This is Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and newly-released figures show that communities around Scotland, including Whithorn, have risen to the challenge of exploring and celebrating their roots, many for the first time.
According to the Heritage Lottery Fund, 460 community groups have taken the opportunity to get hands on with the stories, traditions, industries and landscape which surround them thanks to funding from the National Lottery. From Unst in Shetland to Whithorn, 98 project dotted across the country have inspired people of all ages to investigate, preserve and share the heritage on their doorstep.
Prehistoric Interior Design
In Whithorn, young people have turned their hand to Iron Age interior design exploring how their ancestors would have lived in a Roundhouse, from the furniture they sat on to the music they danced to. Hundreds of children have used the Roundhouse as a prehistoric classroom to experience life 450BC. The Roundhouse has been reconstructed using detail from an archaeological discovery of an incredibly well-preserved roundhouse under the peat nearby.
Julia Muir-Watt, Development Manager at The Whithorn Trust: “The Whithorn Trust applied to HLF because it wanted to be part of the celebrations of the Year of Heritage, History and Archaeology - that’s very important to us, as archaeologists have been investigating Whithorn’s history for the last 130 years - and still are!
“We wanted to involve young people and children and make the most of our new Iron Age roundhouse, and this was a programme which fitted our plans. Fun events, with a serious archaeological basis, are showing how 2,500 years ago, people decorated themselves, their homes and enjoyed cooking and entertainment around the fire with their extended families.
“Visitors, families and especially local schools and the nursery, have really enjoyed comparing and contrasting how similar we are while exploring some of the differences.”
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Hundreds of community groups across Scotland have embraced the Stories, Stones and Bones programme. It underlines Scotland’s place as a nation with rich history, heritage and impressive archaeology.
“I welcome the Heritage Lottery Fund’s engagement and funding in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. It has generated huge interest and captured the imagination of community-based projects that wish to celebrate their own local heritage.”
As a key partner to the Year of History Heritage and Archaeology, the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded over £852,000 funding to the 98 projects through its dedicated Stories Stones and Bones programme. Over half the applications were from people motivated to explore heritage for the very first time.
Ancient Murder Mystery
A two-thousand-year-old cold case is being explored at what was the largest and most powerful Roman Fort in Scotland, Trimontium near Melrose. Using forensics excavated at the site over 100 years ago, a ‘citizen jury’ of teenagers will give their verdict on what lay behind the discovery of several bodies in a pit, a mystery which continues to baffle historians and archaeologists.
Classroom under the Sky
An outdoor classroom in the beautiful Glen Strathfarrar near Beauly has welcomed 400 children from urban schools to learn about the Sheiling way of life in the Highlands. They got stuck into the mud as they learn the traditional skills of cutting and building with turf helping to construct a livestock pen for the Sheiling. They will also hear the stories and understand the place names associated with this traditional way of life.
Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said:
“We are very excited about Stories, Stones and Bones and have been overwhelmed by the interest it’s had from people wanting to explore what’s important to them and their community. It’s been a real opportunity to open the door to those that don’t normally get involved in heritage, particularly young people, and let them see what it has to offer. I’m delighted that, thanks to players of The National Lottery, so many people are involved in celebrating this special year in Scotland.”