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19 July 2014
newsletter '14


- another busy few months for the Trust, preparing for our summer season -

Summer intern

After sifting through over 30 applications for our 4 week post we selected Stephanie Kirby who has just been awarded a first from St Andrews University (congratulations Stephanie!) where she read Arabic and medieval history. Her list of tasks has grown longer as her time has passed.
To mention just a few of her many achievements, Stephanie has launched the Trust into the 21st century - we now have a Facebook page, and twitter, as well as a much more attractive and informative website, well worth a visit! www.spanglefish.com/ColonsayandOransayHeritageTrust/

We are also working with Stephanie to create a comprehensive archive for the Trust, which we then hope to make available to all, digitally: thus overcoming the present lack of display space until we can build a dedicated, environmentally controlled museum space.

While working towards building a new centre we are cataloguing our artefacts and hoping to create a record of what will be available to us in the future, either on loan or permanently. If anyone has anything relating to Colonsay that they would like to loan or donate to the Trust we’d be very happy to hear from you. Storage is a problem at the moment but knowing what other artefacts etc are available will help us plan how much exhibition and storage space we may need in the future. We are also very happy to scan photographs and return the originals. We can be contacted at coht@btinternet.com

Islands Book Trust: ‘Professor MacKinnon’s Island’ Conference

In early June the island was very fortunate to host a 4 day conference celebrating the life and work of Donald MacKinnon, a native of Colonsay, who held the first chair of Celtic Studies at Edinburgh University. Not only did we have visiting academics talking on a variety of topics, but also a number of local authorities sharing their knowledge with us. Topics included the life and work of Donald MacKinnon, the history of Colonsay, a history of education on Colonsay, Colonsay Gaelic, recordings and place names, as well as its natural heritage.
We are indebted to the Islands Book Trust for organising this event and hope that this format is something which can be developed by the Trust in the future.

World War 1 Exhibition

Our exhibition in the Old Generator Shed this season has been greatly enhanced by the work of Alan Davis, whose exhibition 'Colonsay Remembers' provides a wealth of information on Colonsay's young men who never returned from WW1.

More information on this topic can be found in his book ‘Colonsay’s Fallen’ which is available in the Colonsay Bookshop.

Having completed his research into and display of these unfortunate men Alan hopes to continue with research into the lives of those who returned. This work is in its very early stages and if anyone has any information which might be of interest Alan would be very grateful to hear from you: ajdavis17@hotmail.com
We hope to have his exhibition available digitally for those who won't be visiting this year, but that might be one task too many for Stephanie to complete in her time with us!

History walks

Following the success of last year's archaeology walks to Beinn Bheag and as the Trust's contribution to the spring festival David Binnie once again led walks - this year around Scalasaig - taking in a variety of sites of interest from various time periods in Colonsay’s past.
We hope to repeat these again during the autumn festival 'Connect with Colonsay'.

Latest additions

We are excited to have a few new additions to our collection this year including a shell fragment, kindly loaned to the Trust by Mrs Frannie Colburn from Oransay, from naval gunnery trials carried out on Oransay in 1913, when Winston Churchill and the Oransay inhabitants watched procedings from the safety of  Beinn Orasa (Ben Oransay.

Exciting find

One of our young island amateur archaeologists, Dylan Dady, made a very exciting find recently on his family croft.


We sent it to Kilmartin Museum for identification and it was found to be a worked bone pin, possibly prehistoric. As it's treasure trove we are unable to bring it back to the island for display until we receive accreditation as a museum. (We intend training to work towards this soon.)

Scalasaig Lighthouse

We are very fortunate to have recently been awarded a grant from the Industrial Archaeology Association to reconstruct the original David A Stevenson minor light. This was dismantled several years ago and replaced by the new, remotely operated lighthouse. We hope to have the original on display for the Trust once it's been welded back together.

Associate membership

The Trust is now pleased to invite all our friends and supporters off the island, scattered around the world, to join the Trust as associate members. If you would like to join us please go to our website: www.spanglefish.com/ColonsayandOransayHeritageTrust/  and click on ‘associate membership form’ on the left hand side of the page. By completing this form, and for an annual subscription of £10, we can keep you up to date with developments through our biannual newsletters as well as offering reduced rates for activities and merchandise.

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