‘Memory hold-the-door’ – looking after our past

The Isle of Arran Heritage Museum, Brodick

‘Memory Hold-the-Door’ is the title of John Buchan’s autobiography. Buchan was an amazing man: born in Perth in 1875 he became a lawyer, worked in South Africa after the Boer War, wrote best-selling thrillers, was an eminent historian, an MP and finally Governor General of Canada. Thanks to his autobiography we know a great deal about him and what was important to him. But he would have been one of the first to stress that of no less importance are the lives of ordinary people. How though, if not the subject of biographies, do we know how others lived? We are the people we are thanks to our memories – memories of ourselves, of the places we live, of the families we belong to. Our lives are also shaped by the landscape in which we grow up. Landscape in its full sense – historical, geographical, cultural, religious, climatic and linguistic. If, as individuals, we lose our memories we lose our identities.

The Isle of Arran Heritage Museum, Brodick

The same is true for communities and peoples. That’s why I have such respect for local museums and one of the best that I know is the Isle of Arran Heritage Museum. Take a step back into the distant – and not-so-distant past – and see why this island and its people are the way they are today. Museums of this quality are lifelines to the past and to our understanding of others and of ourselves. And this is certainly one to treasure!

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