Day 8–June 24–NEHGS Tour of Edinburgh

This was the last day of the seminar, and I got to join Kristin and the other seminar participants for the day. The New England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS) organized a tour of the Greyfriars Church for the morning, followed by a late-morning/early afternoon tour of the National Museum and finishing up with a tour of the Lamont House on Charlotte Square.

The Greyfriars Church tour was fascinating for the amount of detail on some of the tombstone inscriptions; I think some of the inscriptions ran to 50 or 60 words. The yard used for the Covenanter’s Prison reminded me of the football stadiums and other buildings that have been used for prisons in Chile and other nations in modern times.

The National Museum was worth much more than the two hours that we had. In particular, I want to spend more time with the Atmospheric Engine as I do not think the Henry Ford or other US museums have a similar specimen. The section on the history of weaving technology was insteresting and useful, as the ancestor that I am researching was probably a weaver before emmigrating to the U.S.–his probate in Pennsylvania lists a loom as a named item. One woman participating in the seminar had a series of ancestors who were “beetler&rsquos;s” and all became deaf. After seeing a beetling machine for pounding linen cloth smooth, we immediately understood why they all went deaf shortly after entering the workforce.

The Lamont house is interesting for the kitchen and the fashion history exhibits. It is well worth the visit.

We finished the day with a banquet dinner, where several people talked about their research breakthroughs. One talked of viewing a 14th Century document, while another talked of the court case file regarding the railroad accident death of an ancestor. One remarked that she had confirmed that she does not have any common relatives with President Trump, despite the fact that his mother and her ancestors come from the same island.

The NEGHS tour started with the cemetery of Greyfriar’s Church. The historical and art history trends in the headstones were quite interesting, all the more since Kristin discovered that one of her ancestors was a monument maker.
Edinburgh--Greyfriars Kirk and Cemetery

Day 7–June 23–Bus Tour of the Highlands

I got breakfast early and walked across the street to the Rabbie’s bus tour office for an all-day tour of the Highlands. It turned out that I was the only native English speaker on the tour and the only lone traveler; the bus driver asked me to sit in the jump seat. It has a great view, but is uncomfortable. It was worth it.

Along the way, the driver pointed out the valley where portions of Skyfall were filmed, the castle where Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed, the mountainside where the Buckbeak execution was filmed in Harry Potter and the Sourcerer’s Stone, and the house used for the Monarch of the Glen TV series. I do not know if anyone else understood the cultural references.

The Highlands are quite beautiful. I have seen a lot of glacial geology, but none that was so green.

We had dinner at an Italian place in a district recommended by the Toastmasters pub group. It was one of the better Italian meals I have had.

The first rest stop on the trip was at a loch where two women were doing an open water training swim. The air temperature was quite cold; I can only imagine the water temperature.
Loch Ness and Highlands Tour--Whose Shoes?
The Scottish Highlands are beautiful and have a great deal of history. This stop was at the location of the Massacre of Glencoe.
Loch Ness and Highlands Tour--Site of Glencoe Massacre
There are three bridges across the Firth of Fourth at Edinburgh; the old bridge constructed in the Victorian era, the new bridge constructed in the 1960s, and the newest bridge which is largely finished but which will not take traffic for another few months.
Loch Ness and Highlands Tour--Old Firth Bridge

Day 5–Scotland’s People at the Archive

After several days of lots of walking, I was ready for an easy day, so I took the morning to collect the research that my sister had done and formulate a plan for an afternoon accessing the Scotland’s People website at the Archive. You can get to this from the US, but it is much more expensive to browse. At the centers in Scotland, you can view an unlimited number of images for £15 per day.

Initially, there was very little to go on–a birth year and a name. It turns out there were a dozen or so men born with that name listed in the Old Parish Registers during the decade of birth, but only one with the birth year I was after. The Old Parish Registers may only contain about half of the births that occurred. I was able to figure out that I would need a lot more information from the American side to make any progress. I was also able to figure out that a find-a-grave entry for this individual is probably fanciful.

When the library closed, we took a nap and then I went off to do laundry but got there too late; last wash was at 6:00 even though they closed at 8:00. I hiked back up the hill and we went to a convenient Italian place for dinner and crashed.

Day 6–June 22–Laundry and Scotland’s People at the Archive

I went back to the laundromat to do laundry at 9:00 and was glad to get there early; I had to wait about 10 minutes for a washer, and by the time my load was started, the attendant was quoting people an hour and a half wait. When I arrived, there was a lively discussion going on between the attendant and a customer as to whether President Trump would be assassinated in office or whether he would quit because it was too hard.

After doing laundry, I met Kristin for lunch at the archive cafe, and then did some more work on Scotland’s People. It was largely unfocused, and mainly looking at the actual document images. I stumbled across a marriage record and the death records of several children that listed a weaver of the right name, but nothing that corresponded to my best candidate from the day before. Although I did not know it at the time, this may be a new best candidate, as my sister later found a will that listed a loom.

We did take-away baguette sandwiches for dinner and then I went to a meeting for the Waverly Communicators Toastmasters club and subsequent after-meeting pub talk. I really like the idea of having a meeting in the same building as a pub.

Day 4–June 20–Trains, Buses,and Ruins

The plan for today was to see the castle and cathedral ruins in St. Andrews, along with the coastline of the Fife. I ended up taking the train from Waverly Station to Kirkcaldy for 9.50 pounds (round trip) and then a bus (X60) from Kirkcaldy to St. Andrews for 8.60 pounds (day pass). I chose the train for the first segment because it promised (and delivered) the best views of the coast and the bridges over the Firth of Forth. I chose the bus for the second segment for the same reason. While in Kirkcaldy, I stopped at the museum, it is worth 20 minutes if you are in town but not a special trip. The bus stops in numerous small coastal towns and is quite interesting if a little long. All totaled, it took 3.5 hours to get to St. Andrews, including the museum visit in Kirkcaldy.

The view of the firth was spectacular, and interesting for the idle offshore drilling rigs.

St. Andrews is worth the trip, but the castle and cathedral ruins are, well, ruins, so it is important to understand that. The interpretative displays are in many ways the key. The town is a fun college town where all of the buildings are quite old.

While waiting for the bus back to Edinburgh or Kirkcaldy, wait at the St. Andrews University Student Union; the food is inexpensive and good, and the Wi-Fi is free with no intrusive registration. The Wi-Fi registration at the Costa Coffee shop is quite intrusive.

The ruins of the St. Andrews Cathedral are quite impressive, especially considering that they date to about 1450, with much worship occuring on the site from about 700.
St. Andrews--the Abbey
The St. Andrews Cathedral ruins are a popular subject for artists.
St. Andrews--the Castle
Today was commencement for some of the St. Andrews University colleges; there were many students walking around in academic regalia, with beaming parents in tow.
St. Andrews--Graduation Day
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