Mapping Memorials to Women

The Mapping Memorials to Women Scotland project, launching on 10 th March 2012, has received a message of support from First Minister Alex Salmond.

The project, developed by Glasgow Women’s Library and Women’s History Scotland, aims to record memorials to women across Scotland at womenofscotland.org.uk .

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

“Throughout the centuries, Scots have paid tribute to the remarkable achievements of women in both small and grand ways. From plaques and cairns to statues and buildings, all commemorate the contribution that women have made to Scottish life, from the most humble to the most generous. It is a rich and fascinating story. This project is a very fitting one to be launched at the time of International Women’s Day and I would urge all those interested in the achievements of Scottish women both at home and abroad to help with some detective work and build the Women of Scotland website into a very useful database and resource we are all proud of.”

The site already contains over 75 records but the aim is to build on this base to create a comprehensive national database.

From Shetland to the Borders, the Western Isles to Fife, women have made a huge contribution to national life in all fields and many are commemorated in various ways in towns and cities and in small communities. A number are featured in The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women (Edinburgh University Press, 2005).

Examples found so far range from plaques and cairns to statues, streets, named buildings and stained glass windows. All commemorate the contribution that women have made to Scottish life. It is a rich and fascinating story.

In Dunrossness on the Shetland Mainland, a stone records the misadventures of 60-year-old Betty Mouat in 1886: ‘[She] was the sole passenger on the smack “Columbine” from Grutness, to Lerwick. By accident the smack lost its crew. Betty, alone on board, endured eight days and nights of drifting in stormy seas until grounding on the Island of Lepsøy near Ålesund in Norway, where local people rescued and cared for her.’ She became something of a cause célèbre in Victorian society and, despite her ordeal, lived to be 93.

Less fortunate was the young Glasgow School of Art student, Catherine Watson, who drowned in the East Bay, North Berwick, on 27th July 1889 while rescuing a drowning child. Her sacrifice is commemorated by a stone cross with a bronze portrait panel designed by her fellow students, erected on Anchor Green, North Berwick in 1889.

Over the past year Girlguiding Scotland has helped to seek out memorials to add to the site, but now more help is needed. We are calling on people across Scotland to visit the Women of Scotland website and record details of the memorials they find.

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