Cultural pride in our Scottish heritage

The image shows a family photo from the 1920s and a travelling threshing mill of the 1930s all aspects of a past Scottish cultural identity that Don Carney the author is proud of
The image shows a family photo from the 1920s and a travelling threshing mill of the 1930s all aspects of a past Scottish cultural identity that Don Carney the author is proud of
Family photo The author Don Carney and the men at the threshing mill

Cultural pride in our Scottish heritageis something that refers to being proud of your own culture. It also includes the traditions developed or evolved within a particular defined geographic location. It has reference to your past family connections to that location. However, if like me you are proud of your culture you need to be capable of identifying and expressing important aspects of your inherited cultural past and present.

Cultural pride is an active process

I wanted to celebrate our Scottish heritage by capturing Scottish heritage on film. This is part one in a series of blogs about of my cultural journey in producing the Carney Heritage Productions award winning heritage film archive. Clips from this unique film archive  has been presented to diverse world audiences.

Doric a part of my rural life and work

Cultural pride was something that developed unknown to me for many years. Living and working on a family farm as a bairn and teenager I was unknowingly subjected to many aspects of my culture. The most obvious one was the Doric dialect. This is a dialect of the Scots language and the dialect of Aberdeenshire. Fin I wis a loon biding on oor fairm I jist kint oor Doric bicis that wis aa I heard afore I wint t school. The day some seventy years later there are different ys o spikin Doric, aa o them hiv a place within oor culture.

Traditional Aberdeenshire family farm

Another aspect of Cultural pride in our Scottish heritage that I was proud of was the way we farmed on that 96 acre Aberdeenshire farm. It was a mixed farm with crops of tatties, neeps, corn, barley, and hay. We kept some pigs, hens, sheep and cattle. We had a milk cow who was the most senior  and respected stock member on the farm.  We had a collie dog and some working farm cats. The way my father, his father and his father farmed Drumnaheath farm Kintore was something that I had a good idea about.

Storytelling as a journey to our past

This was because part of my cultural experience was listening to my grandfather speaking about his life and that of his father before him. Interesting inter-generational story telling. And part of my cultural DNA. He would tell me about how the “placie” as he called it and how it used to be worked by two pair of Clydesdale horses and an orra beast. Getting around the district wis by shilt and gig. Both these examples of a past rural life and my Scottish heritage recollected and passed on aspects of his culture to me.

Cultural pride in our Scottish past

Connections to past culture through time from one generation to the next is essential in building cultural pride. In my case initially my cultural past through story telling was done by my grandfather. Perhaps he had more time to story tell than my busy dad. What he was doing I could see but what my grandfather told me were things I could not see or experience first hand.

The feed men lived in the bothy

We had a building on the farm called the bothy. During the time when the power source on the farm was the Clydesdales there were two feed (employed)  men in the bothy. They according to Frank Carney my grandfather got all their mate (meals) in the farm kitchen.  They slept and spent their spare time in the bothy. Storytelling and reminiscing is also very much part of developing and passing on cultural traditions and pride in who we are.

Sorting the nowt

Part of my brother and sister and my cultural tradition was that we had to help my father “sort the nowt” at weekends during the winter. From October to May the cattle were all tied up in stalls of two cattle in the byre. As there were three of us, two of us could take turns of staying in bed but one of us had to help sort the nowt on Saturday and Sunday. If you were helping that week you also had to go to the kirk at Kintore where my father was an elder. For me, unknowingly my cultural pride was developing on the Sunday mornings I was helping to sort the nowt.

Cow in byre, Scottish past agriculture, Sorting the Nowt, Pride in our Scottish past,

A time to reminisce.

After the byre was finished about 9 o-clock in the morning on Sundays my grandfather would come from the cottage half a mile away. Another man an old neighbour would also visit on a Sunday morning. They and my father would sit in the farm kitchen and blether. Much of that blethering was looking back and relating aspects of then and now. I can remember that I used to sit in the window seat and listen to these men one and two generations back from me speaking about their past which was also my past. This was where I first began to link Cultural pride in our Scottish heritage with my ancestor’s

The past forgotten

That blethering and storytelling had a fascination for me. Most of that inter-generational information was packed away in my head somewhere. For many years my past got lost during my busy working life and bringing up my three girls.

Mid life cultural awakening

It was not till I was in my mid forties that my cultural pride started to stir within my life. I now had three quines. I had not passed any storytelling about my past on to them. I was not keeping them in touch with their past ancestor’s life and work. Sadly I was not developing that connection for them to and with my past and showing its linkage and importance to them.

Developing cultural pride is an active process

Life almost conspires to tear away our cultural pride because there is always something more urgent/demanding or compulsory to do on life’s journey. It was this desire and pride in my past that motivated me to do my bit in developing cultural pride with my family about their past. It was now my time to do the storytelling to the next generation. Speaking to my girls took a gentle approach, but it also kindled in me a desire to do more to permanently remember my past and the story’s I had been told by my recent ancestors some 20 years earlier.

 Scottish Heritage for me was now very important

That was when Cultural pride in our Scottish heritage and in my past was given greater importance for me. I started speaking to older people in my local area about their past. No one had asked them about their life and work and that of their ancestors. Listening to what people told me was a fascinating experience. It was clear that unless we practically get involved in finding out about our past our past will be forgotten, trivialised and it will pass us bye.

The story of my past is a story worth telling to others

Speaking to my neighbours about their past had resonance with what my grandfather had spoken to me about some  20 years before. The stories I was being told were fascinating and I decided to write them all down for others to enjoy. This storytelling journey with my older neighbours about past life and work in Aberdeenshire also provided me with the privilege of being invited to see some of their old photographs about their past. I carefully scanned these photos and returned them. In addition, they had artifacts lying around the farm or croft or shed that was a representation of the past. I took photos of these items and after a year of data gathering and writing I had a manuscript of my past.

Be back in touch with part two in three weeks.

Don Carney