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All Locked Down and Nothing to Do?
The John Gray Centre Museum, Archives and Local History library may be shut at present – but there’s still plenty to explore from the comfort of your own home. We thought we’d pull together some of our favourite heritage on-line sources for you to explore at your leisure – but be careful: time tends to zoom by when you’re wandering deep into the past.
First, a quick refresher on our own website. A key part is the East Lothian HER, or Historic Environment Record, the Archaeology Service’s view of East Lothian. Perhaps a bit of a mouthful, but if you explore the map, it all becomes clear. Just zoom in using the +/- buttons on the bottom right, click on one of the (nearly 17,000) hotspots, and off you go. The HER connects the modern landscape to all manner of archaeological and historic sites. If your house is listed, it’s in here. Links within the HER pages connect further to CANMORE the national equivalent maintained by Historic Environment Scotland. A useful adjunct to both is Scotland’s Places. which gives you access to the documentary record from the past.
Getting back to the JGC websites we have pages about East Lothian People, Places and Events. The directory column on the left hand side allows you to navigate and see related material. Finally, our thousands of online images can be searched from here.
Moving on, East Lothian Museums were a major contributor to SCRAN, Scotland’s Digital Museum, and now another part of Historic Environment Scotland. Many of the records we contributed there are being added to our own website (see the image search mentioned above), but as there are many thousands there’s a bit of a lag. You can search SCRAN freely, but detailed information is only available to subscribers (free for East Lothian Library members or try the three day trial on this page). All we ask is that you keep any images for your own use and don’t cross-post them to other websites!
For those that like to read about the past East Lothian Antiquarians and Field Naturalists have recently uploaded the complete run of their Transactions to their website. This provides access to readers at home to scholarly reports from 1924 to the present day. Just over the southern county border Berwickshire Naturalists Club have been recording their county since 1831 – and a lot of East Lothian material can be found in their annual ‘History’. A lot of the older volumes have made their way on to the Internet Archive. See here. The Internet Archive is a worldwide collaboration of Libraries dedicated to digitising out-of-copyright books, and it’s a treasure trove. Often the books are provided in different formats – for Kindle, iPad, and other reading devices – and are fully searchable. We find the availability of works from East Lothian authors a great boon in helping us provide our service. See, for example James Miller’s History of Dunbar, Peter McNeill’s Tranent, or John Martine’s Reminiscences, their other works, and many more are all here.
One of the contributors to the Internet Archive is the National Library of Scotland. Their eResources open another door into the past, all available to explore from home. Their map site is also worth a look. Check out how your town has changed over the years.
Ancestry has provided free access until 30th April 2020 via library membership where borrowers sign in with their library number and pin. This is courtesy of ProQuest and its partner Ancestry. Click here to access it
Finally, if reading the newspapers is your thing, hundreds of years’ worth of British newspapers are available at the British Newspaper Archive. Search for free, but a subscription is needed to get beyond the snippet view. However, it too offers a free trial.
We’re still here so please get in touch with any questions and we’ll do our best to help while we are working remotely.
Take care, everyone – and happy (virtual) exploring until we see you again!
Archaeology: Historic Environment Record
The Historic Environment Record, or HER, is a record of all known archaeological and historical sites in East Lothian and Midlothian. The record is also sometimes called the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR). The HER is maintained by the East Lothian Council Archaeology Service based in Haddington.
The HER is available online and can be searched either through the map or by the advanced search. When using the advanced search, be sure to click on the East Lothian Historic Environment Record box, and/or the Midlothian Historic Environment Record box.
A general search using the search box above will search the catalogues from the museum, archives and local history services as well as the HER (and the rest of the website).
To find out more about the HER, click here.