Tuesday, 31 May 2022

 


Hello, friends! I can hardly believe we're in the month of June already. Spring has passed and we're well and truly into the summer months - although I'm not sure the weather has got the memo! There's so much to look forward to: rose season, lazy picnics plus there seems to be so much going on in the city. I wanted to share a small selection of dates for your diary and please do leave a comment below if I've left something that you think is worth mentioning.

*tap an event to visit its website for more information

Exhibitions, Entertainment & Festivals

All Month: Counted | Scotland's Census 2022 (Scottish National Portrait Gallery, free)

All Month: Robert Blomfield: Student of Light (University of Edinburgh Main Library, free)

All Month: The Collective New Exhibitions (The Collective, free)

All Month: Japanese Contemporary Design (National Museum of Scotland, free)

Sundays: Live Jazz Söderberg Pavilion (5.30pm, Söderberg Pavilion)

3rd-5th: Meadows Festival (The Meadows, free) 

From 4th June: Will Maclean: Points of Departure (City Art Centre, £6.50)

4th-12th: ECA Graduate Show 2022  (Edinburgh College of Art, free but booking is essential)

7th-18th: Sunshine on Leith (King's Theatre, from £26.50)

9th-18th: Hidden Door Festival (Old Royal High, prices vary)

11th: Leith Festival (various locations, free)

From 11th: Daniel Silver: Looking (Fruitmarket Gallery, free)

13th: Romeo + Juliet: 25th Anniversary (Scotsman Picturehouse, £19.95)

18th: Edinburgh Canal Festival and Raft Race (Union Canal, free)

19th: Baroque Violin and Harpsichord Concert (St Cecilia's Hall, £5-£20) 

22nd: Eagles (Murrayfield Stadium, prices vary) 

From 24th: Alan Davie: Beginning of a Far-off World (Dovecot Studios, £5.25)

24th-25th: Leith Late Festival (various locations)

From 25th: Céline Condorelli / After Work (Talbot Rice Gallery, free)

Seasonal

All Month: Visit Dr Neils’ Garden (Dr Neils’ Garden, free)

All Month: The Pastry Section's Teddy Bears' Picnic Carrot Cake for Charity (The Pastry Section)

All Month: Visit Secret Herb Garden

25th-26th: Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, Bonnington House (Jupiter Artland, £10) 

Bookish

Topping & Company (2 Blenheim Place): Topping & Company has organised eight literary events this month. The month will begin with Climate Fiction Reading Group (6th) and end with Robert Crawford discussing his long-awaited second volume on T. S. Eliot (30th) with a host of wonderful authors in between.

Golden Hare Books (68 St Stephen Street): Join Golden Hare Books for an evening with author Philip Miller, as he discusses his brilliant new novel "The Goldenacre" (9th).

Blackwell's Bookshop (53-62 South Bridge): Blackwell’s Bookshop Book Quiz (6th) starts the month off before hosting an evening with Esme Young and Serena Baker with their new books "Behind the Seams: My Life in Creativity, Friendship and Adventure" and "Serena Sews" (18th).

Typewronger Books (4a Haddington Place): Typewronger Books has a great lineup for June including Cunning Folk Book Club (6th), Little Living Room Open Mic (13th) and Humanist Society Book Group (19th). 

Portobello Bookshop (46 Portobello High Street): Lastly, Portobello Bookshop is hosting eight events this June starting with a children's event with Alex Mullarky and her debut novel "The Sky Beneath the Stone" (5th) and ending with an online event with Gurnaik Johal and Nana Nkweti in honour of their respective debut short story collections (30th).

Markets & Pop-Ups

All month: Sonny Day Studios (Space at Seventeen)

Saturdays:  Grassmarket Market (10am-5pm)

Saturdays: Leith Market (Dock Place, 10am-5pm)

Sundays: Stockbridge Market (Saunders Street, 10am-5pm)
    
Saturdays: Edinburgh Farmers’ Market (Castle Terrace, 9am-2pm)

Friday-Sunday: The Pitt Street Food Market (Pitt Street)

3rd-5th: Flair Art & Design Fair (B3 Level, St James Quarter)

4th-5th: Grow Urban Plant Pop-Up (Anthropologie)

4th-5th: Abbeymount Studios Open Studios

6th-19th: Treen Pop-Up (Lower Ground Floor, St James Quarter)

25th: Out of the Blue Flea Market (Out of the Blue Drillhall, free)

New To The City

Fortitude Coffee (72 Newington Road) 

Argonaut Books (15-17 Leith Walk)

Druid Edinburgh (5 Dalmeny Street)

Leith Bottle Shop (30 Great Junction Street)

Ocelot Chocolate Shop and Café (124 Raeburn Place) 

GREEN. PLANT SHOP (55 Elm Row)

Travelling Basket (Coming Soon to 29 Broughton Street)

Banh Mi Bar (Coming Soon to Bruntsfield)

Friday, 6 May 2022


Hello, friends! May is a wonderful month to be in Edinburgh. There's just so much to be grateful for; lighter nights, spring blossoms, and there seems to be so much going on in the city. I wanted to share a small selection of dates for your diary and please do leave a comment below if I've left something that you think is worth mentioning.

*tap an event to visit its website for more information

Exhibitions, Entertainment & Festivals

All Month: The Art of Wallpaper - Morris & Co. (Dovecot Studios, £10.50)

All Month: Barbara Hepworth | Art & Life (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art: Modern Two, £15)

All Month: Robert Blomfield: Student of Light (University of Edinburgh Main Library, free)

All Month: Japanese Contemporary Design (National Museum of Scotland, free)

All Month: C.A. Walac | Flat Versions (Custom Lane, free)   

All Month: Treasures of the National Library of Scotland (NLS, free)

Sundays: Live Jazz Söderberg Pavilion (5.30pm, Söderberg Pavilion)

7th-15th: Edinburgh International Children's Festival (various locations)

8th: Scottish Vegan Festival (Corn Exchange Edinburgh, from £3)

10th-14th: Cluedo (King’s Theatre, from £23)

14th-15th: Edinburgh Zine Festival & Artists’ Bookmarket (Fruitmarket Gallery)

18th: Dirty Dancing in Concert (Usher Hall, from £27.50)

From 21st: National Treasure: The Scottish Modern Arts Association (City Art Centre, free)

25th-28th: Wuthering Heights (King’s Theatre, from £23)

28th-29th: StagEHd Festival (Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens, free)

Seasonal

All Month: Visit Dr Neils’ Garden (Dr Neils’ Garden, free)

Mondays & Tuesdays: Meet the Gardener (Royal Botanic Gardens, free)  

Fridays & Saturdays: Whisky Tasting & Tour for Whisky Month (Real Mary King’s Close, £35pp)

7th: Greentree Garden Open Day (18 Greenhill Park, £5)

Bookish

Topping & Company (2 Blenheim Place): Topping & Company has organised over a dozen literary events this month. The month will begin with Emma Smith with her new book ‘Portable Magic’ (4th) and end with Antony Beevor discussing his latest book ‘Russia: Revolution and Civil War 1917-1921’ (31st) with a host of wonderful authors in between.

Lighthouse Bookshop (43-45 W Nicolson Street): Lighthouse Bookshop is hosting nearly a dozen literary events this month including Tracey Thorn with her new book ‘My Rock 'n' Roll Friend’ (9th) and an evening with Dr Samara Linton and Rianna Walcott discussing ‘The Colour Of Madness: MENTAL HEALTH AND RACE IN TECHNICOLOUR’ (15th).

Blackwell's Bookshop (53-62 South Bridge): Blackwell’s Bookshop will host Kenny Boyle with his new book 'The Tick and the Tock of the Crocodile Clock’ (18th), Dacre Stoker as he talks about Dracula's Scottish connections for its 125th anniversary (24th), and Elodie Harper will discuss her new book'The House with the Golden Door' (26th).

Typewronger Books (4a Haddington Place): Typewronger Books has a great lineup for May including Little Living Room: Mental Health (9th), In Conversation With Cé Simonis (11th) and Speak Easy Literary Salon (23rd). 

Portobello Bookshop (46 Portobello High Street): Lastly, Portobello Bookshop is hosting four events this May including J. O. Morgan who will be discussing his new novel Appliance (19th), Dean Atta with Only on the Weekends (25th), and An Evening with Mick Herron with Val McDermid (30th, Augustine United Church).

Markets & Pop-Ups

Saturdays:  Grassmarket Market (10am-5pm)

Saturdays: Leith Market (Dock Place, 10am-5pm)

Sundays: Stockbridge Market (Saunders Street, 10am-5pm)
    
Saturdays: Edinburgh Farmers’ Market (Castle Terrace, 9am-2pm)

Friday-Sunday: The Pitt Street Food Market (Pitt Street)

Until 28th: Ellen Catherine Jewellery (Space at Seventeen)

8th: B’s Vintage Market (Out of the Blue Drillhall, £2)

12th-15th: Support the Makers Pop-Up (St James Quarter)

28th: Out of the Blue Flea Market (Out of the Blue Drillhall, free)

New

Fortitude Coffee (72 Newington Road) 

Argonaut Books (15-17 Leith Walk)

Ocelot Chocolate Shop and Café (11A Portgower Place)

Travelling Basket (Coming Soon to 29 Broughton Street)

Banh Mi Bar (Coming Soon to Bruntsfield)



Sunday, 27 March 2022

Hello friends! When I was little, my bike was one of my prized possessions and I spent many a joyful afternoon cycling with friends or by myself. Unfortunately, as I grew up, I gradually began using my bike less and less. At the start of 2022, I decided to add “get back into cycling” as one of my goals for the year. Therefore, I was delighted when South East Scotland Transport reached out and asked me to be a part of their “Do The Ride Thing” campaign as it’s given me the push I needed to get back on my bike and get acquainted with Edinburgh’s cycle network. I was thrilled to learn that Scotland is becoming increasingly more cycle-friendly with more investment into paths and protected cycle routes - making cycling easier, safer and more convenient than ever before!

“Do The Ride Thing” is centred on encouraging people to get out on their bikes while asking everyone to “Be More Shareful” when on their bike by respecting others who share the road or path. So, whether you’re like me and rediscovering your love for cycling or are completely new to cycling, I’d recommend taking a look at the “Do The Ride Thing” website which is filled with wonderful advice and tips on buying a bike, bike repair, learning to cycle and more.

As I mentioned above, I’m by no means an experienced cyclist but here are a few steps I’ve compiled to prepare myself for the warmer months when I hope to be more confident cycling around the city:

Buy a new helmet (or find your old one)

This was the first thing I did when I decided it was time to get back into cycling. It had been a long time since I was on a bike so I treated myself to a new helmet to keep me safe as I cycle around.  

Dig out your old bike, buy a new one or hire one

The “Do The Ride Thing” website is a great resource with advice on buying a bike, bike repair, and links that direct you to where best to hire a bike. If you are considering hiring a bike, a few local bike shops I’m aware of are Leith Cycle Co, Biketrax, and Cycle Scotland.

Get used to cycling by using Edinburgh’s cycle network

I’m not quite confident enough to cycle on main roads just yet so I’ve researched a few paths I’d feel comfortable to begin with. Thankfully, Edinburgh is blessed with over 75km of off-street paths, many of which were once railway lines, for use by both cyclists and pedestrians. I’ve found the Edinburgh Innertube Map to be a useful resource as it shows how you can easily navigate the city through mostly off-street paths.

This campaign has come at just the right time as I now feel well equipped with all the information I need to begin cycling around Edinburgh. If you’re getting back into cycling, I wish you all the best - happy cycling and stay safe!  

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

 Hello, friends! You may be aware of the age-old (friendly) rival between Edinburgh and Glasgow with locals from each city adamantly declaring their own city is the best. However, there's a small group which adore both cities and I fall into this group. Therefore, after nearly two years of being away from Glasgow, I was so excited when my friend and I book a two-day staycation to 'The Dear Green Place'. We spent our first day in the city revisiting our old favourite haunts of the West End. From Ashton Lane and the University of Glasgow to Tchai-Ovna and Kelvingrove Park, you can watch our adventures on YouTube, click here.

However, on our second day, we decided to take a bit of a gamble, despite the stormy weather, and visit somewhere neither of us had been, the East End/Dennistoun. I'll skip past the slight low points of the day, including my friend being soaked by a car driving through a giant puddle and accidentally "waiting" for a table for lunch for half an hour then finding out the restaurant was unaware of us, and share our highlights with you:

 

Glasgow's East End - Dennistoun


1.  Zennor (354 Duke Street)

We began our day by walking from our hotel, The Maldron Hotel, down Buchanan Street and George Street until we reached Duke Street. It had rained during our entire walk so we were both relieved to see the warm, cosy glow of a coffee shop. We happened upon a delightful neighbourhood coffee shop called Zennor that serve speciality coffee and food. We were unaware at the time but apparently, Zennor is a new addition to the high street, having only opened on 24th September. To us, it looked very much like a well-established cafe with a beautiful interior and friendly staff. We both decided on Bare Bones hot chocolate then sat at their window table the rest of our day. 

 

 

2. Alexandra Park

Although we could have easily spent the day cafe-hopping, we decided to visit at least one of Dennistoun's landmarks, Alexandra Park (I'd love to visit the Necropolis next time). The park is just a short walk from Duke Street and right beside Alexandra Parade station. I've since found out it was named after the Princess Alexandra of Denmark and opened in 1870. Unfortunately, due to the weather, we didn't spend too long in the park and missed out on views over to Ben Lomond and the Tinto Hills (which you apparently get when walking up to the highest point of the park, but did get to see Saracen Fountain. The Walter MacFarlane Saracen Fountain was gifted to the city after the 1901 International Exhibition and remained in Kelvingrove Park for 12 years after the exhibition, before moving to its permanent home in Alexandra Park.

 

 

3. Scran (594 Alexandra Parade)

There are numerous great places to eat in Dennistoun but unfortunately, as we weren't 100% sure of our plans we hadn't booked and it seems to be a popular neighbourhood when it comes to lunch. We were keen to try Scran after reading online reviews but, sadly, they had no space but we did enjoy having a browse (and drying off) in their adjacent shop which was filled with products made by local artists ranging from photography prints and dried bouquets to candles and jewellery.

 

4. Akara Bakery (537 Duke Street)

By this point, it was nearly 2pm and we were desperate to find somewhere to eat and thankfully we stumbled across a little gem, Akara Bakery. With its misted up windows, rows of delicious sweet treats and friendly welcome, Akara was the perfect, cosy spot for us to enjoy lunch. My friend opted for their pastrami baguette and I had their potato and feta bureka, both of which was delicious! I also treated myself to one of their dainty red velvet cakes along with a cup of green tea.



A few more photos from Dennistoun for good measure:



Saturday, 14 August 2021


Hello, friends! Some of you will be familiar with "Little Free Libraries" but for those of you who aren't, it’s a wonderful book sharing movement and the concept is simple "Take a Book. Leave a Book". These little libraries are dotted all around the world and come in many shapes and sizes. They can range from charming upcycled wooden boxes with recycled glass doors to impressively crafted little works of art. It's such a delight to see the thought and care that's gone into creating something for the local community and, to me, that's what makes "hunting" them out so much fun. Not to mention, the wonderful and unexpected books that await you inside. 


Over the past few years, much to my delight, I've watched Edinburgh embrace the concept with new little libraries are popping up all around the Capital. Since moving back to Edinburgh recently, my love for little libraries has only heightened as I realised my new neighbourhood has at least four little libraries that I was previously unaware of. So, I've set myself the task to visit all of Edinburgh's Little Free Libraries and document them here. I plan to update the blog as I discover new ones or tick off some from my list (you'll find this at the bottom of this post). So, if you know of a little library I haven’t mentioned, please let me know in the comments. One more thing before we begin, if you plan on visiting one of the Little Free Libraries on this list, please don’t forget to bring a book to swap with you!   

 

PS I’ve also added the ‘Charter numbers’ to the ones which are registered with Little Free Library so you can find their exact location on a map. I'm also considering creating a Google Map for them to show the exact locations.

 

A Guide to Edinburgh's Little Free Libraries

 

1. Teviotdale Place (Stockbridge Colonies)
The rest of the blog will be in no particular order (although, I have tried to group them into neighbourhoods) but I thought it would be fitting to start with Edinburgh's first Little Free Library. As far as I know, the Little Library was commissioned by Book Artist Rachel Hazell who was inspired by a converted phone box she came across in Somerset and decided to install a beautiful wooden library, with the help of Edinburgh Tool Library, in Stockbridge’s extremely picturesque Colonies. You'll find this little gem in the front garden of a Colony house on Teviotdale Place. 

Charter #36444 

 

2. 61 Comely Bank Road (Comely Bank)  

A short walk along Stockbridge's high street will bring you to Comely Bank where you'll find another little library in a front garden on Comely Bank Road. This little library sits is shaped like a little house and lovingly decorated with palm trees, a row of colourful houses, and birds - it's one of my favourites, in appearance. Keeping the library company is a wide range of quirky upcycled and recycled art such as a glass bottle mural and plastic bottle flowers. On my last visit, the little library was filled to the brim with books! 

 

 

3. 50 Eildon Street (Inverleith)
One of Edinburgh’s more hidden little libraries sits on Eildon Street – a popular route for those joining up with the Cycle Path or Water of Leith Walkway from Inverleith. In fact, I’d walked this route on several occasions and never noticed it! Unlike many of the libraries on this list, Eildon Street is horizontal in shape. The simple yet stylish library has been painted grey and gives the illusion that it’s been built into the hedge.  

 

 

4. Starbank Park (Trinity & Newhaven)
Next up, our tour of Edinburgh's Little Free Libraries takes us to Starbank Park. The park is spectacular in its own right and a must-visit during cherry blossom season but it's also home to two delightful little libraries. The first little library is tucked away in the west corner of the garden. It's painted white with an apex roof and specifically for children's books. The other is in the east end of the garden and is extra special as it's in the shape of a Doctor Who Tardis! 

 

 

5. 37 Scotland Street (New Town)
Any fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series? Well, I think it’s really fun that Scotland Street is home to a very elegant Little Free Library. The library is attached to black cast iron railings, surrounded by greenery, painted a soft grey and even has a succulent garden on its roof - it really is a picture perfect scene. 

 

6. 17 Dundas Street (New Town) 

Another New Town Little Free Library is just a short walk from Scotland Street on Dundas Street. The cheery, red little library was installed by Dickins Edinburgh (a lovely short term rental business) for their guests and anyone who would like to swap a book. 

Charter #94372 

 

7. 7 Hillside Street (Hillside)
A short walk from Montgomery Park, Hillside's little library sits on the the corner of Montgomery Street and Hill Street. With its dark colour and chrome handle, the library is one of the more modern looking libraries on the list. It's also fairly large and was crammed full of books on my last visit.



8. 200 Morrison Street (West End)
I was thrilled when I discovered a little library outside The Eco Larder as there’s definitely a shortage of little libraries in the area. The large green wooden box with the words “Community Library” scrawled on the front is hard to miss!

 

9. Dalry Place (Dalry Colonies) 
Located near Haymarket, the Dalry Colonies comprise of eight charming streets branching off from Dalry Place. You'll find the Dalry Colonies little library built into one of the hedges that line Dalry Place. The lovely thing about its location is there are several benches nearby if you fancy sitting with your new book for a while. 

Charter #56525

 

10. Leith Walk Police Box (Leith) 

Leith is home to several little libraries and the first you're likely to come across is on Leith Walk, beside the Leith Walk Police Box. I'm particularly fond of this one as after longing to come across a Book Fairies book for years, I finally found one here! Once again, we have the Edinburgh Tool Library to thank for installing this charming, wooden library.  

 

11. 1 Rosevale Place (near Leith Links)
Another Leith library to look out for is hidden within the Leith Links Colonies (there seems to be a recurring theme of Colony Libraries)! Named the “Little Colonies Library”, the wooden library is a narrow rectangular shape with glass doors and was built using upcycled materials during lockdown. 

Charter #101516 

 

12. St Mary’s Leith Primary School (near Leith Links)
Leith Links is home to another little library, however, this is one of the saddest Little Free Libraries I’ve come across. You’ll see from the photo that it’s made of wood, painted a lovely dark green colour with an apex roof, unfortunately, it’s had a bit of a rough time and is missing a door with a very poor selection of books when I visited.  

 


13. 7 Chandler Crescent (near Leith Links) 
In contrast, tucked away in a modern housing development near Leith Links, Chandler Crescent Little Free Library is very well stocked! The only similarity is, sadly, it’s also missing its door. It’s such a sweet library and while most Little Libraries are attached to a wall, this one is attached to a wooden pole in a large planter.  

Update: Good news! I hear its doors have been fixed.

Instagram: @leithlittlefreelibrary

Charter #102308

 

14. The Meadows (near University of Edinburgh Library)
Well, let me tell you, I searched for this Little Free Library on two separate occassions and one of the days I walked around the Meadows twice before I found it! Turns out, it’s really not that difficult to find as it’s right next to the University of Edinburgh’s library and at the heart of the Meadows Community Garden. The library is attached to the Community Garden’s colourful sign and is wooden with glass doors so you can have a peek at its books without opening it. Interestingly, I found a copy of “Isle of Chaos” by Sophie & Chris Brousseau before it was actually available to buy!

 

15. The Ripple (Restalrig)
You’ll find Restalrig’s one and only Little Free Library (as far as I know, let me know if you know of another!) outside The Ripple, a charity which strives to tackle poverty and inequality by working in the local community. The box is a cheery yellow with light wood accents and is another one constructed by the Edinburgh Tool Library. On my visit, most of the books in the Little Library were children’s books.

 

 

16. Viewcraig Street (Dumbiedykes)
One of Edinburgh's latest Little Free Libaries is in Dumbiedykes. We have the Edinburgh Tool Library and Dumbiedykes Matters to thank for this sweet little library. When I visit it was well stocked with books like 'Normal People' by Sally Rooney and a few Carola Dunn mysteries. 

 

17. Dalry Cemetery (Dalry)
Another fairly recent addition to Edinburgh's Little Free Library scene. Ever since the first lockdown in 2020, local residents have shown Dalry Cemetery a little love and it's gone from being slightly overgrown to a lovely place for a walk or a seat. The charming LFL is painted black with a golden bee as a door handle and you'll find it beside the entrance to Dundee Street. 



 Edinburgh Little Free Libraries I’ve heard of but yet to visit:
  • Blackford Hill - 17 Macdowell Road (Charter #10441)
  • Balerno - Phone Box Share Box
  • Forrester - Forrester Grove Park (Charter #122917)
  • Kirkliston - 31 Templar Crescent (Charter #116475 & IG - @templar_little_free_library) 
  • Pilton - East Pilton Farm Wynd (Charter #117924)
  • Polworth - Harrison Park 
  • Portobello - St Mark’s Churchyard 
  • Portobello - Tribe Porty, 19 Windsor Place 
  • Roslin - 6 Minstrel Court

* Royal Botanic Gardens - I have visited in the past but couldn’t find it on my last visit. 



Thursday, 17 June 2021


It feels incredibly joyous to announce that I visited a museum today. I have many fond memories attached to visiting the National Museum of Scotland from visiting when I was a child with my mum and grandma to it becoming a place of solace and tranquillity during more stressful periods at university. This past year I’ve missed many things but ‘visiting museums’ has been very close to the top. Therefore, I’m beyond excited and honoured to be working with the National Museum of Scotland to promote their new, free exhibition “The Galloway Hoard: Viking-age Treasure”.

The museum is open daily from 10am to 4.30pm and free to visit as long as you pre-book a ticket online. It felt very reassuring to be waiting in a socially distanced queue for my turn to enter as I know the museum is taking every possible precaution to keep visitors as safe as possible. For those wondering, as well as limited numbers, I also spotted various hand sanitising stations, anti-bacterial wipes in the toilets, and sign-posted one-way systems. Once I was waved forward and my e-ticket was scanned, I headed up to the third floor for the exhibition.


Before we enter the exhibition, I thought a little background about the Galloway Hoard might be helpful. It’s the richest Viking-age hoard ever found in Britain or Ireland and features rare treasures buried more than 1000 years ago! Incredibly, it lay undiscovered until 2014 when a metal detectorist stumbled across it in Kirkcudbrightshire. Since then, National Museums Scotland has raised the funds to exhibit the items and conduct research into better understanding the Hoard. 

The exhibition begins with a short video introducing you to the Galloway Hoard before you begin your journey of uncovering the Viking hoard. I say uncovering because that’s exactly what it felt like. The artefacts were fascinating in and of themselves but the way they were presented to visitors really captured my attention and I found myself being propelled through the exhibition by my curiosity. For instance, the first objects on display were part of the first layer they discovered in the Hoard called the ‘decoy layer’ then the further you venture into the exhibition you are introduced to the more valuable ‘lower layers’.   

The ‘decoy’ layer featured silver bullion and a beautifully restored Anglo-Saxon cross. I enjoyed the questions in the descriptions like ‘Why was the centre of the Anglo-Saxon cross removed? Had it been desecrated or was the central figure carefully removed as a token?’. The element of uncertainty and the questions posed really made the whole exhibit feel very engaging to me. As well as regular short videos, another feature that I found interesting were the frequent QR codes beside objects on display which direct visitors to a 3D scan of the object where they can have a closer look at a specific artefact.  

I went into the exhibit knowing next to nothing about the Viking Age and was fascinated to learn about the ‘arm rings’ which were in the decoy layer of the hoard. The arm-rings were often made of silver, designed to be worn on the arms and acted as their currency. Each arm-ring is unique due to the differing patterns hammered into the silver. A small wooden box was found amongst a cluster of these arm-rings and hidden within were three gold objects. Interestingly, this is rare as silver was more common in the Viking Age. I was drawn to the dainty gold bird pin which is part of the trio of gold objects. There’s some speculation about what kind of bird it is but I agree with the National Museum of Scotland, it’s definitely reminiscent of a flamingo.  


Moving onto the ‘lower layer’, these objects were more valuable so were better concealed and well protected. The most remarkable find within the Galloway Hoard is a small, decorated, lidded vessel filled with a collection of artefacts. I was surprised and very impressed when I read that the vessel on display was, in fact, a 3D model of the original as the original is covered in delicate fabrics that are too fragile to be put on display. The original vessel was crammed full of gold objects, glass heirloom objects, rock crystal, and a large collection of Anglo-Saxon metalwork. Similar to the rest of the exhibition the vessel’s contents are displayed in the order they were unpacked, leaving the carefully packaged objects at the base of the vessel towards the end of the tour. These objects were even more unusual and exceptionally preserved. Two objects caught my attention; the gold ‘Blackstone’ pendant and the dirt balls. The large pendent is covered in gold filigree framework and contains a metamorphic stone. The interesting thing about this piece is why a traditionally less valuable gemstone was treated with special care? According to the researchers, it could be because it performed an important function – traces of gold on the surface suggest it was a touchstone used for assessing the quality of gold. Similarly, why was a collection of dirt balls at the base of the vessel among the most valuable items? Included in the description were questions like ‘Where did they come from?’ or ‘Did they have spiritual significance? 


Having a naturally curious disposition, I found this exhibition extremely fascinating and I revelled in the mystery behind all the objects. I’ve only described a small percentage of what’s on display so if you are able to visit, I can’t recommend booking a free ticket to the exhibition enough. I’m looking forward to what future research might yet uncover about this magnificent Viking-age find!

 If you’d like more information or to book your tickets here’s the link:
www.nms.ac.uk/gallowayhoard

I was invited by National Museums Scotland to experience the Galloway Hoard as part of a paid partnership but all opinions are my own. 







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