Brief highlights and a record of Cluaran activities from the early days to now.
Summer begins for 2021
As Lockdown eases we adapt again. Some people are still restricted from travelling. We all need to continue to be cautious, as the plague needs people to travel. However, some events that were postponed last year are preparing to happen. This has meant a lot of things have come at a rush. Our equipment has been repurposed, networks scattered and some people are still isolating. It is good to be taking part in events though...
Tales from the Longhouse has been running throughout Lockdown. With a good solid attendance and two skilled resident storytellers this has been a highlight of the month for all involved. We have also enjoyed the company of guest storytellers with a wide range of stories - but all told in a way which woudldn't be out of place in an actual longhouse on the shores fo Galloway. The summer of 2021 is going to be needed to recover from lockdown last year, and work out what we can do next year. It's alsomes as if someone has shouted "Ready About!" and now we are trying to remember which sheets need to be held, and which let go. When we tack though, we look forward to an exciting new course!
Setting sail in 2021
Well, we have made it into 2021. The curraghs have a new rack to stand in. Last year tests on "Max" showed that the sides are too high, and the belly too round for convenient handling. The plan is therefore to lower the sides, but leave a high bow and stern. Using sand bags for ballast works well, and an expedition down the nith and up the cluden by lincluden was successful in the test, so lets see how far we can get next time! Catken has been out of the water for a year now, but experimenting with a simple sail is the plan for this season - covid and weather permitting.
Our online activies have been continuing. The Monthly storytelling session "Tales from the Longhouse" has a regular following. Some have even told us that it is the highlight of their month. We have also been supporting a monthly informal get together for storytellers to practice.There are also rumours of a colouring book, pyrography designs, and a dream of live events augmented by digital technology.
Wordsmithcrafts is currently undergoing a review of it's supported activities, this means that there may be some behind the scenes changes. It also means that there will hopefully be some IcT upgrades and new ways to keep in touch with Cluaran.
We have continued to develop the "Tales from the Longhouse" storytelling evenings. Since August we have held Monthly sessions with out residents storytellers Cathbad and Olaf. We have also heard stories from four guest storytellers. The learning curve in managing zoom and development of an early medieval atmosphere on modern technology has been a steep one! We have also provided two storytelling sessions for Galloway Gleans landscape partnership as a part of the "Dig It" Archaeology component. Here is the YouTube recording of the first of these. When the second one becomes available we will post that - or come to a tales from the Longhouse evening to see how things have developed!
We have a new project "Tales from the Longhouse" Cluaran Interpreters Cathbad and Olaf will be hosting monthly storytelling sessions online. Each month they will have a guest. This will mean three stories and the chance to imagine yourself into the longhouses which have been closed this season.
We moved online for a successful Galloway Glens storytelling event. Olaf and Cathabad told tales from Galloway introducing the myths and legends shared throughout the Irish sea region a thousand years ago.
Since then we have been contacted by several other groups to arrange online sessions. This has allowed us to make knowledge, skills and props available to help interpret history whilst acting to help keep people safe and reduce the spread of Covid-19
This Summer has seen the cancellation of all our planned events. some of our bookings have been moved to 2021 so we have not disappeared. Many of the people who work with Cluaran depend on school visiting for a significant amount of their income. This has obviously stopped for a season as well. Historical interpreters usually have what is known as "portfolio careers" so they have been adapting to provide their skills and services Online and in other ways.
The downside of a flexible work balance is that creative practitioners often fall through the gaps in government support. One of the aims of Cluaran is to provide some stability for individuals like this - we will continue to do so!
An example of this has been made possible with the support of Galloway Glens. We have taken an aspect of our planned village Online! Here is a slide show we will use to welcome people to a storytelling session.
We were booked for a series of events, starting with some Iron age interpretation of the only two anchors from that time found in the British isles. Drostan and Severus negotiated a deal in Dumfries Museum in May. Under the flag of Cluaran, Simon Lidwell of Wordsmithcrafts and Sam MacNeill provided replicas for the exhibition, a schools worksheet, and four days of craft workshops and drama for Primary schools in both Dumfries and Annan Museums.
Cluaran also provided costumed interpretation for the Sleeping Giants "Hidden Histories" project. Working along the river Nith we arranged to provide clothing advice for costumed interpreters, Monks for Dundrennan abbey, Vikings ready to bury a hoard of Treasure, and Blacksmithing (including school level experimental archaeology) workshops.
We also navigated our way into the Viking era in Dunstaffnage and Dumbarton. Here in a repeat booking we provided the clinker built boat as a stage for local fishing and international adventure stories. 10 minute craft workshops where the public could make and take home small net bags, twisted copper armbands and hammered replicas from the Galloway hoard.
Later in the summer we returned to remember the treaty of Perth as Gallowglass warriors.
We rounded the summer off with activities in the West of Galloway taking part in the Stranraer "Skiffie World" International event. We told stories of stones and bones with the Whithorn trust. We demonstrated blunt and edged force trauma on a variety of objects to hep interpret finds from the "Cold Case Whithorn" project.
We also helped launch the Rhins coastal path. Two Vikings, or more accurately, a Viking and a monk were sent into the Rhins to investigate the Kilmory stone with it's cross and tongs. We also gave primary school pupils a chance to try some hands on blacksmithing. With plasticine rather than hot metal - but real hammers!
The cluaran boat has been inspiring potential Vikings already, and the curragh has provided added interest and the opportunity for pupils to think about how structures can provide form to a boat - and turn an animal hide into the skin that keep you afloat.
Time to give the boat another does of soup to keep it cozy this winter. A newsletter is doing the rounds, so if you are a settler and haven't got one yet , please let us know and we will get it to you. Photos of what we have accomplished can be found on the photos page and there will be a general meeting to decide the future of the project on Sunday the 12th of January at Wordsmithcrafts Workshop.
Things have been quite busy over the summer, and I'm afraid this log hasn't been kept up to date. However, with Largs Viking village just about to happen, here is a summary of what we have achieved so far:
Gal Gael Ness Yole repaired and made water ready
Road trailer obtained
6 oars usable, at least 8 more in preparation
Curraghs and coracles researched, one curragh built and available to the project another in process of being built.
Exploration of shared culture
Theme birthday party and fundraising event
(including feast food, clothing, falconry, Viking quiz)
Family Open afternoons;
January, March, April, May
Activities explored include, embroidery, natural dyeing (Alison Fair-Bixler), weaving, cooking, shared history timeline, dog breeds, oar making, hull treatment (boat soup), games.
On The Water
Buoyancy aids collected
Three rowing sessions
(Wiston lodge, Milton Loch X2)
Basic commands worked out, and at least six Cluaran members trained in rowing. About three times that number have had the opportunity to “mess about in boats” and have a pull on an oar.
£150 has been raised raised from use of boat at educational events including a Wordsmithcrafts school visit to Georgetown primary school and a “Vikings” living history display at Crocketford Gala
High quality publicity photos (Alex McNeil photography)
Update on the trailer. The boat weighs about 250kg including oars mast and spar. This means that a lighter trailer will do. Also we only need to support 15' of keel, the rest is overhang at the bow and stern.
We are looking for a trailer!
Something that will take about 700kg and 5.48 X 1.6M (or 22'X 6') of boat.
Boat Repairs nearing completion