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Learn How to… At Home Easter Crafts

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Happy Easter Everyone!  

Our blog post today, shares some different Easter crafts you can do at home.

In these uncertain times, now more than ever we need different activities to battle the boredom and amuse the bairns. So, hopefully learning how to make spin drums, bunny bunting and hand puppets will do just that!

You might have seen our social media posts on Facebook (@RobertBurnsBirthplaceMuseum), Twitter (@RobertBurnsNTS) and Instagram (@robertburnsnts)? Well, this blog provides the written instructions for our craft videos and some photos of the end products.

Spin Drums

First up, how to make a spin drum!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Coloured Pens/Pencils or Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • A Hole Punch
  • String
  • Two beads
  • Straws

You need to decide what type of animal, you’d like to make (have a good think- maybe an Easter chick, bunny, pig, cow, sheep? – there’s lots of options!).

To begin:

  1. Cut-out two cardboard circles, trace these templates onto coloured paper and glue in place.
  2. Use a hole punch to make two holes each side of the two templates.

These steps makes the base for your face!

  1. Next, cut paper to make eyes, ears and a nose.
  2. Glue these features onto one of your cardboard templates.
  3. Use a pen to add details, like whiskers and a mouth.

Next, it’s time to make the drum!

  1. Glue a straw stick (or three taped together to make thicker) onto the back of the face you’ve just created.
  2. Attach the other cardboard template onto the back.
  3. Thread string through one of the templates’ holes and attach a bead – don’t forget to tie it tight!
  4. Repeat the previous step on the opposite side.

It should look something like this…

Finally, spin your drum to make some noise!

Bunny Bunting

Next, let’s learn how to make some bunny bunting to really get into the Easter spirit- you can hang this craft around your whole house!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Paper
  • Coloured Pens/Pencils or Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • String
  • Cotton Wool

To begin:

  1. Draw a bunny to make a template (you can trace circular objects like, baking cutters- to make it a bit easier!).
  2. Next, use the template to cut-out more bunnies.
  3. Glue on the cotton wool to make a tail.
  4. Glue the bunnies onto the ribbon.
  5. As an extra step, you can colour-in the bunnies with different patterns and designs.

Here’s our example!

And finally, hang your bunny bunting front and centre for everyone to see!

Easter Puppets

Finally, let’s see how to make an Easter hand puppet!

For this, you’ll need:

  • A4 Paper
  • Coloured Pens/Pencils or Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Again, like the spin drums, you’ll need to decide what type of animal to make!

Once you’ve decide, we need to fold a sheet of A4 paper first:

  1. Fold a sheet of landscape paper into 2/3’s.
  2. Fold over and glue down the remaining flap.
  3. Turn the paper portrait and fold again long-ways.
  4. Fold each side in half again.
  5. Now you have your basic hand puppet, try it out!

Checkout the pictures below, to see each step.

Next, we need to decorate our puppet.

  1. Cut paper to make eyes, ears, teeth and a nose.
  2. Glue onto the puppet.
  3. Cut paper to make a tongue.
  4. Glue onto the inside of the puppet.
  5. Use a pen to add details, like whiskers.

These were our finished puppets…

And don’t forget to show off your new puppet!

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon, evening or morning of crafting with these three Easter crafts and get yourself into the Easter spirit at home this year!

Remember and share your creations with us on social media, using #BurnsBirthplace

Happy Easter Everyone!

Meet the Team: Yves Laird

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During this time of isolation and social distancing we find ourselves in, relying on digital technology to communicate has never been more important, and we wanted to help curb any loneliness and boredom by branching out with a new series of blogs about our staff. Our team were presented with ten questions to answer to help you to get to know them better. Next time you visit our Museum in Alloway, perhaps you’ll remember the name and the face of one of our staff members, helping you feel more connected #ForTheLoveOfScotland.

So without further ado, let us introduce to you…

Yves is a Visitor Services Assistant (Catering) at RBBM

1. Name

  • Yves Laird

2. How long have you worked at RBBM?

  • 11 Months

3. What is your position at RBBM?

  • Visitor Services Assistant (Catering)

4. What is your favourite thing about working (or best memory) at RBBM?

  • I love being able to work among a great team of people in the heart of Alloway to provide our local community and worldwide visitors with service fit for a bard!

5. What is your favourite fact, song and/or poem by Robert Burns?

  • As an English Literature student, not only do I appreciate Burns’s own work, but the works he provided inspiration for. His poetry is said to have inspired John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel ‘Of Mice and Men’, specifically by a line in the poem ‘To a Mouse’.
John Steinbeck’s novel

6. What is your favourite Scots word?

  • Wheesht! Meaning be quiet as in “haud yer wheesht!”

7. Do you have any special skills/hobbies/talents? (Doesn’t need to be work related, let’s see your hidden talents!)

  • I’m close to having an architectural degree, as seen in my Tunnocks teacake towers!

8. What is your dream vision/project?

  • I would love to work in the emergency services! On a less realistic note, have my yet- to- be written novels published in the literary canon.

9. Who is your idol and why? (can be famous, could be your granny….up to you!)

  • Prince! As a creative genius who wasn’t afraid to push boundaries, his commitment to his work and art form shines through his great works. The fact he wasn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd and was able to walk away from those who held him back is truly inspirational.
Prince

10. Where is your favourite place in the world and why?

  • While the rain pours down 361 days of the year here, I’m proud to say home is Scotland. Nowhere can beat it with its rugged scenery, tranquil lochs and (mostly) friendly people!

Meet the Team: Chris Waddell

Posted on Updated on

During this time of isolation and social distancing we find ourselves in, relying on digital technology to communicate has never been more important, and we wanted to help curb any loneliness and boredom by branching out with a new series of blogs about our staff. Our team were presented with ten questions to answer to help you to get to know them better. Next time you visit our Museum in Alloway, perhaps you’ll remember the name and the face of one of our staff members, helping you feel more connected #ForTheLoveOfScotland.

So without further ado, let us introduce to you…

Chris Waddell, Learning Manager at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

1. Name

  • Christopher Waddell

2. How long have you worked at RBBM?

  • Seven Years

3. What is your position at RBBM?

  • Downtrodden and defeated. Oh you mean work wise?! I am the Learning Manager.

4. What is your favourite thing about working (or best memory) at RBBM?

  • I really enjoy when we get a great class of kids who engage with the site and subject matter. They make me laugh and inspire me sometimes with their outlook and knowledge of the world. I enjoy working alongside the team too, despite my continual joking and rude comments I really am very fond of them. Mostly.

5. What is your favourite fact, song and/or poem by Robert Burns?

  • Fact – Burns was familiar with literary heavyweights – such as Alexander Pope – when he was in his mid-teens, and drawing inspiration, was able to compose pieces such as ‘Now Westlin Winds’ at such an early age. This qualifies for me the notion that he was a genius.
  • Song – The Lea Rig
  • Poem – a bit obvious but probably ‘Tam O’ Shanter’.

6. What is your favourite Scots word?

  • Gowdspink, but a’hm no tellin ye whit it means, ye’ve tae awa an fun oot fur yersel!

7. Do you have any special skills/hobbies/talents?

  • I can identify most plants and beasts you’ll see on a walk through the Scottish countryside and then tell a whole raft of dull facts to anyone who will listen.
  • I can play the moothie and recite the script from ‘Goodfellas’(not at the same time).

8. What is your dream vision/project?

  • To completely immerse myself in a rural idyll.

9. Who is your idol and why? (can be famous, could be your granny….up to you!)

  • Loads of people, but in reality my late father who was great inspiration to me and a good friend and I miss him very much, and, a bit soppy here, my lovely wife because she puts up with me with amazing good humour and endless tolerance.

10. Where is your favourite place in the world and why?

  • Difficult to choose between Sicily or Arran, both places I have been very happy and always in the company of my wife.

Meet the Team: Lauren McKenzie

Posted on

During this time of isolation and social distancing we find ourselves in, relying on digital technology to communicate has never been more important, and we wanted to help curb any loneliness and boredom by branching out with a new series of blogs about our staff. Our team were presented with ten questions to answer to help you to get to know them better. Next time you visit our Museum in Alloway, perhaps you’ll remember the name and the face of one of our staff members, helping you feel more connected to our property.

So without further ado, let us introduce to you…

Lauren McKenzie in front of the Burns Cottage during her first week as Events Manager.

1. Name

  • Lauren McKenzie

2. How long have you worked at RBBM?

  • 6 months (Started in September 2019)

3. What is your position at RBBM?

  • Events Manager

4. What is your favourite thing about working (or best memory) at RBBM?

  • My favourite memory so far has been delivering the Burns programme in January. The team put in an immense effort to pull together all of the elements for the weekend and it was a very proud moment for me to see the success of this. I, of course, have to mention the incredible team of staff and volunteers that work at RBBM that make everything so enjoyable and easy!!

5. What is your favourite fact, song and/or poem by Robert Burns?

  • My favourite Burns song is ‘My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose’.
Listen to Eddi Reader’s version of ‘My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose’

6. What is your favourite Scots word?

  • It has to be ‘braw’. Braw means beautiful, pretty, attractive… you could call a lassie braw or you could say “it’s a braw day the day”.

7. Do you have any special skills/hobbies/talents?

  • I have played in a brass band for over 12 years and somehow manage to find the time to compete on regional and national levels in between events at the museum!

8. What is your dream vision/project?

  • My dream is to visit every continent in the world – only South America and Australia to go!!

9. Who is your idol and why?

  • I am going to cheat a wee bit and have two – both my grannies! Although, I am biased, they are just the BEST in the world and have taught me everything I know.
  • If it was to be someone famous, it has to be the Spice Girls (again, cheating because there is five of them!) I have loved them since a really young age – GIRL POWER!
Spice up your life!

10. Where is your favourite place in the world and why?

  • I have travelled to a few places but there is nothing quite like being home in Ayrshire – it’s fair braw.

Fragments

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Two memorialising students from the University of Glasgow Scottish Literature department visited the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum recently to do research and blog-writing as part of their course. The following blog was researched and written by Struan McCorrisken.

Two objects in particular represent a curious facet of the cult of Burns, that is the accumulation and preservation of any and all tangible aspects of the Bards’ life. A fragment, no more than the size of a matchbox, of Jean Armour and Robert Burns’ marital bed, is encased in a large wooden discus and visible beneath a glass plate. The other is a small board containing two strips of material roughly large enough to make a small sock out of. The black silk is merely silk; and the piece of wood, just wood. What truly matters is the association these objects possess; an aspect so powerful it has driven them to be curated and displayed despite being only tiny fragments of the original whole.

Fragment of wood from Robert Burns and Jean Burns’s bed frame. This object is displayed at the National Trust for Scotland’s Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.
Fragment of black silk from Jean Burns’s wedding dress. Displayed at the National Trust for Scotland’s Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

This sort of collecting exemplifies precisely why these objects are valuable. Not the objects themselves, but the connection to the past they offer, the prospect of tangibility that they represent. The type of collecting and commemoration that Burns undergoes is similar almost to that of a medieval saint. This sort of fervent reverence began very soon after Burns’ death, and we may well consider it a sign that Calvinist Scotland, devoid of pomp and pageantry through the stifling presence of the Kirk and the absence of the king, was looking for something to fill the gap. This perhaps was a search for joyful veneration of a figure beyond the austere auspices of the Kirk. Burns’ own rebellious stance against much of the Kirk’s posturing may have added to that attraction. While the comparison of Burns to a saint may sound fanciful, but it’s worth considering how saints are venerated. They are commemorated with talismans, awards and honours are given in their names, statues are erected at places they had a connection to, and they have specific symbols and icons associated with them. Some have specific days they are venerated on, or specific shrines dedicated to them. We certainly manufacture talismans of Burns, as any glance around a Scottish gift shop reveals. There are awards in his name, such as the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award, and a multitude of organisations associated with him. Scotland is replete with statues and plaques of Burns, miniature shrines almost, at places associated with his life and the lives of those associated with him. Images such as the mouse, the plough and the rose are associated with Burns, arguably his very own attributes. He certainly has his own day, and the proposed desire for ritual in the Scots certainly comes to the fore here, reinforced heartily by Walter Scott’s own contributions to images of Scottish culture (tartan, kilts etc). We eat food associated with Burns and toast his “immortal memory”. Items from his life, however fragmentary, are collected and displayed in museums. A new form of reliquary perhaps?

Indeed, it may be postulated that Burns is a new form of saint for a modern, more secular, Scotland. A person of great achievement whom we admire, commemorate, and attempt to emulate. A part of this commemoration is undoubtedly the use of objects, in any condition, to help us connect with the man, long since passed.

Celebrating Scots Language

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As today is International Mother Language Day, our blog post explores the history of Scots language to celebrate and promote Scottish linguistic heritage.

Scots is descended from a form of Anglo-Saxon brought to the south-east of present day Scotland by the Angles (Germanic-speaking peoples) around AD 600. The video below, from The University of Edinburgh, illustrates the origins of Scots language.

Like many European countries, early Scots speakers primarily used Latin for official and literary purposes. The earliest surviving written poem in Scots, dated to 1300, is a short lyric on the death of King Alexander III (ruled 1249-1286) which appeared in Andrew Wyntoun’s work entitled The Original Chronicle:

“Qwhen Alexander our kynge was dede, That Scotland lede in lauch and le, Away was sons of alle and brede, Off wyne and wax, of gamyn and gle. Our golde was changit into lede. Crist, borne into virgynyte, Succoure Scotland and ramede, That is stade in perplexitie”.

Yet, the first Scots poem of any length called The Brus by John Barbour was recorded in 1375. Composed under the patronage of Robert II, this poem’s tale follows the actions of Robert the Bruce through the first war of independence.

The History of Scots from the 14th– 18th Century

Between the 14th and 16th century, writing in the vernacular thrived during the reigns of James III (ruled 1460-1488) and James IV (ruled 1488-1513): Scots language truly came into its own. This period’s Scots poets are known as medieval makars or master poets, after William Dunbar’s the Lament for the Makaris, for the great literacy culture that was produced in lowland Scotland. Dunbar was a virtuosic poet with an impressive range, varying from elaborate religious hymns to scurrilous bawdy verse.

Also a makar, King James VI (ruled 1567-1625) laid down a standard writers were expected to follow in his essay on literary theory entitled The Reulis and Cautellis. However, after James VI also became James I of England in 1603, Scots language and makars were no longer supported by the Royal Court. Pre-1603, James VI voiced the differences between English and Scots but now, as ruler of the British Empire, he attempted to Anglicise Scottish society for cultural, linguistic and political union of his kingdoms. Herein, the literary activity of 17th century Scots poets declined as many, like William Drummond of Hawthornden, decided to write in English instead. This change of language was encouraged by the Royal Court alongside the larger and more lucrative English publishing markets. In Scotland, all classes continued to write and speak in Scots but, for publications writers had their texts ‘Englished’.

The Great Scots Poets of the 18th Century

In the 18th century, under the 1707 Treaty of Union, Scotland joined England to form the new state of Great Britain and poets began to utilise an increasingly bilingual literary situation. Poets combined Augustan English poetry with Scots songs, tales and older poems to create a vernacular revival in Scots verse. The work of poets such as Allan Ramsay, Robert Fergusson and Robert Burns demonstrated the popularity and poetic nature of Scots as a literature. These poets, expressing a national identity, produced poems that were, and continue to be, widely read.

Portrait of Allan Ramsay (left) alongside a statue of the poet (right) located in West Princes Street Gardens

Allan Ramsay (1686-1758) was born in Lanarkshire and educated at Crawfordmoor Parish School. Following his mother’s death, Ramsay moved to Edinburgh to study wig-making and eventually opened a shop near Grassmarket. He was an eminent portrait painter and began writing poetry from the early 1700s. In 1721, Ramsay published his first volume as a blend of English language and Scots poems. He abandoned the wig-making trade to become a bookseller, opening a shop near Edinburgh’s Luckenbooths- this also became Britain’s first circulating library. Ramsay’s works, such as Tea-Table Miscellany (1724), The Ever Green (1724) and The Gentle Shepard (1725), laid the foundations for Scot writers like Robert Fergusson and Robert Burns.

Robert Fergusson’s 1772 portrait (right) and the young poet’s statue (left) outside Canongate Kirk on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile

Robert Fergusson (1750-1774) was born in Edinburgh’s Old Town to Aberdeenshire parents. He attended St. Andrews University and became infamous for his pranks- for which he came close to expulsion. In 1771, Fergusson anonymously published his first trio of pastorals entitled Morning, Noon and Night. He amassed an exquisite range of about 100 poems, developing existing literary forms and contributing to contemporary debate. Aged 24, Fergusson experienced a fatal blow to his head falling down a flight of stairs, he was deemed ‘insensible’ and transferred to Edinburgh’s Bedlam madhouse where he later died. In 1787, Robert Burns erected a monument at his grave, commemorating Fergusson as ‘Scotia’s Poet’.

A 1786 copy of Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (Burns’ first book)

Robert Burns called Fergusson “my elder brother in misfortune, by far my elder brother in muse”. Clearly inspired by the poet, Burns adopted both Fergusson and Ramsay’s use of Scots words and verse to master his own poetry and advance Scots literature. In doing this, Burns became Scots language’s most recognised voice with poems and songs read and sung worldwide. The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum displays volumes and poems by Fergusson and Ramsay (below), highlighting the similarities to Burns’ work in terms of tone, format, subject matter and, of course, Scots language.

Works by Ramsay and Fergusson from The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

The History of Scots Post-Burns to the Present

In the 19th century, building on the work of Scots poets, novelist began combining English and Scots in their writings. More often, English was used for the main narrative and Scots voiced Scots-speaking characters or short stories.

After this period, the 20th century saw a radical renaissance of Scots poetry, primarily through Hugh MacDiarmid (pen name of Christopher Murray Grieve). MacDiarmid’s work The Scottish Chapbook, reassessed early Scots verse by using words from across different regions. Later, Edinburgh poet Robert Garioch reopened links to the Scots verse MacDiarmid devalued. Garioch, to a greater extent than MacDiarmid, developed a form of Scots united to any particular locality and produced a model that future writers could follow. Other 20th century poets, included Edwin Morgan, and his translation of Vladmir Mayakovsky’s poetry into Scots, as well as Tom Leonard’s Six Glasgow Poems.

Today, Scots language continues to thrive. In communities across Scotland, people use Scots as a language to write and speak. As the 2011 Scottish Census reported, there are 1.5 million speakers of Scots within Scotland, which is around 30% of the population.

So, why not challenge yourself? And join them? To celebrate Scots language and International Mother Language Day, learn a new word or a new phrase or more!

Check out the links below for more ways to learn Scots:

  • On social media, we run a Scots word of the week campaign, encouraging our followers to guess and discuss what they mean. We often get international audiences commenting on the similarities between Scots and various European languages. Check it out on Facebook (@RobertBurnsBirthplaceMuseum) and Twitter (@RobertBurnsNTS).
  • Search our blog for Scots language posts: https://burnsmuseum.wordpress.com/tag/scots-language/
  • For Scots on Twitter, take a look at these pages: @lairnscots, @scotslanguage, @ScotsScriever, @tracyanneharvey @rabwilson1 and @TheScotsCafe.
  • Join the Open University’s FREE online Scots language and culture course: https://www.open.edu/openlearncreate/course/view.php?id=2705
  • Or, check out some of these websites:  https://www.scotslanguage.com/

https://www.gov.scot/policies/languages/scots/

http://www.cs.stir.ac.uk/~kjt/general/scots.html

https://education.gov.scot/improvement/Documents/ScotsLanguageinCfEAug17.pdf

Gang oan, gie it an ettle!

Handmade Parchment for Valentine’s Day

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Robert Burns is widely known for writing romantic poems and songs, and his original pages – now faded and delicate – have a nostalgic, romantic quality themselves. So to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the spirit of the Bard, we’re going to show you how you can make your own ‘parchment’ to write a letter on, or wrap your Valentine’s Day gifts in.

Auld Lang Syne Manuscript, Robert Burns, National Trust for Scotland

To start, write a letter on a piece of white printer paper.

Put two teabags of regular black tea in a cup and fill with boiled water. Put the sheet of paper onto a baking sheet. Once the tea has cooled, use the teabags to stain the paper.

Preheat an oven to 200 C (180 fan), and bake the paper for about 5 minutes to dry it.

You should now have a piece of parchment ready to use! If you want to add an authentic touch roll up the paper and use a lighter to CAREFULLY burn the edges slightly.

If you want to add a thoughtful touch to your Valentine’s Day gift you can use the parchment in various ways. Here are some ideas below!

At the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum we have been developing our interpretation, and have a team of wonderful volunteers in charge of traditional, interpretative activities that they do in the Burns Cottage. This includes making ink from natural materials, bannock baking, rag-rug making and weaving, as well as dyeing.

Our rag-rug volunteers are in the Education Pavilion building nearly every Monday afternoon (if you want to stop by for a chat, usual admission prices apply) and we will have the other activities running over the Easter holidays. Keep up-to-date with our events and activities by following us on Facebook (Robert Burns Birthplace Museum), Twitter (@robertburnsnts) or Instagram (@robertburnsnts) and checking our website (https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/robert-burns-birthplace-museum).

Kirsty Reid, Learning Trainee