As the exhibition in Dumfries and Annan, Swords in the Stories, draws to a close, Dr Valentina Bold reflects on the significance of its key object, ‘Kinmont Willie’s’ sword. Recently discovered in the Annan Museum collection, this is a material culture object with strong links to intangible culture. Specifically, as the first in this two-part lecture series discussed, it is associated with The Ballad of Kinmont Willie, first printed in the Minstrelsy of Walter Scott.
In this lecture, Dr Bold will address key questions about the sword, its provenance, its history and its owner. Why, for instance, did the unknown custodian of the sword feel the need to label it as ‘Kinmont Willies? What are the hidden messages in this ‘celebrity sword’ and how does it relate to the cult of such objects which gained momentum with George IV’s 1822 visit to Edinburgh?
Why, in short, would a collector (or inheritor) of such an object value it so much, and why remember Kinmont Willie, a ‘rank reiver’ according to the ballad? Based on her recent research, generously supported by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Dr Bold will argue that this rusted, well-used sword embodies key cultural messages, relating to the way we remember reivers, reiving culture, and the infamous story of Kinmont Willie, captured on a day of truce in 1596, and liberated a month later, in a well-recorded and notorious jailbreak.
Dr Bold will be accompanied by well-known singer of traditional songs Kathy Hobkirk, who will perform Walter Scott’s Ballad of Kinmont Willie.
The talk will be followed by refreshments and an evening opportunity to visit the museum exhibitions.
Bookings: The event is free but pre booking is required. Please contact Annan Museum on 01461 201384 to book your place.
Dr Valentina Bold
University of Edinburgh