Tuesday, 28 July 2009

National Archives of Scotland

Slideshow of National Archives of Scotland and Poltergeist Tour

I would like to thank our professor, Dr. Teresa Welsh, for arranging these in-depth and behind-the-scenes tours of British libraries. Today, like many of our library and museum tours, we were taken into the stacks to see and sometimes handle rare collections. It has been a privilege to be treated as professional librarians abroad. I’ve heard librarians can’t even get behind-the-scenes tours at the Library of Congress, but over four weeks we have seen stacks, conveyor systems, digitization, conservation, processing and cataloging. The librarians of Great Britain welcomed us, shared valuable knowledge and took interest in American libraries as well.

Our second full day in Scotland, we visited the National Archives of Scotland.

Their mission is to preserve records as an agency of the Scottish government and make the records accessible. The library has three buildings, 160 staff, eight websites and two Divisions, the Records Services Division and the Corporate Services Division. The library has over 70 kilometers of local records shelving, from 12th century to 21st century. The General Register House is used by students, researchers and the public to research ancestry. To access the print and electronic materials, researchers must apply for a Reader’s Ticket. The librarian shared with us some special items from the collection. We saw letters from 1838 that had vertical and horizontal writing crisscrossed and overlapped to save expensive writing paper. Also rich with history was the court documents from the Burke and Hare case. We also saw Suffragette material.

Megan, a science librarian, asked me to join her to visit the Surgeons’ Hall Museum.
I found it amusing that I was the only one willing to go with her; she knew I’m into the creepy stuff! We had great fun at the Museum and also shopping around Edinburgh, we found some good counter-culture stuff. The Museum was closed when we arrived, but the very nice gentlemen at the door let us take a five minute tour, and he even showed us the Medical Library, which doctors can’t go in there until they’ve passed their exams. The Hall also has Sherlock Holmes fame.

Medical Library,

I was delighted to find the witchy little Wyrd Shop, “Scotland’s oldest occult store.”

The Wyrd Shop

I learned the meaning of “hedgewitch.” I also LOVED the list of house rules, “Pax Wyrdica”! They told me all the rules are necessary based on actual events in the shop. Rule #16: Only one re-incarnation of Aleister Crowley in the shop at any one time!

do we look scared?

Edinburgh is known for its haunted history. I took advantage of the ghost tours available for entertainment and history. The Mackenzie Poltergeist Graveyard Tour is possibly the scariest tour in Edinburgh, and I love the chance to tour a graveyard. Turns out Greyfriars Kirkyard is a very historic graveyard, with some Harry Potter connections as well!

Mackenzie Poltergeist Graveyard Tour

J.K. Rowling sat in Elephant House, writing much of the early Harry Potter novels in the back room overlooking Edinburgh Castle and Greyfriars Kirkyard. It’s likely this scenery inspired the mystical settings of Harry Potter. Did J.K. Rowling use Greyfriars Kirkyard for ideas for names of Harry Potter characters? In Greyfriars Kirkyard are graves for Tom Riddle and a McGonagall.

Tom Riddle?

Professor McGonagall?

Greyfriars Bobby is a famous little dog in Edinburgh, supposedly not leaving his master's grave in Greyfriars. He is honored nearby.

Greyfriars Bobby

The view from the graveyard of George Heriot's School at night was really atmospheric! This is the school that Rowling has said inspired Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Could she see the school from The Elephant House maybe? I'm going to visit Heriot's School tomorrow.

school that inspired Hogwarts

Pictures of National Archives of Scotland and Poltergeist Tour

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