The Memoria project is a Grundtvig Life Long Learning project bringing together communities from across the European Union to determine the potential of local cultural and non-material heritage to encourage more sustainable tourism. The project involves two communities from France and one each from Italy, Greece, Slovakia and the UK. Along with the Gatehouse Development Initiative the other partners come from a diverse range of communities. The project began in autumn 2012 and will end with a final report at the end of September 2014.
The lead partner is the Community of Communes of Alta Rocca, a mountainous area of Corsica. The other French partner is the European City of Culture and Sustainable Tourism based at Gréoux les Bains, north of Avignon. The Slovak partner is the Josefa Kronera Society from Staskov. The Italian group is the Diocesan Foundation for Culture based in the City of Catania in Sicily. The Greek partner represents the Municipality of Zagori, a group of Mountain villages in the Pindus National Park in North West Greece. The Gatehouse Development Initiative is from a small community in South West Scotland.
During the course of the project the partners have had the opportunity to look at best practice in each of the partner countries. The whole group came to Gatehouse in September 2013 bringing useful revenue into the community as well as providing an opportunity to show what is being done locally to make the most of the local heritage.
The aim of the project is for the partners to work together to reach a number of agreed outputs, including the drawing up of an inventory of cultural and non-material heritage, the choosing of examples of best practice, the organisation of a guide for the organisation of a memory workshop, the production of two training guides and the holding of a memory of place symposium in each of the communities. Responsibility of each of the outputs was shared out among the partners.
Each group drew up a list of the local cultural and non-material heritage. On the basis of all the evidence it was found that five categories of heritage are common to all the groups: religious or sacred heritage, natural heritage, craft heritage, food heritage and cultural heritage.
Each group then put together a description of five examples to fit the chosen categories. The projects chosen by the GDI were Trusty’s Hill, The Fleet Valley National Scenic Area, Dry stone dyking, Cream o’Galloway and the Mill on the Fleet Exhibiton Centre.
Each group considered the examples of best practice with particular reference to what works well and what is more difficult to sustain. This is a particularly relevant in the present circumstances where local projects such as the Mill on the Fleet must stand on their own feet to survive.
The partner form Mainland France has put together a training manual for use in training courses about the importance of including heritage awareness in the tourism offer.
In order to engage with the wider public and to use the experience gained during the project each partner will hold a memory event in their local area. The Gatehouse Development Initiative held a Gatehouse Memories Weekend on 13 to 15 June. This weekend focused on the photography of William McMurray who worked in Gatehouse in the first decades of the twentieth century. There was a full house for an illustrated talk in the Mill on the Fleet on 13 June at 7 30 pm, where examples of William McMurray's work were shown and there was a good exchange of views on a number of images. On Saturday morning historical photographer Tony Richards took a number of photographs in the same location as those taken by William McMurray a century ago including the photographer's home. He also recreated the scene at the War Memrial, where a crowd had gathered in 1921 for the unveiling of the memorial. On this occasion, members of the British Legion and families of those who had served in the two world wars gathered at the memorial. The whole collection of some 700 images were available for the public to see in the Community Centre on 14 and 15 June between 2 and 7 pm. Experts were on hand to help with identifying photographs, providing information for those investigating their family history and dating photographs according to costume. Members of the Dumfries and Galloway ethnographic study were also present to meet local people who might wish to be interviewed for the ethnographic study. The weekend allowed many local people and visitors to engage with Gatehouse's past and it is hoped that all the information gathered will lead to an exhibition on the photographs in a year's time with the possibility of a booklet illustrating life in the local community one hundred years ago. A contribution from Historic Scotland was of great assistance for publicising the event and for printing the many photographs made available at the symposium.
Many of the photographs show Gatehouse people in the years before the First World War, some of whom did not return from the battlefields. These photographs are a constant reminder of why it is important for the people of Europe to work together to ensure peace in Europe. The Gatehouse Development Initiative was fortunate that the Memoria project's partner from mainland France was present and team Member Alice Jude was able to meet with local members of the British Legion to tell them what is being done in France to commemorate the First World War. The British Legion will be presenting an exhibition on Gatehouse and WW1 in August 2014 and they would be interested in linking up with a French community which may be doing a similar project.
An important aspect of the Memoria project has been the visits made by the project partner's to each other's communities. Over the course of the project members of the Gatehouse Development Initiative and project partners who have worked closely with them have travelled to mainland France, Greece, Italy, Corsica and Slovakia and have visited local projects aimed at exploiting the local heritage to enhance the local tourist offering and all the partners visited Gatehouse of Fleet in September 2013.
The Gatehouse Development Initiative's project partners have been: