Spooky goings-on in Argyll and Bute - past and present

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Published Date: 

30 Oct 2012 - 16:46

THE heavy wooden door creaked open, and she descended the stairs slowly – taking care not to bump into the spiders lurking in the silvery webs which decorated the stairway.

She approached the pile of books with trepidation, lifting the heavy cover of the topmost tome with a hint of a tremble in her fingers.  What would she find within…?

Fear not – there’s no scary horror lurking amidst the vellum pages. But Argyll and Bute Council’s fascinating archive has yielded one spooky story which has been included in the Scottish Council on Archive’s special Hallowe’en collection.

Asked for a suitable contribution to the online resource, Argyll and Bute Council’s archivist searched through the wealth of fascinating material stored by the local authority and came up with the tale of Dawson and the skull.

The story features a shinty player by the name of Dawson who encounters a little more than a shinty ball in the course of a game on the Kilberry field.

It is believed that the tale of Dawson and the skull was recorded by Marion Campbell of Kilberry, as part of the Campbell of Kilberry Papers which date from 1633 to the 1950s. Most of the records in the collection are typical of estate papers – rental logs, diaries and correspondence – but there are a few anecdotes and quirky stories such as this one.

To read all about the ghostly goings-on at the Kilberry shinty field (and much more) visit  www.scottisharchives.org.uk/discover/spotlight/apparition - we don’t want to give away all the scary secrets here.

And don’t be put off by our spookily fictitious introduction – Argyll and Bute Council’s archives are a veritable treasure trove of historical documents and are well worth a visit.  The archive holds and preserves the official records of Argyll and Bute Council and associated organisations whose functions the council now fulfils. There are a number of private records also and the collection tells the story of how Argyll and Bute has developed over the centuries, with fascinating stories of people and places.

The oldest record in the archive is the Rothesay Charter, which dates from 1400.

There is a dedicated family history section for those carrying out genealogical studies; a section on house history if you’d like to know who lived in your house in years gone by; and a host of other delights to discover.  Find out more at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/community-life-and-leisure/archives

It is open to the public between 10am and 1pm/2pm and 4.30pm Monday to Friday, and it is best to call and book in advance.  Archive staff are happy to assist with your historical queries and can help you get started off on your quest. Be warned – once you start looking, you might find yourself lost in the past for a few hours. And there aren’t really any spiders – just lots of amazing glimpses into Argyll and Bute’s past.