Scottish Crannog Centre - Museums Association

Scottish Crannog Centre

The Scottish Crannog Centre, an open-air museum on Loch Tay in Highland Perthshire, was awarded £54,470 from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund and £27,500 from the Headley Fellowship fund to work with its prehistoric pottery collection.

The centre has used the collection as a powerful tool for working with groups that may not normally access museum services. The incredible experience of putting your finger into a fingerprint left by someone over 2,500 years ago creates something intangible and emotional by physically connecting to the past. It reinforces the fact that everyone can contribute to make their mark on history, aiming to empower individuals who have had their power taken away by from them by trauma or society.

With the support of community organisations the centre worked with groups of domestic abuse survivors and their families, children with additional support needs, and refugees. They hosted in-reach sessions to connect people with the museum in a variety of different formats: on-site at the museum, off-site at service provider offices or halls, and online, to help all groups feel part of the Crannog community.

As a result the centre has established close working relationships with all service providers, ensuring individual participants’ interests and needs were explored. This way of working has generated incredible feedback from all groups and their organisations.

The work will form the basis of a new exhibition and interpretation in the museum, co-created between the museum and the participants. The interpretation will enable the objects to tell their many stories to many diverse audiences, and for people to feel part of the story, able to contribute to it, and able to take something away when they leave.

The centre is now making plans for the future. The museum is going through a major capital development to build a new museum, including an Iron Age roundhouse, village and Crannog, and community partners from this project will help to build these structures and develop interpretation on site.

“This work is not limited to the timescales of this project, it is developing and sustaining relationships that are already reaching far beyond. It is now core to what we do here at the museum, and is deepening our understanding of the collection by having 1,000 fingerprints and 1,000 voices over all we do.”

Rachel Backshall, assistant director, Scottish Crannog Centre