Preserving rock art at the touch of a button

Some of the world’s most ancient art could be protected with a new app designed by Newcastle University heritage and software experts.

Potential threats

What’s nice about the app is that as well as flagging up any immediate concerns, it also gives us a baseline. This means we’ll be able to monitor how the rock art is doing over a period of years. Dr Myra Giesen

Rock art – also known as cups and rings – is under threat. Made by our Neolithic and Early Bronze Age ancestors between 6,000 and 3,800 years ago, it is mostly found in the countryside. There are more than 6,000 panels in the UK and Ireland – but increasing population densities and agriculture, along with climate change, pose a danger to it

A rock marking found near Whithorn

. That’s where the new app comes in. GPS locates the site of the rock art, and users then log its condition. It registers the state of the motifs and any potential threats – such as damage from being driven over or livestock. Dr Aron Mazel, Reader in Heritage Studies, in the School of Arts and Cultures at Newcastle University said: “Previously, any reporting was done on paper and that’s not always practical when you’re in the middle of the countryside and there’s a heavy wind. “Almost everyone has a smartphone with them at all times, so creating an app was the obvious way to solve the problem.”

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Life and Death on Ross Island

Life and Death on Ross Island now on sale at Thomsons .

David says “I am pleased with how it has turned out, and it looks as if the publishers and printers have done a great job of getting it to the final stage”.

David Collin

David will be available for book signing at the next Society meeting..

If you would like more information about the book, or an order form, please contact below for a flyer.


“Hunting Witches in Galloway”

Our speaker at the December meeting is Dr Lizanne Henderson, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow (Dumfries Campus)

Dr Lizanne Henders0n

From the mid-sixteenth to the early eighteenth centuries, Scotland experienced witch persecutions equal to some of the worst affected nations in Europe. The southwestern counties of Kirkcudbrightshire and Wigtownshire, though spared the high number of prosecutions found in some parts of the country, were certainly not immune.

Copland Witch Brew

This talk will discuss witch trial evidence from Galloway and explore the nature of witch beliefs from this region

Dr Lizanne Henderson is also Editor of Review of Scottish Culture. Her book, Witchcraft and Folk Belief in the Age of Enlightenment: Scotland, 1670-1740 won the Katharine Briggs Book Award 2016


Kirkcudbright Parades in the 50’s

At Kirkcudbright History Society’s November meeting Mr Sam Kelly of Kirkcudbright kindly stepped in at short notice to give a large audience an opportunity to see cine films made by Mr Bendon who had owned and run the cinema in Kirkcudbright from 1944 till the 1960’s. The cine films shown were from the early 1950’s and are in the Archive of the Stewartry Museum. With whose permission Sam has digitised them.

The clarity and colour of the films shown was tremendous. Mainly pageants and processions, with detailed views of the people who had turned out to watch these events.

The Harbour Square with tiered seating, was the main arena for the crowning of the Princess with all the attendant pomp and ceremony whereas the Castle grounds provided an arena for country dancing, maypole dancing and an opportunity for some younger members of the audience just to roll around on the grass.

The Streets of the town played host to processions of horses and riders taking part in the Riding of the Marches.

St Mary’s Isle drive was the assembly point for a host of decorated floats and tableaux with participants in an astounding array of detailed and elaborate costumes. There was beauty, horror and comedy portrayed. These included groups of Brownies, Cubs, Guides, Scouts and Soldiers alongside floats, sponsored by the many businesses of the town, and of course the Bands to lead the parade.

Horses and riders rode around the streets stopping at the Royal Hotel for the Stirrup Cup-all in their finery. The sun shone on Kirkcudbright and behind the spectators the buildings and landmarks could be seen as well as an amazing selection of buses and cars. These gave interesting background detail and a spectacular setting for a grand show. Mr Bendon chronicled these events of the early 50’s and throughout the evening the audience were totally immersed in trying to recognise family and friends who might have been there as he moved among the crowds.

Sam Kelly
Sam Kelly

Kirkcudbright shone through in the films – full of colour, well organised activity and a tremendous sense of community involvement and effort much as it continues to do so to this day.

Sam Kelly now does the same service for the town – making a modern archive of all the many events throughout the year.

Thank you to Mr Bendon and Sam Kelly for recording and showcasing these events which was enjoyed by all.

The next meeting will be in Kirkcudbright Parish Hall on December 13th at 7.30 when Lizanne Henderson will be “Hunting Witches in Galloway “.

Go to for more information

Previously – Scotland’s History Festival. 17th November – 26th November.

“Previously” is a history festival held in Edinburgh and created entirely by a team of unpaid volunteers.

“Our communities are strengthened by knowing their roots and cherishing their environments. Understanding each other’s stories connects us. Past achievements should be celebrated, and even that darker history should be brought out into the light”.

Tom Devine one of the lecturers at the festival

It is funded by Weir Charitable Trust, the University of Edinburgh, Sarah Fraser and Peregrine Moncreiffe.

A fortnight of lectures discussions and tours can be found on

Whithorn Trust Rock Art Training Day

Some of our members contributed to a great attendance at the Scottish Rock Art Project training day at the Whithorn Trust – and on site – with Dr Tertia Barnett. There were some amazing discoveries – panels recorded which had not previously been in the record, even on known rock art sites.

Teams will be recording sites of their choosing over the winter and submitting them to the brand new Scottish Rock Art website, learning photogrammetry and other recording techniques as they progress.

Watch this space.

Castles of Kirkcudbrightshire

Kirkcudbright History Society’s second meeting of the autumn took place on Wednesday 11th October, when guest speaker Dr. Janet Brennan gave a thorough and inspiring talk on The Castles of Kirkcudbrightshire. Dr. Brennan is well placed to speak with authority on the subject, being the former  Chair of the Scottish Castles Association, a board member of Historic Environment Scotland, and the author of Scotland’s Castles: rescued, rebuilt and reoccupied. She and her husband are also well known locally for their commendable work, together with that of their architect, in the recent restoration of Barholm Castle from a state of ivy-clad ruin, to an impressive home.

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