Hello and Welcome!

New blogger Alert!

I suppose I better introduce myself first and then tell you a bit about me and the work I will be doing. My name is Shona MacLellan, I am an Uibhisteach (someone from Uist) living in Lewis for nearly two years now. I started as the Archives trainee at Tasglann nan Eilean just last week. My first two weeks have been very busy and I’ll tell you more about that in a minute but over the next year I hope to keep you up to date about my internship and the work that the Tasglann is doing.

During my internship I will be learning Traditional Archive skills such as handling archive material, cataloguing and preserving and working on projects that involve engaging with the community and helping people find out what is in our archives.

My first week was certainly an interesting one, going through the Poor Relief Application records of the Western Isles from 1845-1916. Seeing the situations locals found themselves in back then was heart breaking at times but also very interesting and gave me an insight to life in Victorian times here. Just before I started, we had a call to say some Poorhouse records had been found in a care home. Thinking they might be important, we went to have a look and were amazed to find that these registers were in pretty good condition despite having been moved and sitting out on shelves for 100 years.

My second week took me on a trip to Edinburgh to meet the other interns taking part in the Scottish Council for Archives’ project ‘Skills for the Future’. There are eight of us altogether working in different archives across Scotland. As part of our induction, we had a session on handling Archival material and learnt about what our year ahead would consist of. There will more on the internship in future posts as well as the projects I am working on and if the last two weeks are anything to go by, it will be a busy, interesting and a very fulfilling year.

Shona MacLellan at General Register House where the National Records of Scotland are housed in Edinburgh.

Shona MacLellan at General Register House where the National Records of Scotland are housed in Edinburgh.

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Friday photo: Bragar post office

There are only a few images of the West Side in the Western Isles Libraries’ postcard collection held in Stornoway.  This one depicts the Bragar post office and Lakefield House.

The post office and Lakefield House at Bragar, Lewis

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Friday photo: Barpa Langass

The Barpa Langass site in North Uist is a must see place for anyone visiting the island. 

Barpa Langass

I’m not sure the additional cairns atop of it as depicted in this postcard are still there, but do let us know if you are passing it in the near future!  Also worth a look if you are in the area is the woodland walk where you can hunt down Hercules the Bear.

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Friday photo: A typical Lewis village

Every village, hamlet and settlement in the Outer Hebrides is special but I’m not sure how the people of North Tolsta would feel about their village being called “typical” as this postcard states!

A typical Lewis village, North Tolsta

I’m pretty sure some of these houses are still standing, but hopefully under a far less menacing sky!

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Friday photo: The Mill Pool

I always find something quite calming about the lochans of the Uists (and to that matter other parts of the islands).

The mill pool on Benbecula

I don’t know much about this particular Mill Pool (actually, I know nothing about it!), but I like the image.  There is a fantastic resource at http://tuckdb.org for images taken and marketed by the Tuck family, which indicates that this image was taken in around 1944 for an Oban stationer.

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Friday photo: Loch Skipport

Today is my last day with the Heritage Service as I live to take up a new archive job elsewhere in Scotland.  I’ve had a great 4 years here and have been very lucky to meet and talk with many people who are passionate about heritage in the islands.  I hope that the work I’ve done has a lasting impact – both through the new facilities being developed at the Lews Castle site for archives, but also by people realising there is help and advice available.

The pier at Loch Skipport

One of my favourite places to visit in the islands is Loch Skipport in South Uist, so this is my choice of photo for today! Not only do you get to see the wild ponies on the road to it, but I’ve also seen buzzards and eagles from here although sadly never any otters.  The ruins of the pier are still visible and when you are there its difficult to imagine it ever having been as busy as this postcard shows it.

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Friday photo: Manish

Manish, Harris

This image of Manish on the Golden Road in Harris features in the James Shaw Grant collection held by the archive service.  I love this photo partly because is does capture some of the remoteness of the Golden Road and the views it gives, but also because of the 1970/80s style of photo print – the rounded edges, slightly bobbled surface of the paper and the quality of the colour reproduction!

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Friday photo: A happy sailor

One of my favourite collections in the archives if that of Dr Norman Morrison, the naturalist, policeman, union activist and photographer who was born in Shawbost.  Although he worked away in Glasgow and Argyll as a policeman, he regularly returned to Shawbost where he photographed many local people and families in the first and second decades of the 20th century. 

An Gilles

This image depicts  John Gilles (‘Ain Gilles) of 29 Shawbost looking very smart in his uniform.  You can find out more about Norman Morrison and view more of his images at http://www.tormod.co.uk/home.html 

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Friday photo: Berneray

This week we’re in Berneray in the Sound of Harris for our image of the week.

Cottages on Berneray

I particularly like the small boat featured in the bottom left and the two next to the house!  Not sure where on Berneray this image was taken, but maybe you can let us know?!

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Friday photo: Kisimul Castle

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week in the Outer Hebrides was gloriously sunny.  I was lucky enough to be in Barr and Monday and Tuesday and so an image of Kisimul Castle seems appropriate today. 

Boat sailing past Kisimul Castle

This postcard reproduction of the photograph appears to have been touched up by an artist.  If you look at the shading on the boat details and the castle walls, it seems slightly unnatural.

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