The Tinkers’ Heart (7)

21 05 2015

And the story continues!

There’s been an awful lot of work put in since the last time I posted about the Heart. We’ve developed into a committee – Heart of the Travellers (HOTT). Our original intention was to work on presenting a case for scheduling the Heart. We’re now a group with aims that also include telling the story of Scotland’s Travellers and their place in the story of Scotland. HOTT is a registered charity and its aims are outlined in this leaflet: HOTT Leaflet

Gavin McGregor designed the Flag of the Travellers – it has a shepherd’s staff and a jockey (the metal hook that was used to hang a pot or a kettle on over an open fire) and the two symbols are very evocative of the lives of Traveller ancestors. We also have a symbolic shield designed by Gavin and his son, Nathan. The stories within the shield are many and all are important aspects of Traveller history. Jess and Dave Smith continue to answer questions and talk to people as the process of investigating the case for scheduling happens. Jess judged a poetry competition at theHeart last Sunday – the entries about the Heart came from as far away as Canada! We’ve also set up a facebook page-

It has been an interesting, busy few months.

We had a meeting yesterday with Historic Scotland; the landowner, Kate Howe; John MacDonald, the Chair of Cairndow’s local heritage group Here We Are and George Findlater and Alasdair McKenzie, from Historic Scotland. The object of this meeting was to update us all on the scheduling process and to see where we could all agree on a vision for the Heart.

It was a very interesting meeting. The scheduling process is now about to enter a month-long analysis of all the comments from the Petition, the Consultation and other sources, including archive records, so a definite answer on scheduling probably won’t happen until the end of June at least. The second focus of the meeting was to see where and how we could share a vision for the Heart and work with Here We Are  to protect and preserve the site.  This heritage group have done absolutely fantastic work on the local history of the area and the visitors’ centre is beautifully set out. I don’t see that it would be impossible to include the stories of the Pearl Fishers and the other itinerant peoples who walked the roads of Argyll in this centre. The relationships between the Travellers and the people in the area were good; telling our share of the story can only add to the whole story of the area. At least, that’s what I think.

The discussion wasn’t all plain-sailing. No discussion like this could ever hope to be. But it was much, much, much more positive than negative. We got rid of any negativity in the initial stages and moved the discussion on to how we could work together. It is early days but I found the ideas and the willingness to explore the joint importance of the Heart to both Travellers and the local settled population very encouraging.

I found a moment of great joy in this meeting: Dave Smith, John MacDonald and Gavin McGregor entered that male zone: you know the one – the Shed zone – where they were enthusiastically discussing various ideas for protecting the Heart and making slight, but not obtrusive, changes to the path, gate and fencing. There is just something great about listening to people who know their stuff talking about it so enthusiastically.

So – that’s this update. We need to be patient a little longer whilst Historic Scotland go through the processes that they need to.

Fingers crossed for a positive answer in June!

Historic ScotlandTheTinkers’ Heart

Here We Are