A picture of the past written in Argyll’s records

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At least until Elon Musk builds his time machine, the vast archives held in Argyll are the best way to get an idea of life in the region’s past.

A Lochgilphead audience got a flavour of some of the material within two of Argyll’s most extensive and fascinating collections of documents when a roadshow arrived in town to showcase the ‘Written in the Landscape’ project.

At Lochgilphead Community Centre, archivist Jen Young outlined the type of archives held by the Live Argyll trust for Argyll and Bute Council including title deeds, personal correspondence, educational records and the history of societies and organisations.

Jen has had the task of uncovering and cataloguing 62 different collections of records from landed estates and businesses across Argyll and Bute going back hundreds of years.

Co-presenting the event was Hannah Baker, an archivist working on the Written in the Landscape project within the Argyll Papers archive – the documents of the Dukes of Argyll and Argyll Estate dating back to the 13th century.

Within this rich deposit lies a vast source of information. Documents such as rent records, estate census papers, military papers, letters, maps and legal documents can offer a glimpse into the lives of people who lived across Argyll.

The two-year Written in the Landscape project is set to wind up in July this year and has entailed cataloguing and digitising the Argyll Estate and other records to make them more accessible to the public.

As Hannah and Jen travel round Argyll on their tour, the intention is to offer a local flavour from the archives aimed at each venue.

For the Lochgilphead workshop on February 28, Jen and Hannah presented such diverse items as ‘registers of the poor’ and burgh court rolls from Lochgilphead, 19th century wage books from Kilmory Estate alongside military commission documents from the 18th century and a 1792 map of the proposed Crinan Canal, surveyed by John Rennie.

Each record offers a different insight among a treasure trove of detail.

The Lochgilphead presentation followed a similar event in Campbeltown in January. Workshops will be held in March on Mull, Helensburgh in April before travelling to Strachur, Dunoon, Inveraray and Tiree in May.

Further information on the Argyll Paper records can be obtained by emailing archives@inveraray-castle.com. For more information on the Argyll and Bute records, contact archives@liveargyll.co.uk.


Jen, left, and Hannah with some of the records on display in Lochgilphead. a10Archivetalk01

A 1797 letter from Neill Malcolm of Poltalloch offering to call up tenants to defend Crinan Bay against ‘the enemy’ – presumably the French. a10Archivetalk07