Monday 28 November 2011

Oot an' Aboot

It's been a busy few weeks for the team as Phase 4 fever takes holds. The objects which we are cataloguing and researching are held either by The West Highland Museum (WHM), in Fort William or by the National Museum of Scotland (NMS) a few minutes up the road from the office, all of which means we've had to go oot an' aboot.

Two weeks ago, we'd a very productive afternoon with Pam Babes, Collections Development Manager and Angus Kneale, Collections System Manager at NMS looking at their cataloguing system and talking about the best approach for listing Carmichael's objects. We also got a better idea of the material we'll be dealing with there, most of which is tartan and the oddest of which is crossopus fodiens - a water shrew.

Next on the list was a trip to meet Màiri Mooney, curator at The West Highland Museum and to clap eyes on the considerably larger number of items in their Carmichael collection. The weather was hardly kind as we stepped off the train into ankle-deep puddles and driving rain but the welcome was very warm when we arrived at the museum. Many objects from the collection were out on display anyway, so we were able to start matching them to our list, which was originally drawn up to value the collection in the late 40s. What an array of artefacts! Everything from fossils to Jacobite clothing to charms to domestic tools and of course brooches. Many, many brooches. Màiri took a great deal of time with us and let us have the run of the museum for the day, so that we could plan for our next visit. High on our agenda is photographing the items - the current list has around 250 objects, so the task is a considerable one. Personal favourites from the objects we were able to see were a targe, a riding cape and knotted wool for Eòlas Snàithle [Charm of the Threads]. Seeing unfamiliar objects which have been mentioned in now very familiar manuscripts was an enlivening experience altogether.

On my own way home I took a detour to visit the project's friends at Comann Eachdraidh Lios Mòr. I mention this simply to allow me to post a picture showing how beautiful it was on the Tuesday morning!

Reference: Carmina Gadelica, vol. IV (Edinburgh, 1941) pp. 166-167.
Image 1:  Kirsty M Stewart, Màiri Mooney and Domhnall Uilleam Stiùbhart at West Highland Museum.
Image 2: Looking towards Ben Nevis from the north end of Lismore.

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Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4

Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4
Stone whorls collected by Alexander Carmichael, held by West Highland Museum (ref. WHM 1992 13 2.4). [©]