Mechanics’ Institute to host Tayroots event

The Mechanics' Institute
The Mechanics' Institute

Brechin is to launch the first event of Angus Heritage Week on September 13, when the Mechanics’ Institute will host Tayroots Family History Day.

The free event features talks and workshops focused entirely on family and local history, with some of the UK’s most highly-regarded genealogy specialist amongst the guest speakers at the event.

One of the highlights will be a talk by historian and broadcaster Dr Nick Barratt who, through his involvement with the BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, played a major part in the recent surge of interest in all things genealogical.

Nick, who has published several books on genealogy, will be hosting a workshop on researching and writing a family’s history.

“I can’t wait to come back - it’s always great to talk to an enthusiastic and engaged audience,” said Nick.

“Tracing your family tree isn’t about seeing how far back in time you can go - it’s about getting to know the people who came before you.

“At my workshop, I’ll be explaining how you can write up your family history - not just researching some of the stories that relate to your ancestors but how to bring them to life and possibly find a publisher for them as well.”

BBC broadcaster, author and genealogist Dr Bruce Durie, has uncovered many stories about his ancestors and will be sharing a few tales of the Duries and, in particular, their links with Angus during his talk.

“We’re a mixed bunch,” admitted Bruce, who, during his extensive research of the Durie family tree, has uncovered the 16th century minister of St Giles, who was exiled from Edinburgh to Montrose on account of his protestant fervour, a 17th century landowner who lost all his land, a card-playing bishop sacked for extravagance and six ancestors accused of witchcraft!

The carvings on many gravestones can provide a wealth of information about the people buried there.

During the Tayroots Family History Day, Fiona Scharlau, manager of the Angus Archives, will explain the meanings of the gravestone carvings, including the various trades inscriptions and why there are so many graves marked by a skull and crossbones in the local kirkyards, as well as where to find the best grave carvings in Angus.

Following her talk, Fiona will lead a tour around Brechin Cathedral’s ancient cemetery, where many fine examples of gravestone carvings can be seen.

Chris Van Der Kuyl, CEO of Brightsolid Ltd - the innovative online technology and publishing company behind, amongst other online genealogy sites, Genes Reunited and Find My Past - will be hosting a talk that many amateur and professional genealogists will be keen to attend.

Chris will share his thoughts on how to make the most of online ancestral history resources and also discuss Brightsolid’s vision for the future of genealogical research.

There will also be a talk about the history of weaving in Angus by Ron Scrimgeour, who worked in the Dundee jute mills while at school and university, as well as demonstrations of weaving and spinning.

In addition, throughout the day, expert family and local history groups and businesses will be on hand to offer help and advice.