Local History & Archaeology Group
Facilitator – Anne Dunford, tel: 01988 500175

Last updated
24th February

We've established a pattern of talks in the winter months and visits out and about from April to October. We've had a delayed start to meetings in 2015 as January's talk was postponed due to gale force winds. However, Jayne Baldwin is fortunately able to give her talk on Elsie Mackay in April.
Hopefully we'll have the opportunity to get involved with more local archaeology investigations again this year.
Using the Supper Room at the County Buildings in Wigtown for the monthly talks seems to work well, and as the attendance usually averages around twenty, £1 a head covers cost of room hire and refreshments.

At our February meeting, we first spent some time discussing the programme for the rest of the year. A number of suggestions were made and, as always, we have more than enough to choose from. After confirming what the group would like to do during the summer/early autumn months (see below), we settled down to listen to two farming friends Tom McCreath and James Taylor discussing the changes they had seen taking place from the days of the horse drawn plough to the machine dominated present.
The time flew by and we could have listened to the pair of them talking for many more hours. We hope to continue to eavesdrop on further conversation between the two when we visit James' farm at Barraer in September.
It's impossible to record here all that was covered in this conversation. We learnt of the enjoyable aspects and also the challenges of sheep and dairy farming but both men recalled fondly the days of the horse on farms. This part of the talk was well illustrated by various pieces of harness etc. from James' collection of agricultural memorabilia. Both he and Tom looked back on the days of the horse as being enjoyable. They learnt a lot as young boys from the older men who had been working the horses all their lives.
We were running out of time as they moved on to discuss harvesting hay and other crops, the skills needed in loading carts and building ricks. They touched briefly on the arrival of the Land girls during the war. So much to remember. These two could write a book!
We look forward to hearing them again in September.

Future meetings:
March 19th: Don Cowell will be presenting his research into William Johnston of Kirkcudbright - merchant and founder of the Johnston School
April 16th: Jayne Baldwin (postponed from January) Elsie Mackay - an update on the fascinating life which ended in a mysterious disappearance.Jane hopes to be able to expand on the story of Elsie Mackay, revealing more facts that have been unearthed during her continuing research.

Provisional summer programme
May - An archaeological walk with Jane Murray to the cairns etc. at Cairnerzean on the Wigtownshire moors.
June - Our visit to the Dumfries area will possibly include Lincluden, Ellisland, Durisdeer - details to be confirmed.
July - Graveyards of South Ayrshire led by Elbeth Kerr - including some of the following - Challoch, Bargrennan, Barrhill, Colmonel, Ballantrae and possibly Glen App
August - Kirkcudbright - a walk around the town led by Don Cowell - taking in various places of architectural & historical interest such as Greyfriars, Jessie King's house, Tollbooth, Town hall (exhibition), museum, parish church etc.
September - return visit to James Taylor's farm at Barraer to see his wide ranging collection of agricultural machinery and artefacts and enjoy a continuing conversation between him and Tom McCreath

Some images from our 2014 talks and outings:

Galloway HouseKirkudbright Prison
Left: Galloway House- 'Glasgow's Galloway School' - subject of
David Kirkwood's talk

Right: Kirkcudbright Prison - Focus of
Don Cowell's research

Left: Abbotsford - Home of Sir Walter Scott - visited in April

Right: Whithorn - May visit to the Vistor Centre, museum and priory led by
Tom McCreath

Left: A day trip to the Rhins in June, led by Les & Anne Dunford, included a walk to Doon Castle
Right: Glenluce Abbey. Guided tour of the abbey and other historic buildings in the area with Jane Murray in July

August - a day out with Elbeth Kerr in chuchyards of the south Machars
Left:The Vans Agnew Mausoleum in Kirkinner
Right: Kirkmaiden Chapel

Left: some of our group took part in The Iron Age in Galloway Conference, organised by Friends of the Whithorn Trust. Photo - members out and about at the Isle on the Sunday
Right: Geophysics at Gatehouse of Fleet

Left: Some of the group excavating in Knockman Wood in October

Right: November - Jane Murray's talk on pre-historic Settlement on the Wigtownshire Moors included referencs to chambered cairns

Tom McCreath's talk in December covered Changes in Land Use,Transport and Trade from the 1700's