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This year we have been lucky enough to receive a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to take part in their project ‘Stories, Stones and Bones’. As part of this project, which is designed to encourage interaction with local history, our groups have been taking part in a variety of activities and visiting a number of historical sites.
Our first trip of the year was to the National Mining Museum, where we were given a tour by a former miner, who was fantastic at answering all of our many questions! He showed us a reconstruction of a mining shaft and explained how those who worked in the mines spent their days. We were given the chance to try out some of the mining equipment, including operating the lift mechanisms which would have lifted coal out of the mine!
From there we have gone from strength to strength, with trips to Linlithgow Palace, Edinburgh Castle and Dynamic Earth, to name a few. We’ve developed our existing relationships with local organisations and had the opportunity to visit new places and create new experiences for our service users.
In the past we have had a fantastic relationship with Taymara, a local maritime charity. Our groups love sailing on the Tay, learning about its history and watching our for the resident pod of dolphins; getting to see their acrobatics is always a high point of the summer. Taymara are also teaching us basic maritime skills: our groups have learned how to tie basic knots and understand the meaning of the various buoys and markers they see on their trips. This year we have been lucky enough to visit the North Carr Lightship, and this has been a great opportunity to learn about our local history. Continuing on the nautical theme, we have explored the Frigate Unicorn and RRS Discovery in Dundee, the Royal Yacht Britannia, and the Tall Ship at Riverside.
We have also had the opportunity to interact with our local heritage through a number of restoration and conservation projects. Recently, one of our groups had been taking part in a project of conservation work at Falkland Palace. It has been a really exciting experience for them, culmination in the chance to play royal tennis on the Palace’s original court!
Our conservation sessions have continued at Edinburgh’s Water of Leith where our groups have been learning about the history of the river and its environs. We have learned about all of the different animals that call the river home, including how to identify their tracks and their preferred habitats. We also took part in river dipping, looking for indicator species which would tell us about pollution in the waterway. This was a great opportunity for our groups to learn about our ecosystem and the ways in which our actions impact on the environment.
We have further continued our exploration of Scotland’s waterways with barge trips on the Union Canal with the Seagull Trust and outings to the Falkirk Wheel and Kelpies. This has been a fantastic opportunity for our groups to learn more about both how barges themselves run and the history behind our canal system.
A firm favourite trip for service users and staff alike had been our visit to Bannockburn. the re-enactment table is a particular favourite; our groups love pitting their wits – and knowledge of medieval battle tactics – against one another to decide whether the English or the Scots will emerge victorious.
We look forward to continuing our project over the coming months, with visits to Stirling Castle, Hopetoun House and Scone Palace. We will also continue our exploration of our local rivers with lessons in cobble boating and the history of salmon fishing. we are also looking forward to learning more about how world events impacted Fife with a visit to Scotland’s Secret Bunker.
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