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TITLE
A Traveller's Tale - Background & Routes
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_TRAVELLER_INTERVIEW_01
PLACENAME
N/A
DATE OF IMAGE
2003
PERIOD
2000s
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
11715
KEYWORDS
travelling folk
travellers
lifestyles
A Traveller's Tale - Background & Routes

In 2003 Inverness Museum & Art Gallery held an exhibition on travelling people. To help with the research for the exhibition, Willie, a traveller, took part in an interesting and very informative oral history interview. Here, he talks about his travelling background and travel routes his family took. (The image shows a typical traveller's camp from around 1920-1940)

Can you trace your family back among travellers?

Oh aye, Ah can trace my family back - away back! Ma father, he's from the Aberdeen side, an ma mother, she's from Dumbarton, Loch Lomond an that.

What sort of circuit did you do?

Well, Ah travelled a lot, but Ah was in a house for a good while, in Elgin. Before that we used tae pearl fish. We're all pearl fishers. It was Granton an all that places - Brechin, Angus, Fife. But we wernae a lot in Fife; it was mostly this part o the country, ye know? We did settle intae a house because as Ah say, we were in the bow tent; we had tae go tae school, ye see - an the social work an that. The school got in touch wae them - family livin in the nineteen seventies, livin in a bow tent! An they thought the bow tent was gone by that time! So we got a big house - it was all over the paper! 1970 - Ah was only eight year old or somethin. Used tae get some stick, at the school; schoolboys used tae stop right in front o the bow tent. We all used tae come oot wae heids like this [arms and hands indicating bushy hair]. Used tae get some stick off the school, but eh!

Is there a set plan for the route you travel?

Yeah, there is. Years ago ye didn't do that - ye jist hooked on an went. Always got what we called the old campin places. But now they're all gone - either the Scottish Heritage has got it, or the [Scottish] Wildlife has got it - places like that. Ye got a routine; ye go this place, this place, but they've built a lot o caravan sites now. So, if there's a caravan site in the area then ye're supposed tae be on the site. Council ground. There's no common land now!

See this, pushin barrows? [looks at photograph of travelling family pushing barrow] We did a lot o this around this way here. If it's four square they get more room on it, eh? When Ah was wee we were a poorer class o traveller, ye know, from camp tae camp. Ah dunno how many miles ye wid do in a day. Rural Aberdeenshire aw this, we used tae walk. If we come to a little spot, where there was a river, camp there for the night. Ma mother, she'd be away on the front beggin the houses, ye know, the farms an that. It wisna money she wis getting then, it was food, tae keep us alive, more or less. Ye get a bit embarrassed sayin about it now but that's the way it was then. We travelled a lot like that, an sometimes we wouldn't put the bow tent up, mebbe the summer nights, we would just spread it an lie on top o it 'under the stars' as they say. [Laughs). I think it was a healthy way o livin, like. I canna mind or think o one o us bein in a hospital or bein near a doctor!

Are your family still travelling?

No, they're all in houses - cept me! A don't want tae settle.

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A Traveller's Tale - Background & Routes

2000s

travelling folk; travellers; lifestyles;

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

A Traveller's Tale

In 2003 Inverness Museum & Art Gallery held an exhibition on travelling people. To help with the research for the exhibition, Willie, a traveller, took part in an interesting and very informative oral history interview. Here, he talks about his travelling background and travel routes his family took. (The image shows a typical traveller's camp from around 1920-1940)<br /> <br /> Can you trace your family back among travellers?<br /> <br /> Oh aye, Ah can trace my family back - away back! Ma father, he's from the Aberdeen side, an ma mother, she's from Dumbarton, Loch Lomond an that.<br /> <br /> What sort of circuit did you do?<br /> <br /> Well, Ah travelled a lot, but Ah was in a house for a good while, in Elgin. Before that we used tae pearl fish. We're all pearl fishers. It was Granton an all that places - Brechin, Angus, Fife. But we wernae a lot in Fife; it was mostly this part o the country, ye know? We did settle intae a house because as Ah say, we were in the bow tent; we had tae go tae school, ye see - an the social work an that. The school got in touch wae them - family livin in the nineteen seventies, livin in a bow tent! An they thought the bow tent was gone by that time! So we got a big house - it was all over the paper! 1970 - Ah was only eight year old or somethin. Used tae get some stick, at the school; schoolboys used tae stop right in front o the bow tent. We all used tae come oot wae heids like this [arms and hands indicating bushy hair]. Used tae get some stick off the school, but eh!<br /> <br /> Is there a set plan for the route you travel?<br /> <br /> Yeah, there is. Years ago ye didn't do that - ye jist hooked on an went. Always got what we called the old campin places. But now they're all gone - either the Scottish Heritage has got it, or the [Scottish] Wildlife has got it - places like that. Ye got a routine; ye go this place, this place, but they've built a lot o caravan sites now. So, if there's a caravan site in the area then ye're supposed tae be on the site. Council ground. There's no common land now!<br /> <br /> See this, pushin barrows? [looks at photograph of travelling family pushing barrow] We did a lot o this around this way here. If it's four square they get more room on it, eh? When Ah was wee we were a poorer class o traveller, ye know, from camp tae camp. Ah dunno how many miles ye wid do in a day. Rural Aberdeenshire aw this, we used tae walk. If we come to a little spot, where there was a river, camp there for the night. Ma mother, she'd be away on the front beggin the houses, ye know, the farms an that. It wisna money she wis getting then, it was food, tae keep us alive, more or less. Ye get a bit embarrassed sayin about it now but that's the way it was then. We travelled a lot like that, an sometimes we wouldn't put the bow tent up, mebbe the summer nights, we would just spread it an lie on top o it 'under the stars' as they say. [Laughs). I think it was a healthy way o livin, like. I canna mind or think o one o us bein in a hospital or bein near a doctor!<br /> <br /> Are your family still travelling?<br /> <br /> No, they're all in houses - cept me! A don't want tae settle.