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Unforgotten Highland Women – Margaret Swanson, Castletown

24 June, 2022 @ 1:00 pm 3:00 pm

Margaret grew up in Castletown, Caithness, the daughter of the village cobbler. Despite her humble beginnings she went on to influence the education of generations of girls.  After early schooling at the local school, Margaret was sent to board with an elderly lady to allow her to attend Wick Academy for further education. She became a pupil teacher in the town and embarked on teacher training in Aberdeen. She stayed in Scotland when her family emigrated to Nova Scotia.  It was her interest in the physical and mental development of  children which allowed her to change the “Code “ or requirements for sewing on the School Curriculum. The emphasis at the time was on the fineness of stitching on a delicate white material. This Margaret declared to be as meaningless as using black chalk on a blackboard. She became an instructor in the Glasgow school of Art,  Charles Rennie MacIntosh was among her associates.  She developed the “ Margaret Swanson System of Educational Needlework” revolutionising its teaching in Britain and abroad. Children were encouraged to choose the bright colours of thread they preferred , learning to stitch on unbleached calico with wool and cotton. Older girls were shown how to make their own embroidered garments, allowing imagination and creativity . Margaret continued to travel, research ,lecture and learn until ill-health put an end to her devotion to her craft.  

Pauline Moore, BBC producer and reporter and experienced podcaster, will interview Muriel Murray who first learned of Margaret’s story. There will be material relating to Margaret Swanson’s early years and examples of needlework on display for everyone to peruse over the tea and cake break. We will also be joined by the local school and local crafts groups as the audience is invited to make their own ‘sampler’ in Margaret’s memory.

This event has been supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund is being delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players. 




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Castlehill Heritage Centre

Harbour Road
Castletown, KW14 8TG United Kingdom
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01847 821120
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