Noreen Brown

21st September 2007 at 01:00
Noreen Brown

Retired teacher and Rural Scotland volunteer, Midlothian

I was brought up on Redside Farm on the Roseberry Estate, near the village of Carrington. Redside has been incorporated into a larger farm, so the buildings are no longer working and are falling into disrepair. I want to record what there is there now, before it disintegrates and disappears.

I contacted RCAHMS after reading about the project in a newspaper. I've just finished two days training, involving archive and map research at RCAHMS, the National Archives (Register House, Edinburgh) and the National Library of Scotland's Map Library. I'm more confident about what I'm doing and that it is possible. It's personally-driven research and I'm enthusiastic about getting going, now that I know how to access it.

The land at Redside has been farmed for centuries. Looking at aerial photographs, I've identified hillocks I used to run on when I was a girl. What they might be intrigues me. Could they be evidence of older settlements or workings? I've found that the Edinburgh-Peebles coach road ran through part of the land and that there's a monumental stone there, recording the death of two gamekeepers who were shot by poachers. I'll have to research it more.

I remember we had six working horses in my early years. With the coming of tractors, the stables became a hen-house and then a grain store, so I'm looking at changes in the use of buildings too. Part of my motivation is to complete my father's memoirs, which are a record of the family and the farm until I was born. My father died before he could write more.

I never wanted to farm. I always wanted to be a teacher. I taught primary school, TEFL as it was then, and IT for pupils with special needs. But farming is still in my blood. Wherever I go on holiday even to China and Singapore I can't help making mental notes of types of stock, crops and buildings. So I want to complete the story of the family and the farm and record all that I can remember and add it to the record of Scotland's rural past.

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