One of the many strengths of Scran, we feel, is the diversity of our collections, the happy by-product of having such a diverse range of contributors. A picture of an 18th century cottage? It’s on Scran. David Bowie at Murrayfield? Yep, it’s on Scran. A Degas painting? Yes, we’ve got that too. In fact, we cover most subjects under the sun. Which is why, when I got a chance to go to Finland and take images of and learn about forests, I jumped at the chance.
This development opportunity was created by ARCH, a Scottish body promoting cultural and heritage links between this country and the rest of Europe. My Scottish colleagues on the trip were from cultural and environmental organisations including Scotland’s Natural Heritage, Loch Lomond & The Trossach’s National Park and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. In the space of 6 days, I learned a lot about how forests are developed and managed for the benefit of wildlife, visitors, land owners and the Finnish economy; we also met with staff from Finland’s National Parks, from its hunting agency, staff from two forestry colleges and more. Through talking to my colleagues on the trip, I was able to compare and contrast forestry in Scotland with forestry in Finland; one noticeable difference between the two countries even to my untrained eye is just the sheer amount of forestry in Finland- you’re surrounded by trees, mostly pine, spruce and birch, even in cities- we visited an urban forest just outside Tampere and the forest was, literally, just outside the gardens in the suburban homes.
So what, you may be asking, does this have to do with Scran? Well, we already have some forestry-related information on Scran; the Forestry Commission Scotland is one of our contributors. We also have agricultural and botanical subscribers, and many of our subscribing colleges offer vocational courses in agriculture and arboreal subjects. The photos I took in Finland will be uploaded to Scran in the coming weeks, and I’m sure that these will be useful to many of our subscribers.
Arts Award is a series of qualifications for children and young people accredited by Trinity College London. Heritage is very much seen as part of the arts world and young people can focus on any traditional craft or more broadly heritage based creative roles, such as curating as part of their Arts Award Portfolio.
To date, there have not been many heritage organisations in Scotland taking up Arts Award. However, at the Museum Association Conference at the SEC last Autumn, we were blown away by the amount of interest in the awards and by the open friendliness of all the creative learning professionals we encountered.
To start with, a group of around fifteen 15-25 year olds will come together to use the heritage of Stirling as inspiration and resource for a Silver Arts Award.
Silver Arts Award encourages young people to develop their artistic practice (any art form), delve further into the world of the arts in the locality and to work together on a leadership project.
The group will have the opportunity to work with a range of artists and heritage experts including the outreach team at Scotland’s Urban Past and take part in a traditional arts workshop at the Engine Shed.
Then, next April, the group’s leadership project will be to devise a creative virtual and/or physical heritage trail for other young people. This trail will involve arts activity, discovering artists and some way for those taking part to share what they have created/discovered. All young people who have completed the trail will receive a Discover Arts Award.
The young people will chart their progress in a digital Arts Award portfolio, culminating in achieving the Silver (equivalent to level 5 on the SCQF). More details on the awards can be found at www.artsaward.co.uk or for Scottish specific case studies: www.seethinkmake.co.uk
School outcomes after looking at stained glass in the Scottish National War Memorial
The Britain from Above website features images from the Aerofilms collection, a unique aerial photographic archive of international importance and provides access to 95,000 of the oldest and most valuable photographs in the Aerofilms collection, those dating from 1919 to 1953.
Canmore contains more than 320,000 records and 1.3 million catalogue entries for archaeological sites, buildings, industry and maritime heritage across Scotland. Canmore contains information and collections from all its survey and recording work, as well as from a wide range of other organisations, communities and individuals who are helping to enhance this national resource.
The National Collection of Aerial Photography / NCAP is one of the largest collections of aerial imagery in the world, containing tens of millions of images featuring historic events and places around the globe.
Scotlands Places is a joint service between HES, The National Records of Scotland and The National Library of Scotland. Users can search on a place name or a coordinate to search across these collections or they can use the mapping in the website to both define and refine their search.
& not forgetting Scran – we are an online learning service of the charity Historic Environment Scotland. We hold over 490,000 images and media from over 300 museums, galleries, and archives. Scran aims to advance public education by enabling access to Scotland’s culture, heritage and related material. Contributors include National Museums Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland, The Scotsman, University of Edinburgh, The Hunterian and many more. Scran is a subscription service and is free at the point of use in most schools, colleges, universities and public libraries in Scotland.
Finally, we love to meet our users in person, answers questions & show you new things about our services – so if you are at the SECC, do stop by D60 for a chat.
One of Scran’s founding aims when it was inaugurated over 20 years ago was to give greater visibility to museums, archives and galleries across Scotland, and to level the playing field between the large National institutions and the smaller ones. One of the best things about Scran, for some of these small museums and galleries, is simply having a digital presence, a place to display their amazing collections when they don’t have the funding or the agreement to create a website of their own. We now have over 300 contributing institutions, all of which have equal billing within Scran searches, and we’ve made available tens of thousands of records from the museums that wouldn’t otherwise be viewable on the World Wide Web.
Another relatively small institution, The Museum of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, based at Edinburgh Castle, approached us at the end of 2016 to enquire about putting some of their digitised museum artefacts on Scran, and we were very excited to have the chance to host these.
The Royal Regiment of Scotland was formed in 2006, when The Royal Scots, The King’s Own Scottish Borderers, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, The Black Watch, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, The Highlanders, 52nd Lowland and 51st Highland Regiments were amalgamated.
The Regimental museum displays a number of objects relating to the Regiment’s activities since its formation in 2006, including artefacts from its operations in Afghanistan as well as clothing and equipment. The records that the Museum has licensed to Scran thus far include a Taliban flag, body armour from desert operations, and children’s toys handed out to Afghani youngsters; they’ll be of immense value to schools and colleges as part of the Modern Studies and Modern History curricula. You can see the first 51 records in the Museum’s collection here. This initial batch of images from the Museum should be joined by others later in the year.
Last year, Scran was delighted to be contacted by Annabel Murray, who had an exciting find to share with us. She brought in a box of glass slides, along with an antique slide viewer. The slides were images of her stepfather as a young boy, along with members of his family, servants and other friends. Although the family had its roots in Scotland, the images were taken in Malawi in the 1930s. The most exciting part for us, though, was that the images were stereoscopic- in other words, the slides contained two images side-by-side, taken with a special camera with two lenses. The two lenses are set slightly apart and mimic what the human eyes see, so that each picture is slightly different, offset by a few centimetres. The resulting images can then be viewed in a stereoscopic viewer, a little bit like a pair of opera glasses, and the image appears to be 3-dimensional. The same principle was used in children’s View Master toys. It’s easier to see than to explain, so here’s a picture:
The images themselves are terrific, and while they are certainly of historical and archival interest, we felt it was important to preserve their stereoscopic nature. They have a lot of scientific value- biology students and tutors will find these fascinating, as they are directly informed by the science of optics and the inner workings of the eye. We’ve digitised the images, with much help from the Historic Environment Scotland photography team, and made them available to download here.
We’ve also digitised 12 images that seemingly came free with the viewer, a bit like the free reels that you get with a modern-day View Master. In this case, they’re images of the walled French medieval city, Carcassonne. Again, they’re really amazing curios. They can be seen at www.scran.ac.uk/s/carcassonne.
We’re looking for a new member to join our Education & Outreach team, based in Edinburgh. If you’re as enthused about digitisation, culture and history as we are, drop us a line! More info and the application form are at http://bit.ly/ScranJob, and the closing date is July 21st 2017 at noon.
“I’m Theo Smith, over the past week I have been doing work experience with Historic Environment Scotland. Part of my work experience has been working with Scran. I was tasked with writing a blog post inspired by my discoveries on scran.ac.uk. After a bit of research I decided to see what I could find about my school and its founder George Heriot. I decided on this topic because even though I already know a bit about my school’s history, I wanted to find out more. When looking through Scran I found some really interesting information and images – here is what I found out.”
George Heriot – Founder of the School (1563-1624)
George Heriot was born in 1593 to a father of the same name. His father was a goldsmith and was descended from the Heriots of Traboun, an old and well known family in East Lothian. In 1588 George Heriot became a member of the Corporation of Goldsmiths, continuing his father’s work. He was so good at his work that in 1597 he became the goldsmith to Queen Anne, which led to him becoming the jeweler and goldsmith to King James VI only four years later. When King James became King of England, Heriot followed him to London and lived there until he died on the 12th February 1624 at the age of 60. He died a very rich man and those riches would go into building a school for the upbringing and education of the “puire fatherless bairnes” of Edinburgh. It would be named Heriot’s Hospital.
Inside the Quadrangle – 1953
The building of the school was taken on by the royal master mason William Wallace. He was a well known in Scotland as an expert for these kinds of buildings as he already had a number of notable structures to his name. He also was the main mason on the King’s Lodgings at Edinburgh Castle. But Wallace died before he could finish and the job was taken up by his apprentice William Aytoun who had assisted him on various other projects. Aytoun almost completed the building however he died at the end of the 1640’s. In 1693 Robert Mylne presented drawings to build the large octagonal clock tower. He also added a statue of George Heriot inside the quadrangle. In the early 19th century the well known architect William H Playfair added a gatehouse on Lauriston Place.
The gatehouse at Lauriston Place
He also added a terrace around the base of the main building of the school. The interior of the chapel in the south side of the main building was done by Scottish architect James Gillespie Graham in 1837.
When the main building of the school was complete in 1650 it was occupied by the injured and sick troops of Oliver Cromwell until 1658 when he died. The school opened its gates to 30 more boys. This increased the number of boys living at the school to 150. In 1837 the school opened 10 ‘free schools’ across Edinburgh which educated several thousand children however they closed in 1885. A year later Heriot’s Hospital was renamed to George Heriot’s School which it has remained ever since. In the 1870’s the school paid for an institution, which would later merge with the Watt institution, to form Heriot-Watt College, a technical college, which would later become the Heriot-Watt University.
The Brannan Sisters arrive in August 1979
In 1979 three Brannan sisters from Dalkeith became the first girls to attend the school. There are a number of children in the school, those who meet the financial and residential criteria, who still receive help from the school which offers full coverage of the costs to attend. This shows that George Heriots legacy still continues and may continue for a long time to come.
Recently we gathered at Forthview Primary School in Edinburgh with Miss Watson’s P7 class, their friends & families for the premiere of the animation Forthview of the Great War. As the credits rolled we were able to reflect on the project which had brought us to this point, a project which brought together Forthview Primary School, Edinburgh Castle’s Learning Officer & the Scran Education Team.
Film Premiere at Forthview PS
Beginning in January 2017, this project took the form of a journey through the First World War, exploring the experiences of those involved in the war, from propaganda and recruitment to remembrance. During the First World War many new recruits passed through Edinburgh Castle’s gates, experienced their first taste of military life during initial training and stood on the Castle Esplanade ready to begin their journey to the Front; sadly many never returned. The project followed the journey of these soldiers and others caught up in the First World War, reflecting on their experience.
Military Hospital, Edinburgh Castle 1914
With Scran, Historic Environment Scotland’s Learning Team provided a range of interactive and cross-curricular workshops at school and at Edinburgh Castle. Pupils learned about propaganda and the methods used to encourage people to sign up or do their bit for the war and created their own propaganda posters with artist Hannah Ayre. They followed in the footsteps of the men who came to Edinburgh Castle to sign up and experienced a taste of what initial training would have been like in an immersive workshop run by Artemis Scotland. In this workshop they also took on the role of VAD nurses, learning how to put an arm in a sling and the tiresome task of rolling bandages! They learned about the realities of trench warfare through object handling at the National War Museum and reflected on those who had lost their lives during the war; visiting the Scottish National War Memorial and exploring real objects from WWI as inspiration to write their own remembrance poetry with poet Ken Cockburn and arts educator Lorna Irvine.
Using the Scottish National War Memorial to tell the story
As a culmination of the pupils’ learning journeys and to bring together and reflect on what they had learned from the workshops at Edinburgh Castle and at school, HES commissioned animator, Henry Cruickshank, to work with the pupils to create their animation. It was this animation that we gathered together to view for the first time on the 8th June.
Led by Henry Cruickshank, the pupils created their own characters and story. Suitable Scran imagery was carefully selected to support the pupils’ creative writing ideas and then integrated into the storytelling. The archive imagery was used as the backdrop for their characters and pupils decided which to use scene by scene. Using stop-go animation they then brought their characters to life! Heleen Schoolmeesters, an intern working with the HES learning team, also documented the whole process in the following film.
The final animation follows one character on his journey, from recruitment to training, to his experience on the battlefield. Powerful lines from the pupils’ own poetry and carefully selected words provide the soundtrack and the final scene reminds us of the families left behind and the importance of continuing to remember and reflect on those who gave their lives during the Great War.
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It is hoped this summary of our partnership project will inspire other groups to engage with their local heritage and learn about the experiences of people during World War One. If you are interested in developing such creative learning opportunities, please contact us – either the Scran Education Team or Historic Environment Scotland‘s Learning Team.
2017 is the Scottish year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, and May is the month in which we highlight Scotland’s industrial heritage. For International Museums Day on May 18th this year, archives and museums including Scran were asked to contribute materials on the theme of “contested histories”. We had a think about an appropriate subject, and decided to draw on our extensive archives (and those of Canmore at www.canmore.org.uk) to tell the story of the 1984-85 miners’ strike in Scotland, a story that definitely has two sides, and remains controversial to this day.
Drawing on documentary photos, leaflets, flyers, posters, badges, interviews and video recordings from archives and museum collections including the National Museums of Scotland and the Scottish Mining Museum, the story takes the form of a long essay and is an attempt to look at the human side of the dispute as much as the industrial one. For technical reasons, the essay is hosted at www.canmore.org.uk/discovery/strike rather than on Scran.
The Scran Education Officers have been spending a lot of time in Scottish schools of late. This is nothing new, you might think- Scran has always spent a lot of time in Scottish schools, usually training teachers at twilight CPD sessions in how to use our website, so that this knowledge can be cascaded down the school.
Recently, though, we’ve been doing more and more interaction within school hours, directly with learners in the classroom, getting them hands-on with Scran and engaging with our archives as part of the Curriculum for Excellence. Last week our travels took us to Falkirk, where we met up with students from three different classes at two schools, Antonine Primary and Denny Primary. Both schools are currently studying ScotJam- we were none the wiser until the teachers told us the abbreviation stands for Scotland/Jamaica- and exploring the many links between their home country and the Caribbean island.
We spent a fascinating morning and afternoon with the children as they pored over the Jamaica-related materials on Scran. We found images of the Jamaican flag, and noted its similarity to the Scottish Saltire. This is apparently not a coincidence. The flag was designed in part by Rev William R.F. McGhie, a Scottish Presbyterian minister located in Jamaica at the time of its independence from the UK. We stumbled upon numerous Scran images of Jamaica Street in Glasgow, and noted the presence of similarly-named streets in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Conversely, we discovered that there is an Edinburgh Castle in Jamaica.