Historylinks Blog Anniversary
The first anniversary of the historylinksdornoch blog was celebrated on Friday 10 January 2014. The blog is a collaborative project between the Centre for History at the University of the Highlands and Islands and Historylinks Museum.
The blog investigates the history and archaeology of places within a thirty mile radius of Dornoch. Posts over the past year have ranged from a study of medieval placenames, a case of 'child murder' at Inveran, reports of a fieldtrip to the Strath of Kildonan and a 'lunatic' imprisoned in Tain. Several posts have explored the adventures of local people who ventured a far as India, Canada or the United States.
In its first year there have been 37 posts attracting 5,031 views and visitors from 53 countries, predominantly the UK, but from as far afield as Canada, Australia, USA, New Zealand and South Africa.
The posts provide a fascinating insight to the social fabric of south east Sutherland and northeast Ross-shire in times past. Dr Elizabeth Ritchie, a history lecturer at the University of the Highlands and Islands and member of the Historylinks Museum Committee, edits the blog. In addition to her own research and writing for the blog, she has been successful in attracting posts from researchers based in Aberdeen, Stirling, Dundee and Edinburgh. Several of her students on the Masters degree in Highlands and Islands History have developed research on the local area and have contributed their findings to the blog. Local experts, such as the curator of Historylinks, have also contributed.
The blog is complementary to Historylinks Museum's web presence which has been progressively enhanced in the last few years. Before 2005 the museum's website was rudimentary and did not attract many visitors. The website now provides details about the museum and its permanent displays, Dornoch Roll of Honour Memorial pages added in 2009, and quarterly 'What's New' reports on Dornoch Heritage Society and Historylinks Museum activity.
In 2008 the Historylinks Archive was launched providing a first class archive of old photos, postcards, documents and artefacts held by the museum. The Historylinks Archive 'Introduction' (which, if not immediately available when accessing the website, may be opened using the link at bottom right of the Home Page) provides a running total of the number of 'Picture Pages' and user 'comments', many of which have added information about people and places, leading to updating of the museum catalogue records.
Anniversaries help to focus our attention on significant events. In 2014 there were two local anniversaries . The spring marked a two century milestone since the intrepid emigrants from Kildonan, who had overwintered near Churchill, Manitoba, walked and canoed their way south through hundreds of miles of lakes and snowy forest to reach Red River, today's Winnipeg. This remarkable feat of determination was commemorated with two guest blog posts from eminent historians James Hunter and Marjory Harper. The better-known anniversary was, of course, the hundred-year anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. In 2008 the museum was fortunate to acquire the 'Captain Rose Collection' which included a handwritten war diary from July to October 1914 and three photograph albums. The diary and accompanying photographs provide an intriguing insight to the British Expeditionary Force action in the early phase of the war and the website version of the diary includes some historical summaries and maps to give context, particularly about the retreat from Mons. Uploading the diary online led to a remarkable event. In February 2011 Mrs Stella Barber emailed, seeking contact with the descendants of Capt Rose. She explained that her father, Corporal Arthur Honeyball, had served with the Cameronians and he had recorded his experiences, including an account of the action on 22 October 1914 in which Capt Rose was killed. Corporal Honeyball was trying to move Captain Rose to safety after he was first injured, when he received a second fatal shot, dying in the arms of Corporal Honeyball.
It is anticipated that the blog will run for another two years, promoting research into the region and making publically available stories of the people and places around Dornoch which, until now, have sat dustily in archives and attics.