed in confidence, and in addition to the creative aspects of producing the trail, the experience of planning and carrying out an entire project was really beneficial to them. They all had the opportunity to develop leadership skills during the afternoon with the primary pupils, and this was the first time that most of them had taken on the role of leading a group. As well as the efforts of the pupils, thanks are due to Fiona Davidson, HES Learning Officer, Tracy Morgan, a youth worker at Angus Council, and Fiona Watson of Scotland’s Urban Past.

The trail itself is now available for visiting families and young people to try when visiting Arbroath Abbey on Saturdays.

 

 

 

Images: © Andrew James  

Grand Slam!

22nd June 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

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“Rally” by Sir John Lavery 1885

The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships – known simply as Wimbledon – is the oldest tennis tournament in the world. It takes place for a fortnight in late June and early July, and has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, south-west London since 1877.

Wimbledon is one of four Grand Slam tennis tournaments held around the world, the others being the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open. Wimbledon is the only one still to be played on grass. The tournament culminates in the Singles Finals: the Ladies’, held on the second Saturday of the fortnight, and the Gentlemen’s, on the second Sunday.

Sphairistike?

Edinburgh University Lawn Tennis Club 1898

The game of lawn tennis was devised by one Major Walter Clopton Wingfield in 1876. Originally called ‘sphairistike’ it was introduced as a new game to the All England Croquet Club, located in Worple Road, Wimbledon. The new game took off and the Club was renamed The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club a year later. A new code of laws was drawn up and the Club held its inaugural Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships in July 1877. Two hundred spectators paid one shilling to watch old Harrovian, Spencer Gore, win the only event of the tournament, the Gentlemen’s Singles Final. In 1884, Ladies’ Singles and Gentlemen’s Doubles were introduced; and in 1913, Ladies’ Doubles and Mixed Doubles were added.

 

 

Women tennis players, Falkirk c.1900

In 1922 the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club moved to its current Wimbledon location in Church Road. The lawns on which the games take place were originally laid out so that the principal one was positioned in the middle and hence became known as Centre Court. Finals matches continue to take place on Centre Court. Once open to the elements, in 2009 a retractable roof was fitted and crowd-pulling matches are now no longer at the mercy of the British weather. Over the years, the Club has grown in size and a long-term plan to develop the site further was unveiled in 1993. This has seen the creation of new lawn tennis courts, improved facilities for players, spectators and the media – Wimbledon was first televised in 1937. There is also now a museum within the complex and even a bank.

Strawberries & Cream

Tennis Dress 1926

Wimbledon has spawned many traditions. Its associations with strawberries and cream, as refreshment for spectators, and lemon barley water, as refreshment for the players, are well known, as is its patronage by members of the Royal Family. A strict dress code is maintained for competitors, who are required to wear predominantly all-white clothing. The odd flash of non-fluorescent colour is acceptable as long as it is not identifiable as being the logo of a commerical sponsor. The umpire, linesmen, ball-boys and ball-girls originally wore green, but since 2006 have sported navy blue and cream uniforms. Some etiquette observed at Wimbledon can seem outdated. Scoreboards still feature the titles of Miss and Mrs for female players. It was only as recent as 2009 that married female players were no longer referred to by their husband’s name – Chris Evert-Lloyd, during her marriage to John Lloyd, appeared at Wimbledon as Mrs J M Lloyd.

Wimbledon Trivia

  • During the Second World War, 5 bombs hit Centre Court – it took 9 years for the court to be fully restored
  • Yellow tennis balls were introduced in 1986 – the white balls used up till then were difficult for the umpires to see
  • The last time anyone used a wooden racket at Wimbledon was in 1987
  • Each year at Wimbledon 28,000 kg of strawberries & 7,000 litres of cream are eaten

 

Images © By courtesy of Felix Rosentiel’s Widow & Son Ltd, London on behalf of the Estate of Sir John Lavery, National Museums Scotland, Falkirk Museums, Victoria & Albert Museum  Licensor Scran

Scran for reminiscence work

12th June 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

We’re always delighted when users get in touch to demonstrate the many and varied ways they use Scran.

One of our users, Jill Reid, a Network Librarian for Mearns Community Library in Laurencekirk, recently shared with us a quiz that she put together for a group of her library clients.

As Jill herself explains, “Mearns Library is a school and public library in the south of Aberdeenshire. Once a month the local Past Times group visit the library. The Past Times group is a social and active group for people with early stage dementia or cognitive impairment. Library activities with the group range from reminiscence packs on topics such as football, 1950s & 60s, school days etc., Pictures to Share books for discussion, and music quizzes. I used Scran to create a quiz called “Where and When” [see below]. Images from the local area were shown, then after a discussion about where and when, the information [that accompanies] the picture was revealed. The group (and volunteers) enjoyed it, and it would be fantastic to use the resource again”.

You can take a look at the quiz Jill created at https://www.scran.ac.uk/presentations/ScranPictureQuiz.pptx.

Scran images are a great way to stimulate discussion, whether with children, students or the elderly, and we love showcasing examples of good practice. If you’ve done something similar, let us know and we’d love to feature it in Scranalogue.

Image: © Newsquest (Herald & Times)  Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

Insider Information from a Scran Volunteer

1st June 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

Nellie MacDougall 1912

Here at Scran we have a longstanding volunteer who has been toiling away for almost ten years. This trusted member of the Scran team, Alison McKay, deals with a steady stream of information, liaises with Scran fans & then enhances the records. In the past decade she has encountered many a curious tale and become expert on a variety of topics. Here is her account of a recent discovery about this picture.

“As a volunteer based at Scran, I receive the messages which are generated by the ‘Comment’ & ‘Correct or Add Info‘ functions available on every Scran record. The messages come from individuals who may have come across a record by chance (as I first did back in 1999 and discovered Scran in its early days) or by focused research and who realise they have something to share from their familiarity with the subject matter of the record. Providing additional information or suggesting corrections to captions attached to Scran records is a wonderful opportunity for people to share their passions, interests and knowledge about subjects as diverse as types of buses, footballer players of yesteryear, speedway riders and scenes from their childhood.

As I join in the detective work of verifying the new information they suggest and making it useful to the ever growing resource which is Scran, I too learn more about their chosen subject. I may find other links in related Scran records to which I can alert them. By sharing information and ideas, the users ‘out there’ provide a voluntary service to complement my in-house voluntary efforts. This collaboration of real and virtual volunteers can continue over an extended period of months or years.

Nellie MacDougall 1903, seated on the far right of the middle row.

Earlier this year, a Scran user supplied a detailed final background paragraph on the teacher, Nellie MacDougall, featured in the above picture in 1912. By scrutinising the image, I was able to identify that the words on the blackboard were French and so this was added to the caption. Next I wondered if the teacher appeared in any other record and I found her in 1903, pictured in the group photograph to the right.

It is satisfying to make links between Scran records, particularly where the photographs have come from different collections and archives. In this case the records relating to Nellie MacDougall came from Grantown Museum and Heritage Trust and the National Museums of Scotland, Scottish Life Archive.

The task of enhancing the caption for these two records may continue. Perhaps a Scran user will be able to give me birth or death dates for Nellie MacDougall (or any other people mentioned) – or even confirm if her teaching subject was French? And was Hamish MacDougall in one of the photographs a relative?”

If you can help Alison discover more about Nellie MacDougall, send an email to scran@scran.ac.ukFinally, we would like to thank Alison for everything she does for Scran, her years of dedication are fully appreciated.

Image: © Grantown Museum and Heritage Trust & National Museums of Scotland, Scottish Life Archive Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

MacFarlane Lang Biscuits

29th May 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

“Butter Bar Biscuits are really delightful – Try Them!”  Perhaps an unsubtle advertising slogan by today’s standards, but no doubt a success for the Macfarlane Lang & Co Biscuit Factory in Glasgow.

Beginning its life as a bread bakery as far back as the year 1817 in the Gallowgate by Mr James Lang, the premises then consisted of a small shop with bakery attached. Soon after the joining of Mr John Macfarlane, in 1860 the company found the need to move into larger premises in Calton. It was here that Macfarlane was joined by his two sons and it was soon decided to erect premises specially adapted to the trade. Opened in 1880, the large factory ensured the continuing prosperity of the firm. It was in 1885, that they decided to manufacture of biscuits as well.

At its extent, the Victoria Bread & Biscuit Works complex at 30 Wesleyan Street, Bridgeton, Glasgow covered an area of seven thousand square yards. A five-storeyed building plus attic block was built in 1895 to designs by J M Monro, architect. The bread and cake part of the business continued to operate on this site, and by 1967 was owned by the Milanda Bread Co Ltd. That bakery operated until 1974, but has since been demolished.

Meanwhile the Victoria Biscuit Works (Macfarlane Lang & Co Biscuit Factory) at 35 Clydeford Drive, Tollcross, Glasgow was built in the 1920s, to replace their first factory.

This one was laid out horizontally rather than vertically, very much in the style of the era. Behind a rather plain façade was a large area of workshops, housing bakery and finishing facilities. When the works was built the packing was all done manually. Amongst others, this is where the production of Rich Tea, Gypsy Cream and Cream cracker biscuits took place – ready for dispatch to all parts of the  world.

At the same time, owner John W. Macfarlane, purchased Villa ‘Norwood’ in 1920s Bearsden. The Biscuit business must have been booming.

In 1948 Macfarlane Lang & Co merged with McVitie & Price. Macfarlane Lang & Co were the largest of the Glasgow biscuit bakers. They were, by 1967, part of the United Biscuits group, an amalgamation of several firms put together by Canadian entrepreneur Gary Weston. The brand name has not survived.

 

Images © University of Strathclyde, National Library of Scotland, East Dunbartonshire Council, Scottish Motor Museum Trust & Historic Environment Scotland Licensor Scran

 

 

Beltane Festival & May Day

30th April 2018 by Scran | 0 comments

The term Beltane is thought to mean bright fire. The festival’s origins lie in Scotland’s distant past when people lived by herding animals. They marked the seasons with community celebrations. Beltane signified the transition from Spring to Summer.

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Before banks had holidays or even the advent of Christianity, there has been a festival held at the start of May to celebrate the first day of summer. Early agricultural peoples across Europe used seasonal indicators like the flowering hawthorn to mark the start of the summer in northern Europe. For the early farmers, summer was a time of warmth and plenty of food between the winter and before the hard harvest work, a great excuse for a party.

Paganism Plagiarism

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Minister conducting a May Day service, Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

When the first Christians arrived in Britain to spread their faith, they used many of the existing customs as a foundation. Major Christian festivals like Christmas and Easter fall near important dates on the solar calendar like winter solstice and spring equinox. By incorporating familiar holidays and symbols, Christian missionaries could encourage piety without asking their converts to stop their fun or completely change their society. Even today, services are held at the top of Arthur’s Seat as the sun comes up over Edinburgh on May 1st. Images of the pagan symbol of rebirth and renewal, like the Green Man who is particularly associated with Beltane, have been included in Christian gravestones for centuries.

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Green Man screaming in panic

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This basic need for a holiday still holds true today. In our increasingly hectic world, people are becoming more curious about their ancient ancestors and customs. Revivals of pagan celebrations of the seasons are becoming popular, and sometimes spectacular events.

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Green Man in the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle

In Edinburgh, a contemporary Beltane Fire Festival is held on Calton Hill on the evening before 1st May to mark the beginning of summer. This variant of the Beltane festival was started in 1988 by enthusiasts, with academic support from the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Since then it has become an immensely popular event in the city’s calendar, drawing on a variety of historical, mythological and literary influences including the Green Man and the May Queen.

Beltane celebrates fertility and the earth’s ripe abundance. Various rites were performed to ensure the fertility of nature and the fires were believed to purify and protect against plague and epidemics. Modern day Beltane festivals are mainly for public entertainment.

The Victorians

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Peebles First Beltane Queen – Friday 23rd June 1899

The Victorians also realised the value of a celebration for the whole community and began ‘reviving’ local customs in towns across Britain, like the Riding of Marches in Peebles to define the town’s boundaries. Here the Beltane originally celebrated the advent of the Summer Solstice in May and in folklore was a Celtic festival devoted to Baal, the God of Fire.

The modern celebration, marking midsummer, is primarily a children’s festival and incorporates the Riding of the Marches. In 1899, the first Beltane Queen was crowned with all due pomp and ceremony, moving the celebration to mid June. The Peebles Beltane Festival continues into the 21st century bringing tourism to the town.

Images © Scottish Media Group, National Museums Scotland,  Beltane Fire Society & Gerry McCann, Historic Environment Scotland, Collection of Bert Robb & Eric Stevenson  Licensor Scran