Scottish Political Archive Treasure

For the month of April, the Scottish Political Archive is, along with our colleagues in the University Archives, taking part in ARA Scotland’s #Archive30 Twitter campaign which will see us tweeting about a daily theme for the whole month – or giving it our best, anyway!

The 2nd April gives us an opportunity to look at some of our treasures with the theme #FavouriteItem and what a good opportunity to cast our eyes over the weird and wonderful things our collections contain!

@ARAScot’s #Archive30 themes

After some deliberation, we’ve gone for one of the more random items in our care which we love for its utter uniqueness and the vastness of what it represents. We’ve chosen a bottle of ashes.

These ashes were taken from a brazier which was lit by Democracy for Scotland in April 1992. Democracy for Scotland was a non party political organisation that kept a constant vigil on Regent Road in Edinburgh – which they considered to be the natural home of a Scottish Parliament, should one come into being – from the time of the victory of the Conservative Party in the 1992 General Election onwards.

This vigil was kept for over five years, with the brazier burning that whole time, until the Yes vote in the devolution referendum of 11th September 1997. The brazier was seen as a flame for democracy and an important part of the vigil. The ashes in this bottle are from the brazier’s 1,000th day of burning on 4th January 1995.

A whole lot of history in that little bottle!

This little bottle is something physical and marvellously representative of our wonderful collection of photographs that document the Vigil.

The brazier in action, warming hands and teapots for the duration of the Vigil
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