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Audio guide handset at first museum display

Talking Museum: audio guide scripts

Full transcriptions of the Talking Museum audio guide are here. To listen to the track at each stop, click on the title. A shorter version (with no transcripts or extra links) is here.

Note that the tour starts at 2, because track 1 is the introduction to the audio guide on the handset in the museum.

2: 'Hoeing the Fields', painting by William Marshall Brown

2: ‘Hoeing the Fields’, painting by William Marshall Brown

Track 2: ‘Hoeing the Fields’, painting by William Marshall Brown 

Written by artist Emily Learmont, read by Annie Rayner.

This painting is called ‘Hoeing the Fields’ and was painted by the Edinburgh artist William Marshall Brown in 1911. It is approximately 1 metre high by 1.5 metres wide (or about 3.5 feet high by 5 feet wide), and is presented in an elaborately carved and gilded wooden frame. You can reach out and gently touch some of the raised design of the frame if you like.

The painting depicts the landscape of East Lothian in summertime. It is painted in an impressionist style with soft colours and broken brushstrokes, evoking dappled sunlight and shadows.

On the left of the composition are three young women hoeing a field of potatoes. The two women on the right are hard at work, their backs bent over the long wooden poles of their hoes. But the woman on the left is taking a rest. She leans on her hoe, looking upwards. Her face is pretty, although fatigued from working in the open air; and her expression is vacant, as if daydreaming. She wears a pink cotton sunbonnet known as an ‘ugli’, spelt U-G-L-I. The other women wear wide-brimmed hats and shawls, and all three have long brown linen aprons.

In the foreground are rows of potato plants growing in sandy earth. In the middle-ground is an avenue of trees bordering a country lane. And in the distance are fields of wheat and a blue sky filled with billowing clouds.

The painting evokes a scene of rural life that was typical to East Lothian in the nineteenth century.

Catalogue link ‘Hoeing the Fields’.
Page about artist William Marshall Brown.
View all East Lothian Council painting on the BBC ‘Your Paintings’ website.

Track 3: Maritime Costume and Painting

This area of the museum explores stories and objects from the people who traded by sea from East Lothian’s harbours. It was read and researched by Katherine Weldon. The first thing in this section is an oil painting by AP Stirling who painted in in 1880. The image is dramatic showing a heavy sky filled with dark clouds over a small harbour there a few boats on the horizon and two approaching and five are within the sea walls. In the foreground a woman, a fishwife, walks forward carrying a large basket on her back and is stooping slightly. Fishwives collected the catch at the harbour-side and walked for miles to sell their catches door to door to their customers. They carried the fish in baskets on their backs. Behind her is a male figure, a presumably a fisherman.

To the right of the painting is a mannequin dressed in the fishwife costume often worn to gala days or other festive occasions. This includes a paisley pattern shawl in a fine wool fabric and knotted over the shoulders. This shawl is one quarter of a bedspread. It was adapted in the late 1960s when the fishwife parade was revived for the Musselburgh gala day. Hundreds of people took part. All the ladies and girls needed fishwife gala costume and all the men and boys needed hand knitted fishermen’s jumpers. It was a lot of work to track down and make suitable clothes.

The mannequin wears a bright blue and green floral print blouse with a paler blue bow at tied at the collar. Fishwives called their blouses shirgoons, an abbreviation of short gown. Choice of fabric was particular to each wearer.

Below the blouse is a pink and white striped skirt called a petticoat. Older petticoats such as this example on the mannequin were woollen and whilst later examples were cotton as tastes and the availability of fabrics changed. Finally a navy pinstripe apron or bratt is tied over the petticoats.

4: Fishermen on boat

4: Fishermen on boat

Track 4: Maritime Open Display

Everything displayed here would once have been in everyday use at East Lothian’s harbours. Some are now very rare but there is a little panel near the left edge of the board in front of you which you can reach out and touch. East Lothian harbours were bustling and busy. Cargo was loaded on and off trade ships. Catches were hauled off fishing vessels and prepared for sale. Boats were launched and maintained. Nets were mended and baited. Herring were gutted, salted and packed into barrels. This work brought many different sights, sounds, smells, people, materials and equipment to the harbours.

East Lothian exported many raw materials including coal, wool and sheepskins, grain and salt. Here we display a Replica Grain Sack, Salt bag and Sheepskin.

East Lothian imported good that were not grown or manufactured here. These were often luxurious and included Baltic timber, furs from Hudson Bay, salmon, Delft chinaware from Holland, Russian leather from Danzig in the Baltic, Chinese textiles, tea, sugar, gin, brandy and Port wine from Portugal.

Roofing pantiles similar to the example displayed on the far left of this section first arrived by sea from Holland in the 1600s and were used all over the county bringing a bold new look to buildings previously roofed in slate or thatch. Soon they started to be made in East Lothian, this one came from Gladsmuir. It’s a big square of clay about one inch thick and moulded into wavy undulating shape. They were laid like slates on a roof and the curves interlocked into each other. The tile has a little bar at one side; this hooked it onto the roofing timbers. Finally the display includes an old tea chest similar to chests used to import tea into East Lothian. This is at the back right. It’s a rough and ready construction made of plywood sheets held together by metal strips round the edges. The chest is lined with foil backed paper and has the slogan it pays to buy good tea stamped on the outside.

Track 5: Maritime Display Case

This display case contains objects that explore the history of maritime trade in East Lothian. In centre of the case is a group of teapots and other items made of pottery by Charles Belfield and Company in Prestonpans. Merchants, potters, land and ship owners ran flourishing potteries at Prestonpans from the late 1700s to the mid 1930s. Nearby Morrison’s Haven harbour was vital to the industry’s success giving ready access to markets at a time when road transport was slow, inefficient and expensive. Owners utilised existing ships and trade links to export wares to Scandinavia, Russia, North America, Spain and Italy establishing an international market in Prestonpans Pottery. Decline and closure of the Potteries began after Morrison’s Haven started silting up. Shipping became more difficult and the import of supplies ever more expensive. This was compounded by a growing scarcity of local clay and a decline in international demand for Prestonpans Pottery.

Low down on the left sits a bright green plate moulded and glazed green as a cabbage leaf. The detail includes the uneven texture of the leaf with raised veining, and a short ‘stalk’. Next right is a large bulbous teapot that looks like it would pour lots of teacups! It is navy blue on one half and a very pale blue on its other half with a very delicate raised bumpy line separating the two halves. It was a popular design and people had matching sets made in the same pattern.

Right again and up higher is a brown teapot in the shape of a sheaf of bamboo stalks, held together by straw tied in a bow decorated with a rich, toffee brown glaze. Teapots with this distinctive brown, Rockingham glaze were called Broon Coos and were famously associated to Prestonpans. Below this there is tea caddy made in approximately 1870. Several examples survive as do the moulds used to cast the caddies. By 1870 tea had become an everyday drink affordable to most families and was imported by sea both illegally and legally. This caddy is decorated with a white glaze with blue edging and relief figures on the front and back showing robed Grecian women in yellow coloured dresses and carrying flower laden aprons and wreaths.

Finally there is a little blue teapot – a good size for one person and an earthenware pie dish of a type made in Scottish East coast potteries including Prestonpans. They were strongly associated to the region and widely exported. Below the pottery is a selection of archive materials that record the trade that occurred to and from East Lothian’s harbours.

Track 6: ‘The Nova Spero’, painting by John Bellany

This painting has been researched by Emily Learmont, artist and guide at Edinburgh’s National Galleries. The painting is titled the Nova Spero berthed at Eyemouth and is 46 high by 58cm wide. About the size of a coffee table and has a plain, dark wood frame. It is painted with sweeping brushstrokes in brightly coloured oils on canvas. The subject of the painting is a Fisherrow fishing boat a deep sea trawler called Nova Spero meaning New Hope which was built in 1987. It dominates the lower half of the composition with its bow pointing to the left possibly facing the harbour exit. The boat’s hull is dark blue with a broad white stripe around its deck. A thin yellow stripe around its middle and thin red and white stripes at the water line. The boat’s name is marked on its prow as well as its Leith registration number LH142. There is a saltire flag painted on the broad white stripe around the deck. The deck cabin is yellow with a row of dark windows and a red and white life ring. White railings line the deck and above the bow a white mask stretches up to the painting’s top edge. The boat is moored in Eyemouth Harbour. Its colourful paintwork reflected in the water. On the left is a row of whitewashed houses with red roofs and on the right is the yellow dome of the of the auld kirk. The sky is rendered with streaks of brilliant red, yellow and blue. John Bellany was brought up in the fishing community of Port Seton as one of Scotland’s most celebrated artists he has always drawn upon East Coast folk memory.

Track 7: Farming display case

Hello my name is Annie Rayner and this display case is all about the history of farming in East Lothian, from the Iron Age to the recent past.

At the back of the case are some photographs showing how farming has developed. One of them shows sheep shearing in the Lammermuirs. In the early 1900s, this was done by hand using large metal shears, and was sore, hard work. It is now usually done with electric shears.

Another shows an ox harnessed with leather collar girth and chain traces, ready for work pulling ploughs and other heavy loads.

The next photo shows schoolboy John Watson driving a John Deere tractor at Drem in 1942, watched by two well-dressed men, possibly proud relatives! Horses and oxen were rarely used for farm work by this time.

There is also a photo showing turnip hoers in the 1920s. The photo shows four men and seven women. The women are all wearing head coverings, some of them ugli bonnets, like the woman in the earlier painting at the start of the exhibition. Traditionally, male farm workers brought additional workers at busy times, generally wife or daughter, or if unmarried, another female relative.

In the centre at the back of the case is a pink and white gingham checked ugli bonnet. Despite its name, it is not ugly at all! In fact it is very flattering. These bonnets were handmade by generations of female farm workers to a standard design, and often in bright fabrics. Nine large hoops were covered in cotton to form an airy space above the head to allow any breeze to circulate and prevent the head from getting too hot, while shading the face from the sun. At the back there is a further flap of cotton, to protect the neck from sunburn, and the bonnet is held on with broad ribbons. In the days of these bonnets there was no lotion to protect the skin from the sun, and a tan was merely an unwanted giveaway of the days spent labouring outdoors rather than of the indoor leisure of higher status ladies. So these bonnets not only kept the farm workers cool and shaded, but helped them preserve their looks and health.

To the back and left of the display case is a seed hopper, which was used for hand-sowing seed. It is made with a curved wooden frame that would sit at the worker’s waist, with a canvas area that would hold the seed. Straps attached to the sides of the frame would be hung around the neck, leaving both hands free to work rhythmically, sowing the seed. Someone would follow with a harrow to cover the seed with soil.

To the bottom right of the case is a tattie basket, or potato basket, used at the tattie-howking, or potato harvest. It is made of wire woven across an oval shape formed of a steel rim, and reinforced with two crossed strips of metal. Gangs of mainly female workers and children were hired for the potato harvest in autumn; the school October break was originally put in place to allow children to help with the harvest. They filled tattie baskets with potatoes that had already been dug up either by hand or machine. The full tattie baskets were then emptied into a cart or bogie by male workers. This method of picking potatoes continued until mechanisation took over relatively recently. It was one of the jobs of the Landgirls during the Second World War, and even in the 1960s local women were still helping with the tattie harvest. They would be allowed to take home a ‘boiling’ of potatoes at the end of the day to help feed the family.

There is a large metal milk churn in the centre of the case, towards the front. It is about 40 centimetres high and would hold about 20 litres, or 4 gallons (32 pints). These is also a one-pint milk bottle from around 1970. It is marked Braefield Dairy Farm, North Berwick. This was one of several East Lothian farms producing, pasteurising, bottling and delivering its own milk directly to customers’ doorsteps every morning.

Track 8: Communities of East Lothian

This track was read and researched by Katherine Weldon. It describes a lovely display case that showcases uniforms worn by East Lothian people in times of war and in times of peace. Their work made significant contributions to East Lothian communities.

The case is large. We have four mannequins displayed inside with one half mannequin wearing from left to right the uniforms of the Women’s Land Army, Women’s Voluntary Service, East Lothian Yeomanry Cavalry and finally the half mannequin is wearing a Civil Defence Uniform. There also an Air Raid Precautions helmet.

The Women’s Land Army boosted food production in the both the First and Second World Wars. At the outbreak of the Second World War Britain imported much of its food but this position became increasingly impossible as the war escalated. Merchant shipping came under fire making it difficult and dangerous to get oversees goods. Despite a government scheme to create Reserved Occupations for men in essential work including farming food shortages became a very real worry as male farmworkers were called to join the Armed Forces. The Women’s Land Army was set up in 1917 just at the end of the First World War and was reformed in June 1939. It reached its peak in 1944 employing 80,000 women nationally. Volunteers and conscripts were referred to as Land Girls. They worked in all weathers and conditions and could be directed to work anywhere in the country.

The Women’s Land Army looks really comfortable and practical. Our mannequin is seated to lace up her boots. She wears a green gingham scarf tied round her head and a pink printed cotton blouse. It has a wide collar with three quarter length sleeves and puffed wide sleeves to give a good range of movement. She wears dark green cord breeches with a wide button waistband. They are cut really wide over the hips in the shape of jodhpurs but even wider. The trousers finish at mid-calf with eyelets and laces that allow her to easily get them on, off and secure. She’s wearing thick wool socks and also tackety boots. They are very heavy with metal studs in the bottom to give really good grip and made in thick leather to provide waterproofing in waterlogged fields.

Behind the land girl is a full height mannequin wearing Women’s Voluntary Service coat with beret. The Women’s Voluntary Service was formed in 1938 initially to assist with the country’s air defence network but membership grew and in 1943 there were 1 million members nationally. They played a fundamental role in factories and on farms and even salvaged metal to build tanks and weapons. Members provided social welfare to families of service people, cared for evacuees, fed those in blitzed areas and knitted essential items for the forces. Today the Royal Voluntary Service is involved with community projects in East Lothian. The coat is very smart, it’s double breasted and made in a soft dark green tweed. It has a wide collar and finishes at around knee length.

The next two mannequins wear a uniform worn by a soldier of the East Lothian Yeomanry Cavalry and date to the 1870s. The uniform comprises a tunic, trousers, cape and helmet. Yeomanry regiments were volunteer units and each man had to supply his own uniform and horse. The East Lothian Yeomanry Cavalry was formed in 1797 to defend Britain in case of French invasion under Napoleon. It was disbanded in 1838 but reformed in 1846 and changed its name in 1888 to Lothian’s and Berwickshire Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry. In 1908 the regiment was renamed the Lothian and Borders Horse and attached to the 51 Highland Division. After the Second World War the regiment was amalgamated into the Queen’s Own Yeomanry. The Regiment exist today as E Squadron The Scottish and Northern Irish Yeomanry.

The cape is dramatic. It is made in a dark wool with a bright red upright collar and gold buttons. It finishes at knee length and was worn when riding on horseback. The upper section is half length in the manner of a great coat to give extra protection to the shoulders and torso. It’s lined in red. We have folded back a section to show this. The jacket is very fitted and short and created in red wool with lots of gold braid at the neckline, front buttons and cuffs. The trousers are in a dark fabric with stripes of gold braid down the outer side of each leg. The mannequin holds a pill box hat in his hand in black fabric with swirls of gold braid on the crown. The jacket and trousers were worn by Sergeant PH Hume of Lawfield, latterly the regimental quarter master. Finally the helmet is a black leather with an embossed insignia on the front. It originally had a plume of white horse hair and is very narrow.

A white painted metal helmet is in the foreground of the case beside a green canvas bag and a navy woollen jacket. They were all used by East Lothian Air Raid Precautions Wardens who were appointed during the Second World War. Wardens worked all over Britain to ensure people complied with blackout regulations and were trained in rescue, first-aid, civilian movement, fire-fighting and counselling. In the event of bombing they assessed and reported the situation, allayed panic and gave assistance. Air Raid Precautions volunteers were part of Britain’s Civil Defence organisation during the First World War. In 1943 there were one and a half million members, a quarter of whom were women. Half the force served as Street Wardens.

The woollen jacket was worn by Civil Defence member Fred Mills, Divisional District Warden. It is a short blouson style with full shoulders and a narrow waist. Three red chevrons are sewn on the right sleeve to denote previous war service. Medals on the left breast were awarded to the wearer during the First World War. They are left to right: The Military Cross on a purple and white ribbon. This medal was the third level award for gallantry awarded to officer’s. The British War Medal on an orange and blue ribbon awarded to all British and empire forces engaged on operations during the First World War. The Allied Victory Medal on a rainbow ribbon was awarded to all forces engaged on operations against central powers during the First World War.

Track 9: Reform Banner

This track was read and researched by Katherine Weldon. It explores a painted banner created in the early 1830s. Its strong language was very topical.Scotland and Britain were changing from an agricultural and rural centred economy to one where industry was dominant. Ordinary working people faced radical changes to their lives and began to campaign for better representation in parliament and for better working conditions.

This banner belonged to Musselburgh activists in favour of the Reform Act (Scotland), 1832. The Act increased the British electorate from 4239 to 65,000 and reformed the House of Commons.

The banner is painted in dramatic colours on to a fine dark parchment coloured fabric. At the top is a gold coloured blacksmith’s anvil with a gold hammer resting on it. Its shadows are picked out in darker gold. Under the anvil is a garland of fruit, flowers and foliage. To the left is a spray of thistle leaves and flowers and to the right is a spray of roses and leaves. They are joined in the centre by a pink ring and are all painted in expressive brushstrokes giving movement and interest.

Under the garland is the text painted in a large, bold font in black lettering and ending with three exclamation marks. It reads: ‘May the iron fetters that are riveted by oppression be knocked off on the anvil of liberty by the hammer of reform’.

10: Timelines

10: Timelines

Track 10: East Lothian Timelines

Written by Kathy Fairweather and read by Arran Johnston.

This display features four themed ‘timelines’. Each object is backlit and displayed in chronological order from left to right on each timeline row. At the foot of the case are open shelves holding toys from different eras. They are at a low level to make them particularly accessible for younger visitors – you can reach in and touch them. Press pause on your audio player now, if you’d like to.

I’ll now describe one or two objects from each timeline:

Beginning with the Homes and Living timeline, on the top row, at about head height:

At the left end of the row is the oldest object in the museum collection: a

Bronze Age beaker

Bronze Age beaker

Bronze Age clay beaker in a dark terracotta colour. It is a pot that was found buried with the skeleton of a young Bronze Age woman just outside Haddington, and radiocarbon dating tells us the burial was around 2300 to 2400 BC, or 3,000 years ago. It is about 15 cms high by 10 cms wide at its widest point (or 6 inches by 4 inches), the size and shape of a standard vase or flower pot. It is decorated with bands of impressions made by two square-toothed combs, and was obviously made with care. It would have held food or drink for the dead woman’s journey to the next world. We have some clay panels with some of these designs on them which you can feel to get a sense of what this pot looks like, and we also have a larger replica model which you can explore by touch.

The next object is a very small bronze brooch about 4 cms (or 1 inch) long, in the shape of a trumpet, dating from Roman times, about 2,000 years ago. These brooches were used to fasten clothes. East Lothian was never conquered by the Romans, as the local tribe were allies who provided grain to feed the Roman armies.

The second row, at about chin height, is about Trade and Commerce:

About halfway along the row is a large white £5 note issued in about 1810 by the East Lothian Banking Company, which was based in Dunbar. The note is about the size of a large postcard, and is engraved with a tall bale of corn with some harvesting tools on the left, and a pair of fishergirls, with ships at sea in the background, at the top centre.

Five pound bank note

Five pound bank note

The writing on the note is very swirly and elaborate, and promises to pay the bearer five pounds ‘by order of the directors’.

This shortlived bank was founded in 1810, but had to close down 12 years later when its chief cashier absconded to America with most of its funds (it’s not clear how much, but maybe as much as £100,000). There are reports that he was eventually caught in South America or Savannah, but it’s not known whether he was ever brought to trial. The trustees of the bank managed, with difficulty, to repay all the people who had saved their money in the bank, although it took many years – and there was no government support to help them back then!

The third row is about Religion and Belief, and is at about chest height:

Pilgrim Badge impressions

Pilgrim Badge impressions

Near the beginning of this row are two replica pilgrim medals made of pewter, and each about 4cms (roughly 1 inch) square. They are about the size of large brooches; one is in the shape of a cross, while the other has a raised cross on it. Each cross has the embossed figure of Christ on it. These crosses are not like the traditional crucifix; all four of the arms are the same length, and they cross in the centre, like the symbol for the Red Cross, with scalloped edges at the end of each arm. We have two larger replicas of different pilgrim medals, heavily embossed, which you can touch and explore at the handling table on your way out.

East Lothian was an important location for early Christianity in Scotland, and pilgrimage brought travellers here from across Europe. Many sites catered for pilgrims, who were able to get free or reduced lodgings on their route, and would wear medals like these, which were bought and blessed at pilgrimage sites. Other travellers would pretend to be pilgrims in order to try to claim free lodgings, so such medals were useful evidence of authenticity.

From the 12th century, a ferry carried pilgrims from North Berwick to Earlsferry in Fife on the route to visit the holiest of shrines, the tomb of St Andrew. Even today, some pilgrimages still take place, like the annual pilgrimage from Whitekirk to Haddington.

The next object in the row is a fragment of elaborately shaped floor tile from the priory at North Berwick, which also served pilgrims. It is made from thick, glazed clay shaped into a pattern, and is now a dark brownish green colour. It dates from the 13th century.

Musket balls

Musket balls

The bottom row, at about waist height, is about Conflict and Defence:

East Lothian has often been the scene of conflict because of its location on the east coast route between England and Scotland.

The row starts with two iron cannon balls, about the size of outdoor bowling balls, a bit bigger than tennis balls (though much heavier!). They are pitted and rusted, with white patches on them. These were found at two East Lothian battle sites: the Battle of Pinkie in Musselburgh which took place in 1547, and was a severe defeat for the Scots; and the siege of Haddington in 1548/9. Both these events were part of the so-called Rough Wooing, when Henry VIII of England was trying to persuade the Scots to allow their infant Queen Mary to marry his son, the future Edward VI. Although his attempt failed when Mary was removed to France, it caused huge damage and devastation in Scotland, particularly in East Lothian. You can still see indentations in the walls of the town of Haddington and of St Mary’s Church, where cannon balls and musket balls left their mark.

A cannon ball just like these was even found in the ancient foundations of this very building when it was being renovated to become the John Gray Centre!

Next to the cannon balls are a handful of smaller iron balls, about the size of maltesers. These were fired by muskets at the second Battle of Dunbar, won by Oliver Cromwell in 1650, when he was trying to bring Scotland into his Commonwealth after the execution of Charles I. Some of these were also fired during the second Jacobite rising in 1745.

Catalogue link for £5 note
Catalogue link for musket balls at site of Battle of Pinkie

11: The 9 Trades of Haddington

11: The 9 Medieval Trades of Haddington

Track 11: The Nine Trades of Haddington display case

Written and read by Sylvia Fraser.

Do you know anyone called Baxter, Tailor, Skinner, Souter, Mason, Butcher, Cooper, Weaver, or Smith? These were the nine trades of Haddington, and if you know someone with one of these names, maybe someone in their family once worked at one of these trades. Each trade formed its own monopoly – only approved, skilled men were allowed to practise these trades, and they formed incorporated organisations to protect their members and prevent others from breaking in and stealing their customers. Listen on to find out more about some of them.

This display is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, with three irregular rows. I will describe one object from each row.

At the far right of the top row, at about head height, is a butcher’s cleaver. It is a heavy, sharp rectangular piece of dulled grey metal, with a shaped wooden handle, a bit like the handle of skipping rope, firmly attached by metal rods.

I’d like to tell you the story of a dishonest Haddington butcher that we found in the archives:

Trades insignia

Insignia of the Nine Trades

In Haddington there was a family of butchers who were regularly caught cheating, either by acquiring the meat illegally and selling it under the counter, or by tampering with the weights. As the sale of meat was strictly regulated by the Town Council and the fleshers’ trade incorporation, malpractices were severely punished. The family was regularly fined £5 Scots, and sometimes as much as £50 Scots. If they couldn’t afford to pay, they were sent to jail in the tolbooth, a cold, dark, damp place. This doesn’t seem to have stopped them though, as they continue to appear regularly in the Haddington Criminal Register.

In the centre of the display, at about shoulder height, is a cobbler’s last. This was sometimes locally called a ‘de’il’s fit’ (or ‘devil’s foot’), and many households would have had one for making quick repairs to shoes. It would have been used by shoemakers, also known as cordiners or souters. The last is made of cast iron and has a curious three-pronged shape. Two of the prongs end in different-sized foot shapes, and the third prong is more of a rounded heel shape. Each prong projects from the central corner at a 90 degree angle. The shoe material, usually leather, would have been stretched around the appropriate foot-shape on the last and then cut. The bits would then be sewn together and a sole glued and tacked to the bottom, to make a shoe. The leather and glue would have been bought from the skinners and tanners, another of the trades of Haddington.

We have a single-footed last in the handling collection.

In the middle of the bottom row, below the last, is a small silver box. It is 8 cm long by 4 cm high – a bit smaller than a pack of cards – and it has been beautifully engraved. It represents the trade of the hammermen, or smiths as they were more commonly known. It was made in 1821 and was probably used for snuff, or to hold visiting cards, which were much like modern-day business cards.

Hammermen made metal objects such as cups, bowls, nails and horseshoes. Most of the hammermen in East Lothian were blacksmiths, and were generally seen working at the forge – the smiddy – shoeing horses. But sometimes they made delicate expensive objects like this silver box.

13: Milk bottle from display of glass bottles

13: Milk bottle from display of glass bottles

Track 12: Message in a Bottle display

Written by Kathy Fairweather, read by Sylvia Fraser.

This is a small display of five different glass bottles, set out in a row at about chest height. The bottles were all locally produced, and some of them have raised glass writing on them to explain what’s inside. They range from a square, wide-shouldered bottle that once held ‘oil of salts’, a by-product of the salt industry at Prestonpans and supposed to ease rheumatism, to a more recognisable tubular one-pint milk bottle, whose label proudly proclaims that the milk is tuberculin-tested. There was a special isolation hospital at East Fortune to treat sufferers of TB, which since the introduction of regular TB-testing of cows has become a much less common disease than it used to be.

Catalogue link for Crown Dairy milk bottle

14: Industry

14: Industry

Track 13: East Lothian industries

Written by Irene Hopkins, read by Christina Dougan (East Lothian Messenger reader).

This display contains about ten objects. It is about 5 ft long. As you face the display, imagine a clock face to help orientate yourself. A 1 o’clock there is a flat shovel made of rough wood, leaning against the wall and the shelf. It is about 4 ft long. Shovels like this were used in coal mines and distilleries for turning malt or grain. They were made of wood because there was a danger of striking sparks from metal tools which could ignite coal in a mine, or cause a fire that would burn the grain at a distillery.

Behind the malt shovel you will find the handle of a wooden fork lying along the shelf. It is again made out of rough wood and the same length as the shovel. It has six prongs, and its owner has carved his name into the handle – see if you can find it and read it! These forks were used for turning grain and malt at distilleries and are also still in use today. The Glenkinchie distillery near Pencaitland, established in 1837, would have used similar forks and shovels.

On the back wall there are several photographs showing some of these items in use.

In the centre of the exhibit, at 6 o’clock, are four bricks. You can put your hand out and touch them – some have the name of the place they were made moulded into them. Three of them are brown-coloured, and were manufactured at Prestongrange brickworks, which dates back to the 1700s; and one is red, and was manufactured at Musselburgh at the Levenhall, Pinkie brickworks, which also dates back to the 1700s. One thing is for sure, bricks have not gone out of fashion!

Circular kiln at Prestongrange brick and tile works

Circular kiln at Prestongrange brick and tile works

To the left of the bricks, on a projecting display board, is a small clay fragment of garden edging, which you can touch. It is bumpy, with smooth edges and has a brown salt glaze. Behind and to the left of this are two pieces of horseshoe drainage pipe, used for draining fields and gardens – pipes like this are still in use today. These pipes and the garden edging were probably manufactured at Prestongrange brick and tile works at any time from the late 1800s until it closed in the 1970s.

North Berwick outdoor pool in 1963

North Berwick outdoor pool in 1963

Up at about head height, on the wall at the back left of the display, is a screen showing clips from the Scottish Screen archive. One of my favourite clips here shows North Berwick outdoor pool in the 1970s. Actually I know how it felt because I was there in the ’70s with my three girls and Granny. They all loved it. On the day the film-maker visited, the pool was full. It certainly looks like a very hot day there. There are children and adults swimming and sliding down the water slide and lots of people watching – you can really feel the holiday atmosphere.

The screen also shows film footage of fishing boats in Dunbar harbour, salt-panning at Prestonpans, weaving at Haddington and wire-making at Brunton Wireworks.

Page about seaside holidays in East Lothian
Page about Prestongrange

Track 14: Personal View Cases

Hello, my name is Katherine Weldon I will describe two lovely personal view cases that were created and researched by Diana Simcock and Kathryn Thorogood.

Around ten years ago Diana Simcock moved to East Lothian from Sussex. Diana feels she didn’t know very much about Scottish history, and the little she did know was mostly about Mary Queen of Scots. Working on this display deepened her understanding of sixteenth century political and religious power struggles, and how they affected an important local family. Kathryn Thorogood was originally from Felixstowe in Suffolk, and came to Edinburgh to study BA Honours Costume Design and Construction at Queen Margaret University, graduating in 2017. She has a particular interest in all aspects of historical clothing. This project gave her a real insight into museum work-something she hopes to re-visit during her career. Kathryn was helped by Diana Simcock who contributed materials to the display.

Diana Simcock’s display is on the left and called The Setons: A Proud Family and Kathryn Thorogood’s is called Reconstructing Historical Headwear and is on the right.  There is a shelf between the two that has a hat to try on.

Diana’s display includes a printed exhibition board with several images and a glass fronted display case containing a variety of art works and historic objects.   It tells the story of three generations of the Setons, a noble East Lothian family who lived through the Rough Wooing and the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. The first in the story is George Seton, the 6th Lord who died in 1549. The 6th Lord earned the hatred of John Knox, the Lords of the Congregation and the English, by allowing Cardinal Beaton to escape from captivity. In revenge, Lord Hertford’s army destroyed and looted Seton properties during the “Rough Wooing”. George Seton who lived from 1530 to 1586 was the 7th Lord.  He and his half-sister, Marie Seton were devout Catholics, and faithful supporters of Mary Queen of Scots. The 7th Lord restored the castle at Seton, entertaining the Queen on several occasions. One of the “Four Maries”, Marie Seton stayed with the Queen after her abdication, eventually retiring to a convent in France.

Finally Alexander Seton who lived from 1555 was 1622 Chancellor of Scotland under James VI. He extended Pinkie House, establishing gardens and pleasure grounds for the “gracious welcome and hospitable entertainment of guests”. The Seton family power and wealth were swept away after the 1715 Jacobite rebellion, when the last Lord Seton went into exile and forfeited his lands.

Four images are shown down the left of the board.  The first is a reproduction of a painting that shows a wide, open landscape under a bright blue sky.  In the centre is a grand stone palace with towers bathed in sunlight.  This is the family home of Seton palace. The painting is in the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland and was painted by Alexander Keirincx who lived from 1600–1652. The words Un Dieu, Un Foy; Un Roy, Un Loy which means One God, One Faith; One King, One Law were inscribed on its stonework.  Here at this splendid residence in East Lothian they provided hospitality to monarchs and displayed their family treasures. The palace fell into disrepair and was finally demolished in 1790.

The next image shows the arms of William de Seton: three red crescents on a field of gold and the third image shows the Arms of Cockenzie and Port Seton. Courtesy of the Lord Lyon.  A classic shield shape shows a boat on a stormy sea with the three red crescents above it and brick crown finished with the motto hazard yet forward.

The final image is an illustration depicting Mary Queen of Scots in a gathering of ladies and gentlemen.  They are all very elaborately dressed and hold walking sticks.  Seton Palace is shown in the background behind them.

The display case is packed with objects and images.  A very old map showing the barony and palace of Seton is copied into the back of the case.  Landscape features such as the port and plantations of trees are clearly shown.  Coming down to the next level is a copy of a painting of the Seton Family painted by Frans Porbous the Elder in 1572.  George Lord Seton stands in the centre surrounded by his children all dressed very formally with high ruffled neck pieces.  An inscription states my daughter respect god and your honour for the honour of women is tender and easily lost. Next left a sketchbook is open at detailed drawings by Diana Simcock of architectural fragments at Seton Palace including the Scottish royal emblems of the lion and thistle with the Seton family crescent. A large leather-bound book with thick pages is open at a page that describes a gift to Mary Seton of a beautiful necklace of white enamel rubies, emeralds and pearls.  This book and the one below it are the family of Seton a history in two volumes by George Seton published in 1896.  Lowest down there is a large heavy iron key labelled original key belonging to Seton castle and a collection of stone working tools belonging to stone mason Gardner Malloy who has carved the Seton family motto and is inspired by its message hazard yet forward.

To your left is the second display case by Kathryn Thorogood.  She notes that Lord George Seton was an active supporter of Mary Queen of Scots and even helped her to escape Edinburgh after the murder of her private secretary, Rizzio. Kathryn made reconstructions of the headwear of both George and Mary, using two different replication techniques. Mary’s is displayed in case and George’s hat is on a shelf to the left of the case.

Kathryn found Mary Queen of Scots’ iconic headdress fascinating as a costume maker as there are no surviving examples and limited information on its style and construction. Therefore, she had to rely on portraits and her own interpretation of them.

Kathryn notes when making historical dress, you have to decide whether to make the article completely historically accurate in terms of materials and construction, or if the artifice needs to have the look of historical accuracy but can be constructed using modern day techniques. This will depend on the purpose and use of the piece. Here Mary Queen of Scots’ headdress is as historically accurate as possible, while George Seton’s hat is only historically accurate in style.

The display board has copies of the two paintings that inspired Kathryn’s designs.  The first shows George, 5th Lord Seton, aged 27, in the 1570s, the artist is thought to be Adrian Vanson and it is housed in the Scottish National Gallery.  It shows George surrounded by features that show his wealth and status from richly coloured clothes to flowing background drapery, coats of arms and armour.  His dark red hat inspired Kathryn.  It is pleated and studded with jewels and finished with a matching feather.  The second depicts Mary Queen of Scots by an unknown artist and is also part of the collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  It shows the queen in a dark gown with her hand on a red tablecloth.  Dark drapes in the background complement a gloomy tone allowing the exquisitely painted lace shown at her cuffs, neck, shoulders and headdress to shine forth.  These details inspired Kathryn

The display case is filled with replica headdresses.  At the top left is the beautiful and fine reconstruction of Mary Queen of Scots headdress made by Kathryn.  Fine layers of silk and lace flow from the firm headdress fitted to the head.  It frames the face with a flowing curved shape that allowed room for coiffured hair to be rolled and curled around the face.  A series of images at the back of the case recreate how the headdress may have been worn by showing the process in staged photographs.  Kathryn herself posed for these shots. The rest of the case includes head coverings made by Diana Simcock including a dark green knitted hat based on men hats found in the wreck of the 16th century Mary Rose battleship plus a very plain coif in unbleached linen for everyday wear by the poorest women in the 16th century and finally a neat black and white headdress of a style worn by Mary of Guise.   Source books and sewing materials complete this display.

Before moving on you might want to try on George’s hat.  If so take a couple of steps forward and stretch out your hand at waist height.  You should come to a velvet hat on a low hat stand.  You can pick it up and try it on.  Once you are finished step back again and continue your tour.

Track 16: Smeaton Family Case

This display explores the history of the Buchan Hepburn family who lived at Smeaton in East Lothian.  The display was researched and curated by David Affleck.  It is called The Last of the Hepburns of Smeaton Hepburn. Following his retirement from managing Social Work services he has pursued interests in history, horticulture, and music. Recent historical research activity has concentrated on material that offers new perspectives to relationships between individuals, groups and communities relevant to local history studies.

In front of you is a printed panel, it reads: On the 17th May 1929, Sir Archibald Buchan Hepburn of Smeaton House, near East Linton, died after a long illness. A period of five years of family disagreement then led to the sale of the house and its contents gathered over four centuries. Papers belonging to his third son, Patrick have become available. The story of the Hepburns of Smeaton can now be told. In 1538, Patrick Hepburn of Waughton granted the land of Smeaton to Adam Hepburn, his third son. The house contained a letter to Adam from Mary Queen of Scots written from Carlisle on 25th June 1568. Adam had held Dunbar Castle with Hepburn support in her name. In 1764, the direct male succession of the Hepburns of Smeaton ended with the death of the last George Hepburn. The estate was inherited by his nephew, George Buchan whose parents lived at Letham in Haddington. He assumed the name George Buchan Hepburn. In April, 1781, a Margaretta Henrietta Beck, married George in Edinburgh. She had been married twice before. Both husbands had left her substantial fortunes. Did she help to finance the construction of the walled garden in 1782 and the extension in 1793 to a 36 roomed mansion? George became Sir George Buchan Hepburn on 6th May 1815.

The board also includes pictures of the family and the area around Smeaton.  The first is a painting of Sir Archibald dressed formally with a quote that from the first footman at Smeaton who said the time he spent with Sir Archibald and Lady Buchan were amongst the happiest years of his life.  An image of an imposing stone church in a warm rosy tone notes that in 1818 Sir George modified the east end of Prestonkirk for a family vault. A lovely picture shows Smeaton lake and the trees on its sides bathed in sunshine.  It was created by Sir Thomas, grandson of Sir George around 1830 and some of the trees on the estate are now part of the national arboretum.  Finally a lovely informal grouping shows Sir Archibald and his two sons Thomas and John sitting outdoors.  They are wearing tweeds and kilts and it shows a happy family scene taken at Logan, near Stranraer.

To the right the display case in front of you contains copies of three heraldic family crests and a large stone curling stone that has the date 1698 carved into its surface.  It was held by the Buchan Hepburn family for many years and donated to East Linton Curling Club in 1934. To hear a description of the crests pause your player, walk forward a couple of steps then stretch out your hand and you will find a board attached to the side of the case.  It has a metal panel with three buttons.  Lift the handset and press the top button on the panel, information on the crests and a recording of a letter written by Mary Queen of Scots will start to play. The other two buttons adjust the volume up and down.  Walk back a couple of steps and press play on your audio guide when you are ready to continue the tour.  To explore the next section turn to 6’oclock.

This wall has a selection of paintings to the right. The first image to the right is a copy of a lovely drawing of Sir Thomas.  The colours are soft and it may be a pastel drawing.  It shows him dressed formally in a suit with short buttoned waistcoat and a high collar and bow tie.  He leans his arm on a pink marble pillar and has a thoughtful and sensitive expression.  Below Sir Thomas is a copy of a painting of Letham House where Sir George grew up.  It shows an imposing house in the centre with large mature trees to either side.  A family including a dog are gathered in sunshine in the foreground.  The final painting shows a room inside Smeaton House.  A shutter and window are glimpsed to the side shedding just a little light on a room filled with paintings and fine furniture.

17: VAD Nurse Annie Young display

17: VAD Nurse Annie Young display

Track 17: VAD Nurse Annie Young

Curated by Claire Pannell, read by Christina Douggan.

Nurse Annie Young was a volunteer nurse who trained in First Aid, and joined the VAD, or Voluntary Aid Detachment, as soon as the Second World War broke out. She received further training in helping gas and blast casualties, and at the back left of this display are some of her proficiency certificates and service medals, all featuring the red cross. To the right and at the back of the case is a full-sized dummy wearing Nurse Annie’s uniform, a soft blue long-sleeved dress with a white apron over the top, which has a red cross sewn onto the bib. At the bottom front of the display are some of the lace collars that Annie made to brighten up her uniform. Above them is an open nursing manual, showing how to deal with certain injuries, and a pamphlet of ‘Tactical Notes’ on defence against gas. Interestingly, it’s dated 1934, well before the Second World War broke out.

We have a replica nurse’s outfit from this period, which you are welcome to touch or try on.


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