Down Memory Lane, April 16 2021

The spring 2021 edition of The Kintyre Magazine.
The spring 2021 edition of The Kintyre Magazine.

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Antiquarian society celebrates 100th anniversary

To mark Kintyre Antiquarian and Natural History Society’s centenary, the editor of its biannual journal penned an article about its own history.

Angus Martin gave the Courier permission to print the article which appears in the spring 2021 edition of the The Kintyre Magazine, which is for sale in The Kintyre Larder.

The beginning of the article, titled ‘A brief history of the Kintyre Antiquarian and Natural History Society in its centenary year,’ appeared in last week’s Courier and is continued below.

The scholarly talents of two of the founder-members, Macdonald of Largie and Lindsay Galloway, were almost immediately annulled: by the time of the society’s first annual general meeting on November 2 1921, both were dead.

Macdonald, a product of Eton and Oxford, was the author of a three-volume History of France, and Galloway, a distinguished mining engineer and protégé of Lord Kelvin, in 1873 graduated MA at Glasgow University with first class honours in mathematics and natural philosophy, ‘a very rare distinction’.

The first field excursion organised by the society, on July 23 1921, was to the forts at Dunskeig, near Clachan, the cairn at Carnmore and the cist and standing stones above Ballochroy, and was conducted by A O Curle, director of the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.

The first lecture, ‘Something About Campbeltown Cross’, delivered to the society in February 1922 by Colonel Mactaggart, appeared in instalments in the Campbeltown Courier and was subsequently published as a booklet, using the original newspaper type, which set a pattern for the future run of varied society publications.

Some of these booklets, such as the colonel’s A Ramble Through the Old Kilkerran Graveyard (1922) and Life in Campbeltown in the 18th Century (1923), remain indispensable to this day.

Since the end of the Second World War, the volume of historical and archaeological papers published by the society has declined markedly, largely owing to the high proportion of lectures which rely on illustrative content and for which there is no formal written record, but also to the depletion of local subjects available for research.

This deficit has, however, in great measure been compensated for by the society’s biannual journal, The Kintyre Magazine.

The first issue of the magazine was published in April 1977, under the editorship of Mrs Peggy Hunter, Southend, and it has appeared continuously ever since.

After number 23, Mrs Hunter was succeeded by Mr A I B Stewart, who retired in spring 1998, after number 43, and was replaced by the present writer.

The magazine publishes an eclectic mix of articles – history, archaeology, genealogy, natural history, biography, memoir, art, science, place-names, local dialect, and much else – and the roll of departed contributors includes Eric R Cregeen, Iain Hamilton, F S Mackenna, Andrew McKerral, Hector MacMillan, Angus MacVicar, Naomi Mitchison and Jack G Scott.

In 1970, the scope of the Kintyre Antiquarian Society was extended by the incorporation of ‘Natural History’ into its title, at the suggestion of Dr J A ‘Jack’ Gibson, Kilbarchan, a naturalist who was made an honorary member of the society through his association with Duncan Colville, with whom he collaborated on several studies of Kintyre birds and mammals, including The Breeding Birds of Kintyre (1958) and Atlas of Kintyre Vertebrates (1975).

The society, in its present form, organises monthly lectures from October to March annually, which are held in the Ardshiel Hotel, Campbeltown, and are open to the public.

The Kintyre Magazine is sold at meetings and in local shops and is also available by subscription and is posted worldwide.

Walks to places of archaeological and historical interest are organised by Mrs Elizabeth Marrison. Meantime, however, with the exception of the magazine, all society activities remain in a state of suspension.