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Wigtownshire Antiquarian & Natural History Society News Archive

15 March 2021

Wigtownshire Antiquarian & Natural History Society from previous years

WINTER TALKS 2019/20

Meetings will be held in Stranraer Library, Upper Meeting Room.

Thursday 26 October 2019, 7.30pm

Stranraer Library – Saving the Sparling

Courtney Rowland: Fisheries Biologist, Galloway Fisheries Trust

One of the sparling’s curiosities is its scent which has been variously described as being like cucumber or parma violets. Once a common species around Scotland, this enigmatic fish now only occurs in the Cree, Forth and Tay with overfishing and pollution being factors in its decline. For the past two years, Galloway Fisheries Trust has been studying the local population in the Cree and working with the local community to develop greater knowledge and appreciation of these fascinating fish. Fisheries Biologist, Courtney Rowland, will explain more about these mysterious creatures whose lifecycle includes a moonlit spawning spectacle right in the heart of Newton Stewart.

Bill Gill Memorial Lecture

The Wigtownshire Antiquarian & Natural History Society hosts a lecture each year in memory of the late Bill Gill, local historian and former Principal Teacher of History at Stranraer High School and Stranraer Academy.

Thursday 17 October 2019, 7.30pm

Stranraer Library – Saint’s footprints and ‘coal money’: clues to the origins of Portpatrick

Dr Fraser Hunter: Principal Curator of Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology, National Museum of Scotland

Portpatrick was an important port in the 18th and 19th centuries, but its earlier history is much less well known. Yet clues have been hiding in plain sight. This talk will take us on a tour of museum stores and newspaper archives to reveal exciting new evidence of Portpatrick’s early medieval origins.

Thursday 21 November 2019, 7.30pm

Stranraer Library – Recent Archaeology in Dumfries & Galloway

Andrew Nicholson: Archaeologist, Dumfries & Galloway Council

Uncovering the most significant local archaeological discoveries of the past five years, this presentation will take us on a region-wide tour of Dumfries & Galloway. Recent findings from Black Loch of Myrton and Drummore will be revealed along with the latest news about the Galloway Viking Hoard.

Thursday 16 January 2020, 7.30pm

Stranraer Library – The Magic of a Name

Julia MacDonald: Local historian

Old Stranraer and the changing names of places over the years will form the basis of Julia MacDonald’s illustrated presentation. The rich resource of historic photographs in the Nelson MacDonald Collection provide a wealth of material around which some of the fascinating stories of Stranraer’s past will be told.

Thursday 20 February 2020, 7.30pm

Stranraer Library – Four of a kind: Borgue’s unconventional Lairds

Jack Hunter: Local historian

The Borgue area seems to have had more than its fair share of colourful Lairds and Jack Hunter has been uncovering the stories of these unusual characters. High quality buildings pepper the landscape today, a stylish legacy of the eccentric and imaginative behaviour of some of these wealthy and extravagant individuals.

Thursday 19 March 2020, 7.00pm

Stranraer Library – AGM & Members’ Night All welcome!

The AGM will be followed by an open forum with short talks from Members. Anyone with an interest in the Society is welcome to attend.

Annual membership of the Society is a bargain at £10. Visitors are welcome to attend any of the talks for £3 per evening, with students free.

Anyone interested in joining our sister organisation, Wigtownshire Antiquarian and Natural History Society should contact the Secretary, Pam Taylor, Email – wigtownshireantiquarian@gmail.com Telephone Number: 07717 571720




News Archive

15 March 2021

Archive of news from previous years

2021

Early this year we lost Donnie Nelson, to this awful virus. Donnie was a founding member of the Trust, and had been Chair for 21 years, and he remained very active on the committee. He authored a number of our books and so very much more. He has ensured the Nelson-MacDonald photographic collection is safe in Stranraer, and has left us with many notes and stories which are yet to be told, and we will endeavour to ensure this is done. Tributes to him were demonstrated by a large section of the Free Press, and a moving tribute in Dumfries & Galloway Life magazine. The Trust have sent their condolences to his family. Donnie was indeed a Stranraer man through and through.

2019

The Trust was proud to have been nominated and became a finalist in Dumfries & Galloway Life magazine ‘Champions of Culture’.

May 2019

A plaque remembering John Livingston was placed in Church Street in a short ceremony attended by four committee members, Councillor Willie Scobie, and Mr Hay from the local authority.

The Trust updated and has printed leaflets for Stranraer Town Trail. These will be distributed around tourist spots and information centres locally and beyond. (2020)

The Free Press have been excellent in advertising the launch of our latest publication ‘The Magic of a Name’ by Donnie Nelson and Julia MacDonald. The book was launched at a meeting of the Antiquarian Society and in the same week at Stranraer Library. Sales have been excellent. (2020)

Stranraer and District Lives Voices in Trust

Published by the European Ethnological Research Centre, Edinburgh University, this Regional Flashback explores the rich material contained within a collection of oral history fieldwork recordings made by the History Trust between 1999 and 2016.

Copies of these recordings were gifted by the History Trust to the European Ethnological Research Centre at the beginning of their four-year-long Dumfries and Galloway : Regional Ethnology Study and were the first items to be included in a sound archive collection which now extends to 316 recordings made with 276 individuals. The book contains many photographs, chosen by past Chairman, Donnie Nelson, from the Trust’s extensive photographic archive.

Crannogs of South-West Scotland

In January 2016 the History Trust provided a grant of £1000 to AOC Archaeology Group to assist with the cost of printing a booklet entitled “Cranogs of South-West Scotland”. For centuries, archaeologists have been fascinated by prehistoric wetland dwellings know as crannogs. Recent research in Dumfries and Galloway is shedding new light on these enigmatic settlements and the people who lived there in the Iron Age.

This attractive booklet which contains many photographs and illustrations is available free of charge to members from the Secretary on payment of postage of £1.50.

The Dunragit Discovery

The History Trust arranged for a lecture to be held on Thursday 31 January 2013 entitled “The Dunragit Discovery”. The speaker, Declan Hurl (site archaeologist) talked about archaeology along the A75 and the investigatory work which was being carried out prior to the start of the construction of the Dunragit bypass in the spring of 2013. This fascinating and interesting presentation attracted a capacity audience to the Lecture Room, Stranraer Library. Admission was free with all expenses being met by the History Trust.

Presentation of Books to the Moderator

During his visit in October 2012 to the Presbytery of Wigtown and Stranraer the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Albert Bogle, was presented with two of our books – The Royal Burgh of Stranraer and The Parish of Kirkmaiden.

The Whithorn Trust

At a meeting of the Trustees in September 2011 it was agreed to provide a grant of £1,000 to The Whithorn Trust to assist with the costs of the Machars Archaeology Project. The aim of this project is to provide a first-class record of the archaeology of the prehistoric and medieval periods in the Machars.

This survey aims to provide material for the promotion of the archaeology of Whithorn and the Machars from pre-history to the present day. The project will involve further work around the priory in Whithorn, in areas identified by the recently published Burgh Survey as a high potential for further work. Training workshops will be held and there will be a touring school’s workshop throughout Wigtown District as well as open days and public lectures.

The Mull of Galloway Trail

In September 2011 the Trustees approved a grant of £7,000 to the Rotary Club of Stranraer Charitable Trust Fund to assist with the funding required to establish a new walking route from Stranraer to the Mull of Galloway. This will link with the Loch Ryan Coastal Path which runs from Stranraer to Glenapp and which was established by the Rotary Club of Stranraer in 2009. It will also link with the Southern Upland Way near Stranraer.

Archie Bell, committee member and a member of the Rotary Club of Stranraer designed the ten information boards situated along the Loch Ryan Coastal Path which contain details of local history. Similar boards will be erected along the route of the Mull of Galloway Trail and the grant will contribute towards the costs involved.

www.mullofgallowaytrail.co.uk

Tonderghie Copper Mine at Whithorn

In 2007 the Trust agreed to help to fund a project of the local Museums Service, The National Museums of Scotland and the Royal Commission to record and investigate the Tonderghie Copper Mine at Whithorn where antiquarian finds have produced ingots of Bronze Age and Iron Age dating.

Bursaries

Each year the Trust gives consideration to granting bursaries to senior pupils of Stranraer Academy and the Douglas-Ewart High School who are progressing to university to study history. Unfortunately neither Stranraer Academy nor the Douglas-Ewart High School were able to nominate a suitable candidate in 2011, 2012 or 2013. For a number of years bursaries of £500 were awarded but at the Annual General Meeting held on 22 May 2014 it was agreed that they should be increased to £750 for each student. The recipient of the bursary in June 2019 was Anton Simpson of Stranraer Academy.

Previous Bursaries

2020 Nicole Chapman – Stranraer Academy and Libby Adams – Douglas Ewart

2019 Anton Simpson – Stranraer Academy

2018 Adam Dickson – Stranraer Academy

2016 John Allison – Stranraer Academy

2015 Lucy Miller – Stranraer Academy and Megan Somerville – Douglas-Ewart High School

2014 Ryan Craig and Jocelyn Heron – both from Stranraer Academy

2010 Seona McKie – Douglas-Ewart High School

2009 Phoebe Warren – Stranraer Academy

2008 Siobhan Johnstone – Douglas-Ewart High School

2007 Lynsey McCrorie – Stranraer Academy

2006 Ewan Marshall and Jayne Ford – Stranraer Academy

2005 Neil Simpson – Douglas-Ewart High School

2004 Linzi Cathro – Stranraer Academy

Provost’s Lamps

Until the closure of Stranraer Old Parish Church in 2005 the former Provost’s Lamps were situated at the door of the building in Church Street. A decision was made to relocate them to Stranraer Town Kirk which prior to the union with the Old Parish Church was known as St Andrew’s Church. One of our members, Archie Bell, restored the lamps and the Trust paid for the cost of the materials.

Historical Plaques in Stranraer

As a result of the infinite knowledge of our past Chairman, Donnie Nelson, the Trust became involved in creating a series of historical plaques which have been placed in appropriate sites in the town. The Trust agreed to assist with the funding of the plaques, contributing £900, with this sum being matched by Stranraer Common Good Fund. Illustrated Town Trail leaflets are available which give the locations of the plaques.