Monday, 18 October 2010

Old Photos and the Stewartry Museum

I don't think I went out at all yesterday and by lunchtime today I could feel my vitimin D bank was particularly low, so I went out for a wee wander. I'd been out wandering for about 10 minutes when the normal West of Scotland weather service was resumed so I popped into the museum for a nosey as I don't think I had been in for months.

They've got a small exhibition of odds and ends from local villages on at the moment and it features a couple of photos which have some connection to my recent blog about Tongland - have a quick look back if you've not been - it was only last week sometime.

The Tongland railway viaduct.

The Galloway engineering works, where Arrol Johnston made cars in the '20s - now very much bricked up. Notice the netting on the top of the building - they had a tennis court up there.

And while we're at black and white pictures, here's one of the museum itself in ..well, a long time ago - I'd say beginning of the 20th century or the very end of the 19th. It has to be after 1893 because that was when the building was built to house the exhibits.

Whizz forward a century to today (sometime round about 3 o'clock in the afternoon today, if you must know) and the Indian elephant has gone (I seem to remember that it is now one of the exhibits in the Museum on Chambers Street in Edinburgh), the stuffed birds have moved upstairs and there's no sign of that crossbow in the whole museum, or at least I've never found it, but over all it remains very similar to what it was like then.

This old figure head sits unlabeled in a corner of the museum that always seems to be a bit of a jumble to me.

Novelty mugs are not new - these pieces of jug were removed during excavations of the castle and are likely from the 14th century.

This is a model of a crannog - a type of lake dwelling from the dim and distant of which several examples are known locally. In Ireland they know of 2000 crannog sites and 600 here in Scotland dating from around 3000BC for one in North Uist to well into the first millenium AD.

A old harpoon end found in the local river - made of red deer antler and carbon dated to about 4500BC

I would say the most important item in the museum is the Sillar Gun, not that it is in a prominent place and it's easily missable on a quick whisk through the building. It is the oldest surviving sporting trophy in Britain having been presented by James the VI for shooting in 1587. It is still used, being competed for on special occasions, not that the holder gets to have it in his mitts any longer than is required for a photo for the local paper. I think it is the oldest sporting trophy in the world still used for it's original purpose, the internet isn't any use for confiming this, as most of it thinks that the Americas cup is the oldest trophy in the world (a mere 264 years later).

And finally in this little batch, a piece of an Ash tree felled in 1912. When the wood was split the following initials were found carved inside - 14 inches and 157 annual rings away from the bark.


Becky said...

I love museums, and this one is great I feel like I have spent a part of the afternoon there. I would like to spend more time browsing around. Particularly interesting were the initials from the tree and the bit of red deer antler that is so old. Wow! My dad, who collected things like "bobbed" wire, would have loved these items you showed.

Sandy's witterings said...

It is often little collections, be it birds eggs or bobbed wire, that make up the bigger collection that we wander along to museums to see. Perhaps one day people will be admiring your Dad's wire collection in the Smithsonian. - Just what is Bobbed wire by the way.

Curiosity Anne said...

Could spend hours pottering around that museum. Could you imagine doing a stocktake!
My family history shows my maternal line coming from the Shetlands (gone back to 1300's so far) and Uist, also Stornaway and I would love to visit these places someday. Wonder if they lived in such a hut.

Sandy's witterings said...

Well done on getting to the 1300 - I was happy getting out the other end of Victorian times.
I've never been to the outer Hebridies myself (so many place so see and not enough time).Living in one of those huts doesn't look like too bad an option for an ancestor.
At least i should imagine the museum stocktake changes little from year to year - if they do one. If you remember when Windsor castle had it's fire a few years back, they didn't have a proper inventory and have no idea exactly what they lost.

Zia Wolf-Sun said...

Funny...that b/w photo of the engineering works strikes me as not lookinout of place as such, today if it wasn't for the way the figures are dressed. Most interesting post :)

Sandy's witterings said...

We get ideas about when certain things belong in history and I would think that the 1920s would be about the earliest for that style of building. But you're right Wolfie, it wouldn't look out of place now - I suspect there's still plenty of that type still about and in use.