THE Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders museum is appealing to old soldiers in the Oban area to take part in a groundbreaking history project.
THE Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum at Stirling Castle is appealing to old soldiers in the Oban area to share their experiences, memories and documents with the museum as part of a groundbreaking project to preserve them for posterity.
The museum and the regimental association have plans to create a unique ‘living history’ archive, in which veterans and their families and descendants who served in the regiment since the Korean War (1950-53) can capture the reality of life with the Argylls through oral and video history.
The celebrated museum is making the appeal as it prepares for a major transformation, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, in order to become ‘a new kind of museum of Scots military heritage for the 21st century’, and is looking for volunteers to support the project.
As part of the renewal and community development programme, the museum wants former soldiers, members of the association and their families to get in contact to tell their stories and to share their letters, memories and artefacts.
With a £4 million building and display renewal programme already in motion, the new museum is set to open in 2019.
It will aim to commemorate the history and sacrifice of the great Scottish regiment, whose battle honours include Balaklava, the Indian Mutiny, the Boer War, two world wars and the Korean War in the context of their local communities in central Scotland, including Oban and surrounding area, from where thousands of young men joined the Argylls in war and peace.
Rob Layden, chief executive of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum, said: ‘One of the objects is to understand what is out there, what heritage exists within the community that can be used to tell the Argylls’ story. We want to record, give advice and, with the appropriate permission, use them to tell the regiment’s story both at Stirling Castle and in the Oban and north Argyll community.
‘It’s about getting heritage back into the community. Part of HLF funding is about heritage, community and people. We want a better understanding of what resources are out there.
‘With the help of the regimental association, which is embedded in the museum, we are looking for people to volunteer and to come in and help us make a record of all things Argyll-related. Because of the geographic spread of the Argylls’ community across central Scotland – from Clackmannanshire to the islands – it is up to us to be proactive and to take the museum out to where the regimental connections are.
‘We also want to collaborate with local community groups, by providing additional material, plus help and advice on conservation, both in general and in relation to specific exhibitions. We have a good record in this area – for example, working with Helensburgh Heritage to organise exhibitions in the local library there.’
Jim Tilly, secretary of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Association, added: ‘We have a superlative collection here at the museum but there are gaps. We want the whole story to be told. For example, we don’t yet fully cover episodes like the peace-keeping operation in Northern Ireland, the regiment’s longest engagement, which lasted the 1960s to the 2000s.
‘There’s a lot of information and stories out there, not just with former soldiers but with their friends and families. We would like to have more interaction with the public so we have that upto-date material in the museum. We’d love them to share it with us so we can put it all out there.’
The museum renewal programme will be part-funded by the Thin Red Line Appeal, under the patronage of HRH The Earl of Strathearn, as Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge is known in Scotland. The total cost of the project is estimated at around £4 million.
Do you have memories, stories, photographs, artefacts or other militaria related to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders you would like to share with the Argylls museum? Contact the museum at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum, The Castle, Stirling FK8 1EH, or call 01786 475165.
It’s about getting heritage back into the community” Rob Layden