Excuse the absence of East Lothian posts for a couple of months please – it’s been hectic!
Our new Sporting East Lothian Exhibition is up. Featuring gems such as sporting bibs worn by George McNeill from Tranent. George McNeill was one of the fastest men in the world in the 1960s running 110m in 11 seconds. Also included are archive sketches from the BBCs ‘It’s a Knockout’ when it was held in North Berwick and an account of the shooting of the silver arrow in
Musselburgh from 1647. The shooting of the silver arrow is thought to be the oldest sporting competition in the world.
Illustrating the Archive – Lucy Roscoe
We are lucky enough to have the very talented Lucy Roscoe working with us at the moment. Lucy is taking stories and records from our collections and providing beautiful illustrations. See her first blog and illustration on our website here.
We welcomed our volunteers back now that we are settled in our new premises. They are working on various projects including providing scanned images for each of our collections to help us build up an imagedatabase and to improve the appearance of our catalogue and helping us identify and prepare material in our collections for us to use for our WW1 centenary project next year. We’re glad to have them back!
The accessions keep pouring in too. In the past 2 weeks we have had:
- a collection of log books from St Josephs School 1930-1989,
- diaries of a farmer covering the period 1913-1984,
- records of Musselburgh Merchants Association 1898-1985,
- ledger and maps relating to the former Bruntons wireworks 1916-1987,
- a raft of bound District Council minutes 1975-1995,
- diaries of a Musselburgh seamstress 1977-1983,
- papers relating to the Hope family and Luffness estate 1915-1916
- records of Musselburgh Tennis club 1924-1988
I’d better get cataloguing!
Since opening the archive searchroom has welcomed almost 200 visitors and produced almost 700 items.
Conserved Papal Bull 1529
We get all sorts of interesting records in local authority archives. Unfortunately not all (possibly most?!) of it is in such good condition and requires professional conservation. This was the case with Musselburgh Burgh records found at Musselburgh Town House. A large volume of records with the earliest dating back to 1545 had been stored in bin bags in the cellars. Once they found their way to the archives the staff undertook some basic conservation such as cleaning and repackaging the material. Despite the majority of the records being in surprisingly good condition, it was clear that some of the volumes required professional conservation. We contacted the National Archives of Scotland (NAS) who selected and took away some of the volumes to their conservation unit in Edinburgh.
Among those items to be conserved was a particularly interesting document which had been used as a cover to an unrelated volume. The document was in bad shape and was hanging from the volume by a thread but from what we could make out the writing looked monastic and we were hoping it would become the earliest item from the retrieved documents. When it was deciphered by the NAS it did indeed become the earliest document (though not by as much as we were hoping!). It is a papal bull from 1529 granting William Stewart (later Bishop of Aberdeen) the office of Provost of Lincluden Collegiate Church.
The following slides show the progress of the items from bin bags to professionally conserved documents including a fully digitised volume showing an account of ground annuals paid in Musselburgh from the mid 18th century.
It’s been fascinating to watch the process over time and the work of the NAS conservation unit is greatly appreciated. Without their painstaking work and expertise we would not have been able to understand so much of these documents nor to make them available to the public.