The Answers in the archive…

The recent publicity surrounding the rediscovery of a time capsule buried in the University’s Gannochy Sports Pavilion during its construction in 1969 highlights the value of our archives in preserving the institutional memory of the university. The current redevelopment of the university’s sports facilities brought the presence of this item to light, the university being alerted to the presence of the time capsule in the building by Campbell Chesterman, former University Facilities Manager.

The exact location of the capsule was determined by checking the administrative records for the university for 1969 held in the University Archives. A file relating to the official duties of Lord Robbins, the first Chancellor of the University of Stirling, was found to contain a document entitled ‘University of Stirling – Gannochy Trust Pavilion Ceremony’ (ref. UA/A/4/1/1).

The document describes in detail the arrangements for the event which included the laying of the foundation stone for the building, the filling of the time capsule with a selection of items chosen to represent the University of Stirling in 1969 and the securing of the capsule within the walls of the building. A full list of the contents of the time capsule (or ‘casket’ as it was referred to in the document) is also included. With the date of the event established as 18 June 1969 a search through our press cutting files unearthed an article from the Stirling Observer which provided further details and also included a photograph of the ceremony taking place (ref. UA/H/1/3).

Armed with the information gleaned from the archival records the time capsule was located and removed from the building site. The University Archives was delighted to host the event where the capsule was re-opened, guests including Mr Chesterman, who had alerted the university to its presence in the Gannochy building.

Karl Magee (Archivist, University of Stirling) examines bottle of Bell’s whisky as (L-R) Duncan Scott (University of Stirling swimmer); Cathy Gallagher (Director of Sport, University of Stirling), Professor Malcolm MacLeod (Senior Deputy Principal, University of Stirling); and Campbell Chesterman (retired Facilities Manager, University of Stirling) look on. (Photo. Greg Christison)

The capsule captured a snapshot of the University in the summer of 1969 its remarkably well preserved contents including sporting equipment, exam papers, university publications, local and national newspapers, stamps and currency (both decimal and pre-decimal denominations). Also included was a bottle of Bells Old Scotch Whisky, in recognition of the support of the Gannochy Trust for the new university (the Trust being founded in 1937 as a charitable institution by the Bells Whisky family).  The time capsule has been transferred to the University Archives, its contents adding to the story of life on campus held on the shelves in our store (ref. UA/TC).

Update (October 2021): Inspired by the original 1969 time capsule the University is creating a new time capsule for 2021 to celebrate the opening of the new Campus Central building. Students and staff of the University are invited to submit suggestions of items that should be included via an online form.

A selection of Scottish banknotes were among the items included in the time capsule in 1969. (Photo. Greg Christison)

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