Help us to Unlock the Kist o Riches

Despite having more than 45,000 recordings on our website, there is still a wealth of stories, songs and folklore to be made available online, and as the New Year commences, the TaD team are working hard to make this treasure trove of recordings accessible and available to everyone, track by track.

Our efforts are initially focussing on the traditional county of Perthshire, tracing archive contributors and their families. Stretching from the lowland plains and berry fields deep into the heart of the Cairngorms, Perthshire, as a meeting point of Highlands and Lowlands, Gaelic and Scots, is endowed with a wealth of stories, song, and history, and is the perfect starting point for our New Year campaign.

We currently have a grand total of 571 tracks from Perthshire from both the School of Scottish Studies (University of Edinburgh) and the BBC archives. Thirty contributors from Perthshire have already been traced, however there remain 120 people whom the project would like to find, over half being from the traditional Highland Perthshire parishes.

The earliest recordings from Perthshire on our website were made by Maurice Fleming who visited and recorded the local Travelling community in the early 1950s, and Calum Iain Maclean, who recorded some of the last Gaelic speakers in the area in the same decade. Other notable fieldworkers who visited Perthshire included Anne Ross, Calum Iain Maclean, and John MacInnes, all of the School of Scottish Studies.

Tracing contributors and their families in an area which has seen rapid social and demographic change over the past 70 years is no easy task, and relies heavily on those with a thorough knowledge of the local area and its people. If you or anyone you know could help us with this, then please do get in touch, and we will happily send you a full list of those recorded. Even the name of a distant relative can help immensely in our efforts to trace the contributors or their next of kin.

Here is some information about five of the contributors who appear on the list. Could you help us get in touch with them?

- Duncan MacGregor of Balnald (Fearnan), Glen Lyon

Duncan was recorded in April 1965 by Anne Ross speaking about the history of the Fortingall area and about his family’s business. He was a wheelwright and joiner, and came from a long line of cartwrights and wheelwrights in Balnald, Glen Lyon. Both his parents were Gaelic speakers, and he had (at least) one brother. He also mentions having a son.

- Anne Phillips of Dunning

Anne, a Gaelic singer, was recorded as part of a BBC Radio broadcast from the 1975 National Mod in East Kilbride, and the 1976 National Mod in Aberdeen. Songs we have include ‘Long mo Bhruadair’ [1975], ‘Eilean mo Chridhe’[1976] and ‘Mo Ghille Dubh’ [1976]. In 1975, Anne was the winner of the Nova Scotia Gold Medal.

- Mr Sinclair of Kinloch Rannoch

A Mr Sinclair was recorded by Betsy M Ross in 1978, telling stories and speaking about local history. His mother was a girl around 1900, and his grandfather Duncan MacDonald was a blacksmith in Kinloch Rannoch. His father was from Dundee, and his parents married in 1934 in the Loch Rannoch Hotel. His earliest memories are from 1933-35.

- James MacLaren of Balmacnaughton, Loch Tay

Born in 1875, native Gaelic-speaker James MacLaren was recorded in 1958 by Calum Iain Maclean when passing through the area. He was born at the south side of Loch Tay at Balmacnaughton, and in the recordings gives information in Gaelic about the local area and tells local anecdotes and stories. No further information is known.

- Ishbel, Janet, and John Marshall of Glackmore (Blair Atholl)

Three siblings Ishbel, Janet, and John Marshall were recorded in 1965 giving information about local place names. They were from Glackmore, and were 58 (Ishbel), 73 (Janet) and 70 (John) at the time of the recordings. No further information is known.

If you can help, please contact Fraser McRobert, our permissions officer, at fm.smo@uhi.ac.uk