Talk to uncover the history of Shire’s militia

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The history of local militia in Aberdeenshire is being delved into as part of a talk and exhibition taking place next week as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.

Aberdeenshire’s Library and Museums services have joined forces with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives to host the free talk at Peterhead Library on Thursday, July 20 at 2pm.

The talk, led by senior archivist Ruaraidh Wishart, will give an overview and background to a large collection of material related to the raising of military defence forces in Aberdeenshire during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Key parts of the talk will include details of forceful methods of recruitment (impressment) used in the eighteenth century at the beginning of the Seven Years’ War and the formation of the Loyal Volunteers of Macduff to defend the town against its own inhabitants as well as the French.

The library will also host pop-up displays of items from the Museums and Archives collections until the beginning of September, including photographs of local officers, Peterhead’s militia roll from 1808, Ellon’s enrolment log and weapons such as a volunteer officer’s sword.

Senior archivist with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, Ruaraidh Wishart, said: “The term militia refers to a military force raised from the civilian population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.

“The people of Aberdeenshire have periodically been called upon to serve in militia forces, sometimes on a voluntary basis and at other times on a compulsory one.

“This talk and display is your chance to find out more about their part in defending the coastline against Britain’s enemies over the past three centuries.”

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education & Children’s Services Committee, Cllr Gillian Owen, said: “This talk and pop-up exhibition is exactly the kind of event the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is celebrating.

“Aberdeenshire has an intriguing history and it will be fascinating to hear how global events such as the Seven Years’ War affected the people who lived here at the time.

“Ellon’s enrolment book will be on display and shows the trades of some of those recruited in 1803 including someone staying in Peterhead who was a comedian before enrolling.

“This will be an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in local heritage to come along and learn more about this area’s fascinating history and the people who lived here.”

Booking is essential for the talk – please contact Peterhead Library to reserve a place on (01779) 472554 or by emailing peterhead.library@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

The pop-up exhibition will be available during the library’s opening hours: 9am-7pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 9am-3pm on Wednesdays and 9am-5pm on Saturdays.