Mary Queen of Scots documents uncovered after almost 100 years

It’s International Women’s Day and one unlikely woman is in the lime light this year.

A group of documents believed to have been signed by Mary Queen of Scots have been uncovered after sitting in storage since 1920.

The handwritten documents give insight into the busy commercial life of Edinburgh in the 16th Century. During the inventory and conservation process, it was discovered that two of the documents have watermarks that can only be seen when held up to the light. One of these water marks features a goat while the other is a hand holding a flower.

 

Vicky Garrington, History Curator at Museum of Edinburgh said:

“The documents provide us with an amazing bridge to the past. It’s incredible to think of Mary Queen of Scots reading through these documents before carefully applying her signature. We all know the story of Scotland’s Queen, her eventful life and eventual execution, but in these documents, we see a different side to Mary. Here, she can be seen carefully managing the everyday affairs of Edinburgh and Scotland. These documents help us to better understand her reign”.

The documents are very fragile and can’t currently be displayed to the public, so have been made available online to view. Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener at City of Edinburgh Council said:

“Museum & Galleries Edinburgh hold thousands of historic treasures on behalf of the City and its visitors, many of which are on display in our venues. However, some items, such as these documents, are too fragile to be on long-term display, so putting them online is a great way to showcase them and tell their stories.”

The documents were donated to the Museum in 1920s but were lost in storage, Frank Little, Service Manager for Cultural Venues, Museums & Galleries in Edinburgh is optimistic that more treasures will be found in the archives:

“Our hope is that ongoing inventory work within Museums & Galleries Edinburgh will turn up new treasures. We are constantly reviewing, caring for and researching our collections, and look forward to sharing more of the City’s rich heritage with residents and visitors through our programme of exhibitions and online activities.”

The full collection of documents can be found here.

 

1919 – 2019: A century of women’s success

In celebration of International Women’s Day, and to reflect on Women’s History Month, this timeline highlights ten major changes which have made the world a better place for women over the last century.

1921: Edith Wharton becomes the first woman to win Pulitzer Prize

Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence examined the narrowness and bigotry of the upper class in turn-of-the-century New York. Wharton rewrote history as she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for her novel. She followed this success by becoming the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Yale.

1932: Amelia Earhart flies solo across the Atlantic

Earhart became the first woman to fly non-stop across the Atlantic and is the only person since Charles Lindbergh to do so. In her famous red Lockheed Vega, she flew from Harbor Grace in Newfoundland, Canada and landed near Londonderry in Northern Ireland 15 hours later. Proving she was both a brave and capable pilot, Earhart became an overnight worldwide phenomenon.

Amelia Earhart in airplane

Amelia Earhart in airplane (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1941: Women serve in the armed forces for the first time during World War II

As most British men were defending their country on foreign soil, the women back home took on a host of jobs traditionally done by men during the Second World War and many ended up in the armed forces. By 1943, there were over 640,000 women in the army which included The Women’s Royal Naval Service, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white man

When Parks, a black seamstress, refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus in 1955, she set in motion a course of events that would change history. Through this spontaneous act, she sparked the civil right movement in the United States. Leaders of a local black community organised a bus boycott, which eventually lasted 381 days, on the same day Parks was charged with violating segregation laws.

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Rosa Parks (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1963: Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman to fly to space

Tereshkova was a Soviet cosmonaut and was the first woman to travel into space in June 1963. During three days, she orbited the Earth a total of 48 times. It was her only trip to space and she later toured around the world to advocate for Soviet science. Inspiring women everywhere, she once said: “If women can be railroad workers in Russia, why can’t they fly in space?” Tereshkova still remains active in the space community.

A protrait of Valentina tereshkova

A protrait of Valentina Tereshkova (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1979: The United Kingdom elects its first female Prime Minister

Margaret Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister in Britain and served from 1979 until 1990, making her the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century. However, Thatcher was a controversial figure, often criticised as she reduced the influence of trade unions, changed the terms of political debate, scaled black public benefits and privatised certain industries.

1988: Julie Hayward becomes the first woman to win a case under the amended Equal Pay Act

Hayward was a canteen cook in Liverpool whose work was valued less than her male colleagues and was paid less. Supported by the GMB union and the Equal Opportunities Commission, she took her case to the House of Lords and eventually claimed equal pay for work of equal value.

1994: The United States Congress passes the Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act is a landmark piece of legislation brought in by Bill Clinton that expanded the juridical tools to provide protection to women who had suffered violent abuses. It improved criminal justice responses to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in the United States, passing with an exceptional $1.6 million budget.

2010: Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first women to win an Oscar for Best Director

The 2008 film The Hurt Locker picked up a total of six Oscars in March 2010 as well as the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. But it was the American director Bigelow winning an Oscar for Best Director for the film that made the headlines. She was the first woman to take home the award and triumphed over her ex-husband, James Cameron.

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Kathryn Bigelow (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

2018: Corinne Hutton becomes first female quadruple amputee to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

At 48, Hutton completed her ascent of the highest free-standing mountain in the world and is believed to be the first quadruple amputee to do so. After losing both hands and feet to sepsis in 2013, she set up Scotland-based amputee charity Finding Your Feet to offer peer support to all amputees in all stages of their life. Through her climb, she raised nearly £40,000. Hutton became the first Scottish double hand transplant recipient at the start of 2019 and now has two hands.

 

So long, Meadowbank

Meadowbank Stadium is home to many sporting moments etched forever in the minds of both athletes and spectators – including the 1986 Commonwealth Games. Understandably, there was a mixed reaction when the stadium closed its doors for the final time in 2017.

Some were happy to see the old, worn-down place go. After all, it’s set to be replaced by an all-new sporting facility in 2020. Others were left feeling dejected, nostalgically looking back at countless matches, competitions and general feel-good moments that took place in one of the city’s great sporting grounds.

2019 has seen demolition of the old stadium recently completed, as building work for the £45 million replacement is imminent. But there is one more thing that has been lost with the old place, one relic of Edinburgh’s artistic flair that hasn’t been at the forefront of the closure as much as its sporting accolades: the music.

Used as an occasional replacement for the nearby Usher Hall, Meadowbank was temporary home to a surprisingly elite list of musicians and groups known the world over. Scotland’s own Simple Minds headlined the 25,000 capacity space back in 1989, when the band were arguably at their peak, the same year they achieved their only UK number one “Belfast Child”.

Among a string of names to drop by the venue in the 90s was the legendary singer/enigma Prince, bringing his infectious grooves to the city in 1993. To think of Prince strutting his stuff just a stone’s throw from Easter Road today seems like a far-fetched fable, but strut he did. The gig was even presented in conjunction with Forth One. Prince on Forth One…wild.

The 2000s saw Meadowbank host the short-lived but critically-acclaimed T on the Fringe Festival, in which major acts would descend upon the sporting venue to perform as part of that year’s Fringe Festival. An impressive array of artists would grace the stage during those few years, including Muse, Foo Fighters, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails.

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Idlewild, including Rod Jones (far right). (Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic)

Edinburgh’s own Idlewild opened for grunge pioneers Pixies at the old sports ground in 2005, sharing the bill with fellow Scots Teenage Fanclub. Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones reminisces about a magical moment, in which he got to share the stage with his heroes in his hometown:

“For us it was a really special moment, playing between two of our favourite bands in our hometown,” he muses. “I’ve always been a huge fan of both Pixies and Teenage Fanclub, and remember feeling fairly surreal – but excited – looking over to the side of the stage and seeing Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Frank Black (The Pixies) watching us.

“I remember it being a pretty special night,” Rod continues, before mentioning another great bonus to playing a show in his hometown: “Always nice to be able to walk home from a gig!”

In recent years, the grounds have been used less and less frequently, with a 2016 Elton John concert marking the last time music would emanate from that breezy sports track. Gone, but certainly not forgotten, Meadowbank will hold a place in the hearts of many music fans who got to experience their favourite tune, their icon, or their bucket list band there.

Read more EN4 News coverage of Meadowbank here.

Rare pieces displayed at Mary Queen of Scot’s exhibition

 

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The exhibition has a copy of the 2019 movie script. (Credit: Daisy Smith)

Rare treasures are being displayed for two days only at a Mary Queen of Scot’s exhibition in Edinburgh.

The exhibition showcases pieces from throughout the ages from childhood letters, to copies of movie scripts, including that of the 2019 release starring Saoirse Ronan.

The film has catapulted Mary Queen of Scot’s back into popularity since its release into cinemas.

Visitors will be able to cast their eyes on Mary’s Great Seal, a childhood book and engravings of her execution.

The display will run today and tomorrow at the National Library marking the anniversary of her execution on February 8, 1587.

Dr Annette Hagen, curator at the National Museum, said of the exhibition:

“One of the highlights is the sequence of engravings we have of her execution because today is the actual anniversary of the execution.

“The big thing about today is that we are showing them in one place and people can come and get some interpretation from them. The rarest pieces are obviously the unique items and that is the letters.

“We have a letter she wrote at the age of 11 to her mother Mary of Guise and we are showing the very last letter she wrote six hours before her beheading her brother in northern France.”

An array of historic sites from across the country with links to Mary Queen of Scots will be showcased in a tourism campaign following the popularity of the 2019 film.

An interactive map has been created featuring 19 different locations which were either visited by Mary, or by the moviemakers. This includes her birthplace of Linlithgow and Holyrood House, where she lived in the 1560s.

The exhibition is free to the public and is open today and Saturday, February 9th at the National Museum of Scotland from 10 am until 4 pm.

The BRIT Awards: A brief history and a look at 2019’s nominees

The 2019 BRIT Awards are set to take place on Wednesday 20th February. The BRIT Awards, run by the British Phonographic Industry, have taken place every February since the second awards ceremony in 1982.

The first BRIT Awards Ceremony took place in 1977 to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee and covered the previous 25 years of music.

In the run-up to the biggest annual pop music awards in the UK, here’s a look at the most notable BRIT Awards moments over the years:

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This year’s events kick off next week as some of the nominees are set to perform in small venues as part of BRITs week in partnership with War Child.

Since 2014, The BRITs have become a bigger event, consisting of a number of concerts in the run-up to the awards ceremony.

BRITs Week 2019 starts on Monday. The week-long event will give fans the opportunity to see some of the biggest names in music in intimate venues across London in order to raise money for War Child. Last year, the BRITs Week shows raised around £650,000 for children whose lives have been torn apart by war.

The year’s BRITs Week bill includes chart-toppers The 1975, Bristol rock band IDLES, Critic’s Choice 2018 nominee Mabel.

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This years BRITs Week Line Up (Credit: www.brits.co.uk)

BRIT AWARDS (4)This year’s prestigious Critic’s Choice Award goes to indie-rocker Sam Fender. The Geordie singer-songwriter has charmed the nation with his powerful social justice anthems this year. Sam is the first nominee to receive this year’s BRIT Award, designed by Sir David Adjaye OBE.

 

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I'm truly humbled to win the BRITS critics choice award, being nominated was already crazy enough never mind winning. I want to say a few thank yous, firstly to everyone that voted for me, I'm gobsmacked. To my manager and brother Owain for taking a punt on an 18 year old kid who screwed school up and had no direction. How the hell you saw this in me back then still baffles me. To my band for your relentless work ethic, we've played literally hundreds of shows this year, we've worked bloody hard and we're gonna work even harder next year. Lastly, and most importantly, to my fans, I've met a lot of you over the course of this mental year, and I have to say it has truly been an honour to get up and play night after night to such a wonderful collective of people. Here's to next year! ❤️

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BRIT Award nominees are selected and voted for by music industry professionals, but the public have a say on who walks away with the British Artist Video award and British Breakthrough Act.

Voting is open for another week for both British Artist Video of the Year and British Breakthrough Act here.

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A look at this years BRIT Award nominees. (Credit: Tumblr)

UncoverED: Exhibition showcases global alumni in Edinburgh

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Some of the student researchers who helped with the project. (Photo credit: Daisy Smith)

Students from the University of Edinburgh are shining a light on former graduates whose stories have been untold… until now.

For over 150 years students from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Americas have come to Scotland’s capital to study, however many have done so unrecognised for their work and achievements.

From William Fergusson, the first known black student at the University of Edinburgh to Kadambini Ganguly, one of the earliest female physicians from South Asia, the university has played a part in educating many world-leading figures.

The exhibition also features an array of doctors, writers, scientists, artists and more.

A group of student researchers, led by PhD candidates Henry Mitchell and Tom Cunningham, started the project last September and have spent hours reading through old student newspapers, reading biographies and talking to families of the alumni to create a database of successful former students.

Henry Mitchell who led the project said:

“Edinburgh has got this really long and diverse history which hasn’t really been looked at and it has got world thinkers who came to Edinburgh who haven’t been recognised.

“These are people who are famous and are recognised elsewhere, and a lot are in history books but haven’t been recognised in Edinburgh’s history.

“We  went through the archives of the Student which is this really old newspaper. So that starts in 1886 and goes up to the 1980’s. So we read 100 years of the student newspaper in a week.  It’s been really good collaborative research.”

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The exhibition will run from February 1, until June at the University of Edinburgh. (Photo credit: Daisy Smith)

There are two phases of the exhibition. The first, and current, features students from the 1940’s to the 1980’s, and will run until mid-April. The second phase will showcase students from the period between 1800 and 1940, which will run from mid-April until June.

During the research, the team found out more than just the careers of these people but also the lives they lived while in Edinburgh and the experiences they had. They found out what nights out were like, where they lived, what student fees they paid and more.

During the project, the team also found that many of the students did not complete their full degree due to a variety of factors.

Hannah McGurk, a second year German and English student, was part of the research team. She said:

“We found people who are really, really famous in their home countries  that the university just doesn’t really recognise.

“For me, Edinburgh is not a very diverse place and the university does not have a very diverse curriculum. I study English and we were doing all white male writers so for me this is really a way for me to connect with some of those histories.

“It’s an important exhibition because so many students and staff at the university are just unaware of the history, as well as people who just live in the city.

“People of colour have always been a part of the story of Edinburgh, and they still are. This is a really important way to uncover those histories and talk about it and have those conversations.”

Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Scotland’s first black professor, is featured in the exhibition. Born in Jamaica in 1940, he moved to London with his mother at the age of 14 as part of the Windrush generation. He did his PhD in Grain Science and Technology in Edinburgh in 1964.

Natasha Ruwona, an Intermedia student, was part of the team of researchers and wrote the biography of Sir Palmer. She said:

“I was so excited to be part of the project because it was branded as an imperial and colonial project and I am quite interested in the relationship between Scotland and black people.

“I think they are important to be told, because for people of colour like myself, it’s important to see people went to this university so long ago and compare their experience to ours now and how things have changed.”

The project aims to encourage the University of Edinburgh’s community to reflect on its imperial past and how it played a part in the university’s global status.

The free exhibition opens today, and will run until June at the Chrystal Macmillan Building at the University of Edinburgh.

Forty years of Filmhouse

Since the first electronic television was created in 1927, people have gradually become used to enjoying the entertainment of motion picture at home. Good for some, but has also forced many cinemas to be in a continuous battle to remain up and running.

In the following 90 years, the introduction of VHS, cable channels, digital TV online streaming devices such as Netflix and Now TV have added pressure to the already crowded industry.

A look at Edinburgh’s cinema history alone is a demonstration of this struggle: a city which has seen over 70 cinemas open their doors, has also seen dozens of them shut up shop, and now hosts just nine public picture houses.

Filmhouse is a success story amongst the tales of failure and closures. On October 9th, the cinema will celebrate its 40-year anniversary, and this at a time when it remains as busy as it ever was.

80s crowds

Scorsese on stage

Credits to Filmhouse

Four decades ago, on the same day in 1978, the entity called Filmhouse was first launched. Starting from its very first screening, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, the 1972 German film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the cinema has made strong curatorial decisions and has since then has become a household name for film lovers in search of alternative and foreign films.

Housed at 88 Lothian Road, it is the only cinema in Edinburgh which is registered as a charity, which means none of the money spent within the cinema goes to film distributors or big production companies.

Michael Hunter, marketing officer at Filmhouse, explains how this sets the institution aside from others: “All the money spent here, be it at the bar or at the cinema, goes back into the charity as a donation, for programming great films and organising learning opportunities in Edinburgh.”

However, this doesn’t mean Filmhouse has slackened in its creativity or relies solely on its position as a charity. It has instead become a prime example of how cinemas can stand out and attract new audiences in an age where many people don’t see the point of exiting their cosy living rooms just to see a film.

The cinema is best known in the city as the official home of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), which takes place for two weeks in June every year. The world’s longest continually-running film festival screens hundreds of films ranging in genres and length and was attended by an audience of over 50,000 people in 2018.

Yet it may be the dedication to proving film can be more than just entertainment and its more specialist festivals (Filmhouse currently hosts 13) which include versatile and eclectic programmes, that make Filmhouse stand out from all other cinemas in Edinburgh.

Unlike the limited selection of films on online streaming platforms and the Hollywood-centric films shown on TV time and time again, Filmhouse digs deep into motion picture archives and screens films which are relevant and relate to current topics.

It houses the Take One Action festival over the course of two weeks in September, showcasing the stories of (small) people making big changes in the world, from female right-wing activists in Greece to victims of the Franco dictatorship seeking justice, to encourage its audience to be the change it wants to see.

For 13 years, the Africa in Motion festival screens films highlighting creative stories from across the African continent which would otherwise not be accessible to most audiences as home and offers a look into worlds very different from our own.

Head of Filmhouse, Rod White, explains how the organisation of such festivals contribute to the continued success of the cinema: “All the festivals we work with exist within their own communities and connect us with audiences we might struggle to attract. We could not be as international and as diverse as we are without them.”

By hosting these festivals, the cinema is also able to challenge viewers to consider the power of film as a media more than any other cinema in the city, or even in the country.

To mark its 40th anniversary, Filmhouse put together a line-up of classics and notable films taken from the programmes of every year since its doors opened, with prices reflecting the prices at the time. Starting in 2016 and finishing up with the film showed at the first public viewing at the cinema in 1978 today with Gertrude, for just £1.

Looking forward to the next 40 years, Michael hopes Filmhouse can continue doing what it has been since 1978: “Filmhouse is great because we offer things you can’t find elsewhere. As long as we can, we want to keep doing what we are doing, and we just want to keep showing films that we believe in.”

 

 

 

Pre-Historic Briton Breakthrough

Scientific analysis shows a Briton’s remains from 10,000 years ago had dark skin and blue eyes.

Academics from London’s Natural History Museum extracted DNA from Cheddar Man-Britain’s oldest full skeleton-was discovered in 1903. College  researchers used the succeeding genome analysis for facial reconstruction.

The research reinstates the fact that the lighter skin characteristics of the more recent Europeans is a modern phenomenon. This analysis provides important insights into the very first people to resettle Britain after the last Ice Age.

The research into the Cheddar Man’s genome – the “blueprint” for a human, contained in the nuclei of our cells – will be published in a journal as well as feature in a Channel 4 documentary The First Brit, Secrets Of the 10,000-year-old Man.

The museum’s research leader in human origins, Prof Chris Stringer said:

“I’ve been studying the skeleton of Cheddar Man for about 40 years, so to come face-to-face with what this guy could have looked like – and that striking combination of the hair, the face, the eye colour and that dark skin: something a few years ago we couldn’t have imagined and yet that’s what the scientific data show.”

This is the first genome analysed from a prehistoric Briton of this age.

Updates to Follow.

Rogues Galleries: Exploring Scotland’s criminal past

From petty thieves and embezzlers to some of the most dangerous of the past, come face to face with hundreds of Victorian prisoners for the first time.

Mug shots and trial papers dating back to the 1890s will be on display at The National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh this week. The gallery hopes to give an insight into the characters and courtrooms of Scotland’s past.

Ever wanted to learn more about the case that some say inspired the character of Dr Jekyll? Case documents from the trial of poisoner Eugene Chantrelle will be available to visitors this week. Chantrelle murdered his wife at their home on George Street in Edinburgh in 1878 and was later hanged at Calton Prison for his crimes.

And discover the life of Robert Trotter who was charged with stealing sheep in 1865, or the story of Lily Barr, a 17-year-old imprisoned for theft in 1911. Each character has their own tale to tell.

Rogues Galleries gives a personal look into the criminals and victims of the past and offers visitors the opportunity to explore the societies that created them.

The exhibition will also include a gallery showing the development of photography over the years. Following the trial of serial burglar John Aitken Swanston in 1909, detectives and forensic teams began to realise the potential of keeping photographic records. Swanston was convicted following the examination of forensic photographs taken outside his numerous crime scenes.

Rogues Galleries will run from 25th October to the 1st December at the National Records of Scotland, General Register House, Princes Street. Admission to the exhibition is free.

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