Hello from Alanna, Laura and Kieran! As part of the exhibition we have been working on researching and curating the display case for the medieval Scottish Warrior. We have been faced with a broad time period ranging from 1200 to 1600, which included the Early Medieval period through to the start of the Renaissance and the Union of the Scottish and English crown in 1603. Coming into this topic, we were faced with the enormous challenge of having to select a focus for our text panel, and with only 300 words to sum up the main argument for our section, we had some difficult decisions to make.
When we began thinking about what we wanted to focus on for this time period our attention was immediately drawn to the ‘warrior’ figures of the period, such as William Wallace and Robert the Bruce who both have statues in Aberdeen. This got the team thinking – why is it that figures such as these great warrior are remembered and celebrated while all else seems to pale in comparison? We knew this was something we wanted to address; after all, this period was the age of Renaissance Princes and Kings. While Scotland did gain much of its identity on the battlefield, it also prospered during times of peace, seen through the developing trade routes and diplomatic links with Europe during this period. It was these links that allowed Renaissance ideas to take hold and flourish, bringing new forms of art, architecture and literature. It also saw the foundation of universities, including the University of Aberdeen in 1495.
The Medieval period proved difficult to condense. So, as a team we had to carefully consider the story we wanted to tell and decide if we had the objects and evidence to support it. We were faced with questions such as should we focus on the stereotypical Scottish warrior with a sword and kilt? Could we consider the role of child monarchs? How would we balance the image of Scotland as a nation at war against the flourishing influence of the Renaissance? Through the process we moved away from just considering the ‘Scottish Warrior’ to considering Medieval Scotland as a whole and re-named out theme to Medieval Scotland: Barbarity or Renaissance? We have spent many hours poring over books, looking through the museum’s catalogue and visiting the stores to view our objects. The team has been writing texts and object labels and considering how everything will fit into our display case, including a claymore and rather large portrait! Keep an eye out for our team’s largest display challenges which involved finding a way to mount the claymore on open display!
Our exhibition ‘The Scottish Warrior’ is open now until May 2018 so why not come along and see the case for yourself. If you do visit be sure to use our hashtage and let us know what you think at #UoAScottishWarrior. As always keep an eye out on the blog and social media for more behind the scenes posts.