Home   News   Article

Moray goes 1843-style for Elgin Museum anniversary


By Alistair Whitfield

Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.



Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Matthew Ward Hunter poses up a Victorian portrait using an authentic camera from the period. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Matthew Ward Hunter poses up a Victorian portrait using an authentic camera from the period. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

Elgin Museum was transported back 180 years this week for a 'Victorian Soiree' to celebrate its historic opening.

Supporters of Scotland's oldest independent museum – many dressed in the fashions worn in 1843 – gathered to pay tribute to the venue's long past.

Built by the Elgin Scientific and Literacy Society at a cost of £975, the museum was the culmination of six years of planning.

Dr Alison Wright, who's a geologist as well as a volunteer at the museum. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Dr Alison Wright, who's a geologist as well as a volunteer at the museum. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

The goal of its founders was to house all the fascinating items that people from Moray were bringing back from their travels overseas, so that local people could look and learn more about the world for themselves

In addition, the museum was created to display exhibits found closer to home, such as the yet-to-be explained stone imprints of strange creatures that kept being uncovered in the Moray sandstone.

The museum is nowadays run entirely by volunteers, and Claire Herbert, who's otherwise employed as a planning archaeologist, is one of them.

Claire Herbert is among the team of volunteers who run the museum. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Claire Herbert is among the team of volunteers who run the museum. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

Claire said: "I think the museum's founders would be absolutely dumbstruck to learn of all the new things we've discovered during the past 180 years.

"Our fossil collection is internationally renowned, while all our Pictish relics show the centrally important role that Moray played during the Iron Age.

"Added to that, the museum is also strong on the social history of Moray, recording how the area has changed over time."

Gordon Scott in his top hat. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Gordon Scott in his top hat. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

Claire, who's from Buckie, added: "The museum tells the history of the whole of Moray. Every exhibit has its own unique story. That's why it's so interesting to be involved with it.

"I talk to some people who say they've lived here all their lives and have never been to the museum. Or they have been, but not since a school trip decades ago.

"We think that's a great shame. People should come along – it's well worth a look."

The Moray Society, which is the modern-day relative of the Elgin Scientific and Literacy Society, now has big ambitions to upgrade the Category-A listed building.

It hopes, by about January, to put in for planning permission for a first batch of work which, in total, will cost an estimated £2million.

The priority is replace the rear gallery because it has begun to leak.

Meanwhile, the heating and lighting systems could both do with being replaced by more energy-efficient versions.

Completely free to enter, the museum, which is at the eastern end of Elgin High Street nearly opposite the council building, contains 3600 exhibits in its collection.

Amongst these is a model of Elginia mirabilis, a 2ft-long creature with spikes on its back that would have roamed the local area more than 250 million years ago.

Although the museum is set to close for the winter after this coming Sunday, it will be holding a Victorian Bazaar from noon-4pm on Saturday and Sunday, November 4 and 5.

Details about becoming a member, or even a trustee, of Elgin Museum can be found on its website.

Matthew Ward Hunter from Cullen who's part of History Needs You, a heritage consultancy which, amongst many other things, runs a pop-Victorian photo studio. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Matthew Ward Hunter from Cullen who's part of History Needs You, a heritage consultancy which, amongst many other things, runs a pop-Victorian photo studio. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

.


Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More