Creative Dundee

Blog: In Search of Answers

CULTIVATE Creative Practitioner Vinishree Verma reflects on a deep dive back in time at a recent visit to the Scottish Crannog Centre.

In mid-April, our six CULTIVATE Creative Practitioners headed to the Scottish Crannog Centre in Aberfeldy with the Creative Dundee team and climate justice storyteller, Ink Asher Hemp. This community learning exchange opportunity was supported by Scottish Community Alliance.

Together we explored the ancient history, artefacts and ways of living from our (not so distant, only 85 generations) ancestors, then shared our experiences, ideas and stories, to better understand how we make connections and talk about climate justice with others.

Creative Practitioner Vinishree shares an overview of the day and her reflections on this impactful and inspiring experience:

A leap into pre-historic time

The world is changing everyday – we have already witnessed global connectivity, omnipresent technology, and space travel. Have you ever stopped to see the reverse side of this human timeline? What were the lives of our prehistoric ancestors like? Where did they live? What were their daily activities and lifestyles like? What connects us to this past?

In April, the CULTIVATE creative practitioners took a leap into the past, as old as the Iron Age, to find any clues to unravel the perplexity of climate change. Accompanied by the Creative Dundee team, art therapy students, and climate justice storyteller Ink Asher Hemp, we had an unforgettable experience at the Scottish Crannog Centre. Located on the banks of Loch Tay, this museum is dedicated to interpreting the lives of Crannog dwellers who lived on the Loch around 2,500 years ago.

An insightful day filled with exploration, learning, and reflection

Upon arrival, the group received a warm welcome from the staff at The Scottish Crannog Centre. We were taken on a guided tour of the museum, where we saw various artefacts left behind by the Crannog dwellers; tools, jewellery, musical instruments, woods used for making the Crannogs, along with a small piece of fabric—a rare find! This museum featured underwater discoveries along with some precious findings from other parts of the world. We also got the chance to touch pieces of ancient clay pottery and place our thumbs over thumb impressions of humans who lived innumerable moons apart. That was surreal!

The Iron Age interpreters of the museum sparked our imagination when they spoke of life on the loch. Through the artefacts on display, we all envisioned the hands-on ancient crafts and technologies used by the Crannog dwellers.

Next, came all the action…

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the Iron Age dwellers. It was a chance to step back in time and experience what life was like for the Crannog dwellers. The group explored the area around Loch Tay, imagining the daily routines of the dwellers and how they lived their lives around the water. It was an immersive experience that allowed the group to connect with history in a tangible way.

Recreating Ancient Crafts

The Crannog interpreters have painstakingly recreated simple handcrafted tools that the Iron Age dwellers would have used. We had the chance to get hands-on and recreate these ancient crafts. From working with clay and shaping it with our thumbs to using a wooden lathe to give form to wooden artefacts, we got a glimpse into the innovative techniques our ancestors developed based on their knowledge of the natural world. We also learnt how the Crannog dwellers would have created holes in the stones, an unimaginable manual task, expertly demonstrated by the team. A therapeutic experience for us that also offered insights into the resourcefulness of the Crannog dwellers.

Discovering Ancient Techniques

The Crannog interpreters shared their knowledge of how our ancestors must have started the process of weaving, a vital technique passed on over generations. They offered insights into the use of natural dyes by the ancient inhabitants. This exploration of ancient dyeing techniques brings to light how our ancestors looked towards nature for all their resources and creativity.

A taste of the past

We spoke about food and methods invented for baking and cooking, and even got the chance to taste some yummy bread made in the ancestral cooking methods. This hands-on experience allowed us to savour the flavours of the past and appreciate the culinary ingenuity of the Iron Age people.

Setting off the spark

The second half of the day was dedicated to ruminating individually and collectively about climate change, through a workshop beautifully facilitated by Ink Asher Hemp, a climate justice storyteller. A captivating workshop, which encouraged us to delve into discussions about change for the future, to imagine and collectively act for a sustainable tomorrow—a vision we all ardently shared in that space.

In this thought-provoking session, Ink had meticulously planned various group activities that evoked deep emotions and ignited ethical dialogues. Sitting around the fire, we immersed ourselves into Ink’s invigorating workshop. Here are some highlights:

Throughout the workshop, Ink skilfully guided us, allowing for a space where we could envision and collectively express ourselves for the sustainable future we yearn for.

Reflecting back, the day at The Scottish Crannog Centre was a unique and enriching experience. We all had the opportunity to learn about the history of the Crannog dwellers, immerse ourselves in the culture of the past, and contemplate on nuances of climate justice. It was a day to remember and an experience that will stay with us for a long time and influence our practice positively.

With thanks to Vinishree for sharing this reflection and also to CULTIVATE storyteller Lu Kemp for capturing beautiful moments from the day.

CULTIVATE is a Culture Collective leadership programme led by Creative Dundee. The programme works with local creative practitioners to place creativity at the heart of climate justice, developing action with communities across the Tay region. Discover more about CULTIVATE and meet our second cohort of Creative Practitioners.

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