Group Leader David Bowman  01292 474067
Free Kirk Hall
Day & Time
Wednesday  10.00 am - 12.00 noon    Recommences 10 January 2018

10th January - Ian McAnulla - Windows into history

This talk will discuss the historical background to some political cartoons For example, why is a gigantic French King eating money and what is the connection between an angel fish and the death of 30 million Chinese?

24th January - Denis Rattenbury – Robert Burns and the Economy

7th February - Ian McAnulla - Forgotten History

This talk is about some less well known episodes from Scottish history. For example, the Scottish drug baron who probably caused the Opium War and the man who thought he could transport you from Glasgow to Edinburgh in 20 minutes - in 1928!

21st February - Pat Weston – Partition in Ireland

7th March - Bill Rogers – Culzean Castle

21st March - Mick Roebuck – Balfour Declaration – Lead up

4th April - Mick Roebuck – Balfour Declaration - Consequences

18th April - Tom McCrorie – Robert Burns

Pat Kane has agreed to do an input on the Douglas’s.

Barbara Graham has agreed to do an input on Marie Curie and her family.


At the start off 2014 the History Group had an enjoyable 6 months with sessions on the Russian Revolution and the First World War.  There were guest lectures on Women and War and Glasgow Transport Museum.  In June 2014 we had two visits to Covenanters sites and to the Transport Museum.  When we returned in September 2014, after the summer break, we had a further guest lecture on Women and War and on Poor Houses in Ayrshire before finishing with the Russian Revolution, looking at the Middle East since 1916 and the Scottish Diaspora.  All OiR members are welcome.

Programme from August to December 2017   Posted 14.08.17

23rd August            Tom Barclay - Robert the Bruce and Ayrshire Connections

6th September        Mick Roebuck - The History of Scottish Education (We’re all Jock Tamson’s bairns - or are we?)

20th September David Bartholomew – Glenkens Covenanters

4th October Ted Cowan - War Poems of Robert Service

18th October TBC

1st November Ian McAnulla 

‘Napoleon wasn’t short and St Patrick wasn’t Irish’. The title is evidence that the chronicles of history are littered with myths, falsehoods, exaggeration and confusion. The talk will look at some more examples of when “history” got it wrong. For example. Was the Wild West really that wild and did Lady Godiva actually take that famous horse ride? 

15th November       Ian McAnulla - 

‘It’s no laughing matter again – more political cartoons’. Political cartoonists often depict strange situations as in the following examples. A group of animals who are all giving a Nazi salute. Napoleon and Prime Minister Pitt sharing a very large plum pudding. Presidents Khrushchev and Kennedy having an arm wrestling competition. The talk will explain the historical context of these examples and some others. 

29th November       Barbara Graham - Gladys Aylward

13th December       Bill Roger - The story of the fan/ Traditions of Christmas

27th December       No Meeting 


The Pictish Stones in Angus History has few records which tell us of the Picts - the people who inhabited Scotland North and East of the Central Belt in the Dark Ages - the early centuries AD up to the 9th Century AD.  The legacy we have is of incised and carved sandstone  bearing animals, real and imaginary, winged creatures, snakes and the like, hunting scenes with spear carrying mounted warriors and, as Christianity gradually became absorbed into their way of life, many of the stones also bear an upright Christian cross.  The Pictish Stones, visited by nineteen members of OiR's History Group, are all located in the East of Scotland, mainly in Angus.  

We left Ayr early, 8am on Wednesday, 10th May, in a Bennett's coach driven, once again, by our favourite driver, Andy.  Our first stop was to a most interesting museum in Meigle which contains 27 carved Pictish stones. This Historic Scotland property is small, but well lit and with excellent information.  On afterwards to the small village of Aberlemno, a lovely name, where there are three famous stones out of doors, at the side of the road, but the road was so narrow that Andy decided it foolish to try to park a large coach in that area.  Then we did park in the hamlet of Eassie where the ruined church contains a cross-slab stone from mid 8th Century and can be viewed through a see-through enclosure.  Brechin was our next stop, to visit the tall 11th century round tower, only one of two still existing in Scotland. The tower is now part of Brechin Cathedral which we also visited. 

Then, after a very full day and a welcome meal in the Premier Inn East in Broughty Ferry, we  did not linger long, but headed to our comfortable rooms to sleep well in very comfortable Hypnos beds.  After breakfast we drove through Arbroath to a tiny village, St Vigeans  where there is another sculptured stones museum  which again contained carved stones, many with carved religious figures indicating that the mound on which a large impressive church now stands was once the site of a monastery.   St Vigeans is tiny, once a village apart, but now almost absorbed into Arbroath.  

On again, to our last stop - Forfar.  The museum there, the Meffan Museum, contains many mediaeval relics among them a large Pictish stone - the Dunnichen Stone.   

Following lunch in Forfar we hit the road again, not stopping until we arrived back in Prestwick and Ayr. A most interesting two days had gone by in a flash and we are very fortunate in OiR having such willing members as Jean Lockley and Mick Roebuck who planned and reccied this trip.  (Unfortunately Mick did not join us as he had to call off on the morning of our departure due to a stomach bug).   

Many thanks to both.  Amy Kinnaird Thanks to Amy for her report and photographs.


Mick Roebuck reports that twenty-seven members of the History Group visited Stirling Castle on 19th April.  They had a great tour guide who gave an outstanding presentation on its history.  In the King and Queens bedchamber there were also two guides dressed in traditional costume  who explained the beautiful heads in the ceiling as well as the seven tapestries. They explained that it took fourteen people to create of the Hunt of the Unicorn.  Some of the OiR Ayr History Group is shown below.  

Amy Kinnaird:  The weather for our History Group tour to Stirling Castle was dull and a bit drizzly for most of the day, although the sun did break through in short bursts in the afternoon. We had a full guided tour with an Historic Scotland guide, Stewart, who was excellent. The tour was scheduled to last one hour, but such was the interest we were with him for at least an hour and a half.  Stewart gave us lots of information relating to historical dates, and we tried to absorb every detail. This tour took in the outer areas of Stirling Castle for example, the Guardroom Square, the Outer and Inner Closes and the outer walls with the Battery cannons.  In our own time, we also toured the Great Hall, the Stirling Heads Gallery, the Chapel Royal, the Tapestry Exhibition and the Royal Palace. 

Stirling Castle is truly the jewel in Scotland's Crown;  so much of the events in our country's history is contained within its walls.  Its location, on the volcanic outcrop high above the Forth Valley, has clearly made it the Gateway to the Highlands for more than a thousand years. 

The inner man/woman was also catered for as we enjoyed a welcome coffee in the Unicorn Cafe on arrival, plus a light lunch before we boarded the coach at 3pm to return to Ayr.  As on previous occasions we had a coach from Bennett's of Kilwinning  with our excellent, very helpful driver, Andy, who has been with us on other trips.  Thanks to Mick for organising our most enjoyable outing - photos attached

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