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Living History

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

Starting this weeks session as usual at the Balgay bandstand, someone has left a cheerful message for us.

We obey instructions and set off on our meditative walk through the gorge between the two hills of Balgay, one which is the site of the observatory and the other the site of the Old Balgay cemetary.

On the way, a challenge. Think of two words to describe Balgay. "Faded grandeur", "arborial cathedral", "genteel decay", "historical slopes", "dappled shades."

We reach the site of the umarked 'paupers' graves, hidden in a wooded and peaceful section, where over time families have located some of their loved ones and constructed their own belated and deeply poignant memorials.

We construct our own improptu Haikus

I stand by the graves

And hear history move on

With hardly a word

We write about the atmosphere of the place. We think of our own loved ones who we knew imperfectly, or never knew at all. Everyone seems to get a lot out of the session.

Only a couple of days later and we are back at the bandstand again, this time for our planned History Walk around the greater Balgay site, led by Matthew Jarron of University of Dundee Museums/Abertay Historical Society and Erin Farley of Dundee Leisure and Culture.This event has been supported as part of the funding for the project from Creative Scotland.

We hear fascinating stories of such notable Dundee figures as the poet George Gilfillan and the social reformer Mary Lily Walker, and although we have walked up and down and round and around Balgay over the past few weeks this highly engaging and interesting talk brings us even closer to the history which is on our doorstep. We will see next week what creative inspiration it might have lent us.

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