Thursday, 28 April 2011

Creag an Tuirc- Clan MacLaren

This view from Creag an Tuirc is of Loch Voil in Balquhidder,  long associated with Rob Roy and the clan MacGregor, however the clan MacLaren were the original occupants. In 1558 under continuous pressure from the Campbells,the MacGregors moved south into Balquhidder where they massacred 18 MacLaren families and took their farms. There remained an uneasy relationship between the two clans for the next 200 years. The meeting place,slogan and motto of the MacLarens is called Creag an Tuirc- The Boar's Rock. This is situated behind Balquhidder kirk,a short steep climb up Kirkton glen.

The father of the present chief was recognised by the Lord Lyon as MacLaren of Achleskine and chief of the MacLarens. He purchased part of the old homelands including Creag an Tuirc and his son Donald MacLaren of MacLaren lives at Kirkton farm.Last year in the general election he stood as an independent candidate against the Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The clan MacLaren hold an annual gathering at the Lochearnhead Highland Games due this year on 23 July.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

John Muir and the Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum

Cornish Beam Engine
 Today is the anniversary of the Scottish born American 'Father of National Parks,' environmental conservationist John Muir. He was born in Dunbar on 21 April 1835 and to commemorate his connections with the area a long distance footpath was built from Dunbar to Musselburgh.Situated on route is a former industrial site I am sure he would have approved - Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum. Located on an area which can trace its origins back to the monks of Newbattle abbey and coal mining in the 12th century it has also been the focus of brick,glass, and pottery manufacturing.Following closure of the coal mine in 1962 and the brick works in 1975 it became Scotland's first industrial museum. A collection of mining and brick artifacts were put on display when it became obvious that a way of life and material culture were rapidly disappearing. On the site there are also an original Cornish Beam engine and Hoffman kiln.Since the 18th century several waves of immigrants from Venetian glass makers to Irish railway gangers settled in the area.There is a collection of named photographs and an excellent reference library of local research into the coal mining,brick and glass industry.
Children on site of current museum

The museum and East Lothian Local History Society are always keen to locate descendants of the original workers and record reminiscences which can be added to the museum's audio tour. This museum is well worth visiting and an added bonus it is free. If you’d like to be involved in this exciting project or would like more information please get in touch.

Contact Katherine Weldon, Assistant Museums Officer, Museums and Libraries HQ, Dunbar Road, Haddington, East Lothian, EH41 3PJ, 01620 828224,

I have heard Neil Oliver will be going to the USA and Yellowstone Park to make a BBC programme about John Muir.