News and activities
Eco-Museum of Scottish Mining Landscapes Secures Funding
The new virtual museum that celebrates a sense of place will work with local communities to encourage people to explore the landscape of Scotland’s historic coal belt stretching from Ayrshire to Fife. The Eco-museum is made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to secure a long term sustainable home for the original data base of co-produced landscape Legacies of Coal (LLoC). The routes primarily covering Stirling and Clackmannanshire and provide the foundations of the eco-museum’s collection of 15 new ‘landscape journeys’ expanded into Fife, Midlothian, East Dunbarton, Lanark and Ayrshire. The project is looking to recruit volunteers, drawn from community groups and individuals across Scotland’s former mining towns and villages, to participate in a series of ca. five skills/field sessions working in collaboration with Catherine and the project team (including student volunteers) to create and design landscape journeys. These walking and/or cycling routes are based around local points of interest (POIs) that are significant to the community’s sense of place and local mining heritage. These typically include the surviving industrial archaeology, landscapes features of former colliery sites and transport infrastructure, the associated industries, together with the social environment, e.g., housing, sport and leisure. The POIs are illustrated with archive maps and images, text, audio/video, and community created place-making artwork/photography.
To ensure contemporary relevance and a wider audience, Catherine has teamed up with the National Mining Museum Scotland the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, Scottish Geological Trust, and community artist Yvonne Weighand Lyle to expand the content coverage beyond the LLoC’s focus. The new landscape journeys will feature the visible geology, the next phase in the story of coal by emphasising the black to green energy transitions, such as afforestation, geo-thermal, and wind/solar power, the diverse and ‘feral’ ecology of bings/dereliction and place marking artwork inspired by the local mining landscape and ecology.
As well as the ‘landscape journeys’ the virtual museum has four additional pages; ‘home’; ‘a ‘blog’, ‘news and activities’ linked to social media and ‘feedback/evaluation. The museum news/social media pages provide an invaluable tool to promote wider engagement with the eco-museum, the blog showcases the stories around the creation of routes from the volunteers, permits them to highlight individual features of local mining heritage where the landscape does not permit a viable route and provides a central ‘what’s on’ network point for mining communities across Scotland to promote and share mining focused heritage activities out with their immediate local areas. The evaluation and feedback space provides museum visitors with formal opportunities to comment on the museum but importantly it encourages users of the journeys to contribute their stories and memories or add an additional POI to established routes or suggest and/or create new journeys as well as reporting landscape change as the sites are developed and repurposed.
The project begins and ends with two national events. The eco-museum will be launched at the NMMS, and signalling the end of the project, the community created artworks and photography will be exhibited at the University of Stirling’s Accredited Museum and Art Gallery.
If you would like more information or to be involved with the project please contact Catherine email@example.com.
Since the 1950s, opencast coal mining has transformed large parts of the Fife landscape and shaped the history of local communities. Nowadays, many of the old sites are being repurposed for leisure, business or renewable energy uses.
‘Coal Legacies’ are involved in a series of activities, ‘Opencast Echoes’ led by Maria Velez Serna, Lecturer in Film and Media, exploring the former opencast coaling site at Westfield, Balingry, Fife through a variety of themes: History, Landscape and Film.
These began with a walk and talk guided by Regional Director, Phil Rayson and Senior Development Surveyor, Ross MacDonald from Hargreaves Land together with historian Catherine Mills. This was followed a creative cyanotype workshop on site led by community visual artist Yvonne Weighand Lyle on Thursday 22nd June 2023.
The final Opencast Echoes activity, ‘Films and Chat’ invites you to watch rarely seen archive films that captures the history of opencast coaling, the people and the places hosted by the Kelty Community Cinema at Kelty & Blairadam Ex-serviceman’s Club on Thursday 13th July from 1900 to 2100 hours. Visit the Facebook Event page for further information.
The screening includes short films about Westfield, Lochore, Cowdenbeath, and beyond. Local historians and researchers from the University of Stirling will offer context around the films, with plenty of time to share your own memories and responses to them.
There will also be an opportunity to see new cyanotype artwork created with botanical materials collected from the Westfield site.
- Light refreshments will be served.
- Free admission - Funded by the University of Stirling.
- Access: The venue is wheelchair accessible.
The films will be shown in blocks of 15-25 minutes with breaks for discussion.
Inscriptions in Arcadia
Catherine recently met with visual artist Audrey Grant. Audrey’s new art work, ‘Inscriptions in Arcadia’ will invite visitors ‘to walk an existing route around the RSPB Nature Reserve at Skinflats, encountering elements of its rich industrial and cultural past through a series of [site specific] physical artwork installations that also encourage a reflection on landscapes present and imaginary’. The project has been commissioned by Forth Valley Art Beat.
The selection of locations that relate specifically to traces of past industrial/cultural activity connects strongly to the Bothkennar Route at Skinflats on the Coal App (released earlier this year). The walk was designed by local resident, and former ‘Heritage Masters’ student Ian MacIntosh, and utilises the landscape legacies of mining, brickmaking and transport networks to narrate the history of the Grangemouth Colliery Company. Audrey and Catherine’s discussion focused on how the two projects intersect and link together. The plan is to feature images and descriptions of the artwork on the Bothkennar walk on the app. This will both provide the temporary installations with a lasting presence, and, a first for Landscape Legacies of Coal, also allow users to understand and experience industrial landscape history through an artistic lens.
The image below is of the Grangemouth Coal Company’s capped coal shaft at Barony pit which features on the Bothkennar walk and is one of the sites selected by Audrey.
© Audrey Grant (2021)
The project is returning to one of the first areas of exploration, the East Stirlingshire villages and are once again collaborating with their original funder the Macrobert Arts Centre and also Scene Stirling on a series of small community engagement pilot projects ‘Vantage Points’ designed to test ideas and establish local community contacts with view to developing and art trail and event in the summer. For more information see Scene Stirling.
Photography Competition: Best Route Shot
As part of the one year birthday celebration, Landscape Legacies of Coal is holding a Photography Competition ‘Best Route Shot’. It can be anything you want a landscape, a
The winning entry will receive two free tickets to the National Mining Museum Scotland and a framed copy of the print. This will be exhibited in the University Art Collection as
Yvonne has kindly agreed to select the winning entry which will be announced at the birthday celebration. Please email your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, contact
Closing date extended until we have a new date for the postponed Birthday Party. So please keep sending your images.
Landscape Legacies of Coal 1st Birthday Celebration
Following guidance regarding COVID-19 unfortunately we have had to postpone the event. Hopefully we will be able to celebrate later on in the year.
The ‘Coal App’ will be one year old in April. We have expanded from just 3 routes back in early 2019 to 10 live on the app with an additional 11 in various stages of planning. We are going to celebrate with coffee, cake (absolutely fundamental to all our field work) and a range of speakers all who have involved in making our first year a huge success. These include Murray Dickie from the Clackmannanshire Field Studies Society, Nicola Moss and David Bell from the National Mining Museum who are going to talk about their excellent but underused archives and collections.
Mining the Future: The Coal App, One Year on And What’s in Store
Catherine Mills, University of Stirling
On the Trail of Coal
David Bell, National Mining Museum Scotland
Colliery Waggonways - the Development that Shaped the Clackmannanshire Coal Industry
Murray Dickie, Clackmannanshire Field Studies Society
Miner Poets and their Landscape
Julieann McHale, University of Stirling
Going Coal Mining - Exploring the Linn Mill Walk
Kat Pruente, University of Stirling
Collieries, Canals and the Coal Baron
Lisa Snedden, University of Stirling
Past events and activities
The ‘coal app’ was formally launched on 18th April 2019 at Creative Stirling (44 King Street). Miles Oglethorpe Head of Industrial Heritage at HES opened the event with a talk entitled ‘Losing Our Mines: Remembering the Scottish Coal industry. This was followed by Julie Ellen, the Artistic Director at MacRobert Arts Centre. Julie presented the origins of the project in ‘How Coal Created Heat: a fire starter to partnership’. This was followed by Catherine introduced the app, its aims, the content and how local communities can get involved.
Research Images competition
The project image titled ‘A Landscape Legacy of Coal’ was awarded second prize in the University's Research Images competition.
History of the Devon Colliery Beam Engine at Open Doors Day
Andrew Wood from Clackmannan Field Studies Society and Catherine talked visitors through the History of the Devon Colliery Beam Engine at Open Doors Days 29th September, 2019. The Beam engine features on two routes on the app ‘Devon’ and ‘Alloa Waggonway Walk Three’.
Catherine presented the project and the coal app at the ‘Mining History and Archaeology: Towards a Research Strategy’ conference at Leadhills, South Lanarkshire 19th October, 2019.
Catherine is looking forward to collaborating with artist Yvonne Weighand Lyle, the University Art Collection and PhD student Julieann McHale on an art exhibition focusing on Newbattle parish to explore ideas around ‘mapping place’ in the context of coal mining (April-September 2020) and a public event based around the spoken word and mining landscapes (date in April 2020 TBC).
Catherine is also looking forward to working with Vicki Robb, Education Officer at the Mining Museum on a ‘schools project’ with Newtongrange Primary School exploring the mining community’s social landscape. Again provisional dates for this are late April/early May 2020.