At the December meeting of Kirkcudbright History Society, Dr. Lizanne Henderson of the University of Glasgow spoke about “Hunting Witches in Galloway”. In an authoritative, carefully researched and clear presentation Lizanne spoke about a period of Scottish history when Witchcraft was a national problem and specifically between 1563 and 1736, Witchcraft was illegal. It was regarded as a serious crime and Scotland had severe punishments for those found to be a Witches

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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

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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 “.

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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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Scotland’s Rock Art Project (ScRAP)

The audience arriving for the September meeting

The opening event of the History Society’s 2017/08 programme was an interesting, and beautifully delivered, talk by Joana Valdez-Tullett from Historic Environment Scotland.

Originally from Portugal, Joana studied for a PhD at Southampton University before joining Scotland’s Rock Art Project (ScRAP), which is hosted by Historic Environment Scotland and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council with specialist inputs from the University of Edinburgh and Glasgow School of Art.

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