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Old Borders and Southern Scotland


A hundred years ago, a photographer called Francis M Chrystal took a shot of the historic Stranraer town house. What he captured was an everyday, early twentieth century street scene: a delivery cart outside Riddell’s the butcher, a display of tinned produce in the window and people going about their business. At the heart of this community since 1776, the town-house has at different stages been a debtors’ prison, a jail, a court room and a council chamber – and continues today as the Stranraer museum. But unknown to any of the passers-by in this photograph, there are connections further back in time. The town-house was built on top of the parish graveyard and, during construction works in 1989, centuries-old adult skeletons were disturbed beneath the floor. These layers of history – some visible, some destroyed and some awaiting discovery – are repeated across the Borders and southern Scotland. Archive photographs are just one way that RCAHMS helps to peel back these layers, offering fascinating insights into the places we have lived and worked for generations.