Tuesday, 31 May 2016

TimeSpan - The Museum Without Walls

My next stop was the TimeSpan museum in Helmsdale. On my way, I stopped in Rogart. I wanted to see the memorial cairn dedicated to the grandparents of Sir John A Macdonald, first prime minister of Canada. I was truly baffled at how desolate Rogart is. Not just remote. Desolate. But I did manage to find the cairn, which is well signed.

Then it was onto Helmsdale. What a treasure the TimeSpan Museum is! And innovative. They have a museum that explains the Clearances, and gives individual stories. They also have an archive upstairs. I was able to chat with archivist, Jacquie Aitken and was truly in awe of the records that the archives holds. In addition to the standard BMD and Census records, the archives has Sutherland estate records pertinent to the parishes of Kildonan and Loth. These include rent books and lists of those who were cleared.

But perhaps the best jewel is the app. TimeSpan is dubbed as the "Museum without Walls" and it truly is. Download the app from either Google Play or the App Store and you are on your way to learning about and experiencing the impact of the Clearances. There are 10 way points that are clearly marked and grid referenced. At each way point, there is text to read or you can turn on the sound and  listen to the story. A truly innovative way for people to experience what their ancestors endured.

For the rest of the drive to Scrabster I was truly and deeply aware of not just Kildonan, but of the other parishes affected by the Sutherland Clearances.

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