Anita BriggsBy Anita Briggs, Digital Media Content Creator

It’s been almost two years since I joined the new Digital Media team at National Museums Scotland and time has certainly flown by! It’s been a really exciting creative journey getting acquainted with the collections and fascinating world at the museums.

Ice cream van, Bute, September 1983 from the Scottish Life Archive.

The last year has seen an increase in activity in online activity at the National Museums Scotland, we’ve got a fabulous HTML5 redeveloped website which has experienced significant increase in website traffic (up nearly 30% from this time last year) and we are now firmly established on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. A great addition to our Flickr photostream has been images from our Scottish Life Archive which have marked the changing seasons and special exhibitions.

As Content Creator, the topics that I investigate become ever more varied, and the opening of the redeveloped National Museum of Scotland will only add to my knowledge of peculiar museum facts.  Some of the highlights over the last year have been digital detective investigating the mummy coffins from Ancient Egypt, discovering what objects are associated with Mary Queen of Scots and examining the detail in war paintings.  I’ve also been doing a bit of digital reporting from events across the sites , notably Concorde’s 35th anniversary, World Wars Experience and Robots Live!

Interior of First World War troop tent

Interior of First World War troop tent at World Wars Experience at National Museum of Flight.

We are really excited about the opening of the redeveloped National Museum of Scotland on 29 July.  It gives us the opportunity to feature some of the so far unseen objects  that await visitors when the museum opens its doors. We will be making the most of our social media channels to let you know what is is happening and what new things there are to see. Why not follow us on Twitter, on Facebook and Flickr to keep-up-to-date with developments?

Hippo in the Wildlife Panorama at the National Museum of Scotland

Flying hippo and manatee in the Wildlife Panorama at the National Museum of Scotland. Photo by Sean Bell.

Across the museums, our summer events programme is now in full swing and we are looking forward to letting you know what happens pre and post event at this year’s Airshow and our opening weekend at National Museum of Scotland.  For the Airshow, guest blog posts are being provided by some of those taking part in the flying display and activity on the ground.

The Breitling Wingwalkers performing an aerobatics display.

Well, I think that’s all for now but don’t forget to keep in touch with all that’s going on at National Museums Scotland on our website!

By Maggie McDougall, Stockperson at National Museum of Rural Life

The 10th day of the 10th month of 2010, saw the smallest of offspring arrive at the National Museum of Rural Life.

Earlier that week saw the working farm extremely busy with the last of Rustic Rosie’s spring born piglets, now weaners, being sold to establish new herds of Tamworth pigs in Lanarkshire and Midlothian. Our spring lambs were also sold at market, and the harvest brought in to help feed the livestock throughout the winter months. This was fortunately all completed before our newest arrivals made their appearance.

Farm fields at National Museum of Rural Life

Farm fields at National Museum of Rural Life

Toffee our third generation Kittochside Tamworth farrowed (gave birth) to a litter of piglets. Toffee is a gilt (young female) and this was her first farrowing which can be distressing enough for a young pig, but her litter arrived a fortnight early, her due date was 31st October. We now have nine small, but very healthy piglets. This is more than plenty for a first farrowing. The piglets are now thriving and Toffee is generating plenty of milk to sustain them.

Toffee and her piglets

Toffee and her piglets at National Museum of Rural Life

They are a very welcome addition to the livestock enterprises at the working farm, and are proving as popular as ever with visitors and staff.

Fional CampbellBy Fiona Campbell, Learning Enabler at National Museums Scotland


On Sunday 3rd October, Hawthornden Court welcomed two retired roman soldiers from the 6th and 9th Legions. Our Romans were instantly amazed as the voice of the Roman god Jupiter bellowed from above (in other words, one of our esteemed Visitor Services team) beckoning people to join them for the afternoon.

Children dressed up as Roman soldiers

Children practising drill as Roman army conscripts at Hawthornden Court, National Museum of Scotland

Families were taught all about life in the Roman army and in particular all about the Roman armour and weaponry; children encouraged to stand in front of the crowds dressed as soldiers and put to drill! Armed with their scutum (shield) and gladius (sword), the children learned military positions to protect themselves from enemy attacks. Manoeuvres such as the testudo (tortoise formation) and cuneum (the wedge); these tactics were successfully completed by the youngsters followed by applause from the proud parents in the audience.

Visitors were then told a bit more about military life in the Roman army, such as elements of daily life. Perhaps one of the highlights for the younger audiences was the famous ‘spongia’ otherwise known as the ‘sponge on a stick’. Faces were appropriately screwed up as our Romans explained that this was their form of toilet paper!

Boy dressed up as a Roman soldier

Boy dressed up as a Roman soldier

The museums visitors also heard how gladiators entertained the screaming and jeering crowds in the Colosseum. In each show, a boy and girl from the audience were chosen to represent a young gladiator and Amazon. After some swashbuckling with wooden swords the gladiator was left kneeling on the ground at the mercy of our museum audience and Caesar himself! A boy was chosen from the audience to wear the civic crown of leaves and a white tunic. Under the close supervision of Caesar himself, our visitors decided the fate of the young gladiators: luckily all three on this day had their lives spared.

Around 300 people come to meet the Romans over the afternoon, which proved a fun afternoon for all.


By Maggie McDougall, Stockperson at National Museum of Rural Life

The National Museum of Rural Life’s Ayrshire dairy herd recently enjoyed great success at East Kilbride Show. They secured four 1st prizes, four 2nd prizes, the group championship rosette and a society medal for best calf in show!

Following this we were invited to take part in the Lanarkshire Ayrshire Herd’s competition for the first time. The competition itself is run annually and covers all Ayrshire dairy herds in Lanarkshire. Judging takes place at the entrant’s farm and the cattle are judged in the field in their natural state.

Ayrshire cow in field

Award winning Ayrshire in field at Wester Kittochside, National Museum of Rural Life.

The judging this year took place on the evening of the 24 August with the cows selected being the top four in our herd: Kittochside Nora Louise EX90, Ruby EX90, Nora VG79 and Candy VG89. The judging took place in the Longcroft field with the historic working farm as a backdrop on a better dry warm evening than we have seen of late.  This made for a very pleasant evening for judges and visitors from other competition farms.

Two Ayrshire cows in field

Two Ayrshire cows grazing in the field at Wester Kittochside, National Museum of Rural Life.

Out of a total of 12 herds in the small herds section, the National Museum of Rural Life fought off extremely tough competition from well known herds to win a respectable 3rd place.

Over the past nine years the dairy herd at the museum has undergone some very positive changes and achieved competition success against herds which have been developed over several generations.

Maggie McDougall feeding Ayrshire calves

Maggie McDougall feeding hungry Ayrshire calves at Wester Kittochside, National Museum of Rural Life.

From the initial six commercial Ayrshire cows purchased it has developed quickly and is now fully pedigreed, prize winning, and classified. In addition our first bull will be going for sale at a forthcoming pedigree bull sale, showing the quality of animals bred at the Museum.

Find out more about the Ayrshire herd at National Museum of Rural Life and what’s happening on the farm on our website.

Ian BrownBy Ian Brown, Assistant Curator of Aviation

The new Jet Age exhibition at the National Museum of Flight is proving extremely popular with our visitors. The centrepiece of the displays is the forward fuselage of Boeing 707 G-APFJ in its striking blue and white British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) livery. The aircraft was very generously donated to National Museums Scotland by British Airways.

Boeing 707 arriving back at National Museum of Flight with the 1960s BOAC livery. © Paul Dodds

This year marks the aircraft’s 50th birthday, on 24 September. It was on that day back in 1960 when the aircraft was issued with its Certificate of Airworthiness by the Civil Aviation Authority. This allowed to aircraft to begin passenger-carrying flights with BOAC soon afterwards, and it remained in service until 25 May 1981, when it made its last commercial flight from Athens to Gatwick. The aircraft was displayed at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford until 2006 when the forward fuselage came to the National Museum of Flight.

Boeing 707 air hostess © Paul Dodds

Mhairi Cairnduff models a reproduction paper BOAC airhostess dress from the 1960s to highlight the Jet Age exhibition at the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune. © Paul Dodds

To support the exhibition we have collected a wide variety of BOAC material, including menus, training manuals, crockery, passenger souvenirs, crew uniforms, etc, etc. We are still building our collections relating to commercial aviation and would be happy to consider any offers of items from BOAC or other airlines.

The Jet Age baggage trolley

You can see the baggage being loaded onto the The Jet Age Boeing 707 1960s style.

Why not celebrate our Boeing 707’s 50th birthday with a visit to The Jet Age at the National Museum of Flight?


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