05 November 2009

Shannon Lecture - Gravestones and Identity in the Ulster Diaspora

November 6, 2009 1:00 - 2:30
Shannon Lectures in History - Gravestones and Identity in the Ulster Diaspora
Room 303, Paterson Hall,
Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario

Lecturer: Harold Mytum, Director of the Centre for Manx Studies, University of Liverpool.

What concepts and practices do migrants take with them from their homeland? How do they adapt to new circumstances with their repertoire of knowledge, skills and past perceptions? How, over generations, does identity change? These questions are being asked by historical archaeologists, and gravestones can help provide answers. The Ulster Scots provide a fascinating example of a diaspora that includes movement first from Scotland to the north of Ireland, then to the areas such as Pennsylvania, thence to the Carolinas. A later wave of Ulster Scots migrants settled in New South Wales, Australia. Culture transfer, adaption and change, all linked with identity are presented through the case study of the Ulster Scots and their mortuary monuments.

More information at www.carleton.ca/history/events/shannon.html


Arlene said...

Will transcripts or a synopsis of this interesting lecture be available online. A number of listers from the Fermanagh Rootsweb list are interested in this subject.

JDR said...

We had a lot of information thrown at us in this presentation. It started out a bit disjointedly as the PowerPoint system wouldn't work. Fortunately it got fixed as the images were a significant part of the presentation. I'm not doing justice to Harold Mytum but here are a few points, probably not the most significant, that stick in my mind;

-- culture transfer, adaption and change, are reflected in migrant graves and tombstones.
-- gravestones only exist for the well-to-do, and those who wanted one, some denominations didn't favour them, so you are looking at a selected sample;
-- you frequently find echoes of the migrants place of origin on the tombstone. This applies to form, content, expression, and iconography;
-- a tombstone is a combination of the skills and inclinations of the craftsmen who make it and the desires of the client, mediated by economic considerations;
-- some iconography, such as skulls, crossed-bones, coffins, hearts is found on both British and migrant tombstones. The Scottish thistle is only found on migrant tombstones;
-- some iconography crosses denominational barriers, others, such as Adam and Eve for Catholics, is specific;
-- homemade coats of arms can be found on tombstones in Ireland where the regulation of heraldry was weak, not the case in Scotland where it was strong;
-- you can see cultural transfer on a larger scale. Some tombstone examples shown were from Rookwood Cemetery outside Sydney, Australia. It takes its name from Brookwood Cemetery outside London England. Both cemeteries were directly served by railway trains carrying both the deceased and the mourners.

Anyone else at the presentation please feel free to chip in and add to or correct these few items.