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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Going Wild in the Archives #2

Last week we put the finishing touches to our new exhibition ‘Going Wild in the Archives.’   With the help of students from the university’s School of Biological and Environmental Science (thanks Lorna and Stuart!) we filled a corridor in the Cottrell Building with butterflies, put bats in the main stairwell of the library and carefully transported the delicate skeleton of a cod from the museum store to a display case in the Pathfoot Building.

The exhibition has allowed us to bring objects out of the museum store which have not been displayed for many years and highlight archives and Victorian illustrated book in our collections which provide valuable information for the study of the natural world. Located in a number of locations across the campus our wildlife trail includes the following displays:

  • British mammals: Archives & Special Collections, University Library
  • British birds, bats, snakes and amphibians: Library main stairwell
  • British sea-life: Pathfoot Building
  • British Butterflies: W Corridor, Cottrell Building
  • School of Biological & Environmental Science Museum collection: Cottrell Building

It’s worth noting however that the exhibition is not limited to the displays across campus. The generous support of the Stirling Fund allowed us to bring in a professional photographer to document many of the Victorian illustrated books in our special collections which contain beautiful colour illustrations of the natural world. Much of this material can now be viewed on our flickr pages including Himalayan plants, Birds of Paradise and British Sea-anemones.

The exhibition will be on display across campus until June 2012. Over the next few months this blog will highlight many of the items included in the exhibition providing further information on the value of our collections for researching the natural world and highlighting the wildlife featured in our displays. 

Exhibition poster

Exhibition poster

Going Wild in the Archives #1

This morning we welcomed a rather unusual visitor to our reading room. Part of our new exhibition ‘Going Wild in the Archives’, it’s a full skeleton of a tiger, who will keep an eye on our readers for the next three months. Standing almost a metre tall and measuring 170 cm in length the tiger has been hidden away in a storeroom for many years but this exhibition has given us the opportunity to place this magnificent creature on display again.

Produced in collaboration with staff and students in the university’s School of Biological and Environmental Science the exhibition will showcase material from the university’s natural history collections including manuscripts and Victorian illustrated books from our Archives and Special Collections and objects from the university’s natural history museum. The exhibition will take place across a number of locations around the university and will run until June.

Keep checking the blog for regular updates as we put the finishing touches to the displays and create an archival wildlife trail across campus!


Into battle with Monty Python!

Last week the archives welcomed a visit from the university’s retired staff association. As part of their ongoing oral history project they invited their members to a ‘memory day’ in the reading room. Over 30 former staff of the university turned up for what proved to be a very enjoyable afternoon. The event gave us the opportunity to showcase some of our holdings relating to the history of the university. One item which sparked much interest was a copy of Campus, the university newspaper, from May 1974. The front page story headlined “Into battle with Monty Python!” reported that the film makers were looking “for 175 students to take part as extras in a battle scene in the new Monty Python and the Holy Grail film.”

The Pythons arrived in Stirling in April 1974. Location shooting took place at Killin and on Sherrifmuir but the bulk of the film was shot at Doune Castle. The castle was used as the location for a number of key scenes in the film including the memorable ‘Knights of the Round table’ song and dance routine. The invitation to students to appear in the film as extras offered a number of inducements (to make up for the early starting time of 8am on a Saturday morning) including £2 pay, free transport, food and refreshments, and “an added attraction… of an abundance of crazy antics.”

Student extras on location with Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Student extras on location during the filming of Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Doune Castle is now a popular destination for movie buffs and Python fans. Indeed it has been estimated that up to a third of its 25,000 visitors a year are there because of the film. It now hosts a very popular Monty Python day every September (coconut shells optional…).