Scars on the City

Scars on the City: Edinburgh in World War One was an exhibition that ran from February to June 2015 at the Museum of Edinburgh. The exhibition drew on Edinburgh Museums & Galleries’ extensive wartime collections to explore the everyday lives of Edinburgh people during the War. Objects like shrapnel from a zeppelin raid, soldiers’ knitted socks and a Red Cross nurse doll were displayed to help transport visitors to a time of terror, hardship and, sometimes, adventure.

Doll: Red Cross nurse of World War 1

Doll: Red Cross nurse of World War 1

The exhibition’s curator, Vicky Garrington, says that the wartime toys and games from the Museum of Childhood were a big hit with visitors:

“People were surprised to find out how clued up young people were about the details of the War. Cigarette cards taught them about ranks, army signals and artillery, while board games challenged them to evade mines and bombs en route to Berlin!”

Board game from World War 1: To Berlin

Board game from World War 1: To Berlin

Meanwhile, shrapnel from bombs dropped by German zeppelins bring home the reality of the first war to be fought not just overseas, but on the Home Front.

The quirky and poignant objects from the exhibition are now available to view on Capital Collections, together with the stories that bring them to life.

The Sitooterie Garden Journals

In early 2012, in the Sitooterie overlooking her Colony flat garden at Slateford, artist Mary Archibald started keeping a journal of the daily activity. Rising early each morning, she witnessed the garden come alive with birds, insects and animals.

Mary has continued her journal every day, observing the growing plants and wildlife that visit the space. The pages record Mary’s daily musings and sketches on life in her garden and through them we also get to know the regular visitors and their habits, favourite foods and places.

The first 5 journals on Capital Collections span February 2012 to October 2015 but Mary continues to date to document the natural world on her doorstep.

‘I wake to a splash of red in the garden and the poppies have started opening…
Lots of starlings again…
The babies are really funny, quite bemused looking as if they are wondering what it is all about… then remember it is about food and squawk at their parent…’

Sitooterie Garden Journal entry for 31st May - 2nd June 2012

Sitooterie Garden Journal entry for 31st May – 2nd June 2012

‘I hope the temperature goes up soon as the sunflowers are almost ready to be planted in the ground…
Great stooshie in the sky… Sparrowhawk, it floated around for ages being chased by a very brave blackbird…
Tiny tadpoles just beginning to wriggle in their spawn like little live commas…
Mouse breakfast: Focaccia
Close up the pigeons are very beautiful…’

Sitooterie Garden Journal entry for 26th - 29th April 2013

Sitooterie Garden Journal entry for 26th – 29th April 2013

‘There’s a frog croaking in the pond … a contented croak like a cat purring …
And Robbie is bathing in the birdbath.
The garden is full of sunflowers.’

Sitooterie Garden Journal entry for 30th September 2014

Sitooterie Garden Journal entry for 30th September 2014

‘5 frogs in the pond this morning and very happy they will be as it’s not too cold but very wet!
The temperature is up and down like a yo-yo these days.
The frogs are back under their duvet this morning…
Tulips from Lidl’s. More beautiful now almost gone.’

Sitooterie Garden Journal entry for 25th - 27th February 2015

Sitooterie Garden Journal entry for 25th – 27th February 2015

‘Bees buzz everywhere…
Lots of honey bees… They love the Tropeleum and the Foxgloves… disappearing completely inside each Foxglove flower… then backing out tail first…’

Sitooterie Garden Journal entry for 11th - 12th July 2015

Sitooterie Garden Journal entry for 11th – 12th July 2015

The diaries are a wonderful all-year round record of flora and fauna in an Edinburgh urban garden. Browse each Sitooterie Garden Journal on Capital Collections:

Sitooterie Garden Journal 1

Sitooterie Garden Journal 2

Sitooterie Garden Journal 3

Sitooterie Garden Journal 4

Sitooterie Garden Journal 5

With huge thanks to Mary Archibald for sharing her journals with us.

Edinburgh and the three bears

Tomorrow is World Animal Day, a day aimed at raising the status of animals and to improve welfare standards. World Animal Day is being commemorated in Edinburgh with a special ceremony at the statue of Wojtek in West Princes Street Gardens.


Presscuttings and books from the Edinburgh & Scottish Collection

Wojtek, World War 2 hero

Adopted by a group of Polish soldiers in 1942, this Syrian brown bear cub was fed with condensed milk, fruit, marmalade, honey, syrup and beer. As member of the the 22nd Artillery Supply Company, Wojtek became a symbol of the Polish wartime struggle and travelled to Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. During the Battle of Monte Cassino, Wojtek helped by carrying ammunition. At the end of the World War 2, the 1.8 metre tall bear was transported to Berwickshire in Scotland. Following demobilisation in 1947, Woytek was given to Edinburgh Zoo where he spent the rest of his life. Since 2015, Wojtek has his own bronze statue in Princes Street Gardens. Sculpted by Alan Beattie Herriot, the monument represents Wojtek and a Polish Army Soldier “walking in peace and unity”.

Oliwa and Ograd, the pride of Edinburgh zoo

Did you know that Edinburgh Zoo hosted two other bears from Poland? Oliwa and Ograd were given to the children of Scotland from the children of Poland in 1959. In January 1968, Oliwa gave birth to three cubs – making the pair Edinburgh’s first breeding brown bears.

Visit the Edinburgh & Scottish Collection to uncover find more hidden histories of Edinburgh.

For a bite-size history of Edinburgh Zoo explore Our Town Stories.


City Garden event at Central Library

New PictureThe City Garden Project is a proposed urban greenspace project to improve the quality and quantity of ‘little green spaces’ across Edinburgh. So much space in the city is under used, from grass-desert parks to concrete traffic islands, the forgotten shoreline to featureless street
corners; this project is about revealing their potential for creative and green space uses!

City GardenCome along to the Central Lending Library on 30 September any time between 12 noon and 3pm and meet the team from HERE + NOW, the landscape and design studio behind the City Garden project. You’ll be able to see examples of their previous projects and find out more about the City Garden idea. Most of all they’d love you to share your ideas for a City Garden Project and how you’d like to activate unused spaces. You will be able to mark places which could be a potential City Garden you know of on a map. This can be everything from a vacant or abandoned area to a neglected street corner.

Why not drop-in and help make Edinburgh an even greener city!


Queensferry Crossing

Transport Scotland have kindly shared their simply spectacular photographs of the Queensferry Crossing project with us.

These stunning pictures show the construction work and development of the Queensferry Crossing as it emerges out of the Forth. The pictures document the progress of the bridge building project and date from 2014 to present.

Enjoy the full online exhibition on Capital Collections.

You can also find out more about the Queensferry Crossing project and history from the Forth Bridges website.

With huge thanks to Transport Scotland for allowing us to put these fantastic images online.

Get Up and Go Awards 2016

Get Up and Go Awards 2016

The Get Up and Go Awards celebrate those truly remarkable individuals and groups who devote huge amounts of time and energy towards making older people’s lives better.

GU&Go2015 cover

If you know someone who deserves recognition, nominate them in one of the following categories:

Product/s and /or Service/s that make a difference – a product or service that is particularly appreciated by older people.

Outstanding Contribution – an individual/s, who has made a difference to the older population in your community.

Winners receive a Crystal award and highly commended receive a framed certificate at the awards ceremony – which also sees the launch of the Get Up and Go programme. This will be held on Thursday 13th October 2016, at Meadowbank Stadium, Hall 4, London Road, Edinburgh at 1.30pm.

Download a nomination form.

Closing date for nominations is Friday 23rd September 2016

Welcome World and goodbye Festival 2016

As the Festival draws to a close for another year, here’s a chance to relive the Deep Time spectacular that kicked off the Edinburgh International Festival programme in dazzling style just 3 weeks ago.


View all the amazing pictures on Capital Collections.