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War Poets Collection: Remembering Siegfried Sassoon

Siegfried Sassoon

September is the time when we celebrate the acclaimed war poet Siegfried Sassoon.

Siegfried Sassoon was born 8th September 1886, and died in 1967, on September 1st. Sassoon was a talented poet, writer and soldier. He received the Military Cross for bravery during the First World War.

He wrote fervent pieces that spoke of compassion for his fellow soldiers, and his anger towards those he believed could have ended the war sooner but instead prolonged it.

Sassoon continued to write for the rest of his life, publishing many important works such as Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man and Memoirs of an Infantry Officer.

 

Sassoon was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital (Now our Craiglockhart campus) during World War One. Here he met Wilfred Owen during his convalescence, and together they produced some of the finest war poetry ever written.

Craiglockhart War Hospital (old Hydropathic Hotel) photographs of Staff and patients

Craiglockhart War Hospital

You can visit our permanent exhibition area containing more than 600 unique items. It allows visitors to get an insight into war through the experiences of the poets. Access to the War Poets Collection remains limited due to social distancing, so if you would like to visit please contact us first.

The War Poets collection at Craiglockhart campus

Not only do we have many items in our permanent exhibit, but we also have a treasure trove of exciting new material. It has been loaned to Edinburgh Napier’s War Poets Collection for the period covering the Centenary of the First World War Armistice on November 11th. The new exhibits, which will be available for public viewing, include original photographs of celebrated war poet Siegfried Sassoon, work privately printed by him and an original of his famous war protest letter of July 1917. Read more about it here.

If you would like to read some of his works, here are some sources:

 

For Library Members

Siegfried Sassoon: poet’s pilgrimage

Siegfried Sassoon : (1886-1967)

Dr W. H. R. Rivers: Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves ‘fathering friend’

You can check out Librarysearch.napier.ac.uk for access to many more wonderful University materials

Online

10 Siegfried Sassoon Poems Everyone Should Read

The Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Sources

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/sassoon_siegfried.shtml

https://siegfriedsfellowship.wixsite.com/siegfriedsassoon

War Poets Collection

 

 

 

Highland Games

Highland Games are a traditional event held in many Scottish towns during the summer and are a mixture of sporting, cultural and social events. The well-known events such as tossing the caber and the hammer throw are only for the strongest and fittest competitors!

Origin and history

It is believed that the Highland Games originated in Ireland around 2000BC and they were brought to Scotland with 4th and 5th century migrations of the Scotti people into Dalriada (Argyll). The games may have become a way of choosing the strongest and most able men for the household of clan chieftains, with musicians and dancers also sought to add prestige to the clan. The first historical reference to Highland Games-type events was made during the 11th century. They were banned following the Battle of Culloden in 1746 but the ban was lifted in the early 19th century.

The Braemar Gathering is the most famous of all Highland Games. Queen Victoria attended the games in 1838 and royal support has continued since then. Queen Victoria’s endorsement of the games ensured the growth of such events and their export around the world. Highland Games now take place in many different countries, particularly countries where Scots emigrated to in large numbers such as Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

The Ceres Games in Fife are considered the oldest, continuous Highland Games in Scotland and began in 1314.

 

Highlands, Scotland

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Events

It wouldn’t be a Highland Games without the traditional strong man events such as tossing the caber and the tug of war.

Tossing the caber-The caber is a large wooden pole and the name derives from the Gaelic word cabar which refers to a wooden beam. The caber is around 20 feet long and normally weighs around 150 pounds. Competitors must balance the caber in their hands and perform a run-up before they toss it. Throws are judged on their straightness – a perfect toss sees the small end of the caber facing away from the thrower at a 12 o’clock angle.

Hammer throw-The “hammer” used consists of a metal ball weighing around 22 pounds attached by a steel wire to a grip. Competitors use the handle to whirl the hammer around their head and throw it as far as they can.

Tug of war-This event involves teams of eight pulling against another team of eight, encouraged by another team member who shouts instructions and encouragement to spur their team to pull the other one across the line to win the event.

 

These competitions make the games a thrilling event, but to add to the spectacle there are also other attractions.

Highland dancing – Dancers give dazzling displays on pointed toes of dances such as the Highland Fling and the sword dance. They wear colourful tartan outfits and compete in solo and group events.

Pipe bands-They will play for entertainment and in competitive events.

More recently Highland Games have become a celebration of country life and many now include events such as:

Animal exhibitions-Displays of Highland cattle, Clydesdale horses and Shetland ponies.

Sheep dog trials-Competitions against the clock.

Food stalls-Showcasing local produce with free tastings.

Arts and crafts.

Re-enactments-Groups give displays of sword fights, spinning yarn and cooking.

More recently novelty events have been added such as wellie throwing and tossing the haggis.

Sadly due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions most of Scotland’s major events have been cancelled this year. A few events are still going ahead and the calendar can be viewed here.

Hopefully you will be able to visit a Highland Games in the future and get to enjoy all they have to offer.

Sword carving

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Article written by Vivienne Hamilton

Woman’s History Month: Wonder Women of Scotland

Woman’s History Month: Wonder Women of Scotland

To celebrate Women’s History month we thought it might be nice to celebrate some incredible Scottish women both alive and sadly gone. We can only fit in a few here so if you are interested in learning more, why not look up some more information at librarysearch.napier.ac.uk

Christina Miller

Photo of Christina Miller

Source: Heriot Watt University

One little know Scottish woman whose story deserves to be better remembered is Christina Miller. Despite being born both female and hearing impaired in 1899, and later losing her sight in one eye, she battled against the norms of the time to become a respected analytical chemist. She was an inspirational teacher and mentor to generations of students.

Miller was awarded the Keith Prize by the Royal Society of Edinburgh for her scientific paper on phosphorus trioxide, and become one of the first 5 to become elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh. There is even a building at the University of Edinburgh named after her.

Photo of Mukami McCrum

Source: British Library

Mukami McCrum

All-round amazing person, Mukami McCrum has lived in Scotland most of her life. She fights for women’s rights, in particular BAME and LGBT women who need support from domestic abuse. She is one of the founders of Shakti Women’s Aid and campaigns to end Female Genital Mutilation.

She was the chief executive of Central Scotland Racial Equality Council and has brought her deep commitment to race and gender justice to many organisations, including Akina Mama wa Afrika, World Council of Churches, Responding to Conflict Trust. She has an MBE for her community and human rights work.

Continue reading

The Poet and the Doctor, Craiglockhart War Hospital 1917 (War Poets Collection)

Craiglockhart War Hospital March 1917  Image courtesy of Edinburgh Napier University

The month of March includes two important dates in the calendar for the War Poets Collection at Craiglockhart Campus, as we mark the birthday’s of the celebrated poet  Wilfred Owen (born 18th March 1893) and the eminent psychiatrist and anthropologist, Dr William Rivers (born 12th March 1864)

At our Craiglockhart campus, the original building was used as a military hospital during the First World War.  The hospital treated around 1801 officers, suffering mostly from neurasthenia  , or war neurosis, between 1916-1919. Neurasthenia was more commonly known at the time as shell shock.

Craiglockhart old frontage

Craiglockhart old frontage

Those of you who studied English literature at school may be familiar with Wilfred Owen, the WW1 soldier-poet, as his works are taught not only in the UK  but in many other countries around the world.  2nd Lt. Owen was to become one of the leading poets of the First World War.  He was treated at Craiglockhart War Hospital for shell shock during the summer months of 1917.  Wilfred was in the care of Dr (Capt.) Arthur Brock, who treated his patients using ergo-therapy, or the “work cure”.  More than a century later, the University’s Occupational Therapy students provide us with a contemporary link to Dr Brock’s work.

Wilfred Owen Bust. Sculpture by Anthony Padgett.

Many of Wilfred Owen’s  poems, such as Anthem for Doomed Youth and Dulce et Decorum Est  were drafted or composed whilst he was a patient and he edited six issues of the hospital magazine, The Hydra.  Wilfred Owen recovered his health and returned to the Front but was killed on active service on the 4th November 1918, just one week before the Armistice was declared.

Image of Hydra Magazine

The recently discovered missing copies of The Hydra magazine.

One of the most recognised names in English anthropology and psychiatry is that of Doctor William H R Rivers, born in Chatham, Kent on 12th March 1864.  William Rivers qualified as a doctor from the University of London and St Bartholomew’s Hospital at the tender age of twenty-two, the youngest graduate until recent times. You may recognise the hospital, as the Duke of Edinburgh was treated there for a heart problem recently. Rivers lectured at the University of Cambridge and was a polymath, being involved in the fields of ethnography, anthropology, medicine and psychiatry.

Dr Rivers joined the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War and was appointed Senior Psychiatrist at Craiglockhart War Hospital.  Dr (Capt.) Rivers was an extremely popular member of the medical team at the hospital, using dream analysis and the talking cures to help his patients. He is best known in literary circles as being the doctor who treated the poet Siegfried Sassoon at Craiglockhart. Dr Rivers returned to academia after the war but died in June 1922.

You can find out more about both these men in the War Poets Collection at Craiglockhart (University Covid-19 restrictions apply at the moment) or visit our website at www.napier.ac.uk/warpoets

By Catherine Walker

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