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29 Oct 2018

Rediscovering Scots

A man stands beside a small, gilt-framed portrait of Robert Burns, displayed on a black wall.
We’re demonstrating our commitment to the Scots language, by appointing a resident Scriever to keep the mither tongue alive.

Over 250 years since Burns was born in Alloway, the cottage where he lived has a resident poet for the first time since our National Bard lived there.

Rab Wilson is our Scriever-in-Residence, a post that sees him soak up the atmosphere of the cottage where Burns lived, as well as studying the documents and artefacts at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and leading workshops celebrating the Scots language.

Rab says: ‘In the last census, over 2 million people ettled that they spoke Scots every day – so that’s a lot of folk that speak Scots. But, maybe no everybody is as confident in writing Scots – it’s a skill that we’ve lost to an extent. It’s guid to try an bring these words into use y’know, re-educate folk in the language and havin them use this great language again, now, in this modern age.’

The kitchen of Burns Cottage, showing the fireplace with two large wooden chairs either side. A spinning wheel stands in front of a dresser with plates displayed. The flagstone floor is largely bare apart from a small rug in front of the hearth.
Burns Cottage has a resident poet once more
“I’m honoured to have the job and to be sitting here makin poems in Scots, ultimately keeping our traditional language alive”
Rab Wilson, Scriever in Residence

The Scriever-in-Residence project was developed by Chris Waddell, our Learning Manager at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. He sees the museum as a centre of excellence of Scots language. The work that Rab’s doing will go some way to make people feel more confident in using the mither tongue, whether it’s children discovering the language for the first time or adults rediscovering forbidden words.

Chris said: ‘Scots has often been discredited, mocked and considered as slang. It’s wonderful seeing Rab showing people how they can recall the words of their youth and put them back into use.’

Papers fly from an old writing desk towards a plough, in Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
Rab runs writing sessions for folk keen to brush up on their Scots.

The National Trust for Scotland works every day to protect Scotland’s national and natural treasures. From coastlines to castles, art to architecture, wildlife to wilderness, we protect all of this For the Love of Scotland.

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