RGU awarded funding to explore ‘The Disappeared Village’

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Culbin Dunes
RGU has been awarded funding to explore ‘The Disappeared Village’ of Culbin in Moray, as part of the Year of Scotland’s Stories 2022 campaign.

Academics, Dr Rachael Ironside and Professor Peter Reid, from the School of Creative and Cultural Business at Robert Gordon University, are working in collaboration with Elgin Library, to explore the fascinating story of the Moray village of Culbin and will create an exhibition called ‘The Disappeared Village’.

The story of Culbin is an old yet often untold tale of a village on the South shore of the Moray Firth which was destroyed and abandoned by what was known as the Great Sand Drift of 1694. While there are scientific and natural explanations for the disappearance of the village, stories of myth and legend about the people, land and events that unfolded have shrouded Culbin in mystery.

The exhibition – which will run from Saturday 19 February to Friday 16 March next year at Elgin Library - will seek to uncover these mysteries and retell the many stories of Culbin, the disappeared village, in new and creative ways including exploring environmental, maritime and coastal aspects in addition to history, heritage and legend.

'The Disappeared Village' draws on materials from Moray Local Heritage and Archives collections and from Robert Gordon University’s existing storytelling projects known as, ‘StoryTagging’, which offer grants to small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to bring stories to life. Some of the creative pieces produced from this project will be showcased at the exhibition.

Rachael Ironside, Senior Lecturer from The School of Creative and Cultural Business, said: “It is fantastic that Robert Gordon University has been awarded funding to work with Elgin Library  to celebrate the story of Culbin as part of  a physical and digital exhibition. We aim to engage audiences through a series of physical panels to detail the stories, archive materials and creative works. These will be complimented by QR codes to access further information as part of a complimentary digital platforms.

“The Disappeared Village’ exhibition responds to the theme of New Stories by exploring how the lesser told stories of Culbin can be reimagined through creative practice. Scotland’s People and Places will be celebrated by focusing on the community and heritage of the Moray Firth as well as the unique ecology of the Culbin Forest and Sands. 

Digital displays, including ipads and TV monitors/ projectors will also be available at the exhibition and will allow people to listen to the stories, find out more about the SME’s creative work and interact with digital resources related to Culbin.

A launch day on the 19 February will take place with a welcome talk and storytelling session by a celebrated local storyteller and a series of interactive activities for children and adults with the aim of bringing to life the story of the ‘disappeared village’ and to reflect on ‘New Culbin’ from a community and environmental perspective. It’s also hoped primary-school aged children will make their own felt wall hangings and write stories about the disappeared village of Culbin that will be displayed at the exhibition.

Creative materials designed by participants and the stories, materials and displays collated for ‘The Disappeared Village’ will be digitised at the end of the exhibition and made available to Elgin Library. The wall hanging will also be retained by Elgin Library for use as an educational and cultural resources in the future.

The ‘Disappeared Village of Culbin’ was inspired by a 1million Euro “StoryTagging” project that is a collaboration between various schools and departments in RGU to support the creative industries. Funded in part by the Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) Programme of the European Union, Story Tagging is an interdisciplinary project, combining the expertise from the School of Creative and Cultural Business, Computing Science and Digital Media together with international partners from Ireland, Sweden, Finland and Russia. 

This event has been supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund is being delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.

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