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Friends’ membership subscriptions provide a valuable small regular income which contributes towards collection care and improvements to The Argyll Papers’ research facilities. The Friends also support fund-raising initiatives for the archive to help with conservation, cataloguing and engagement.

Tìr Ìseal nan Òran (Tiree: low land of song)…

…will be an island-wide creative project bringing together Tiree artists with the local community, children, young people, and the Tiree diaspora. The project will explore seven stories from Tiree, each of which is associated with a specific place on the island, a feature in the landscape and events from Tiree’s past, both historical and mythological. The stories will be the inspiration for Tiree artists to create new music, song and film, and for the community and young people to create new writing, theatrical work and textile pieces. Each creative response will stand alone and become part of a community performance which will weave together the artists’ work with a dramatic retelling of the stories. The performance will be developed by a creative theatre practitioner in collaboration with the other artists, young people and the community. Additionally, the new writing, music, song and film created during the project will be published in printed and online formats, and the textile pieces created will be put on display in Tiree’s community and heritage centres. Additional workshops, exhibits and installations will encourage participation in artistic, creative and historical activities for all ages.

We’re fundraising just now – please get in touch if your would like to support this exciting project!



Mermaids and Muggles: Fantastic Tales and Kintyre Folk

Back in 2017, we launched our first Written in the Landscape exhibition in Campbeltown Library. We are now delighted to share with you the exhibition panels which were created for the exhibition and a copy of the exhibition catalogue. Enjoy!

Mermaids & Muggles display panels Mermaids & Muggles exhibition catalogue

If you have any feedback on these documents, please don’t hesitate to email:

Written in the Landscape is a joint project between liveArgyll Archives and the Argyll Papers, part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project aims to catalogue and conserve important estate collections relating to Argyll and Bute. I’m one of two project archivists and I’m based at Lochgilphead. Just over a year has passed since the project started and a lot has been done at Lochgilphead.


A Year of Written in the Landscape, Nov 2018

Update from Jennifer Young, Written in the Landscape project archivist at Lochgilphead:

Written in the Landscape is a joint project between liveArgyll Archives and the Argyll Papers, part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project aims to catalogue and conserve important estate collections relating to Argyll and Bute. I’m one of two project archivists and I’m based at Lochgilphead. Just over a year has passed since the project started and a lot has been done at Lochgilphead.

liveArgyll Archives holds numerous estate collections, as well as records from local solicitors and merchants: the project covers 62 of these collections, to be exact. These collections range from a single item to those numbering in the thousands. The collections contain a wide range of records, from charters and accounts, to correspondence and game books. There’s even a collection of sales catalogues for land and properties in Argyll from estate agents, dating from 1989 to 2012.

My task has been to re-catalogue the collections to ISAD(G) standard. It has been a case of adding ISAD(G) elements to all of the catalogues and re-arranging those collections with more than one item, as well as checking and updating item-level descriptions, where they existed. And of course, removing the word ‘miscellaneous’ from all levels of description.

As well as cataloguing, I’ve been rehousing records in acid-free folders, creating appropriate enclosures for wax seals (replacing Christmas card boxes) and removing old pins and paperclips to prevent further damage. I have to admit, this is one of my favourite jobs; it’s extremely satisfying removing the rusty metal, knowing that it can’t do any more harm.

There’s lots of work still to be done, not least completing the catalogues for the final two, large, collections, relating to Malcolm of Poltalloch and Campbell of Kilberry. Some of the larger collections still haven’t been listed at item level, due to time constraints on the project. Hopefully, there will be volunteers to work on this task in the future.

At the same time as cataloguing, I’ve been involved in different outreach events and training days with local communities, including an interactive workshop with primary school children in Campbeltown based on Kintyre legends, and map conservation training with Richard Aitken of High Life Highland at Inveraray. There are more events planned for the coming months before the project comes to an end next year. It’s safe to say, there’s still plenty to keep me busy!

Jackie Davenport E: T: 01546 604774

Jen Young  E:

Hannah Baker E:

Alison Diamond E: T: 01499 302698

Written in the Landscape, Inveraray the Old Town & the New, Nov 2018

Update from Hannah Baker, Written in the Landscape project archivist at Inveraray:

With funding from the Heritage Lottery and the Inveraray Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme a team of local volunteers, led by two Written in the Landscape archivists, were able to present a re-imagined view of the old town of Inveraray.  This project was divided into three key elements:

  • A short history entitled; “Inveraray; the old town and the new” which includes the first detailed map of a town now no longer extant
  • An exhibition in the Castle to analyse how life was lived, in and around the town
  • A podcast to be launched online to extend the reach of the research to a broader audience

The volunteers spent a tireless winter reading, transcribing and analysing documents ranging from Chamberlains’ accounts to memorials to the Duke pleading for financial assistance.  All this work was shared with our collaborators Ronald Black and Micky Gibbard who have contextualised and elaborated on the project objective in their essays which have been brought together in the guide.

The exhibition included items never previously displayed, and indeed items which have not, until lately, been listed or available to academics or the public.  There are fascinating records which provide unique detail about tenements of land in the old town consisting of stone buildings with garrets and which contain flats; thatched houses, gardens and incredibly the only plan found (to date) of a tenement of land in the old town belonging to Duncan McNuier.  The exhibition shows the breadth of material available to enable researchers to build a picture of what was once said to be an attractive Burgh town, in the last throes of existence.

The podcast is intended to accompany an amble over the site of the old town and to bring to life the bustling Burgh town with its ferrymen, town officers, ministers and schoolmasters.  For those unable to make it to the actual place, I would suggest standing on the public road bridge using Google Earth and look northwest up the lawns of the present castle, while you listen.

Jackie Davenport E: T: 01546 604774

Jen Young  E:

Hannah Baker E:

Alison Diamond E: T: 01499 302698

Written in the Landscape, March 2018

Update from Hannah Baker, Written in the Landscape project archivist at Inveraray:

The Written in the Landscape project is moving apace, with plenty of objectives being prepared, researched and budgeted for delivery in the near future.  We are also looking to our community partners for their opinions on future project delivery, in particular a mentoring programme.  At a recent team meeting we discussed delivering workshops on digital scanning, records handling and management, preservation and cleaning and we are interested to hear your views on how this project can support the work you do, within the framework of our delivery obligations. The collaboration of the archive teams at the Argyll Papers and Argyll and Bute council is continuing positively with the active participation of both teams on a new project to trace the residents of the Old town of Inveraray and where these residents moved as the Old Town was gradually razed to make way for the building of the new Castle.  As the rebuilding of the Castle and New Town continued, the Duke of Argyll was also concerned to make the land more productive and during this  “improvement” phase of the eighteenth century, the land was managed using modern and industrial scale techniques.  The research of our four dedicated volunteers is helping to de-mystify the impact that all this change had upon the inhabitants of Inveraray’s old town.

Update from Jen Young, Written in the Landscape project archivist at Lochgilphead:

Since the last update, most of my time has still been taken up with cataloguing the collections at Lochgilphead. At the moment, I’m working on the papers of John Blain, an important figure in Rothesay at the end of the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century. While I work through the collections, I also do some minor conservation work. Old staples, pins, and paperclips need to be removed as they rust, and this can cause a lot of damage to the records – rust basically eats away at the paper and causes holes. I took the photo below when working on the Skipness estate records.

Once a week, I help Hannah at Inveraray with the Old Town/ New Town project, which is working to establish where the residents of the Old town of Inveraray went as it was gradually razed to make way for the building of the present Castle.  I’m also working to put together a leaflet about the wider Written in the Landscape project which will go online and inform people about the project plans and achievements more generally. Training opportunities: The final session for training in archival skills is booked for Thursday 26th April, we much look forward to seeing those of you who have booked your place.  For those of you who have not yet booked, there are still a few places left so please return your booking forms or send us an email to reserve your space as soon as possible.

Jackie Davenport E: T: 01546 604774

Jen Young  E:

Hannah Baker E:

Alison Diamond E: T: 01499 302698

Written in the Landscape, October 2017

So we are at last underway. Two project archivists have been appointed (introductions below), we have delivered the first of the training sessions in archival skills for community partners (report below) and our first exhibition. Mermaids and Muggles: Fantastic Tales and Kintyre Folk, opened in Campbeltown Library on Tuesday 17 October.

Meet the Written in the Landscape project archivists:

Hannah Baker will be working with the Argyll Papers at Inveraray Castle. Hannah writes: ‘My background is in decorative arts and history of art, which I studied at the University of Glasgow.  I qualified for my Diploma in Archives and Records Management from Dundee University whilst working in London and subsequently became Assistant Archivist at the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, a private archive documenting over 500 years of activity within the Temple precinct.  I am hugely excited to be based at Inveraray Castle for this Written in the Landscape Project and much look forward to meeting our partners who are set to make this project a success.’  Although working at Inveraray Castle, Hannah is employed by Argyll & Bute Council’s new trust for leisure and libraries services, LiveArgyll, and therefore has a LiveArgyll email address,

Jen Young will be working at LiveArgyll Archives in Lochgilphead. Jen writes, Hello! My name is Jen Young and I’m a recently qualified archivist. I studied at the University of Glasgow, finishing this year. I have just finished my dissertation, discussing the place of archives in museums. I have had strong links with museums in the past, having worked with the National Trust for Scotland in the Tenement House and Pollok House over the course of three years. During my Masters, I volunteered at the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive in the newly refurbished Kelvin Hall. I had the opportunity to learn from the NLS conservators and work on a large, complex collection. I also completed a Graduate Traineeship with Ayrshire Archives prior to starting the Masters course. Ayrshire Archives covers a similar size of area to Argyll and Bute, being responsible for three separate councils. So far, I have been busy getting stuck in to cataloguing, which is a task I’ve always enjoyed. There are a lot of collections to cover so I’ve been taking my time to get to know them a little bit. I’m looking forward to meeting you all over the coming months and if you ever have any questions for me, please just let me know. Jen’s email address is:

Mermaids and Muggles: Fantastic Tales and Kintyre Folk

The Mermaids and Muggles exhibition explores the connections that may exist between us and our ancestors, both physical characteristics and more intangible connections.

The family portraits and documents featured in the exhibition are from the Anne Campbell Collection held by the Argyll Papers. Anne was the wife of Duncan Campbell, Sheriff Substitute of Kintyre in the early nineteenth century, and an ancestor of the author, JK Rowling.

The exhibition features the story of the Corphin mermaid, recorded by Duncan Campbell in his role as Sheriff Substitute, alongside additional fantastical tales from Kintyre held in the LiveArgyll Archives. Perhaps there is a connection between generations who believed in fantastic creatures and their descendant who writes about fantastical worlds.

The exhibition is in Campbeltown Library (‘Aqualibrum’), during usual library opening hours ( On Saturday 4 November we will be hosting a drop-in session, (otherwise known as ‘Show and Tell’), to which we invite anyone interested to bring their own fantastical tales, oral or documented, and stories of their own Kintyre folk,

Community Partner training in Archival Skills

The first of our training sessions in archival skills was delivered on 19 September by Margaret Crockett and Janet Foster of the Archive Skills Consultancy. This session introduced the theory of ‘archiving’: the definition of an archive collection, the importance of provenance and preserving the original order of a collection and how it should be arranged and described in a catalogue or finding aid.

Whilst this may sound ‘dry’, the day was interactive and exciting, challenging all participants to consider how they could apply the theory to their actual collections. Everyone was so interested and involved in what we were doing that we didn’t complete the programme for the day… We will address indexing at the start of the second training day before we move on to address the challenges and pleasures of reading some of the (difficult) handwriting we encounter on a daily basis!

Electronic copies of the training handbook are available for those who didn’t attend the first session.  There may be a few spaces available for the second training session, which will be held on Thursday 9 November in the Rockfield Centre, Oban – let Jackie, Hannah, Jen or Alison know if you are interested as we do have a waiting list.

Jackie Davenport E:

Alison Diamond E:

Written in the Landscape, April 2017

Argyll and Bute Council and Argyll Estates have at last completed the funding package required for ‘Written in the Landscape’, an exciting joint project to catalogue, conserve and digitise 64 Argyllshire family and estate archives. The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Argyll and Bute Council Archives, Argyll Estates, Tiree Community Windfall Trust, An Iodhlann, Inveraray CARS, Clan Campbell Education Foundation, the National Manuscript Conservation Trust and private donations.

The project will run from April 2017 until December 2018, and will see the most fragile items in Argyll Estates’ collection of historic maps and plans being cleaned and repaired before being digitised.

We will be advertising for two project archivists shortly. The project archivists will catalogue the archives so they can be accessed and understood by researchers, work closely with heritage centres to identify records of greatest interest to local communities and develop a training and mentoring scheme. The project will also offer opportunities for people to develop their personal skills by volunteering in Argyll Estate archives, the Council archives, or from their own homes. We are also planning open days, tours, talks and exhibitions to promote the family and estate archives of Argyll.

Support from our local heritage and research community is essential to the success of the project, from identifying records of particular interest to getting involved with training and mentoring opportunities, so please do not hesitate to get in touch, confirm your interest and talk to us about your priorities for the project.

We are starting to plan our training days, the first of which will focus on developing skills in identifying, reading and cataloguing archives, to be delivered by The Archives-Skills Consultancy in September 2017. Please visit the doodle poll at to indicate which dates would suit representatives of your group. We will offer training to at least one representative of each heritage centre – possibly two, depending on the level of interest expressed.

It’s very exciting to be getting started at long last! Please do not hesitate to get in touch, using the emails below – we are looking forward to talking to you.

Jackie Davenport E:

Alison Diamond E:

Written in the Landscape

The Argyll Papers hopes to participate in Written in the Landscape, an exciting new 3-year project to catalogue, conserve and promote all of the publicly available family and estate archives in Argyll. Working with Argyll and Bute Council Archives Service, The Argyll Papers archivist has developed a partnership project which will also create professional support and networking opportunities for all of the local heritage centres in Argyll.

The Argyll Papers will have a dedicated cataloguing archivist who will develop volunteering projects to catalogue and promote some of the most sought after family and local history records in the archive; many of these records will become available to researchers for the first time. The archive’s internationally important Maps and Plans Collection will also be conserved, re-packaged and digitised.

The total project cost is just under £300,000 and £228,000 has already been pledged by the partners, external funders and private donors. Grant applications are pending for the remaining balance, but private fundraising is also needed to make the project a reality.

This project will be invaluable to the Friends aim of opening up the archive to a wide audience, but it will only go ahead if the fundraising target is reached – if you would like to help please get in touch, or make a donation online.