The Scots in Australia

Following on from our talks by Donald Cowell and the recent research to be found in Featured Articles, this book might be of interest.

The Scots in Australia, 1788-1938 (1) (Scottish Historical Review Monograph Second Series) Hardcover – 17 Nov 2017

by Benjamin Wilkie (Author)

Despite their significant presence, Scots have often been invisible in histories of Australian migration. This book illuminates the many experiences of the Scots in Australia, from the first colonists in the late-eighteenth century until the hopeful arrivals of the interwar years. It explores how and why they migrated to Australia, and their lives as convicts, colonists, farmers, families, workers, and weavers of culture and identity. It also investigates their encounters with the Australian continent, whether in its cities or on the land, and their relationship with its first peoples; and their connections to one another and with their own collective identities, looking at diversity and tension within the Scottish diaspora in Australia. It is also a book about the challenges of finding a place for oneself in a new land, and the difficulties of creating a sense of belonging in a settler colonial society.

Dr Benjamin Wilkie is a Lecturer in Australian Studies and Early Career Development Fellow at Deakin University, Australia.



The Solway Military Coast Book

Sarah Harper has collated the research gathered by herself and Edwin Rutherford, to produce “The Solway Military Coast: A Story of Conflict, Courage and Community”. Using first-hand accounts, primary and secondary sources from newspapers, local museums and archives, this book highlights the impact of the Second World War on the Solway Coast area. It explores the stories of evacuees coming to the area, the MOD Depots at Eastriggs and Longtown, ICI Powfoot, the Gretna Bombing, RAF Annan and the introduction of Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station. The book is available at the museum for £9.95. Copies can be mailed for an additional £2.

Solway Coastwise

Solway Coastwise is a project that is discovering coastal place names and the stories behind them.  Locals are encouraged to share the inspirational Dumfries and Galloway coastline through activities, events, electronic and printed media.

The Dumfries and Galloway coast has a wonderful variety of features, both natural and man-made. Cliffs, creeks, lighthouses and beaches contribute towards a fascinating array of names, all affording the prospect of finding out more about local traditions, environment, histories and relationships between communities and the sea.

Torrs Cave. Photograph D R Collin

Solway Coastwise has produced a NEW CAVES AND GRAVES GUIDE, an introduction to some of the stories that have inspired place names along the Dumfries and Galloway coast

For more information about the project contact

Contact Details:

Solway Coastwise Co-ordinator:

Nic Coombey

Phone: (01387) 702363

Solway Coastwise Assistant:

Morag Walker

Phone: (01387) 702182

Samuel Anderson

An Australian contributor, Tony Hughes has kindly sent us his research papers on a Kirkcudbright man who went to Australia in 1835. Samuel Anderson became a successful farmer in the Bass River area of Victoria. See features section for his article.

Chasing Celtic Art : new work on the Torrs Pony Cap’

A lecture by Dr Fraser Hunter, National Museums Scotland

On Wednesday, 14th March, over 70 members and guests of the Kirkcudbright History Society gathered in Kirkcudbright Parish Hall to hear an illustrated talk by Dr. Fraser Hunter, National Museums Scotland, about the Torrs pony cap. The pony cap, now in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, is one of the most important pieces of Iron Age Celtic art ever discovered in Britain: it was found in the former Torrs Loch, near Castle Douglas, in the early 19th century, and dates to around 250 BC. It was a decorative item, placed on the head of a small pony, probably when in harness to pull a lightweight Iron Age chariot, and part of a decorative array of trappings covering both pony and chariot.

Pony cap. © National Museums Scotland

Fraser began his talk by describing the diverse nature of Iron Age Celtic societies, which, in the later first millennium BC, stretched across Northern Europe from Ireland to Romania. Despite their differences, these societies were linked by a common culture, particularly evident in a shared decorative art style found on surviving metalwork, of which the Torrs pony cap is a prime example, with its swirling lines and hidden animal forms. The cap is essentially a bronze sheet with beaten decoration, with engraved decoration on its two attached ‘horns’. In its time, it would have been regarded as a high value object. Evidence for repair work suggests that it was a prized heirloom. Like similar finds in lochs elsewhere in Scotland, it would appear to have been deliberately deposited in the former Torrs Loch as a religious offering, perhaps to give thanks to the gods or as a supplication during difficult times.

It has been suggested that the ‘horns’ were added to the cap sometime after its discovery to increase its antique value, but a recently discovered contemporary account of the find in the ‘Caledonian Mercury’ newspaper of 17 September 1817, confirms that the cap was found with the horns attached. Several bronze rings were also found with the cap, and were almost certainly part of horse harness. The cap and harness would be the trappings of a chariot, the ‘Ferrari’ of Iron Age society, as Fraser described it. At that time the area around Castle Douglas was a network of lochs, with Carlingwark Loch larger than it is today. Here, an Iron Age bronze cauldron full of scrap metal, was fished out of its waters in the mid-19th century; like the Torrs find, it was very probably also a deliberate ritual deposit.

Continue reading…

A new trail has been developed for the South of Scotland

The following extract is from their website.

“The Merlin Trail combines history, archaeology, etymology, topography, botany and folk memory to reveal a forgotten world.  The Trail presents the evidence and challenges you to play detective.  What is fact and what is legend?  Follow the clues. Examine the sites. Arrive at your own conclusions. Discover the world of Merlin – a Scottish landscape of dense forests and subsistence farming, of powerful clans ruled by warriors and warlords, where itinerant druids and traditional gods are being challenged by new beliefs and international travel and trade is opening contact with distant places and peoples”.

There are several sections in the trail with four themes. The first section is based on our area. It looks at the coming and spread of Christianity and the colonisation of Galloway by the powerful Briton chiefdom of Rheged until it fell to the Angle conquest early in the 6th century.

More about the trail and activities can be found on

Native and Roman on the Northern Frontier: Excavations and Survey in a Later Prehistoric Landscape in Upper Eskdale, Dumfriesshire by Roger Mercer.

The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland has announced the publication of Native and Roman on the Northern Frontier: Excavations and Survey in a Later Prehistoric Landscape in Upper Eskdale, Dumfriesshire by Roger Mercer.

Native and Roman on the Northern Frontier presents the results of a small-scale intervention at the Castle O’er hillfort and the total excavation of a unique enclosure at Over Rig. The text presents key findings from the excavations, revealing the long sequence of use at Castle O’er hillfort, including an extensive earthwork enclosure system believed to have been a mechanism to control large numbers of animals during the period of Roman presence. By contrast the unique design of the enclosure at Over Rig is revealed to have had an auditorial function. Together the two sites offer fresh perspectives on the economic realities and Roman-Native relations in the military zone in Roman Britain.  Meticulously researched and with an abundance of illustrations, this book makes a thought-provoking contribution to scholarship of the Iron Age and life on the Roman frontier in south-west Scotland and beyond.

Hardcover | 27.9 x 21.6 cm | 296 pages | more than 110 illustrations | ISBN 9781908332134 |

RRP £30.00 | SoAS Fellows £24.00 | available for purchase at