On Saturday I attended the “Wha’s Like Us” Family History event at Stirling. Organised by Stirling Archives it combined a number of talks and a small family history fair.
The opening talk by Richard McGregor, chairman of the Clan Gregor Society gave an overview of DNA and its use as a tool for genealogy. This was followed by Stirling Council archivist Pam McNicol who talked enthusiastically about the rich source of detail that can be found in Poor Law records. She accompanied her talk with some fascinating examples that illustrated how useful these records can be at providing personal details unlikely to be found in any other official registers.
Over the lunch break I took some time to wander round the nearby Holy Rude kirkyard and of course took one or two photographs of gravestones.
On my walk back I passed Cowane’s Hospital. Founded in 1637 as an almshouse – it has also served as a hospital, Guildhall, isolation ward during the 1832 cholera epidemic and as a museum. It now houses a coffee shop and an artist in residence . The future of the building is currently under discussion.
Adjacent to the Hospital was something that caught my attention. A metal sign explained:
“Shortly after Cowane’s Hospital was built this area was laid out as a garden with lilies, carnations and double yellow roses and with cherry and apricot trees nailed to the walls. The Bowling Green was laid out in 1712 by the Earl of Mar’s gardener and is now one of the oldest bowling greens in Scotland”.
The website www.scotlawnbowls.com suggests that bowling in Scotland dates back much earlier – to the reign of King James IV. Sadly this one no longer appears to be used as a bowling green, but it is fascinating to consider who might have played there over the last three hundred years.
Heading back to the Tolbooth, I passed The Boy’s Club reconstructed in 1929 from a much earlier building. It has a number of mottos on the exterior including this one above one of the windows:
For the afternoon session I opted for the talk by Ross Blevins, senior steward at Stirling Castle. Using account books he gave a very animated presentation on the castle during the reign of James IV. He was able to paint a detailed picture of daily life and suggest evidence to prove and disprove some tales from the period.
The final presentation tied in to the “Off the Page”, Stirling Book Festival. Author Chris Brookmyre was presented with his family history by Stirling archives. In a question and answer session author Gordon Brown discussed some of the findings and any parallels Chris saw with his own life and his writing.
It was an interesting range of talks and I certainly enjoyed my brief walk through Stirling’s ‘Top of the Town’ and some of the surprises it revealed.