St Andrew to St Andrews – Who, When and Why

Statue of St Andrew outside the Wardlaw Museum © The University of St Andrews

The 30th November is a national bank holiday and special day – it is Scotland’s Official National Day to celebrate our patron saint; St Andrew.

It is also special as our lovely town and University is named after St Andrew, but do you know who he was? And how a small town on the East Coast of Fife came to be named after him?

Well let me enlighten you…

St Andrew, also known as Saint Andrew the Apostle, was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus and brother to St Peter. He was a fisherman and was called on with Peter by Jesus to be ’fishers of men’. He is also said to be the first disciple of Jesus.

Communion token showing St Andrews town arms
and St Andrew crucified across a shield shaped Saltire (HC700)
Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museum
s

Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion, on an X shaped cross or saltire, hence the saltire cross of St Andrew on the Scottish national flag.  An interesting fact, as well as Scotland’s patron saint, he is also one of Russia’s, Greece’s, and Barbados!

The remains of St Andrews were later taken to Patras in Greece. Legend then has it, that one of the monks there, St Regulus (also known as St Rule), was advised in a dream to hide some of the bones. The bones were moved from Patras to Constantinople on the orders of the Holy Roman Emperor Constanius II in or around 357 to sit in the Church of the Holy Apostles there.

St Regulus then had a second dream, where he was told by an angel to take some of the bones to ‘the ends of the earth’ to protect them and build a shrine there. He set off, taking a kneecap, an upper arm bone, three fingers and a tooth from St Andrew to find a safe place for them.  

His journey however did not go smoothly. St Rule was shipwrecked off the coast of Fife and brought the relics to our small town on the East Fife Coast. At that time, St Andrews was known as Kilrymont – church of the king’s mounth (mounth meaning a headland) and from what we gather, already a place of importance among the Celtic church. 

St Rule then established a shrine with St Andrew’s bones at the site of where the St Andrews Cathedral now sits. St Rule’s Tower is named after him and as you all likely know, Regs Hall of Residence comes from St Regulus.

St Andrew, depicted on the head of the University Mace (HC1184) Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums

Although the legend is a great story, it is more likely that the relics were probably brought to Britain in 597 as part of the Augustine Mission, and then in 732 to Fife, by Bishop Acca of Hexham, a well-known collector of religious relics at the time.

St Rules Church was started in 1130 for a new order of Augustinian Priors who were based there. However, it soon became clear it would be too small and work on St Andrews Cathedral began in 1160. It was not consecrated until 1318 by Robert Bruce and it was the largest church, if not the largest building in all of Scotland. A fitting place to house the relics of St Andrew

The status of the town increased dramatically with the building of the Cathedral, and the name St Andrews became consistently attached to the town by about 1200, rather than the old name of Kilrymont, due to the growing cult attached to the bones of St Andrew being held at the Cathedral. 

St Andrew however was not made the official patron saint of Scotland until 1320 at the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath, 2 years after St Andrews Cathedral was consecrated!

Wooden Sculpture of St Andrew.
(HC2011.7)
Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums

You may wonder where the relics of St Andrew that were housed at the Cathedral are today. During the Reformation in the 1500’s, in 1559 John Knox preached a famous fiery sermon at the Holy Trinity Church on South Street which roused the congregation to take up arms and come and destroy the interior of the Cathedral. It was at this time the relics disappeared, and no one knows where they went. A sad ending to our tale, however the name and relevance of St Andrew live on in the name of our lovely town.

Whatever you plan to do this St Andrews day, we hope you enjoy yourselves and remember the story of how St Andrew came to be our patron saint, and our fair town’s name.

Written by Sophie Belau-Conlon, Visitor Services Supervisor, Museums of the University of St Andrews

Living Seas: what we Can Do

There’s lots we can do this Year of Coasts and Waters to appreciate and safeguard Scotland’s Living Seas.  The St Andrews Bay of the North Sea and the nearby Firth of Forth and River Tay are ideal places to spot Scotland’s iconic sea species including seals, cetaceans – such as bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoises, or minke whales – or even the occasional basking shark.  So whether you hope to catch a glimpse from the town’s beaches or by venturing further afield along the Fife Coastal Path, there are plentiful local wildlife watching opportunities.  And best of all, it costs nothing: all you need is a warm jacket.

University of St Andrews student reading at Castle Sands, St Andrews
© The University of St Andrews

But as well as providing a relaxing diversion, responsible and respectful marine wildlife watching can play a role in protecting Scotland’s unique marine environment.  By recording and reporting your sightings, you can contribute to the collection of vital biodiversity data for use in research and wildlife conservation. 

With their recently launched “Citizen Fins” project, the marine mammalogists at the University of St Andrews’ Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) provide an excellent example of how information gathered by citizen science can be used to protect our Living Seas.  The project invites members of the public to share their photos of East Coast bottlenose dolphins, especially those spotted in the Firth of Forth and further south.  Researchers are interested in monitoring population movement so are looking for images which show identifying dorsal fin marks in detail and therefore allows specific animals to be identified and their movements tracked.  The project will aid evaluation of potential impacts of offshore developments on dolphins by analysing changes to these animals’ movements through Scotland’s East Coast into the waters of North East England.

Logo of the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU)

If you don’t have access to a camera or your local dolphins are proving camera shy, you can still contribute notes of other wildlife sightings at any time to biological recording centres such as the Fife Nature Records Centre.  And if you manage to take some photos which lack the detail required for IDing marine animals, you can share your images with interest groups like the Forth Marine Mammal Project.  

And if you a St Andrew University staff member or student, you can also now visit our Bell Pettigrew Museum and see some seaside specimens. These are all things you may even see as you visit the coast and beaches around St Andrews. We have even put together a tour for you to find some of these next time you visit!

Let us know how you get on and share any photos with us from your seaside treasure hunt.

Photograph courtesy of University of St Andrews

You may have recently seen the lobster in the quad, but we have other lobsters for you to see in the Bell Pettigrew Museum!

This is a Squat Lobster, found in St Andrews Bay. They can commonly be found in the western Mediterranean Sea, in the north eastern Atlantic Ocean, and also in the North Sea at depths of up to 150 metres, typically in cracks or under boulders.

Clue to find: Guarded above by a crafty crustacean. Several breatharian stay close.  

Photograph courtesy of University of St Andrews

You likely know all about the seagulls around St Andrews, but have you noticed there are different types?? These are black headed gulls, and part of their Latin name –ridibundus, means laughing, and they have a distinctive almost laugh like call. Not what you wish to hear when enjoying your ice cream!

Clue to find: Watch your sandwich with these British natives! A tall guardian has a leg nearby.

The sea can offer many interesting treasures, and this Halichondria panicea, is most commonly known as the breadcrumb sponge. It is a suspension feeder, feeding mainly on phytoplankton. It can come in a range of colours too; this grey or cream shade is normally found in deeper waters.

Photograph courtesy of University of St Andrews

Clue to find: Neptune drinks to the rocks’ success!

Photograph courtesy of the University of St Andrews

When you think of the beach, one of the things that spring to mind is seashells. These are some examples of Mactra corallina, a type of edible saltwater clam. They live normally on sandy sea floors of depths of 5 – 30m, although they are often found washed up on beaches.

Clue to find: Creatures to the left of me, crustaceans to the right. I’m right in the middle of all!

Photograph courtesy of University of St Andrews

Last on our treasure hunt is this not so scary tentacled creature! Cirriformia tentaculata, is a species of marine polychaete worm and can grow up to 10cm in length. They have soft bodies and lie buried in mud or sand.

Clue to find: Tentacles? What do you mean??

I am just reaching out along all sides to my other sea friends!

Human disturbance of marine wildlife can be catastrophic in its consequences, from causing injury and even death to splitting up family groups or driving animals from their natural feeding or breeding grounds.  The best way to enjoy marine wildlife is therefore by watching from the shore or on an official boat trip from an operator participating in the WiSe Scheme.  You may even be lucky enough to spot dolphins out in the bay from the window of University buildings on The Scores!  Wherever you are, you should always follow the Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code from NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage) as well as their Guide to Best Practice for Watching Marine Wildlife.

Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code from NatureScot

It’s also useful to know what you can do if you need to get aid for a stricken animal while you’re out and about.  Marine wildlife can become stranded, meaning the animal is either dead or remains alive but is stuck aground on the shore and unable to return to water.  This can happen with individual animals or as part of “mass stranding” events such as in 2012 when 27 pilot whales were stranded on the Fife coast between Anstruther and Pittenweem.  In the event you encounter live cetaceans or seals which appear stranded or injured, you should contact the SSPCA or British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), both of whom operate 24-hour emergency rescue services.  The BDMLR’s online guide “What to do if…” outlines what (if any) action you can take in different scenarios.

What to do if you see a marine animal in distress or dead:

  • If you find live stranded or injured cetaceans or seals contact SSPCA 03000 999 999 or British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) 01825 765546 (Office hours) and 07787 433412 (Out of office hours)
  • Animals with tags should also be reported to the Sea Mammal Research Unit smru@st-andrews.ac.uk
  • Cetaceans and basking sharks are protected in law meaning it is illegal to harass or harm them.  If you witness a wildlife crime (e.g. someone deliberately disturbing dolphins) you should report this to Police Scotland
  • Dead cetaceans, basking sharks, seals and turtles should be reported to the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS) strandings@sruc.co.uk

Reassessing a hero

Much like parents shouldn’t have a favourite child, I was once told that someone working in a museum shouldn’t have a favourite historical character.

But I do.

Rev Dr Thomas Chalmers, Image courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library, ID ALB-1-81

 

Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) was a church minister, social reformer, scientist, philosopher and economist; stubborn as a mule, proud as a peacock, often unwilling to admit his mistakes, visionary and go-get-‘em. He had hair like a bird’s nest and an accent once described as bruisingly barbarous, yet his preaching attracted huge crowds in a Victorian version of Beatlemania.  A stained-glass window dedicated to him will be on display at the Wardlaw Museum; a colourful commemoration of a colourful character.

Memorial window dedicated to Thomas Chalmers, Wardlaw Museum        © University of St Andrews

He studied at St Andrews, then infuriated the University by teaching rival classes in mathematics before returning as professor of Moral Philosophy in 1823, but he’s most famous for leading a third of the ministers of the Church of Scotland out of that denomination to form a new one, the Free Church of Scotland, in 1843.

On the surface, this event, called the “Disruption”, was about the courts overturning a congregation’s choice of minister in favour of the landowner’s candidate. Chalmers and his friends saw it as something deeper, the need for freedom from the secular law that was overreaching into God’s kingdom.

I admire Chalmers’ faith, his hard work in bringing education to the slums of Edinburgh and his efforts, though not always successful, to better support the poor of Glasgow.

But…

In the middle of the Black Lives Matter protests of the summer it was brought to my attention that soon after its foundation the Free Church accepted £3000 from US churches frequented by slave owners. Abolitionist Frederick Douglas, himself formerly enslaved, argued that the denomination was benefitting from slavery and campaigned for the Free Church to “send the money back”.

The Free Church refused, and tied itself in knots in justifying its position, arguing that someone who inherited slaves was a not a slave-owner, but a “slave-holder”, and stating that having slaves did not make someone a bad master.

On digging further I found that in 1826, while professor of Moral Philosophy at St Andrews, Chalmers himself wrote a treaty arguing for the abolition of slavery. All well and good, until reading on and finding Chalmers’ unsavoury solution.

In order to achieve abolition, Chalmers argued, slaves should be given a day off each week, during which they should work to earn money to buy their own freedom a day at a time, being fully free within seven or eight years. Then the enslaved person could proceed to buy the freedom of his family. “But,” Chalmers wrote, “the slave who idled away his free time, whether in sleep or amusement, would of course make no further progress towards a state of freedom.”

Chalmers’ suggestion makes us baulk; we see underlying racism, an evident lack of compassion and a failure to recognise both the urgency of freedom and the injustice of continued slavery, even while he argued for abolition. There’s also hypocrisy – quick to champion the church’s freedom from secular law, slow to achieve man’s freedom from slavery.

Reassessing a hero

So what do we do with this?

Do we wholeheartedly condemn Chalmers and the Free Church? Morality doesn’t change; slavery and racism are wrong now and they were wrong then.

Do we excuse them as a product of their age? Chalmers and the Free Church sought abolition, but their own attitudes remained ingrained with the prejudices of the time, when slavery was deeply embedded in wider economies and societies.

This being the nature of that society, do we argue that they were being practical? The Free Church in using money that came from slavery to fund good work that bettered the lives of others, and Chalmers in trying to find a practical, if deeply flawed, way of bringing enslavement to an end.

Do we judge not lest we be judged? Do we hold back from criticism of the past for fear of future generations judging us for our failure to tackle injustices today, be it modern slaves making our cheap clothes or the climate crisis?

Do we let this issue hide the excellent work done by Chalmers and the Free Church elsewhere? The Free Church did much to tackle poverty and inequality; indeed, it was another Free Church minister and St Andrews professor of Moral Philosophy, William Knight, who was key to bringing university-level education to women through St Andrews’ Lady Literate in Arts scheme.

Or do we accept that life is complicated and respond with a mixture of the above?

I continue to wrestle with these questions and don’t know the right answers. Discussions with others, like our regular Critical Conversations series, help us find the right path. But I have learnt that even our heroes have deep faults. My own reaction is to admire the good, speak out against the bad and learn from both.

Written by Matt Sheard, Learning and Access Curator, University of St Andrews Museums

Oronsay Priory

Oronsay Priory by William Marshall Brown (1910) image courtesy of the University of St Andrews

This week we explore one of the more remote locations visited by Recording Scotland artists at the beginning of the 1900s.  Oronsay Priory is located on the island of Oronsay, south of Mull, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The island has played host to small settlements from the Mesolithic period, through the Bronze and Iron Ages and Viking encounters in later centuries.  The islands officially came under the Kingdom of Scotland in the 1200s after the Treaty of Perth. The island shares the dynamic histories of early missionary work coupled with the political struggles of kings and nations. That legacy is literally carved in stone that can be seen in the art of the Recording ScotlandCollection, and visited even today.

The Augustinian priory on Oronsay is one of the best-preserved medieval monasteries in Scotland, supposedly founded by St Columba and refounded by John, Lord of the Isles in the 1300s.  The priory includes a High Altar from the 1400s  and the High Cross carved from a single piece of stone. The priory was controlled by different clans over four centuries, finally staying with the MacNeills until the 1900s when it, and Colonsay, was sold to Donald Smith, Baron Strathcona in 1905.

Lord Strathcona was a Scottish-born Canadian businessman who was a principal shareholder in the Hudson Bay Company. He, like Edward Harkness, donated millions of pounds of his wealth to charities and universities in North America and the United Kingdom.  During the era of the Recording Scotland Collection, the island and title passed to Strathcona’s only daughter, Lady Strathcona, and was inherited by her descendants in successive generations. Both islands were offered up for sale beginning in the 1970s, however, only Oronsay passed out of Strathcona hands.  They retained their home on Colonsay and were able to make improvements from the sale.

Oronsay was eventually purchased by Ike and Frances Colburn, wealthy Americans from Chicago, Illinois, in 1984.  Mr Colburn was famed as the architect of the Episcopalian Cathedral of South Michigan.  He had read about the island for sale in Scotland in a magazine and purchased it unseen.  When he arrived on the island, he discovered the wealth of archaeology and architecture and set out to protect and improve the location.  He and his wife took active roles in restoration work.  Later, while retaining ownership, they worked with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to create refuge on the island.  The refuge strives to provide a safe location for resident choughs and breeding corncrakes.  It also protects the European dark bee, a species that is all but extinct in mainland Scotland. The RSPB farms the land using traditional methods that give shelter and feed for migratory birds and protected bees.

The priory, now and historically, is only reached by walking the tidal causeway which is half a mile from its neighbour Colonsay Island, for a few short hours during low tide.  Visitors can arrive by boat at other times of day.  This limited access makes the island more mysterious as you can imagine as William Marshall Brown lugged his watercolour paints across the sand to Oronsay to capture the intricately carved crosses and priory ruins sometime in the 1910s.

This week we have a video featuring Oronsay Priory by William Marshall Brown.

Special thanks to Marc Calhoun, author and blogger, for his recent photos of Oronsay.  You can learn more from his blog “Exploring the Isles of the West – Journeys to the Western Islands of Scotland.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn in Scotland and the Legacy of the Recording Scotland collection

Autumn in Dunfermline by Alan Ian Ronald (RSW), ©University of St Andrews

The Recording Scotland collection is a set of watercolours, oils and drawings collected during World War II to permanently capture the “feeling” of the nation.  Each piece of artwork was chosen because it captured an essential view of Scotland; with emphasis on the places most likely threatened by war and industrialization.  This is the final blog in the series of blogs about different aspects of the Recording Scotland collection.

 

And so this clear October morning light smiles on a young vigorous Alma Mater of a city, whose children gather around her knee.  There is something of fairy-tale about the sudden flash of a red gown in a grey street, then the flash of another, and then a surging of red gowns, where there are good shouting and good laughter, and hope and happiness, as if out of the hill the children had all come back to Hamelin Town.  But the hills from which they come are many and wide spread across all the world.

–J.B. Salmond (pg. 38 Recording Scotland)

In St Andrews the autumn is marked by a subtle changing of colours as wheat ripens in the surrounding fields and trees turn shades.  The annual Lammas market at the beginning of August also heralds the shift from the intensity of summer to the new academic year.  Historically, the Lammas market was one of four annual fairs that brought performers and entertainments to Market Street.  It was a time for games, races, and the buying and selling of livestock and goods.  Students returning to town are the next indicators of autumn, as they settle into their academic homes to begin their studies once again.  Throughout Scotland celebrations of Marymass, Michaelmass Day, highland games, Samhain, and bonfire night all take place in the autumn months leading up to St Andrews day on 30 November.  Each observance has its own traditions and legacies that are rich for exploration.  We can see the same autumnal shift in colours in the painting “Autumn in Dunfermline” by Alan Ian Ronald and can imagine all the same traditions being observed across Scotland over the years.

By the fall of 1952, the Recording Scotland committee had fulfilled its mission.  A book featuring highlights of the collection had been published, the fifth in the series of Recording Britain.  While the book captured the outlines of the Scottish collection, the cutting-edge printing techniques used to reproduce the paintings failed to accurately capture the vibrancy of the real works by today’s standards.

The paintings which had travelled extensively and been reproduced, were now in need of a permanent home.  Realizing that they were out of funds for insurance or other expenses, the pieces could no longer travel to distant parts of the country.  The collection held 145 pieces and posed a challenge for any institution that might take it on.

Red Row by Alan Ian Ronald (RSW), ©University of St Andrews

Luckily, a suggestion was made to donate the paintings to the University of St Andrews in honour of Sir James Irvine, the former committee member and Principal of the university, who had passed away earlier in the year.  The works were originally donated to hang in residence halls to act as inspiration for future generations of students.

Sir James, the great advocate of the collection, died in June and was buried not far from the St Andrews Cathedral in the eastern cemetery near the harbour.  J.B. Salmond, the archivist and poet, lived another six years.  Stephen Edward Harkness, the great benefactor of the university, had passed away in 1940, but his legacy continues through the work of the Pilgrim Trust.  Harkness is commemorated on campus by a stained glass window in St Salvator’s Hall, the building whose construction he also funded in the 1930s.  To learn more about the stained glass on campus, check out https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/about/history/st-salvators/stained-glass/

Today, the Recording Scotland collection remains a challenging reminder of the nation’s past; including visual representations of some of its greatest loves and fears.  Love for the history carved in wood and stone, love for farmers and fishmen (and women) who fed the nation, and fears of losing those places and occupations to the ravages of time and modernization.  Thankfully many of the fears that the Recording Scotland committee held in the 1940s, proved ungrounded, as many of the places survived the war and advancement of time up to today.  For the places that did succumb, the lessons remain clear to cherish what remains, and to honour the memories of those that went before.

Salmond’s poem from the Recording Scotland volume, featured under the image of “The Castle of St. Andrews” captures one last sentiment on the art and ancient history of St Andrews; “Perhaps it likes best to remember that in its heyday, as now in its ruins, it acted and acts as a schoolroom for scholars.”  All of St Andrews continues to be a schoolroom for scholars, and the museums of the university hope to encourage students and tourists alike to visit and learn more about more amazing stories that this place has to share.

 

Recording Scotland – Today!

Driving in the Cairngorms by Luca Downs, ©Luca Downs

Recently we have been lucky enough to be invited to feature some new works by young artists who participated in the University of Edinburgh’s summer workshop “Capturing Lives in Scotland’s Communities-An Arts Award Explore Online Project.”  Students aged 11-18 worked with university museums staff to learn about different themes and media styles.  St Andrews helped during the landscape week with information about the Recording Scotland collection.  While these pieces are not part of our museum collection, they give us a sneak peek at up and coming artists and we could not resist sharing their landscape artworks.  These talented young people are following in the footsteps of the Recording Scotland artists and here is the University of Edinburgh Museum’s Community Outreach Coordinator Laura Beattie’s explanation of the student art.

“During our week on landscape painting, we looked at many different landscape paintings and discussed the different techniques used to make them: some were abstract, like Karen Goode’s Untitled work from Duncan of Jordanstone’s College of Art and Design, which elicited many different responses. Some of us found it scary or threatening while others found it calming. We also looked at work which aimed to be more representational, like those in the University of St Andrews’ ‘Recording Scotland’ collection. We agreed that, given the context of the collection, it was important for the works to be at least somewhat realistic. Our young artists then went on to create their own landscape artworks inspired by the works we had looked at.”

A Walk in the Park by Hani Jawad, ©Hani Jawad

To learn more about the Recording Scotland collection, you can read Recording Scotland, ed. James B. Salmond, 1952. “Recording Britain,” ed. Gill Saunders, 2011. James Colquhoun Irvine: St Andrews’ Second Founder by Julia Melvin, 2011.

Women and the Water: Fishing Images from the Recording Scotland Collection

The Recording Scotland collection is a set of watercolours, oils and prints collected during the second world war to permanently capture the “feeling” of the nation.  Each piece of artwork was chosen because it captured an essential view of Scotland; with emphasis on the places most likely threatened by war and industrialisation.  This is the eighth blog in the series of blogs about different aspects of the Recording Scotland Collection.

West Shore by David Foggie (RSW), ©University of St Andrews

 

Today we would like to introduce a nautical theme from the Recording Scotland Collection, featuring images of both women and men at work in the fishing industry before and between the world wars.

Only a dozen of the Recording Scotland Collection paintings capture such scenes of boats, harbours, and the men and women who made their livelihoods by the ocean.  This is a relatively small number of paintings when we consider that Scotland has a mainland coastline that spans over 6,000 miles and, when you include the islands it reaches over 10,000 miles of shoreline!  That is a magnificent amount of coast, and thousands of stories to tell about the fishing villages and their inhabitants.

David Foggie RSA (1878-1948) is the artist that provides several of the coastal paintings we are featuring today.  He trained in Dundee and furthered his artistic studies in Belgium.  He returned home to Scotland in 1904 and settled in Fife, near Leuchars.  His paintings of Pittenweem help to illustrate the cultural traditions of East Neuk and East Lothian fishing villages, and particularly highlights the role that women played in the fishing industry.

In 1907, 2,500,000 barrels of herring were salted and shipped from Scotland.  This “boom” of herring resulted in thousands of vessels, fishermen and “herring lasses” being employed. Government support and the use of railways for shipping had resulted in a robust industry as long as the fish shoals were healthy. This boom was a high mark for the fishing industry, but it was soon to face the challenges of two world wars and a changing global economy. For centuries, Scotland had been the location best suited for fishing for salmon and herring and had resulted in a thriving trade with European neighbours.

Barking Nets by David Foggie (RSW), ©University of St Andrews

Herring was traditionally caught using a drift net. These nets were stretched out and suspended in the water by corks, where the fish become trapped by their gills when they try to swim into the net.  Drift nets had to be constantly repaired and treated, in a process called “barking and drying.”  We can see the fishermen at work with their nets in the paintings by David Foggie called Barking nets, Pittenweem and West Shore, Pittenweem.  The nets had to be submerged in large pots on shore every few weeks during the fishing season, whereas wealthier and more advanced vessels could treat their nets aboard ship.  The nets were then stretched out on grassy hills, long gardens, alleyways or shores to dry before being used again.  The historic villages still have long and unusually shaped buildings reflecting the need for nets to dry and ropes to be made.

 

Fishing was a family affair.  We can imagine the work performed by the women captured in May Marshall Brown’s Cat Row, Dunbar and we can see the women seated by their homes in West Shore, Pittenweem.   Women would work by cleaning fishing lines, reattaching, and baiting new hooks before each journey to sea.  They could gather with other women while they did the work, while also minding their children and a thousand other tasks.  If the women were busy handling fish guts, you can imagine how many cats came to beg for their dinner.

Scottish women had limited access to occupations at the end of the 1800s, but seasonal work around herring fishing provided a much-needed income.  Women travelled from the islands to the mainland and back, even venturing south to England following the shoals of herring.  Teams of women worked together gutting and packing the herring into barrels for days on end.  Most could gut fish at a rate of 30 to 50 a minute. The work was hard and dangerous, due to the high probability of cuts and infections.  The women were paid at the end of the season based on the number of barrels they were able to pack.  This might result in receiving £10 – £20 for the season if it was a prosperous year.  If it was a poor fishing season, then they might only make enough money to travel home.  The women understood the work to be hard but enjoyed the companionship and extra income that it afforded them.  It also gave them the opportunity to visit new villages and ports, and potentially make romantic matches.  Women’s Work, Pittenweem captures this communal effort as the women work on the shore.

Women’s Work by David Foggie (RSW), ©University of St Andrews

Salted herring was purchased predominately by Germany, the Baltic nations, and Russia in the early part of the 20th century.  All countries that were severely impacted at the outbreak of war and suffered from inflation and economic instability.  In the 1930s, other countries also built up their own domestic fishing fleets and no longer relied on the Scottish trade. During the wars, men went off to military service and women had transitioned into munitions work or nursing.  Technology also advanced for fishermen who could do more with smaller, more efficient boats and packing facilities.  Tastes also changed, and salted herring was no longer as prized as other types of seafood.  Fishermen (and women) continue to adapt in the coastal villages and find new and inventive ways to continue the traditions of their trade.  It was once popular to present friends and neighbours with a string of herring as a gift.  When was the last time you gave someone a herring?

The various roles that women have performed in Scottish maritime history have not only been captured in paint, but also in bronze.  The “herring girls” are commemorated with two statues in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis and a statue of a woman and child stand in Pittenweem harbour looking out to sea in remembrance of the 400 people who have lost their lives at sea.

To learn more about the history of fishing in Scotland, make sure to stop in at the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why St Andrews?

 

The University of St Andrews is the oldest university in Scotland, and one of Europe’s most ancient universities. Today, the answer to the question – Why St Andrews? – seems to be rather cliché due to a great importance of St Andrews in the academic world. However, in the first decade of the 15th century it was not that obvious and the subject of consideration of two canon scholars, Bishop Henry Wardlaw in Scotland and Pope Benedict XIII in Avignon, France. Gallery 1, Scotland’s First University, at the Wardlaw Museum presents unique material remnants providing answers to the question Why St Andrews?

Why St Andrews? Bishop Henry Wardlaw’s perspective

While Henry Wardlaw[1] or Henry de Wardlau, who studied canon law at Avignon[2] and was related to the papal court, was granted the bishopric of St Andrews in 1403, this centre of the Scottish medieval Catholic Church was already a burgh with a market town and fairs attracting broad attention. Multiple letters from Benedict XIII to Scotland provide evidence that scholars educated in France were present in St Andrews diocese as early as the late 14th century,[3] however, the local history of studying dates back much further. Scotland’s largest cathedral with a priory was the focal point of the city. [4] For monastic communities, reading was an essential part of spiritual reflection and the library played a significant role in monastic and ecclesiastic life.[5] Books copied from other priories, donated by patrons and benefactors for instance in 1140 and 1150, travelled to St Andrews from other religious houses.[6] This resulted in impressive holdings of works, as described by the authors of the 14th century Registrum Anglie. The St Andrews library was a bedrock of further scholastic community. Two stone book presses,[7] still present in the cloister, are material evidence of what remains from the initial teaching hub. Eight scholars are said to have launched teaching in St Andrews and Bishop Wardlaw describes them in his grant of privileges as ‘venerable men, the doctors, masters, bachelors, and scholars dwelling in the city of St Andrews’.[8] All of these circumstances fuelled the establishment of a studium generale in the years leading up to 1413 when University of St Andrews was founded. [9]

Maquette of Bishop Henry Wardlaw (HC2011.21 ) can be viewed in Gallery 1 at the Wardlaw Museum]

Why St Andrews? Papal perspective

 

Papal bull of Foundation can be viewed in Gallery 1 at the Wardlaw Museum (image courtesy of University of St Andrews Special Collections)

Only the Pope or Emperor could grant both the university status and the licencia ubique docendi; a license to teach anywhere. Bishop Wardlaw and King James I, Wardlaw’s pupil, asked Benedict XIII to authorise the foundation of the university. The papal approval was sent in six bulls granting university status to the institution in St Andrews (1413).

Pope Benedict XIII (1328-1423) was an individual of unique nature in the history of Medieval Europe and the history of the papacy. He was born as Pedro Martínez de Luna y Pérez de Gotor, a son of a noble family in the city of Illueca in Aragon.[10] His Coat of Arms, a crescent moon (luna), along with the diamond shapes of Bishop Wardlaw, and the lion rampant from the Royal Arms of Scotland, formed the Coat of Arms of the University of St Andrews.

 

Banner of the Coat of Arms of the University of St Andrews (HC1160) can be viewed in Gallery 1 at the Wardlaw Museum

 

Benedict XIII did not reign in Rome, but in Avignon. As the Antipope, during the Western Schism (1378-1417), he reminded in opposition not only to subsequent popes in Rome (Boniface IX, Innocent VII, Gregory XII) but also to other antipopes derived from the Council of Pisa (1409; Alexander V and John XXIII), and to Martin V, unanimously elected during the Council of Constance (1417). Eventually, as the result of the Council of Constance, Benedict XIII maintained governmental recognition of Armagnac and Scotland only.

Through his claims to the papal throne, Benedict XIII was trying to secure his authority in Europe and the foundation of the university was in his best interest. Bishop Wardlaw even claimed grants of privileges to save the authority of Benedict’s Apostolic See.[11] In the petition to the Pope, Bishop Wardlaw bolsters the case to maintain Scottish loyalty and the threat of heresy by improving local high learning for the clergy.[12] From Benedict’s point of view, the University of St Andrews was to be a lucrative deal strengthening his position against the competitors. Sadly for him, after the Council of Constance, the University of St Andrews decided that support of the council was necessary for a united church and it came out in opposition to Benedict.[13]

A plaster cast of the skull of Benedict XIII and a single hair from his head mounted in a microscope slide[14] remind us that origins of the University are linked with the Great Schism and one of the most influential antipopes.

Cast of skull of Pope Benedict XIII (HC789) can be viewed in Gallery 1 of the Wardlaw Museum [15]
 

Why St Andrews? Students’ perspective

The answer was explicitly stated in the papal document ‘Because of the dangers and troubles to Scots who, because of the absence of universities in Scotland, have to travel to foreign parts to study’.[16] Another reason was the reduction in the cost of studies. As Norman Reid believes, ‘Scotland needed more clergy who were well educated and the provision of a home university would enable that expansion at a more manageable cost than continuing to send all students abroad (…). Not to stem the flow of Scots to foreign universities – what did not happen – but rather to increase educational provision by offering a home alternative’.[17]

According to Reid, Benedict XIII in his papal bulls acknowledged the education received by Scots at the universities that were not obedient to the antipope. Scottish students returning from universities abroad could continue their studies in St Andrews or pursue their education elsewhere, including universities of schismatic obedience, in this case following the Pope in Rome.[18]

The first students of St Andrews are depicted on the medieval University seal, made between 1414 and 1418, showing scholars learning before a teacher, overseen by Scotland’s patron saint. The University seal was used to authenticate official documents.

Digital reproduction of seal matrix from the Bull of Foundation courtesy of Special Collections of the University of St Andrews Library which can be seen in Gallery 1 of the Wardlaw Museum

Written by Dr Kamila Oles, Visitor Services Facilitator, Museums of the University of St Andrews

[1] See https://museumoftheuniversityofstandrews.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/who-was-henry-wardlaw/

[2] McGurk F., ed., 1976, Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 1394-1419, Scottish History Society, vol. 13, Edinburgh; Reg Aven 278, 436x-437v, (20 October 1394), p. 20

[3] Ibid. pp.20-23.

[4] Simpson A. and Stevenson S., 1981, Historic St Andrews: the archaeological implications of development, Scottish burgh survey series, Glasgow.

[5] Leedham-Green E., and Webber T, eds., 2006, The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland, vol. 1 , Cambridge; Coates A., 1996, English Medieval Books: The Reading Abbey Collections from Foundation to Dispersal , Oxford.

[6] Duncan A.A.M., The Foundation of St Andrews cathedra Priory, 1140, pp.122-123; Higgitt J., ed., 2006, Scottish Libraries, London 2006, pp. 222-225

[7] Reid N. H., 2017, The Prehistory of the University of St Andrews St. Andrews, in: Brown M., and Stevenson K., eds., Medieval St Andrews. Church, Cult, City, Woodbridge, p. 248.

[8] Ibid. p. 239.

[9] Mason R., 2017, University, City and Society, in: Brown M., and Stevenson K., eds., Medieval St Andrews. Church, Cult, City, Woodbridge, p. 268.

[10] Müller-Schauenburg B., 2019, The lonely antipope – or why we have difficulties classifying Pedro de Luna [Benedict XIII] as a religious individual, in: Fuch M. et al. eds., Religious Individualisation, pp. 1351-1364

[11] The original Wardlaw’s grant of privileges is missing. One of six papal bulls of August 1413, issued for the University of St Andrews, recited Wardlaw’s text; Reid N. H., 2017, The Prehistory of the University of St Andrews St. Andrews, p. 262.

[12] Mason R., 2017, University, City and Society, p. 263.

[13] McGurk F., ed., 1976, Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, p. 13.

[14] Read J., 1973, Pedro de Luna: The Pope from the Sea, History Today, vol. 23, issue 3.

[15] https://museumoftheuniversityofstandrews.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/foundations/

[16] McGurk F., ed., 1976, Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 28 August, 1413, Reg Aven 341, 607v-608v, p. 278.

[17] Reid N. H., 2017, The Prehistory of the University of St Andrews St. Andrews, p. 263.

[18] Ibid. p. 246.

From the Inside Out: Interior images from the Recording Scotland collection

The Recording Scotland collection is a set of watercolours, oils and prints collected during World War II to permanently capture the landscapes and buildings as well as the “feeling” of the nation.  Each piece of artwork was chosen because it captured an essential view of Scotland; with emphasis on the places most likely threatened by war and industrialization.  This is part six of a series of blogs about different aspects of the Recording Scotland collection.

Lockdown has led to all of us spending a lot of time contemplating the inside of our homes.  Whether it is debating over new paint colours or curtains, or maybe rearranging furniture, we have spent months looking at our interior world.  Little details, like dust or chipping paint, loom large when you are forced to look at them day in and day out.  Sometimes you get up and dust, sometimes you keep watching Netflix.  We have also longed to see new interiors, another home or building that is not quite so mundane.  We dream of visiting shops, restaurants, churches, and museums, simply for something new and engaging.

However, staying inside has also kept us safe and allowed us the opportunity to reconnect with our families and to appreciate what we do have. Staying inside has been a singular and communal effort to protect everyone from Covid-19.  British citizens did the same thing during the World Wars.  From staying together, and turning out lights, they worked to protect each other by the simple act of seeking shelter.  While not as common as the lovely landscapes that make up most of the Recording Scotland collection, a few pieces focus on the interior of a location, and how people live in relationship to that interior.  The quick glimpses can give us insights into the parts of life that were already changing, and those that stood on the precipice of destruction.

The main images of interiors are from cathedrals and churches.  The paintings show the sweep of high arches and vast empty buildings.  The churches are shadowed.  Colours are muted, and their stained-glass windows are dimmed, if shown at all.  These are reflections on the impact of the war on these places of worship.  Cathedrals were situated in cities, standing tall and imposing, and making clear targets for enemy bombs.  They are shown empty as soldiers perished in distant fields, and families mourned at home.  They can also reflect glimmers of hope.

Carmichael’s lithograph of St. Paul’s Cathedral Church in Dundee has those hallmarks of vast space and curved arches, but it also features a woman and child walking down the aisle.  They are some of the largest human figures featured in the collection paintings.  They are in the foreground, close to the artist.  There is hope conveyed by their presence.  They appear unhurried as they walk along.  This early piece was drawn around 1913 and captures a view of Scotland before the impact of two wars.  Its inclusion in the collection speaks more about the committee that chose it, that they wanted to preserve this view of a Dundee church with its vast hopefulness and light.

“Interior of St Paul’s Cathedral” by Stuart Carmichael (1867-1950), ©University of St Andrews

The watercolour of Iona Cathedral is also another study of a church interior.  This work is soft with muted tones.  The light streams into the building and you see just a hint of colour in the corner of a cloth cover.  No people give movement to the interior.  The empty chairs sit in silent vigil, waiting for people to arrive to listen and reflect.  As J. B. Salmond put it, “perhaps in the revolutions of the world, Iona may be some time again the instructress of the Western regions.”  The image of Iona reveals a location waiting to be populated, like so many church buildings today.

“Interior of Iona Cathedral” by Stewart Orr, RSW (1872 – 1944), image courtesy of the University of St Andrews Museums

The third interior featured this week is very different from the first two images.  “A Byre in Benderloch” by George Pirie is no cathedral.  It is a simple barn, full of straw and fluffy chickens.  It is haphazard and crooked in construction.  It lacks sharp details but seems to reflect a refuge for the farm animals.  There is light streaming into the dim space, illuminating the birds within.  The barn would not be a target for enemy aircraft, but this byre could eventually make way for a new barn or fall into disuse as people moved away from their farms.  This was a humble and admiring view of a farm, and the safety it provides through shelter and sustenance.

“A Byre in Benderloch” by Sir George Pirie (1863–1946), image courtesy of University of St Andrews Museums

Three interiors only make up a small part of the collection, but their views give us pause as we reflect on both the majestic and the mundane. We do not know if the byre in Benderloch still exists, but luckily both St. Paul’s Cathedral and Iona Cathedral have survived the decades, and now their greatest threats are the ravages of weather and time.  Hopefully this week you take another look at your own interior views, maybe take a picture or draw something that can remind you about right now, and then sit back and try to see what it reflects about you.

Meeting the Men of the Recording Scotland collection

The Recording Scotland collection is a set of watercolours, oils and prints collected during World War II to permanently capture the landscapes and the  “feeling” of the nation.  The aspiration was to select artworks that captured an essential view of Scotland; with emphasis on the places most likely threatened by war and industrialization.  This is part five of a series of blogs about different aspects of the Recording Scotland collection.

The Recording Scotland collection provides a window into Scotland during the Second World War, and the experiences of artists in that period.  All the artists were touched by the war, whether it was their own military service or that of loved ones, and the landscapes that they passionately documented were altered. Today, we are featuring just a few biographic excerpts from some of the male artists.

Samuel Peploe (1871-1935) is one of the more famous Scottish artists to contribute to the collection.  He died prior to the Recording Scotland scheme but his painting “Ceres” was purchased from a dealer in Edinburgh for the vast sum of £120.  Today, his paintings go to auction for hundreds of thousands of pounds.  Peploe was one of four Scottish Colourists, known for combining French training with Scottish artistic traditions. Their works were vibrant and bold.  His painting of Ceres clearly illustrates his mastery of bold brushstrokes and colour.

“Ceres” by Samuel John Peploe (1871 – 1935), image courtesy of University of St Andrews Museums

Aleksander Zyw (1905-1995) was a European artist, born in Lida, Belarus.  He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and travelled throughout Europe as a student.  He developed an affinity for landscapes of the Mediterranean.  When World War II broke out, he was in Paris, and quickly enlisted with the Polish Army.  He saw action and later escaped to Scotland where the Polish Army was regrouping.  He was appointed a war artist for the Polish Army and documented everyday life for soldiers in simple sketches and paintings.  When the war ended, he married a local woman and moved to Edinburgh where he continued to paint.  His works were greatly impacted by his wartime experiences, and he explored various styles throughout his lifetime. In the 1970s he moved to an olive farm in Italy where he remained until his death.

“Holyrood Palace” by Aleksander Zyw (1905-1995), image courtesy of University of St Andrews Museums

Stewart Carmichael (1867-1950) is considered a leading artist of Dundee. He was a muralist and explored Celtic mythology and Scottish history in his works.  He was a major proponent for art education and an advocate for Gaelic culture in Dundee. As one admirer put it, “If I was asked, ‘What is a Scotsman?’ I could scarcely do better than show my interrogator one of [Carmichael’s] compositions.”

“Dunfermline Abbey” by Stewart Carmichael (1867-1950), ©University of St Andrews

Sir John Stirling Maxwell (1866-1956) contributed a painting of Edinburgh, and in addition to being an artist was also a Conservative MP and founding member and President of the National Trust for Scotland. His works explored the natural landscapes that he worked to preserve through his philanthropic efforts.

John Guthrie Spence Smith (1880-1951) was born in Perth, and due to an attack of scarlet fever lost both his sense of hearing and speech as a child.  He studied art in Dundee and Edinburgh, and eventually, accompanied by his mother, travelled internationally in 1911.  His art was mainly focused on Perthshire, Fife, Angus, and the Lothians.  He proceeded to have an active artistic life, gathering similarly minded friends around him in Edinburgh.

“Taynuilt Church” by John Guthrie Spence Smith (1880-1951), ©University of St Andrews

When the Committee was making initial offers for artwork, they sent out requests to known artists, both male and female. A total of 63 artists were approached with many expressing interest in the project.  In the end it would be 47 artists portraying 23 Scottish counties that entered the collection.  The paintings span Scotland, but there were still hundreds of little scenes in the lowlands, highlands, and islands that could have been added to the collection.

While dozens of other artists contributed to the collection, these few biographical sketches show the breadth and width of experiences that lay behind the artworks.  Their main unifying characteristic was their long-time residency and their commitment to better understanding what it means to be Scottish.

Featuring Fife: Then and Now Images of the Kingdom of Fife

“Ceres” by Samuel John Peploe (RSA), oil painting depicting the historic village of Ceres in Fife, © University of St Andrews

The Recording Scotland collection is a set of watercolours collected during World War II to permanently capture the landscapes and the “feeling” of the nation.  Each piece of artwork was chosen because it captured an essential view of Scotland; with emphasis on the places most likely threatened by war and industrialization.  This is part four of a series of blogs about different aspects of the Recording Scotland collection.

Numerous images from the Recording Scotland collection highlight the beautiful scenery of Fife.  Whether it was due to the committee head, Sir James Irvine, being based at St Andrews or just simply the excess of lovely images, Fife was a focus for many artists then as it remains today.

“The Forth Bridge” by Robert C. Robertson (1890 – 1942), image courtesy of the University of St Andrews Museums

One of the great fears of the time was that German bombs would destroy the precious parts of Scotland. Early in October of 1939, German Luftwaffe flew up the River Forth to attack the battlecruiser HMS Hood.  Bombers made successful hits on several naval vessels nearby while passengers looked on in horror from the train traveling over the bridge.  Luckily, British aircraft were able to bring down several German planes at Port Seton and Crail, even capturing a pair of German prisoners of war after fishing them out of the water. The prisoners were taken and held at Edinburgh Castle.  The raid also marked the first time that Spitfires battled in the skies. As a result of the Forth Bridge Raid, barrage balloons and early air raid sirens were introduced, creating a frightening but necessary soundtrack to the era.

Even the famous golf courses of St Andrews had to be altered to ensure that enemy forces could not land or come ashore on the long fairways.  Poles, humps, and trenches were strategically placed around the courses to help protect the countryside.  Some amused golfers consider the changes improvements to the course as it increased the challenge.

“St Monance Kirk” by John Guthrie Spence Smith, Oil painting featuring the historic 13th century church in the village of St Monans, Fife, ©University of St Andrews

A year later a bombing raid also damaged university buildings and St Mary’s Quad. The University Museums collections hold pieces of the shrapnel which resulted from the damage.  The threat to Fife was real, even as Polish soldiers took refuge in the community.  The displaced army became a curious part of the St Andrews landscape as they enrolled in classes and sang on their way to church.

The fears of invasion and destruction preyed upon the minds of citizens, which influenced the Committee to find views of Scotland that preserved, inspired, and recalled those places worth protecting.  Today, the work of capturing images has evolved to include the digital renderings of the very same landscapes.

Kilconquhar Church, photography by ©John Murray Jr, images courtesy of Welcome to Fife

 

(Left) St Monance Kirk & (right) view of Ceres,  photography by ©John Murray Jr, images ©courtesy of Welcome to Fife

On Instagram, @WelcometoFife is the page curated and filled by photographer John Murray Jr.  These beautiful images give us a modern-day insight into many of the the very same places that were shown in the Recording Scotland collection in the 1940s.

Bridges on the Forth by Ellianna Morton, ©Ellianna Morton

Recently we have been lucky enough to be invited to feature some artworks from a new generation of artists who have been recording Scotland!  These young artists who participated in the University of Edinburgh’s summer workshop “Capturing Lives in Scotland’s Communities-An Arts Award Explore Online Project.”  Students aged 11-18 worked with university museums staff to learn about different themes and media styles.  The St Andrews University Museums helped during the landscape week with information about the Recording Scotland collection.  While these pieces are not part of our museum collection, they give us a sneak peek at up and coming artists and we could not resist sharing their landscape artworks.

Here is the University of Edinburgh Museum’s Community Outreach Coordinator Laura Beattie’s explanation of the student art.

“During our week on landscape painting, we looked at many different landscape paintings and discussed the different techniques used to make them: some were abstract, like Karen Goode’s Untitled work from Duncan of Jordanstone’s College of Art and Design, which elicited many different responses. Some of us found it scary or threatening while others found it calming. We also looked at work which aimed to be more representational, like those in the University of St Andrews’ ‘Recording Scotland’ collection. We agreed that, given the context of the collection, it was important for the works to be at least somewhat realistic. Our young artists then went on to create their own landscape artworks inspired by the works we had looked at.”

 

Over the next few Recording Scotland blogs we will feature the art from four of the students who participated in the program.  They have all captured views from their own lives and communities and represent a new generation of artists who are recording their Scotland.