Thursday, 21 September 2017

Greyfriars Tour with Histpric Edinburgh Tours

Tonight's guided tour with Robert of Historic Edinburgh Tours was of the Greyfriar Kirkyard. This is not a ghosty tour, it is an historic tour that helps us better understand the importance of the Kirk, the Graveyard and the people interred within. 

I love the fall tours as we get the added benefit of the projector! This most definitely brings the stories to life.

Maps and More

This morning we had a visit to the NLS Maps building. We were given a fantastic overview of the collection and the website by Maps manager, Craig Statham. 

The new tech system threw a few glitches Craig's way so had the internet lesson up close. 

Following the talk, some participants stayed while others went to research in other places - the Edinburgh City Archives, the National Records of Scotland, the Scottish Genealogy Society or the National Library. 

I took a wander down Princes Street in search of some information in the graveyard at St Cuthberts and managed quite an entertaining time. 

First was a flame throwing bagpiper

Then it was African Gumboot Dancers outside the National Gallery

So many reasons to love this city!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Day Two - Research and R&R

Today we were at the National Library of Scotland. We started our time there with a very thorough overview of the sorts of records that contain genealogical information, given by Elaine Brown. In addition to sharing the resources available at the NLS, Elaine showed us how much information is available on the NLS website so that we can continue our research at home. 

This evening, the group enjoyed their time with the very talented Robert of Historic Edinburgh Tours who led them on a guided tour of Edinburgh's Victorian Slums. 

This is a particularly enlightening tour for those of us who are studying our family histories. And took a personal turn for those tour participants who have Edinburgh ancestors. 

We Are Off to a Great Start!

This fall's group of researchers arrived on Monday evening and after our meet and greet, we headed over to the meeting of the Scottish Genealogy Society where archivist Margaret Fox gave an wonderfully informative presentation on the richness of Kirk Session and High Court Records for genealogical research. 

On Tuesday morning, the group headed down to the National Records of Scotland where ScotlandsPeople Centre manager, Iain Ferguson gave us an overview of the records and some research strategies. Following Iain's talk, the tour participants were assigned their computer terminals for the day and tucked into researching their ancestors. 

People were amazed at how much they were able to uncover, the number of documents they were able to print out and the details they were able to fill into their family trees. 

Monday, 18 September 2017

All Good Things Must Come to an End

As with everything else, even the best of trips must end. The past 9 days have been an absolute whirlwind when we look back on it, but the moments and the memories will last forever.

Ed & Lynne enjoyed their first trip to Scotland, Lynne's ancestral homeland. Lynne's paternal grandfather was from Stromness in Orkney. This was our first point of focus and one we were sad to see ending. While in Orkney, Lynne was able to connect with three cousins from her grandfather's line. This allowed Lynne to get additional family photos, have people in a current photo identified and to have the amazing opportunity to go and see where her paternal great granny had lived and worked and where many of Lynne's ancestors are buried. Moments like this can't fully be understood. They provide a sense of awe, a deep connection to the country, the land, the people, the history. And they provide a sense of completeness that is defies description.

Being in Orkney gave Lynne a personal understanding of her ancestor's relationship with the sea - the tides, the riches it provides in terms of food and work, how quickly a storm can blow in and how rough the passage can be. 

From Orkney, we headed back down to Edinburgh. Lynne's maternal grandparents were from Buckhaven in Fife. We toddled of to Fife for a look at where her granny had once lived, where her grandfather had attended school and to see where her ancestors are likely to be buried. We traveled to the Fisheries Museum in Anstruther to gain a better concept of what the life of a fisherman and his family was like. 

Ed and Lynne are already making plans to return and to stay longer. That, to me, is always the mark of a successful ancestral trip. 

Thank you, Lynne, for allowing me to share in your genealogy journey with you. And for allowing me to introduce you to your ancestral homeland. 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Fife - On An Ancestral Hunt

The ancestral journey continues as Lynne's maternal side hail from Fife. Although the house itself no longer exists, we were able to see the houses that remain on the same street in Buckhaven. Lynne's granny often talked of paddling in the Firth of Forth and seeing how close she was to the sea, it was easy to imagine her floating about in the waves. The street, aptly named Shore Street, follows the coast line. Buckhaven has done a wonderful job of making people aware of their history with several plaques and storyboards throughout the town. 

We visited the site where Lynne's granny would have attended primary school, the school now replaced by a park. We were able to see the primary school her granddad attended and found the street he had grown up on as well. Granny and Grandad were only a street away so it wasn't hard to understand how they might have met. 

The library has a lovely museum upstairs that we were able to visit and the librarian guided us to the cemetery where Lynne's ancestors would be buried. A bit more work needs to be done to locate exact graves or headstones. 

From Buckhaven, we drove through to Anstruther to see the Scottish Fisheries Museum to give Lynne a better understanding of the life her great grandparents lived. I had toured the museum in May and was surprised to see how many new displays there were. 

We enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Boathouse and then made our way back to Edinburgh, stopping in South Queensferry where Ed had a chance to see the magnificence of engineering up close. 

Sad to Leave Orkney

I have no known ancestral ties to Orkney. DNA has not placed me in Orkney. And yet it calls to me. I first visited Orkney last spring and fell in love with the island, the gentleness of the way of live, the incredible history and the warm hospitality of the Orcadians. 

I had the chance to return this past week to accompany someone with ancestral ties and it was an amazing experience for her as she still has several living relatives here that she was able to meet and spend time with. 

We stayed at the Ferry Inn. Busy, relaxed and very much a home away from home. We managed to visit the tourist spots - Skara Brae, Skaill House, Ring of Brodgar and Maeshowe. We ventured to Hoy to see the Naval Base museum, briefly popped into the Scapa Distillery and enjoyed knowing that Lynne's ancestors lived, worked, walked and worshiped here. And that her family still lives here. 

Our last night was spent on the Ferry. Northlink Ferries has a B&B that allows you to stay on the ship while it is berthed in harbour. The ride back to mainland Scotland was rocky but much smoother compared to our sickening ride over. 

Friday was our day to travel back to Edinburgh. And we all admitted how sad it was to have to leave Orkney. Edinburgh and Stromness really are worlds apart. In every sense. 

On our way through Inverness, we stopped to see the Clava Cairns - their time frame lines up nicely with the neolithic parts of Orkney. 

We stopped for lunch at the visitor centre at Culloden and took a quick wee look at the battlefield. It was less than a flying visit - a place to return to when time allows. 

It was a long drive back to Edinburgh. Although we were happy to be here, we were sad to not be in Orkney. And knowing that our time together is coming to an end added to the sadness. However, we still have lots to pack in, so roll on tomorrow!