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15 Dec 2017

Christmas Revealed, part 1

tiny book
25 team members, 25 favourite objects from the project: this is the Project Reveal Advent, Part 1.

Since beginning our inventory of the Trust’s collections, the project has illuminated some wonderful discoveries. It’s hard to know what to choose or where to start, but one thing is for sure: the selection of objects we’ve eventually chosen is very revealing of the breadth of the collections in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.

So, let’s start in the north and work our way through Scotland.

The first three objects come from our northernmost team in the North West, currently working at Brodie Castle.

1) Oliver: This book is possibly a captivating read, and it certainly appears to look the part; however, one would have to be a Borrower to enjoy reading its tiny print!

Project reveal tiny book

2) Liz: A ceramic lizard sits on the edge of a small white ashtray. Clear blues and greens with the black marks of a wall lizard: happy holiday memories in a stormswept castle!

ceramic lizard

3) Robyn: This 19th-century apothecary box is an unusual survivor of bygone times – definitely something that wouldn’t be used today! It contains an array of bottles but, rather tantalisingly, its small drawer is stuck shut.

19th-century apothecary box

Heading south a little, our next three collection items come from the team in the North East.

4) Bill: Found in Fyvie Castle’s Preston Tower, this metal charger with decoration in relief depicting various hunting scenes was a welcome sight to weary eyes, having spent most of the day photographing beds and wardrobes.

metal charger

5) Ross: This model threshing machine from the Museum of Farming Life collection at Pitmedden Garden displays some fantastic craftsmanship. The fact that it appears to be steam powered makes it that little bit more interesting.

model threshing machine

6) Marianne: This Royal Crown Derby porcelain tea service from the late 19th century, kept in Pitmedden House, is the first set I updated and marked entirely on my own, so it’s special for me!

porcelain tea service

Indigo manages the teams in the north and she’s sniffed out a rather unusual object.

7) Indigo: I love this portrait of a nose, at Brodie Castle, believed to be a caricature of a well-loved feature of Brodie family physiognomy. I think a beautifully painted picture of your finely proportioned nose would be a fabulous Christmas present!

nose portrait

Our Project Reveal Team East have uncovered some unique objects while working at Culross, Newhailes and the Georgian House.

8) Alex: Not only is this doorstop from Newhailes shaped like a cat but its tail can also be unhooked for use as a draught excluder. It has the best expression I have ever seen on an object.


9) Michelle: ‘Striptease’ is a 1930s whist-style card game that I discovered in one of the drawers at Newhailes. The images and characters are a fascinating insight into the moral values and social culture of the period.

playing cards

10) Kevin: I was drawn to this inkwell as it seems to capture Newhailes’ scholarly past perfectly. The verdigris on the rim, the air cast into the glass: Newhailes is caught like a fly in amber.

11) Rachael: This japanned Pontypool tin plate warmer in the Georgian House is a rich red colour and is decorated with beautiful Japanese-inspired artwork. It is both a decorative and useful piece that would have helped go some way towards getting a hot meal.

japanned Pontypool tin plate warmer

12) Ben: The trolls adorning this bridal cupboard at Culross are probably symbolic of happy marriage. Trolls have long been significant in Scandinavian folklore, and are apparently partial to turning up at the odd wedding …

Bridal cupboard

Team Manager (or should that be Games Master?) Rohan has picked something musical, perfect for Christmas.

13) Rohan: This musical board game, designed by Anne Young and made in Edinburgh in 1803, was rediscovered in a cupboard at the Georgian House. It was intended to be an ‘Introduction to Music’ and came with instructions for playing several games.

musical board game

That’s two teams done, and we’re 14 objects into our 25 discoveries.

Come back for part 2, when we will reveal more of our favourite objects.

Project Reveal will result in an updated database with high quality images and unique object numbers for every item in the Trust material culture collections. Six regionally based project teams, supported by experienced project managers, will work across all of our properties with collections to complete the inventory in 18 months from July 2017 until December 2018.

Project Reveal

Find out more about this Trust-wide collections digitisation project.

Project Reveal >