Industry and innovation – it’s time to celebrate Midlothian’s history

Local youngsters Hayden Gibb from Bonnyrigg and Isaac (centre) and Flynn Dunlop from Newtongrange, at the launch of Midlothian Heritage Week, which was held at the National Mining Museum Scotland.

Local youngsters Hayden Gibb from Bonnyrigg and Isaac (centre) and Flynn Dunlop from Newtongrange, at the launch of Midlothian Heritage Week, which was held at the National Mining Museum Scotland.

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A week-long programme of events has been launched to celebrate Midlothian’s rich heritage, cultural traditions and historic properties.

Midlothian Heritage Week will run from Monday, May 1, to Sunday, May 7, and promises something to suit every age and interest, ranging from guided tours, workshops and walks, to exhibitions, open days and markets.

Organised by Midlothian Tourism Forum, in conjunction with Midlothian Council, the event is the first of its type in the county and marks Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.

Chairman of Midlothian Tourism Forum, Andrew McDonald, described the Heritage Week as a great opportunity to showcase Midlothian’s rich history and fascinating heritage.

“With over 35 events on offer throughout the week, there really is something for everyone,” said Andrew. “Working in partnership with local visitor attractions, churches, local groups, libraries and many others, we’ve been able to put together a diverse programme which celebrates Midlothian’s rich cultural offering and is set to attract visitors to the area from far and wide.

“We are sure they will be impressed, and occasionally surprised, by all that Midlothian has to offer.

​Manuela Calchini, VisitScotland regional director, added: ​“We are excited to hear about the launch of Midlothian Heritage Week. With over one third of visitors drawn to Scotland for its history and culture, the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 is a fantastic opportunity to relive our country’s fascinating past.

“From a tour of the pithead at the National Mining Museum of Scotland to medieval music at Rosslyn Chapel, this week-long celebration of Midlothian’s rich history and heritage is a perfect way to mark the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology in the region. I’m sure the events will prove a big hit with locals and visitors alike next month.”

​The full programme of events and booking details for Midlothian Heritage Week is available online at www.visitmidlothian.org.uk

Here are just a few of the highlights.

Why not take the opportunity to meet a medieval musician at Rosslyn Chapel and discover the fascinating music that would have been played in those times?

Or enter the mystery of Gilmerton Cove, exploring the mysterious underground chambers and passageways, hand carved from sandstone bedrock.

At the National Mining Museum Scotland, you can take a tour of the pithead and learn about the story of coal, while youngsters are invited to get hands on with history as part of a special workshop session.

Also worth a visit is the Penicuik Museum and Papermaking Heritage Centre – a mid-20th century jobbing printers and retail stationers that has been kept as a living museum.

Treasures from the Midlothian Council Archive will be on display at Dalkeith Library, while a visit to Dalkeith Museum gives you the chance to catch up with the Lost Railways of Dalkeith, a fascinating exhibition documenting the old railways through maps and photographs.

For the more energetic, there are guided walks to take you through Penicuik Old Town and the built history of Gorebridge, as well as a walk and talk in the old gunpowder mill in Roslin.

Meanwhile, the more musically inclined can head for Crichton Collegiate Church, the historical venue for Music Through the Ages, an unusual concert for voice and harp.

Visitors can also take a guided tour to hear the enchanting story of Newbattle Abbey from the 12th century to the present day or join the Midlothian ranger service at Vogrie House for a wander through the historic grounds to some of the places the public rarely ever see. A night time hike with the rangers at Vogrie also gives you a rare opportunity to discover the secret lives of badgers, bats, deer and owls.

During the week, you can also join the discussion on The Battle of Roslin – was it fact or fiction? Did 8000 Scottish soldiers defeat 30,000 Englishmen at Roslin in 1303? Or is this just a fanciful story? See how maps and stories could help us reach the truth.

Although very little of 16th century Newbyres Castle remains, you can learn more about the castle and its remains at a special workshop using the latest 3D technology, while there will also be the opportunity to visit the 18th century Cousland Smiddy and Heritage Hub to learn more about this ancient village.

Arniston House is a magnificent William Adam, Palladian style mansion house set in acres of beautiful parkland. Marvel at the intricate stucco work and beautiful portraits by contemporary Scottish artists such as Sir Henry Raeburn and Alexander Nasmyth.

Murder at the Neuk is a film made in partnership with Dalkeith Museum, Woodburn Primary School and Midlothian Council. With a cast of over 50, numerous costumes, props and items from the museum, the film brings to life one of the darker moments in Dalkeith’s more recent history. A tragic tale of money made and lost, misery and murder, the film gets a special screening for Heritage Week.

You can also take an evening walk into Dalkeith’s dark and deadly past, with its tales of witchcraft, hangings, grave robbing and murder, or visit the re-enactment of the Rev John Aird’s 17th century Communion services in the Old Newbattle Graveyard, which promises to bring history alive.

There’s the chance too, to follow the journey of the Monks of Newbattle and Christianity from 1140 AD to the present day, or take part in an extraordinary open day at the Soutra Aisle, with an on-site review of a 30-year stint researching medieval medical practice.

A workshop will also be held during Heritage Week to record the history and memories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Midlothian. The workshop will explore what archives are, why they are meaningful and how they can be used to reinforce a sense of value and identity. Come along to meet other people, take part in creative activities and interesting discussions.

For food and refreshments or to pick up the perfect gift, you can also visit Penicuik’s hugely successful outdoor market. Thirty stalls offer the very finest artisan goods – meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, cheese, jewellery and gifts, hot food and drink, soaps, sauces and other products.

○Visit www.visitmidlothian.org.uk for full details.