Local History & Archaeology Group
Over the years, we have established a pattern of talks from October to April with visits and walks of historial & archaeological interest during the rest of the year. We also get invited to take part in archaeological activities organised by others. There is so much of interest in this area that the problem isn't what to investigate, but how to choose.
This year, we have a number of visits and talks planned, but some dates have yet to be confirmed and I hope to have time for some discussion about future events after the February and March meetings.
Instead of Whithorn Visitor Centre, all of our winter season talks are now held in the Supper Room, or Lesser Hall as it is now called, at the County Buildings in Wigtown.
On 23rd January, we had our first meeting of the year. Local author Jayne Baldwin talked about the subject of her latest book – Mary Timney. Mary, then only twenty-seven, was the last person to be publicly executed in Scotland. She was hanged ouside Dumfries prison on 29th April 1862 for the murder of her neighbour Ann Hannah at her farm in the Glenkens. Jayne took us through the trial and events leaing up to it, reading extracts from her book which refers to documents of the time – press cuttings and official documents.
The afternoon finished with a Q&A session - a number of us wondering what happened to her family afterwards and the part her mother played in the proceedings. Jayne's book is available in local bookshops for those who wish to follow up this memorable historical event.
On 20th February, we were fortunate to have David Kirkwood speaking about the days when Galloway House was used as a residential school by Glasgow corporation.
David gave a brief outline to the history of the house, from the days of Lord Garlies and the construction of the house in 1740's to the present day. He then took us through the time when Edward Strutt offered Glasgow corporation the use of the left wing of the house as a residential school (1946), on through the years when the whole house was used as such, and on to 1977. Then, the school sadly had to close due to the corporation's educational spending cuts.
However, for over thirty years, children from a number of schools in Glasgow were able to experience life in the country and enjoy, not only that but also, the fun to be had on beaches. The pupils had lessons from their own teachers in the mornings and then the Galloway House resident teachers introduced them to aspects of farming - such as sheep shearing, and the natural history of the locality in the afternoons.
David Kirkwood lived in Garlieston as a boy and, along with his brother, was given the job of fetching messages for the school to and from the village on his bike. Doing the research for his book Glasgow's Galloway School would bring back many memories for David, as his talk did for a number of our group who lived locally at the time. For those of us relatively new to the area, it filled in another piece in the jig-saw of the Machar's history.
Future meetings are as follows, all at 2.00pm in the Supper Room (Lesser Hall) at the County Buildings, Wigtown. Please let Anne know if you are coming so we have all that we need in the way of refreshments and seating.
20th March - One of our group's members, Don Cowell will be giving a talk about the prison in Kirkcudbright – the subject of research undertaken by him over recent years.
At some point we will be given a guided tour of Castle of Park – date yet to be arranged, but will probably be at short notice!
Also planned is a visit to Glenluce Abbey.
We've established a tradition of having a guided tour in the summer of interesting old churches and graveyards. Hopefully that will be repeated this year.
There will be opportunities to take part in archaeological activities locally. We are waiting for dates and details of what is happening this year.
Other suggestions welcome!
Some images from our 2013 talks and outings:
Left: Old Place of Monreith
Right: Creetown Granite Quarries
Left: James Taylor's agricultural machinery collection
Right: The Old Place of Mochrum
Left: Drumtroddan Stones
Right: Kirkandrews Church
Left:St Ninian's Cave, on our archaeological coastal walk to the Isle
Right: Rosslyn Chapel outing