Scotland’s sporting heritage

Scotland has a rich and diverse sporting heritage, with the Commonwealth Games at the heart of Stirling’s work to preserve and celebrate the nation’s sporting history.

Commonwealth games poster

Hosts and Champions: Scotland in the Commonwealth Games

In 2014 Professor Richard Haynes, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and University of Stirling archivist, Karl Magee, researched and curated an exhibition called ‘Hosts and Champions’ which was displayed in Glasgow as part of the Culture 2014 programme which accompanied the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

This exhibition gave a fascinating insight into Scotland’s Commonwealth Games story, spanning more than 80 years of international sporting competition from its origins as the British Empire Games in Hamilton, Canada, in 1930, through to Glasgow 2014.

The collection included photographs, interviews with competitors and medallists, designs, clothing, papers and artefacts which evoke a rich story of Scotland’s involvement in the Games, including as hosts in 1970, 1986 and 2014.

Following Glasgow 2014 Hosts and Champions was developed and expanded into a touring exhibition which brought the story of Scotland’s contribution to the Commonwealth Games to communities across Scotland.

"The Archive preserves and shares the inspirational stories of Team Scotland’s sporting heroes and provides a unique insight into Scotland’s contribution to the Commonwealth Games movement."

Karl Magee, University Archivist
infographic: Our exhibition

Our exhibition

visited 20 venues in Scotland and the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, travelling 22,608 miles in total

infographic: From 2015-2019

From 2015-2019

the exhibition was on public display in venues across Scotland for 83 weeks, and for one week in Australia

infographic: UoS experts

UoS experts

helped to grow the archive by 205% - from 240 boxes to 490 boxes - due to the Hosts and Champions project

Attracting diverse audiences

The touring exhibition had a big impact on diverse audiences across Scotland.

Between 2015 and 2018 the Hosts and Champions exhibition toured twenty different venues, travelling 2,228 miles and with over 200,000 visitors. The exhibitions were co-produced with local hosts from the museum, cultural and sports community. Touring the exhibition throughout Scotland helped diversify public access to the archive.

Commonwealth Games Scotland CEO, Jon Doig, said: “Turning the collection into the touring exhibitions under the Hosts and Champions programme has been vital in connecting Commonwealth Games Scotland and the University with current and former Team Scotland members and local communities across Scotland outwith the Games years and fulfilling a key aim of the Glasgow 2014 Games in particular.”

The tour and the exhibition emphasised the benefits of sharing a national archive with local communities, and unlocking educational, social and cultural benefits. The outreach achieved by Stirling’s team contributed to sporting legacy initiatives such as Legacy 2014, and helped local museums and authorities attract new audiences.

"We wanted local communities to enjoy and reminisce on some of Scotland's great sporting achievements at the Games, as both hosts and champions!"

Professor Richard Haynes

Saving Scotland’s sporting heritage

The team didn’t just celebrate Scotland’s sporting heritage with an exhibition. They also saved this neglected yet important archive from further physical deterioration. The collection is now properly preserved and archived by the University of Stirling. It provides a focus for developing sport collections by collaborating with VisitScotland, the Scottish Government Legacy 2014, Sporting Memories Foundation and a range of sport, museum and cultural professionals to look after donations and new cultural artefacts and collaborations

In 2017 and 2018 the University of Stirling hosted two symposia in collaboration with the community interest company Sporting Heritage. ‘Pass It On: Celebrating Scotland’s Sporting Heritage’, held in February 2017, brought together museum professionals, sport organisations and sporting reminiscence professionals to share knowledge on how to broaden the reach of Scottish sport collections.

A second symposium, ‘Kick Off! Engaging With Scotland’s Sporting Heritage’ was organised in collaboration with the Archives and Records Association and held at Hampden Stadium, Glasgow (February 2018) with a focus on preservation, significance and doctoral research opportunities available with a range of Scottish sport collections.

Collaboration with Sporting Heritage and the wider museum sector in Scotland led to the formation of a new Scottish Sport Heritage Consortium in 2019, of which Professor Haynes and Mr Magee are founding board members.

The team's engagement with Scotland’s Commonwealth family has led to the growth of the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive through generous donations of personal papers and memorabilia from individuals associated with the Games. These personal items provide an added layer of history to the stories preserved in the archive, providing further insight into the experiences of the athletes who have competed for Scotland at the Games.

Our ongoing partnership with Commonwealth Games Scotland ensures that we continue to collect and preserve the story of Scotland’s participation in the Games, recently adding new material relating to the 2018 Gold Coast Games.

The project team have also provided talks on the archive and their wider work to a range of heritage organisations and academic groups including the Archives and Records Association, the British Records Association, Sporting Memories Foundation Scotland, Sporting Heritage, the British Society of Sport History and the Australian Society of Archivists.

"The growth of our Commonwealth Games collections has added new layers of history to the stories preserved in the archive with the personal memorabilia donated by athletes providing further insights into their experiences of competing at the Games."

Karl Magee, University Archivist

Taking the exhibition to Australia

In 2018, a partnership between VisitScotland, CGS and the Stirling team led to the production of a bespoke exhibition ‘Aussie Hosts and Scottish Champions’ to celebrate the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

As well as Scotland’s sport treasures, Stirling’s archive also provided Australian-themed sporting memorabilia for the exhibition. It was a unique opportunity to celebrate with the history of the Commonwealth Games – 10,000 miles away from Glasgow.

team scotland logo

See the latest from our key partner, Commonwealth Games Scotland.

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Recent related publications

BBC Sport in Black and White

Haynes R (2016) BBC Sport in Black and White. Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media. London: Palgrave Macmillan.;

From Sporting Past to Future Well-being: Sport Heritage and Intergenerational Learning in Glasgow

Haynes R (2020) From Sporting Past to Future Well-being: Sport Heritage and Intergenerational Learning in Glasgow. Sport in History, 40 (2), pp. 257-277.

Sports Coverage on BBC ALBA: Content, Value, and Position in the Scottish Broadcasting Landscape

Ramon X & Haynes R (2019) Sports Coverage on BBC ALBA: Content, Value, and Position in the Scottish Broadcasting Landscape. Communication and Sport, 7 (2), pp. 221-243.

Hosts and Champions: Taking the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive on tour

Haynes R & Magee K (2015) Hosts and Champions: Taking the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive on tour. ‘In a league of their own’: archives of the history of British sport and physical recreation, 2015 British Records Association conference, London, 26.11.2015-26.11.2015. Archives: Journal of the British Records Association, L (130-1), pp. 37-46.