National Volunteers Week

#ntsvolsweek2017

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the National Trust for Scotland conserving for the battlefield and this December the 10th anniversary of the current visitor centre opening its doors.

For many of the people who visit the site one of the resounding memories of visiting the exhibition is being able to handle the contents of a 18th century soldiers kit bag, explore the equipment of a doctors field surgery or have the opportunity to feel what it is like to hold a basket hilted broad sword.

The person running the handling box or speaking to the visitor is most likely a member of our volunteering team.

Between the 1- 7 June we are celebrating the National Volunteers’ Week and in this blog post we wanted to say thank you to the team and showcase some of the great work they do here. Our volunteers speak to thousands of people a week – Culloden visitor experience would not be the same without them!

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Volunteer John with our history workshops

 

Myths and Mysteries – how much do you really know about the 1745 Rising?

Did the bounty, placed on Prince Charles Edward Stuart after the battle of Culloden ever claimed after the battle of Culloden?

Were Jacobite broadswords guaranteed to loose against Government muskets? Did all the Highland clans side with the Jacobites?

During our shut down period over Christmas, a couple of our volunteers created the Myths and Mysteries quiz. Our volunteers ask the visitors 10 true or false questions about the Jacobite Rising, it is a great way for the visitors to interact with the history and test their knowledge!

This quiz was used to great success for when the Outlandish Gathering 2017 visited us at the end of May – on that occasion our volunteers researched a couple of additional questions specially for them.

  

Jacobite Pamphlet Project with Highlife Highland

A group of Culloden’s volunteers have recently been working on a joint project to catalogue the vast collection of Jacobite pamphlets at the Archive centre. The volunteers have begun cataloguing the collection – discovering a play about the battle, an alternative name for the battlefield and finding out more about the Earl of Kilmarnock.

 

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Musicians from NTS Folk

 

NTS Folk

 At Culloden, we have a group of volunteer musicians who rehearse here every month and play at events such as our annual community thank you day in November – you might even here them gig at other properties! Look out for them at Brodie Castle in August.

A massive thank you to all our volunteers and we hope you enjoyed reading about just some of the work and support they do for Culloden. As always please, share, comment, like, tweet and stop by to see our amazing team in action.

All the best, K & D

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Ready for a new adventure?

The National Trust for Scotland is lucky enough to have thousands of people volunteering with us to help conserve properties, artefacts and landscapes in our care and help provide fantastic experiences to all our visitors.

However, you may not be aware just how many ways you can volunteer with the Trust. So, if you’re looking for something new to try this year why not take a look at how you can support the National Trust for Scotland.

Firstly, check out the Thistle Camps. These are essentially working holidays. The National Trust for Scotland recently launched its new list of Thistle Camps for 2017 and they are a great opportunity to volunteer, gain skills and have a bit of a fun whilst discovering somewhere new at the same time. There are lots to choose from and you can help with archaeology projects, discover drystane dyking techniques, spend some time kayaking or help create and maintain footpaths on some of Scotland’s most beautiful mountains. (The evenings off aren’t too bad either!) The camps are fantastic fun and very popular so be sure to get in quick to grab your top choice as they fill up fast. Thistle Camps

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Drystane Dyking in Threave

 

If you love the outdoors then definitely consider becoming a Conservation Volunteer. Here you can help the Trust by joining various projects across the country. This could be helping in the garden of a castle, building footpaths on a gorgeous mountain, or contributing to woodland management. You get to experience the wonderful countryside we help protect across the country, meet new people and fit in some exercise. Not only that but there are also training opportunities and lectures which you can attend to learn more skills and build on your knowledge of our wild and beautiful landscapes. The only thing we can’t guarantee is the weather, it is Scotland after all. Conservation Volunteers

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Footpaths Repaired by Conservation Volunteers

 

Probably our best known volunteers are our property volunteers. If you want to help a property then we are always happy to hear from you. Here at Culloden you can join our learning team sharing the knowledge of the battle to people from across the globe and running object handling sessions. If castles tempt you you can become a room or tour guide at many of our properties and our gardens are always looking for those with green fingers to come along. Many of us starting life as a volunteer, including myself as a tour guide at Brodie Castle. It’s easy to fall in love with a property as you discover all its secrets and it is incredible to be able to then share these stories with visitors and make their visit to Scotland even more special. Volunteering

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Volunteer Demonstrations at Culloden

 

With over 3,000 amazing and supportive volunteers we have a brilliant volunteering community throughout Scotland. If you want to join us and help support the National Trust for Scotland, what are you waiting for? Check out the links above, stop by your nearest property and get started on a new adventure. Volunteer with us

All the best, K & D

A Year in Pictures

With 2016 drawing to a close we thought we’d take a look back at all the fun we’ve had this year, with a year in the life of Culloden.

Things started off pretty crazy at Culloden with a total shop refit in January. In the space of three weeks we had the entire space gutted and rebuilt. The best parts for us was firstly getting to help tear the old shop apart. We certainly impressed some of the guys with our ability to rip up floor tiles! And obviously the finished result which looked amazing.

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From an empty shell to a stylish shop

 

To get the year started with a smile we had great fun running kelpies and selkies workshops. Here we got to share some of the great folk tales that Scotland has, as well as getting to have a bit of a play with some arts and crafts.

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Some happy Kelpies at Culloden

 

We also had some snow in February which made the battlefield look gorgeous. No snow yet this winter but we’ll have to wait and see what the new year brings.

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Our gorgeous snow covered battlefield

 

Big excitement in March when we welcomed two new members to the Culloden team, our new ponies, Rosie and Glen. These two fitted in straight away and have busy working hard all year helping our facilities team to maintain the battlefield and prevent the spread of invasive plant species.

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Glen (all white) and Rosie (black with white stripe) our stunning ponies

 

By April we hit the Anniversary and this year it was big one as it marked 270 years since the battle. We hosted the annual commemoration service and had lots of guest lecturers delivering a whole programme of talks about the Jacobites, the battlefield and its archaeology.

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Marking 270 years since the Battle of Culloden

 

In summer things were non-stop. With coaches, cruise ships, visitors from all across the world it was certainly a busy season. We hosted our annual walk in the gloaming which saw its best attendance yet and is fast become a favourite annual event.

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Atmospheric Walk Through the Gloaming

 

And of course, we managed to keep the visitors happy with our volunteers working hard to deliver insightful presentations and run our living history workshops.

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An example of one of our workshops

 

We also managed to take time out to head down to Glenfinnan which reopened the doors to the famous monument after some wonderful restoration work on the tower itself and the beautiful plaques that surround it.

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Glenfinnan Monument

 

By October we were pleased to welcome Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland back for the annual Culloden Run which saw almost 500 runners taking part and raising money for this fantastic cause.

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Annual Culloden Run

 

Things didn’t slow down with our Community Thank You Day in November offering tours, presentations, dancing and singing for everyone to enjoy. And so that brings us to December where we’ve all been getting into the Christmas spirit and enjoying the last few weeks before we start the whole cycle again!

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Discovering the Doctor’s Surgery

 

We’d love to see you come along and join the excitement and history at Culloden next year. As always please like, comment, tweet and keep your eye on the Culloden website to keep up to date with all the events coming up next year.

All the best, K & D

 

 

History in Action

Among the amazing castles, homes, gardens and, of course, battlefields that the National Trust for Scotland looks after there are some great places of industrial heritage which we thought we’d take a little look at today.

Firstly, one of our favourites, and perfect for us wannabe writers, Robert Smail’s Printing Works.

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Robert Smail’s Printing Works

 

Located in the Scottish borders, this small business first starting printing in 1856 and continues to this day. It is a fantastic place, a real treasure trove of items with newspapers, ledgers and paper stacked everyone. Details of every job that the company took on in over 100 years was kept and catalogued. And today, you can still see the machinery in action and be taken back to the time of the Victorian printer. You can try typesetting and letter pressing all with the tremendous sounds of industry in action around you. It’s a fantastically fun place to see and great that it still makes some of the Trusts literature we use today.

Over in the east, we have the lovely site of Preston Mill.

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Preston Mill

 

Some people will recognise this as one of the locations in the Outlander TV series and it’s easy to see why it was chosen, with its unique charm and character. Today the site offers guided tours taking you inside to see the workings of what was East Lothians last working water mill. A mill has been on the site since 1599 but the building would have changed a few times over the years. With its distinctive Dutch style conical-roof it is instantly recognisable and offers a lovely escape from the cities to a quieter spot.

Looking west, we get to Weavers Cottage near Glasgow.

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Weaver’s Cottage

 

This 18th Century cottage recreates the living and working conditions of a typical handloom weaver. Here you can explore the authentic Kilbarchan looms and spinning wheels, as well as see the traditional tartan that they could have made. In the 18th Century there were over 800 handlooms in the village but by the 1930’s just 20 remained. Today the process is rather soothing with its rhythmic motion and we love the fact that there is plenty of colour around the house with all the different fabrics to be found.

Finally, a bit further north near Dundee is another mill, Barry Mill.

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Barry Mill

 

The big highlight of Barry Mill is the fact that it is still working. And for a place where the youngest bit of equipment is from roughly 1910, this is quite impressive. Barry Mill is one of very few remaining water mills in Scotland that are operational and can actually be viewed by the public. We like it because of its peaceful setting that is broken by the splash of the water wheel as it turns. If you go try and visit on a Sunday when demonstrations of the milling typically take place.

Hopefully, one or more of these properties take your fancy and it’s nice to discover a little about the variety of the properties that the National Trust for Scotland helps care for and protect. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and remember if you’re a member of the Trust then you can visit all these places for free.

All the best, K & D

 

Famous Birthplaces

The NTS looks after some amazing properties and landscapes across Scotland, and therefore, it is unsurprising that we have some fascinating links to some Scottish icons. Here we take a look at a few of our favourite famous connections by exploring the homes of some famous scots.

Firstly, one of the most well known of our properties the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, or RBBM for short.

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Robert Burn’s Cottage

Here you have the chance to really immerse yourself in the history of Burns. From the cottage where Burns was born and raised; across the Brig o’ Doon, the setting for his work Tam o’ Shanter; through to the monument raised after his death. The visitor centre is great and home to lots of interesting artefacts, as well as some fun interactive activities for the young, and the young at heart. If you can definitely tag onto a walk down to the cottage as the guides are very knowledgeable and make sure you get a photo with the lovely mouse statue.

If you get the chance you can also stop by JM Barries Birthplace.

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JM Barries Writing Desk

This quaint cottage where Barrie was born in 1860 is now a museum dedicated to his life. As the ninth of ten children he longed to be a writer from a young age and his most famous creation, Peter Pan, has probably be read by most people. The house includes family heirlooms such as the silk christening robe used for all the Barrie children as well as artefacts from later in his life, including his original desk from his flat in London.

Nearer us in the north we have Hugh Millers Birthplace on the Black Isle in Cromarty.

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Hugh Millers Birthplace

Perhaps not as well known as some of the other men on our list, Hugh Miller was a self-taught folklorist, writer and geologist. His collection of some 6,000 fossils is held by National Museums Scotland with several on show at his birthplace cottage. It is a fascinating journey to discover more about this man who was a pioneering scientist in his day. His advise to ‘Make a right use of your eyes’ encourages everyone to stop and look around them at the beauty of the world we live in.

Finally we turn to Thomas Carlyle’s Birthplace in Ecclefechan.

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Carlyle’s Birthplace in Ecclefechan

Born in 1795 Carlyle was one of Scotland most influential writers and thinkers and though his house does not appear much from the outside, inside it holds a wealth of history. First opened to the public in 1881 the house has remained relatively unchanged, and was actually constructed by Carlyle’s own father and uncle who were both stonemasons. Interestingly when Carlyle died he declined the offer of a final resting place in Westminster Abbey, and was instead buried beside his parents in Ecclefechan.

We hope you enjoyed this taster of special homes the NTS looks after. As always please comment, share, like, re-blog and check out more sites at www.nts.org.uk

All the best, K & D

P.S. Here’s a picture of the gorgeous mouse at RBBM

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Isn’t he lovely?

 

 

Glenfinnan Monument

Glenfinnan Monument marks the beginning of the 1745 Jacobite Rising and makes a beautiful partner to the battlefield of Culloden, where the Rising met its end. Today we look into the history of the monument and the site where it stands.

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Glenfinnan Monument at the head of Loch Shiel

 

In 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart landed in Scotland and made his way up Loch Shiel to Glenfinnan where he hoped the clans would join with him to support the Jacobite cause. He arrived at Glenfinnan with roughly 50 men but within a couple of days his numbers reached 1,500 with support from Cameron of Lochiel, MacDonald of Keppoch to name just two. Satisfied he could make a Rising work the Jacobite standard was raised for the first time and the ’45 Rising began.

Sat at the head of Loch Shiel the monument we see today was put up in 1815, for the local laird Alexander Macdonald of Glenaladale, to commemorate the Jacobites who fought and fell during the 1745 uprising. Sadly the monument also became a memorial to Alexander, who died on 4th January 1815, aged just 28 and thus he did not live to see the monument completed. By all accounts Alexander was a flamboyant man who lived in excess. He seemed to have a liking for nice clothes and was not afraid to spend money and this is confirmed by his debts of some £32,000 when he died.

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Glenfinnan Monument

 

The monument was designed by James Gillespie Graham, a Dunblane-born architect famed for designing part of Edinburgh’s New Town and considered on of Scotland’s foremost architects of the beginning of the nineteenth century. There has been much debate as to whether the monument marks the exact spot where Prince Charles first raised the standard, but it is safe to say that the site is certainly dramatic and fitting for a commemoration. The tower itself is relative simple, standing 18.3m high and encloses a spiral stair lit by narrow slit windows which leads to a crenulated parapet.

Initial impressions of the tower were not always great with one review calling it ‘a cake house, without even the merit of containing cakes’. Originally there was a small bothy at the base of the tower but this was removed in the 1830’s and the now famous highlander was added to the top of the monument. The statue was made by sculptor John Greenshields and many believe it to be of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. However, there is a story that tells of Greenshield travelling to Lee Castle where there was a portrait of Prince Charles that he aimed to copy for the statue. When he arrived there were two portraits side-by-side; one of Prince Charles and one of George Lockhart, whose family owned the castle. Only one was dressed in Highland clothes so Greenshields copied this portrait, but, he got the wrong man,  and supposedly the statue is actually modelled off Lockhart instead of Prince Charles.

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Statue at the top of the monument

 

Today, the National Trust for Scotland looks after the monument and houses a small visitor centre, complete with an exhibition about the monument and the ’45. This year the monument is 201 years old and has undergone conservation work to ensure it remains part of the Glenfinnan landscape and also to renovate some of the gorgeous plaques that surround the monument.

If you get the chance definitely stop by Glenfinnan to see the monument in all its glory. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and keep following the history of the Jacobites from Glenfinnan to Culloden.

All the best, K & D

 

Something off the beaten track…

Most of the properties the National Trust for Scotland looks after are pretty well known and are easy to find on the map but there are a few that are tucked a little bit away from the main path. Today we choose a few of our favourite lesser known properties.

Firstly, the one nearest us, Boath Doocot.

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Boath Doocot

 

This is a small 17th century doocot (or dovecote if you prefer) which stands looking over the site of the Battle of Auldearn which took place in 1645. Just 20 minutes from Culloden it makes a nice stop between ourselves and Brodie Castle to pack a little bit more history into your trip. The doocot stands 7.5m high and houses 515 nesting boxes within its walls. It was donated to the NTS in 1947 by Brigadier J Muirhead of Boath.

Out west we have the ruins of Strome Castle.

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Strome castle ruins

 

One of the best things about this castle is its location as it sits on a little rocky outcrop at the end of Loch Carron offering gorgeous views out towards the Isle of Skye. If you catch it on a sunny day then it is a wonderful drive out along the west coast. The castle is believed to have been built in the 14th Century and changed hands many times over the centuries. Finally in the 1600’s it was besieged by Kenneth MacKenzie, Lord of Kintail and was eventually blown up.

To the east in Fife we have Balmerino Abbey.

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Balmerino Abbey ruins

Though now ruins the abbey was once an impressive Cistercian monastery from the 13th Century. Whilst it may not be as fancy as it once you can still see the beautiful stonework and the arches of the cloisters. Also in the grounds is a beautiful Spanish chestnut tree that is said to be amongst the oldest in Scotland. Tradition says it was planted in 1229 by Queen Ermengarde but more recent studies have shown it to be roughly 500 years old.

Finally why not head out to see Black Hill.

Black Hill

 

Found not far from Glasgow this hill makes a wonderful walk on a nice day. From the top are lovely views down the Clyde Valley and the hill also has a rich archaeological history. The site is home to a Bronze age burial cairn and was once an Iron Age fort. The area was donated to the National Trust for Scotland in 1936 and was designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1969.

We hope you enjoyed reading about this different places. As always please tweet, comment, share and try to check out some of these places for yourself.

All the best, K & D