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Take a virtual tour around a traditional Travellers’ Summer Encampment

The third in a series of virtual tours at the Highland Folk Museum is now available online.

From today (February 8) the Travellers’ summer encampment can be discovered in 360 degrees with images, text, video and audio helping illustrate the Traveller way of life – long part of Highland culture for centuries.

The encampment at the Highland Folk Museum is an example of a Sutherland summer tent, the kind used up to the 1960s.

The tent was put up in 2018 under the direction of Essie Stewart, a Scottish Traveller born in 1941, and who travelled around the north of Scotland with her family living in bough tents like this.

Project Officer Helen Pickles said: “Within the collection at the Highland Folk Museum we have finely crafted objects that were known to have been made by Travellers, such as tin lanterns, silver brooches and staved wooden vessels.

“Traveller craftspeople were highly skilled, and it’s a delight to be able to showcase these beautiful objects in a digital setting. We are also presenting the more everyday objects such as a jockey, or ‘snottum’, a milk churn and a pram which all help to tell the story of the Traveller people, and their life on the road.

“In the days before paved roads and convenient transport, the world was a lot smaller. The Travelling community provided a valued role in bringing wares, seasonal labour, and skills to remote villages and farms all across the Highlands.

“Travellers brought news and messages with them, in addition to hawking and trading everyday wares such as clothes pegs, pot scrubbers, haberdashery items, baskets and lanterns.”

With the advent of plastic and the increase of affordable consumer goods, there was a decline in demand for the traditional crafts and trades of the Traveller.

Helen added: “The community had to adapt, and the lifestyle which can be seen in some of the early and mid-20th century photographs of Travellers portray a way of living which has now all but disappeared.

“We have worked closely with members of the Traveller community to improve our knowledge about objects in the collection, and to listen to personal insights and the lived experiences of individuals.

“We hope that by sharing some of these words, images and interviews, our visitors will learn something they might not have known about this ancient and indigenous group of people.”

The Newtonmore attraction has created the 360-degree digital tours as a new way to explore five of its unique buildings and the objects within.

The project has been funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, which is run by the Museums Association, funding projects that develop collections to achieve social impact.

Visit www.highlandfolk.com/explore to start the tour and step inside the Travellers’ summer encampment. Check back each week as the next building tour is released.

The Traveller camp will be available for visitors to experience in person when the museum opens on April 1.