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  • Suit of Tartan Ross, Kate Tough | www.26treasures.com
    facts The suit was made for Alexander Ross a medical student most likely for the ceremonials surrounding the visit of George IV to Edinburgh in 1822 It was given by Dr Ross to his wife Kitty s younger brother Donald Munro Ross same surname being a coincidence I think The suit was taken to Australia when D M Ross emigrated in1864 aged 34 He won the Best Dressed Highlander rosette at the Melbourne Fayre more than once The suit passed down the family until being donated by The Rev and Mrs Donald Dufty Australia for the opening of NMS in 1998 The act of donation was inspired by repatriation of aboriginal remains by Scottish institutions Geography and dates had ruled out any connection between the wearers of this suit and my forebears What I was invaded by what awakened my writerly urge was what I found in the object file the correspondence the newspaper clippings Its wearers and keepers how they changed the suit and the suit changed them nothing in any way bad just regular family myth making But I couldn t touch that Because as ripe and tantalising as it was it was not mine to tell The owners donated their suit not their family for the public to stare at The significance of the suit as a gift to the people of Scotland brought the weight of the tartan fabric to bear again In what way was it Scottish How authentic was this suit made for a street party Who wears tartan When How relevant is it Does it mean more to the diaspora than the born and bred But I couldn t resolve the politics of tartan in 62 words And I d take no avenue that could be construed however unintentionally as disrespectful to the donors of the object I wouldn t examine the more Scottish than the Scots angle and how the diaspora feels about Scotland I would not set out to disabuse them of their views I don t even know my own This object was not a fossil whose relatives were long dead Or a piece of industrial equipment which never had any This object was gifted to Scotland by a generous family who live albeit very far away I wouldn t be ungracious It s not what Scots are known for This tartan coatee had become a straight jacket What words were left for me Well I had the fact that when I first saw its photograph I loved it Utterly almost sexually it hooked me The fresh blood red of it the pleat and puff of it The curl and drape of it The red The luminous red It hung like there was a man still wearing it If you stand a man s clothes up I thought he can t leave Take down this kilt and coatee Let him rest With 15 minutes till closing time I scurried out from behind the scenes at the museum and back in

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/suit-tartan-ross-kate-tough (2016-02-12)
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  • Bionic Hand, Lucy Harland | www.26treasures.com
    hand respond to the signals sent by your brain for the first time I haven t been to see my object Quite deliberately I m an adopted Glaswegian not an islander so it would be possible I know where the hand is I just don t want my mind to be too cluttered with my museum baggage In my real life I operate on the other side of the museum s green baize door One of the things that I do is to help museums write labels I have spent hours of my life poking through the recesses of other people s curatorial knowledge knowledge that they have crafted into talks conference papers lovingly researched doctoral theses and then synthesising it into 30 word object labels and definitely no more than 30 I am the word count police Debating what can and can t be said What tone of voice should we use Are we the museum and you the visitor Are we sufficiently chatty Help are we sounding too patronising Do we share our doubts about provenance or do we ignore what we don t know and maintain our Victorian forefathers and they were fathers and mostly bearded ones at that voice of certainty How do we make a flat iron tell a story It s my bread and butter to have conversations about how to interpret things in museums We would start by discussing the context of the gallery or display and then the specific interpretation aims of this section and object Perhaps we would decide to talk about the triumph of technology over nature or the story of bionics in Scotland or to simply use the words of someone who owns a hand like this as the best way of representing the personal meaning of this object

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/bionic-hand-lucy-harland (2016-02-12)
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  • Daniel Laidlaw's Victoria Cross, J F Derry | www.26treasures.com
    as a hindrance and men were overcome by the Red Star chlorine smog gathering in the trench bottoms exactly where the men were cowering for cover Seeing the distress and destroyed morale the CO implored For God s sake Laidlaw pipe them together Laidlaw recounted On Saturday morning we got orders to raid the German trenches At 6 30 the bugles sounded the advance and I got over the parapet with Lieutenant Young I at once got the pipes going and the laddies gave a cheer as they started off for the enemy s lines As soon as they showed themselves over the trench top they began to fall fast but they never wavered but dashed straight on as I played the old air they all knew Blue Bonnets over the Border I ran forward with them piping for all I knew and just as we were getting near the German lines I was wounded by shrapnel in the left ankle and leg I was too excited to feel the pain just then but scrambled along as best I could I changed my tune to The Standard on the Braes o Mar a grand tune for charging on I kept on piping and piping and hobbling after the laddies until I could go no farther and then seeing that the boys had won the position I began to get back as best I could to our own trenches The shell that wounded Laidlaw had exploded only a few yards distance from him sending up a section of barbed wire entanglements previously cleared by his charging comrades The wire cut off the heel of his boot and a strand lodged in his foot The same shell blast killed Lieutenant Young Laidlaw was now hindered from following his troops but continued until forced from loss of blood to kneel and then become prostrate never ceasing his piping all the while You see he said later I was only doing my duty Duty seems to say it all it is the calling that supercedes common sense the motivation for heroism Duty Such a modest word For King and Country Sentiment almost inconsequential in our modern society obsessed with individual success and the epistemics of constant self evaluation To whom do we pay our duty today Whereas even the the last British soldier who died in action during WWI is an honorable death because his sacrifice was dutiful Ellison G E Private 5th Royal Irish Lancers was unhappily killed only an hour and a half hour before the Armistice came into force The path of duty was the way to glory If Nelson s flags at Trafalgar ordered that England expects that every man will do his duty then the skirl of Laidlaw s pipes strengthened similar resolve from his Scottish ranks and the lyrics to The Standard On The Braes Of Mar that Laidlaw chose are most apt Our prince has made a noble vow To free his country fairly Then wha would

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/daniel-laidlaws-victoria-cross-j-f-derry (2016-02-12)
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  • Coigrich, Linda Cracknell | www.26treasures.com
    Highland Way The nearby graveyard prominent on the mound next to Kirkton Farm dates back to the eighth century More remarkable to me though is the holy pool about a mile away associated with Fillan s early life here and his healing powers For many centuries a monthly ritual its date dictated by the phase of the moon drew gatherings of mentally ill people The pool naturally divided in two by topography maintained a discreet segregation of the sexes After immersion the ill were taken to the Priory and clamped into some kind of device overnight covered in hay and left with Saint Fillan s Bell another holy relic on their heads If they weren t cured by the morning this ritual might have to be repeated Despite the shimmering heat on the day of my walk I shivered a little looking at the pool s glassy dark surface and declined a dip myself As with the lasting power of the holy pool belief in the Coigrich seems to have grown over generations surviving the Reformation and other moves against superstition So great was its reputation that even when the relic s keeper of the time Archibald Dewar emigrated to Canada in the 19th century and took it with him Canadian highlanders still sought it out following the tradition that waters touching it could heal cattle Such stories have had me scouting for words like foot rot lumpy jaw wooden tongue the wonderful lyricism of cattle ailments And for words like chrismatory affusion and thirdendeal archaic words associated with the holding or scattering of liquid The Coigrich has further intriguing qualities not least that the shrine encases the curved shape of and even includes some bronze plates from the 11 th century crozier head discovered inside it when it was

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/coigrich-linda-cracknell (2016-02-12)
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  • Lewisian Gneiss, Janette Currie | www.26treasures.com
    Earth s crust and found its way across the globe to Norway and North America as well as places like Loch Finbay in the Outer Hebrides Sometimes called the old boy and the haunted wing of geology it s Scotland s basement Haunted Criss crossed with stripes of white and pink sparkling within the folds are ghostly shades of granite and ancient rock deposits I dug a word bank from out of the dry statistics chipped away the facts to discover a story forgive the geology puns undulate meld shimmer spark steam fold cleave building blocks South Pole Cape Wrath volcanic ice laden Thinking of the rock as a person the old boy combined with these deliciously descriptive words an image emerged not of the old boy but of his younger self And a story began to emerge of how his movements across the globe created the dramatic Scottish landscape we now have It s a story about a journey a young man s quest northwards from the ice laden seas at the South Pole Using found words I decided that the epic the oldest written poetic form was the best structure for my poem about the oldest European rock It isn t a story of conquest although to be frank it takes a lot of force and steam and volcanic pressure to create gneiss Nor did I want to write a ballad romance of a swooning female waiting for the handsome southerner to rescue her What I hope to represent is a 21 st Century retelling of the story before the history of Scotland where the union of equals in passionate embrace shapes the landscape So I ve got the beginnings of my poem about Scotland s beginnings From the South he came All of which goes to show

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/lewisian-gneiss-janette-currie (2016-02-12)
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  • Govan Rent Strike Rattle, Christine Finn | www.26treasures.com
    He stayed a miner all his life My father and his six siblings were born in Deal but as far as I knew none had visited Campeltown where Grandpa Finn came from He was a child of a fishing family and his parents the story was told had a fishing fleet which plied between Ardglass in County Down and Campeltown Children were born in Ireland or Scotland depending on where the herring were at the time Last year I went to Northern Ireland determined to flesh out the story from very bare bones but more than 30 years of journalism did not prepare me for the slipperiness of memory and holes in hand down family yarns I could find nothing but conjecture about my great grandparents although dredged up plenty on the breeding patterns of herring But back to Campeltown in my heart for years and especially with grandparents and parents long gone The tale told me by an aunt was that Grandpa Finn was related to Cecil Finn a Scottish fishing luminary and decorated for his work over decades Through him I thought I d get the full story Except when I met him nothing was resolved Obliging as he was with family history Cecil hadn t heard of any relative called Charles Finn and we couldn t find any other names of likely overlap If my Finn line came across the sea from Ardglass where it went after that I simply couldn t fathom But this unexpectedly dead end didn t diminish the rattle pilgrimage If anything the thrum of the poem was rattling about in my mind from the first train north through the several sea journeys and numerous buses I took a random route to Edinburgh after Kintyre via Islay and Jura trying to gather words

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/govan-rent-strike-rattle-christine-finn (2016-02-12)
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  • Serf's Collar, Vivien Jones | www.26treasures.com
    forward read the legend already intrigued A man Alexander Steuart convicted of theft in Perth in 1701 sentenced to hanging commuted to being gifted as ane perpetuall servant to another Sir John Erskine of Alva a mine and apparently a man owner My mind is buzzing What did he steal Why was he pardoned Why fit the collar when it was standard practice to brand the forehead with ane mark the size of a sixpence to mark each criminal Is there something particular something personal about this crime this criminal that requires such a humiliating marker I lean closer note the detail of the forging and rolling the inscription the decoration Surely a simple metal collar hammered to a circle on an anvil would have sufficed My gaze shifts sideways to the paraphernalia of coal cutting by hand a shoulder stool to support a man undercutting a tallow candle holder a bottle for water the diagrams of working conditions for men hacking women and children hauling in never ending unbearable toil I imagine one among them Alexander Steuart bent to his work irritated by the unremitting rub of the metal round his neck considering his interminable future The following day comes a package from the museum with more tantalising information our serf a Highlander would probably not have had the skills to work in the mine but may have been employed as a surface labourer He was one of four judged and sentenced to death that day in Perth by the Commissioners of Justiciary for securing the peace of the Highlands It seems the prisoners pennals were to be returned to the Tolbooth while their collars be made and putt upon their necks before being handed over to their new owners Inscribed on this collar is Aler Steuart Found Guilty

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/serfs-collar-vivien-jones (2016-02-12)
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  • Arthur's Seat Miniature Coffins, Ronnie MacKintosh | www.26treasures.com
    and did not survive but those that did were later recovered according to some records by the boy s schoolmaster who opened them to discover that each contained a small wooden figure dressed in a sewn cloth garment What is known of the chain of ownership from then is unremarkable until their donation to the National Museum of Scotland in 1901 Such is the context in which the miniature coffins were discovered But of course the interest lies not in their discovery but in their creation and purpose A scientific study of the coffins and their occupants published in 1994 gave new insights into the mystery Those that attracted me bearing in mind my intention included the suggestion that the uniformity of the rough cut figures the markings on them and the remains of paint implies that at one time they may have been part of a set of toy soldiers This may be supported by the fact that several figures had arms removed to allow them to fit into the coffins suggesting that they had another prior purpose and had not been created for burial in the coffins The examination of the textiles and threads suggest a date of interment no earlier than 1830 and the tin from which the coffin decorations are made is similar to the sort used in shoe buckles of the time but while the tin work suggests a degree of proficiency the coffins were not shaped with carpentry tools or developed with any significant woodworking skill The widely held belief is that the figures are connected to the infamous Burke and Hare murders of 1827 1828 While the chronology and body count fit nicely with this theory I find it contradictory that of the sixteen Burke and Hare victims another died of natural causes

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/arthurs-seat-miniature-coffins-ronnie-mackintosh (2016-02-12)
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