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For more information, please visit:
MUSEUM WITHOUT WALLS
Museum Without Walls: Scotland’s Clearances Trail App
A museum in the far northeast of Scotland has used cutting edge digital technology to bring Scotland’s
past to life in the shape of a new iPhone App which will allow users to relive one of the most notorious
episodes in Scottish history – The Highland Clearances. Timespan, in Helmsdale, has developed the app
to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Clearances and the emigration of men, women and children
from the Strath of Kildonan, in 2013. It has been funded by Museums Galleries Scotland and the Heritage
Lottery Fund. The app is an exciting collaboration between Timespan and local school children, the
descendants of those cleared, and historians from the Centre for History at the University of the
Highlands and Islands. The aim of the app is to give virtual and actual visitors an interactive trip around
one of the Highland’s most beautiful and historic areas, the Strath of Kildonan. The epic voyage to Red
River in Manitoba made by some families cleared from the Strath is widely viewed by historians as one of
the most demanding journeys endured by European emigrants to North America.
Around 100 people left the Strath of Kildonan in 1813, to
be replaced by thousands of sheep, as they were more
profitable than people. A boatload of the displaced
residents sailed to Churchill on the coast of Hudson Bay in
northeastern Canada, where they were forced to build
their own shelters as the savage Canadian winter closed in.
The following spring, they began an epic 1000 mile
journey, many walking in handmade snowshoes, before
reaching the Red River Settlement around Lake Winnipeg
in Canada where Scottish aristocrat, the Earl of Selkirk, had
promised them land. One of these individuals was
Catherine Macpherson, who nursed the sick after typhoid broke out aboard ship and who survived a
severe flood that carried away her log-built home. Catherine’s story comes alive on the app. The area
around the Red River went on to become the city of Winnipeg in Manitoba.
The app contains a wealth of audio and visual information, as well as archival maps that can be accessed
anywhere around the world. The ‘Kildonan Trail’ takes you on a journey along the Strath to learn about
how the landscape has changed over the last 200 years and the ‘Clearances Story’ follows the
Macpherson family as they face eviction from their home. Find out what the Macphersons’ house looked
like in ‘The Longhouse’ and hear the voices of the descendants in ‘Oral Histories’. The app can also be
used as a valuable educational resource by teachers and pupils. If you visit Scotland you can also come to
Timespan and follow the trail in the beautiful Strath of Kildonan.
How can you participate? You can sign up to Timespan’s mailing list www.timespan.org.uk to receive an
email when the app is available in the app store. You can leave your thoughts and stories about
clearance or emigration on Timespan’s Facebook and Twitter. You can keep up to date with what’s
happening for the clearances bicentenary in 2013 at www.timespan.org.uk/bicentenary-programme-
2013/ or participate in a new Trans-Atlantic cultural exchange project via www.timespan.org.uk/sock-
sampler/. Or you can sign up to a ten week long Scottish history module at the University of the
Highlands and Islands: www.history.uhi.ac.uk.
For further information contact: Jacqueline Aitken (Timespan) firstname.lastname@example.org or
Alison MacWilliam (UHI Centre for History) Alison.MacWilliam@uhi.ac.uk
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