Chairman’s Report 2017

With attendance still encouragingly high for our monthly talks the Society remains in good fettle. I am most grateful to members for their continued support of the Society and especially to the committee team for their efforts in bringing the annual programme of lectures to fruition. Special thanks are due to our Secretary Marion Garroch for keeping the administrative wheels in motion. As intimated at last year’s AGM we have revamped the website www.kirkcudbrighthistorysociety.org.uk and I am very grateful to Helen Bowick for taking on the bulk of the work in updating and energizing the website. The site has a fresher look and is building up an impressive library of interesting articles and images and links to other local history sources. The club remains in a reasonably healthy financial position thanks to the diligence of Treasurer Donald Cowell and he will be outlining plans to ensure we remain viable in the future. Thanks to Ron McHugh for managing the audio system at all the meetings, a major benefit to our continually aging membership base. Thanks also to David Collin for producing the eye catching posters, David Devereux for running the magazine library and to both for their advice and guidance on all local history matters, and to Tania Gardener and Margaret Scott for providing refreshments and all-round assistance.

We have had a most enjoyable and informative series of lectures and I am very grateful to members of the committee who, as well as delivering the votes of thanks, have taken it in turn to write up reports on the talk for the Galloway News and the website. Thanks, are also due to Donald for lending us the use of his audio visual equipment for our speakers. We are still investigating the possibility of the Society purchasing its own equipment.

The Society is still involved with a project known as ‘Scotland’s Urban Past’ which is a five-year nationwide project about the history of Scotland’s towns and cities.   Kirkcudbright has been nominated as one of the participating towns. Groups and individuals will investigate how their urban environments have changed over time by capturing memories, surveying buildings, gathering information and exploring sources of local knowledge. Funding for projects is going to be available for the next five years.

Society members helped in the geophysical survey of Tongland Abbey carried out as part of Tongland and Ringford Community Council’s ‘Magna Carta 800’ project and subsequently carried out a series of trial excavations in the grounds of Mansewood with the aim of locating more of the Abbey’s buildings. The results of that work became the subject of one of our talks.

The Kirkyard Tours in the summer continued to attract visitors and locals alike. Based on the popularity of the tours we have decided to lay on the same number of evening and afternoon tours this coming year. Research by Donald Cowell, David Devereux and others continues to expand the information available about the kirkyard and enhance the visitor experience.

In previous years, some members of the History Society took part in The European Ethnology Research Project based at Edinburgh University. This involved making recordings of local people. These interviews were then transcribed and the results have been communicated back in a series of presentations by the research team during this past year. There is a link on our website to the project and you can click on the ‘spoken word’ tab to hear parts of the recordings.

I thank you again for your continued support and look forward to another informative and enjoyable session after the summer break.

Chairman’s Report 2016

I am most grateful to members for their continued support of the Society and especially to the committee for their efforts in bringing the annual programme of lectures to fruition. In particular, Marion Garroch deserves commendation for taking over the duties as our Secretary from her long-serving predecessor, Helen Bowick. I am delighted Helen has continued with an active role in the Society looking after, and enhancing, the website. The club remains in a healthy financial position thanks to the diligence of Treasurer Donald Cowell. Thanks also to David Collin for producing the striking posters, to Ron McHugh for helping to provide an audio system, which has been particularly beneficial, to David Devereux for running the magazine library and to Tania Gardener and Margaret Scott for providing refreshments and all-round assistance.

We have had a most enjoyable and informative series of lectures and I am very grateful to Donald Cowell for writing up articles for the Galloway News and other publications, such as History Scotland, which gives us national coverage. Thanks are also due to Donald for lending us the use of his audio visual equipment for our speakers. Your committee has decided to investigate the possibility of the Society purchasing its own equipment.

Although our website www.kirkcudbrighthistorysociety.org.uk gives us an excellent vehicle for publicising our programme, events and activities as well as a worldwide presence, it is in need of some re-design and this will be taken forward with a change of webmaster. We are grateful to Glen Murray for his past efforts in getting the website up and running.

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Annual Report 2015

Reports of the meetings can be found in the Features section

I am most grateful to members for their continued support of the Society and especially to the committee for their efforts in bringing the annual programme of lectures to fruition. Our wonderful, long-serving, Secretary Helen Bowick has continued to guide the Society with a steady and competent hand in what will be her last year in post. We are greatly indebted to Helen for all her efforts over the years and hope she will stay actively involved with the Society’s activities. The club remains in a healthy financial position thanks to the diligence of Treasurer Donald Cowell. Thanks also to David Collin for producing the striking posters, to Ron McHugh for helping to provide an audio system and to David Devereux for running the magazine library.

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Annual Report 2014

The reports of individual meetings can be found in the Features section.

Chairman’s Report

I am most grateful to the members for their continued support of the Society and especially to the committee for their efforts in bringing the annual programme of lectures to fruition. Secretary Helen Bowick and Treasurer Donald Cowell deserve special thanks for their diligence in keeping the administration and finances respectively under control. Thanks also to the various tea ladies, to David Collin for producing the striking posters and to Dick Carter for opening and setting up the hall for our meetings. The club remains in a reasonably healthy financial position but will need to be proactive in balancing income and expenditure in the coming years.

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Annual Report 2010

Graham Roberts, whose expertise is local castles, was our first speaker of the season. He started by giving an outline as to how mottes arrived in the south west using the Motte of Urr as an example. This is the largest of its kind in the area. The further development of these was due to the involvement of Fergus who did a balancing act between Scotland and England which resulted in his descendents having initiated the largest range of mottes in Scotland. The next development was the replacing of these with stone castles and the finest in this area is Caerlaverock which is an outstanding example of a castle enclosure. This involved a lot of manpower, expense and time which is why there are not many examples of these. The further development of this type was the keep, of which Threave is one of the earliest and best remaining structures. Tower houses then came into being, with a variety of internal structures and individual rooms. They almost all had other buildings round them, some of which survive still as can be seen at Hill House. Usually these towers were square, but as usual the Stewartry had to be different, with a round one at Orchardon. Religion also played a part in the history of local castles and one of Gordon’s examples was the feud between the Protestant and Catholic families of Barholm and Carsluith Castles. The Union of the Crowns changed styles and what was fashionable and Graham gave us an overview of a variety of local tower houses comparing them to those that had been restored with questions as to authenticity.

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Annual Report 2009

Kirkcudbright History Society’s season of lectures got off to a stirring start in October with a talk entitled ‘Simply Heraldry – Cheerfully Illustrated.’ As Gordon Casely from Aberdeen delivered his talk it became abundantly clear just how appropriate the title was. Using a colourful array of slides depicting coats of arms from all round Scotland and employing his pawky north-east humour, Gordon captivated the audience with an engrossing study of the many diverse aspects of heraldry. Although he briefly covered the history of heraldry, his focus was very much on 21st century heraldry and its important function in the cultural life of Scotland. In particular he stressed the egalitarian nature of heraldry in Scotland, unique in the world, where everyone from a ‘duke to a dustman’ could apply for a coat of arms.

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Annual Report 2008

In response to the growing numbers attending the programme of talks the Kirkcudbright History Society chose the Parish Church Hall as the new venue for the 2007/8 programme. The winter session opened with an informative and wide-ranging talk entitled ‘Aspects of Tongland.’ The speaker Donald Henry wove a fascinating tableau of the contrast between the decline in the spiritual life of Tongland Parish and the rise of commercial activity over a period of eight hundred years. Founded in the middle of the twelfth century by Fergus, Lord of Galloway, Tongland Abbey was the focus of attention from the most powerful political and military figures in the land. Donald pointed out that its decline was best illustrated by the antics of its last abbot, Father Damian, who, in the presence of King James IV, attempted to fly to France from the ramparts of Stirling Castle. Unfortunately for his ego, but fortunately for his well-being, he landed in a midden and escaped with only a fractured thigh bone and put his failure down to the use of hen’s rather than hawk’s feathers. Just as the spiritual life was declining, however, Donald outlined the way in which many diverse commercial activities were springing up to continue Tongland’s prominent part in the region’s history. Dick Carter completed the evening’s talk by provided a more modern aspect of Tongland’s history through his well-researched talk on the evolution of the railway link to Kirkcudbright through Tongland.

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Annual Report 2007

The season of lectures of the Kirkcudbright History Society opened with Tommy Henderson providing a highly entertaining and informative talk entitled “Past Times in Dalbeattie and Area”. Timed to coincide with a display at the Stewartry Museum focussing on Dalbeattie, the talk highlighted many connections between the two towns. With his intimate knowledge of the area, Tommy wove a fascinating tableau of the ups and downs of Dalbeattie from its time as the “capital of Scotland” in the days of King John Balliol to the modern day.

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