College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Cultural treasure trove marks decade of growth

A Scottish cultural resource, featuring a wealth of material collected by Edinburgh researchers, is continuing to thrive as it passes a key milestone.

Calum Maclean with Angus MacNeill, Smiorasaraidh/ Smirisary Lochailort, 1959, Photo by Ian Whitaker.
Calum Maclean with Angus MacNeill, Smiorasaraidh/ Smirisary Lochailort, 1959, Photo by Ian Whitaker.

Staff involved in the unique online record of Scotland’s rich oral heritage have been celebrating its 10th anniversary with quiet satisfaction and optimism.

When Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches (TaD) was launched in December 2010, some 10,000 recordings could be accessed. Since then, the number has increased fivefold.

Material on the website includes songs, stories, customs, traditions and beliefs. The languages of Scotland – Scots, Gaelic and English – are all represented.

Edinburgh connection

The site includes thousands of items recorded for the University of Edinburgh’s School of Scottish Studies Archives.

Interviews taped by celebrated folklorists Hamish Henderson and Calum Maclean in the 1950s and 60s are a vital part of this precious cultural asset. They sit alongside a great variety of other recordings made by the School.

Other partners in the project are the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig; the National Trust for Scotland; and the BBC.

We’re delighted that the Tobar an Dualchais project has reached its 10th year showcasing the richness, diversity, people and life within the archives we look after here at the University.

Cathlin MacAulayCurator of School of Scottish Studies Archives

Valued resource

The Chair of TaD’s Steering Group, Donnie Munro, said it had been rewarding to see this valuable national resource go from strength to strength over the past ten years.

Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, a former Artist in Residence at TaD, said it was satisfying to see the site continue to grow and develop in such a meaningful way.

In addition to its expanding digital catalogue, TaD has developed a range of resources that enable staff to engage with people across Scotland and beyond.

Many highlights

Highlights over the past decade include sharing recordings with many of the communities in which they were made, and the curation and production of CDs.

The recordings have featured in several radio programmes and been part of a collaborative project with the Gaelic dictionary, Faclair na Gàidhlig.

It has also become a key resource for schools and universities at home and abroad.

These archives have inspired people of all ages to learn about Scottish culture and life as well as to bring new art, music and writing into creation. Happy Birthday Tobar an Dualchais!

Rachel HoskerCArchives Manager and Deputy Head of Special Collections

Broad spectrum

A broad spectrum of users has engaged with the TaD website, including musicians, historians, teachers, artists and environmental campaigners.

It will be relaunched next spring and will be more user-friendly. The revamp will include photographs and profiles of key contributors and fieldworkers.

New features will also include transcriptions of some Gaelic material to make the recordings more accessible, particularly to Gaelic learners and researchers.

Related links

Kist O Riches/Tobar an Dualchais

Celtic and Scottish Studies at Edinburgh

School of Scottish Studies Archives