It was an thought which sprung to life in lockdown – and which is now chronicling a number of the tales about Highland ladies who had slipped into obscurity.
Have you ever heard, for example, about Mary Marjory MacDonald, from Ullapool, who was orphaned as a toddler and have become a profitable jewel thief in London’s excessive society?
Or Beatrice Garvie, one of many first females to qualify as a GP who spent 15 years in North Ronaldsay in Orkney the place she was by no means with out her digital camera – recording a bunch of recollections on the island in all its completely different guises within the first half of the twentieth century?
They, and plenty of others, had successfully been airbrushed out of historical past, however not any longer. And why? As a result of Pauline Moore, a former BBC producer, prodigious podcaster and her colleagues at XpoNorth and Museums and Heritage Highland (MHH) have joined forces to deliver these ladies’s exploits again into the highlight.
And this can be a undertaking with near-infinite potential to broaden within the years forward.
Unforgotten Highland Ladies has been launched as a brief podcast collection, recorded at dwell occasions throughout the Highlands. And after Pauline was commissioned by MHH to host the classes, share the tales with native communities and maintain data gathering classes to assist full the image, they’ve been launched on The Large Mild – Scotland’s podcast community – as compelling slabs of social historical past.
She informed me: “Rising from the pandemic, there was numerous discuss the right way to get individuals to come back again into museums and heritage centres once more. That is how the concept took place to make the recording of the episodes into occasions. Anybody might come alongside to seek out out extra, ask questions and perhaps contribute to the story.
“I’ve an outdated camper van and this turned my lodging/workplace/transport for 2 weeks final summer time. Nicola Henderson of MHH and I labored carefully collectively to plan how we might make a pilot collection with round 5 – 6 tales which might work nicely for a spherical journey and would give quite a lot of tales spanning completely different instances.
The primary was a tragic story
“The primary of those was sparked by Jessica Fox, of XpoNorth, who had heard a narrative from Dr Nick Lindsay of Clyne Heritage Society, which he had been researching.
“Caroline Ross was a schoolteacher who got here to the first faculty at Doll, exterior the village of Brora, within the early Nineteen Thirties. No one knew, however she was eight months pregnant on the time and gave delivery of a child which was later discovered useless.
“She was arrested and charged with child murder. The case was heard in Inverness and caused quite a sensation at the time. It was such a sad story, but one with an interesting twist when the trial concluded – which I won’t give away here.”
The touchpaper had been lit. And the idea got here on in leaps and bounds thereafter.
These are individuals coming again to life
Pauline, who has additionally labored on the Speaking Derry Ladies podcast, has been grateful for help from numerous teams and the broader public for his or her involvement in what’s an unfolding narrative. And, although she has already spent numerous time on the podcasts, she recognises there’s a lot extra to be unearthed.
She added: “There was at all times one thing in every of the tales which drew me in and a few felt a bit extra full than others.
“Mary Marjory MacDonald feels very very similar to a narrative in progress.
“Siobhan Beatson – curator at Ullapool Museum – has been digging by means of newspaper experiences, census materials and courtroom experiences to seek out out extra, however there’s nonetheless a niche concerning the individuals who vouched for Mary Marjory when she was incarcerated and supplied to take her into their properties and rehabilitate her, which has but to be found.
What did Ullapool folks consider her?
“There’s additionally extra to uncover about her motives. Was she a daredevil opportunist who did it [the thefts] for the thrills or was there one thing extra which drove her to such extremes and dangerous behaviour?
“There’s additionally the truth that the police believed it was the work of an American legal gang – how might it presumably have been the work of a girl on her personal? And there’s extra to be found about what native individuals in Ullapool considered her.
“I used to be additionally intrigued by Dr Garvie who was the GP on North Ronaldsay for 16 years in an period when there have been only a few ladies medical doctors. Actually, it has been found that she may nicely have been amongst the primary ladies to have been educated as a GP.
“She was additionally an avid photographer capturing on a regular basis life on the island. There’s a wealthy archive of her images and individuals who can discuss figuring out her. I did make a short go to to North Ronaldsay and did some interviews with individuals who remembered her. This might be included in a potential follow-up story.
“Fiona Sanderson – an artist and researcher – has been unfolding this story and we hope to follow her progress at a later date as it develops.”
We will construct this up sooner or later
It’s a savoury mix of citizen journalism melded with the expertise Pauline gleaned from her years of manufacturing on such programmes as The Lesley Riddoch Present and Good Morning Scotland. And it’s accompanied by her thirst for information and the will to delve after the style of an archaeologist into uncharted territory.
In any case, the archives are stuffed with snippets of tantalising details about extraordinary ladies whose achievements weren’t correctly highlighted whereas they have been alive.
However that doesn’t imply they’ll’t be acclaimed on a posthumous foundation.
That is occurring all throughout Scotland
As Pauline stated: “These tales have been recorded for audio podcasts with some images. However visible points are a robust chance and, in some instances, they’re already occurring. Not simply filming however shows, photos and completely different artwork works.
“There’s numerous curiosity in delving into native historical past and it’s nice that that is occurring throughout Scotland. The yr of Tales [in 2022] was an incredible initiative to deal with such tasks and it’s terrific that the funders recognised and supported this.
“As Unforgotten Highland Ladies is being pushed by museums and heritage centres, it means the analysis is prime class and given the suitable remedy in no matter methods the tales are informed and in addition a document of how they’ve been uncovered and handled.
“So we aren’t only telling the stories, but maybe having some role in finding out new information in the future. Podcasts have the ability to travel far and wide. People listening can respond with new information which can inform further episodes.”
Briefly, it’s a piece in progress. However Pauline has completed an incredible job in switching on the faucet. Let’s hope there’s a wealthy nicely of information ready to rise to the floor.
Additional data and the podcasts could be accessed at: www.thebiglight.com/unforgottenhighlandwomen
FIVE QUESTIONS FOR PAULINE MOORE
1)What guide are you studying? “The Raptures by Jan Carson”.
2)Who’s your hero/heroine? “I have several, but at the moment, it’s Lisa McGee, the creator of Derry Girls”.
3)Do you converse any overseas languages? “I am terrible at languages, but I can struggle my way through French (badly)”.
4)What’s your favorite band or music? “The Blue Nile”.
5)What’s your most treasured possession? “Harris – my Camper van”.