The Ancestors

Auchindrain is unique in its concept in Scotland, and visiting on our way home from Carradale was a welcome break in all sorts of ways. Like many an other, I have tried to do some tracing back of ancestors. On my mother’s side the family in the early 19th Century were agricultural workers, so wandering around the remnants of a Highland village was like wandering round part of my heritage.

The museum is effectively the remains of a traditional Highland township, and at one time had 80 people living there, living off the land. Other crafts-people provided traditional skills to service the work of the village. (Blacksmith, weavers etc.)

The sense of peace was very special. I sat outside one of the semi-restored buildings watching the swallows swoop and dive round me, and tried to imagine what it must have been like in days gone by. Very different on a wet, freezing day for instance. And hard work constantly, with little in the way of comfort. No wonder people died young.

The dwellings were a mixture of single cottages, like the one above, or a long house which had the living quarters for people at one end, and for cattle or horses at the other. The floors were cobbles, made smooth with dung and dirt. Smelly, smoky, peaty and dirty……. So much for romanticism.

I remember sleeping in a box-bed in my Granny’s Glasgow tenement, just after World War II – but the floor was wooden instead of the stone flags shown here. The flags were an improvement on the cobbles. Floors could be swept properly and even washed. And I had to show you the sink below…….. again, I can remember wiping down one just like it in the late 1940s.  How things have improved.

I need to tell myself that when I get depressed thinking about the recession and the standard of living that most people in Scotland have nowadays. Even poverty is relative. I am inclined to think that the worst kind of poverty is one where education is lacking. But there is also poverty of spirit, when people lack the motivation to make the best of themselves and their surroundings. I suspect that in the 21st Century we can fail to allow ourselves the gift of time to think, so there is a kind of poverty of awareness. But I could well be wrong.

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4 Responses to The Ancestors

  1. Bill says:

    It must be just awe inspiring to walk through an area that contains so much history. Here in Canada we just don’t have that same type of history so readily available to us. But, then we are a young nation by European standards.
    I think you are so right on with your comment about the poverty of the spirit, with many seemingly lacking the motivation to make the best of themselves and their surroundings. I have my own struggles with that at times but know with the right attitude it can be done.
    I appreciate your support and the comments you have left for me over on my blog, I thank you and hope to hear much more from you.

  2. Tim says:

    Interesting; I didn’t know such a place existed, having only passed by a couple of old ruined villages in my time.

    On the one hand it’s good that humankind has produced technology and got further away from that. On the other, I deduce a lack of sense of aspiration in people, similar to your poverty of spirit. I’m not sure how one goes about changing that zeitgeist.

  3. freda says:

    Thanks for the comments. The visit has kind of evolved in terms of significance. I feel much more rooted in everyday life, and it is strange that a walk round a Highland township can have that effect.

  4. Suem says:

    I love these pictures! I really like visiting old places and wondering how people lived.
    When my dad became a thelogical student ( I was five) we moved into this old house with some other students. There was a flagged kitchen floor, a big cold pantry with a stone slab and an outhouse with a old mangle set in the floor. No central heating either!

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