Samhuinn editathon (CC-BY-SA)

Samhuinn editathon

Tomorrow marks Armistice Day commemorated every year on November 11 to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I.

So this post is all about remembering.

Last week, on 31st October & 1st November, the University’s Information Services team held an event to mark Samhuinn: the Gaelic Festival for the Dead.

Samhuinn is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. This is about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Similar festivals are held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall), and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany)…

It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. As at Beltane, special bonfires were lit. These were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers and there were rituals involving them. Like Beltane, Samhuinn was seen as a liminal time, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld could more easily be crossed. This meant the Aos Sí, the ‘spirits’ or ‘fairies‘, could more easily come into our world. Most scholars see the Aos Sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits. At Samhuinn, it was believed that the Aos Sí needed to be propitiated to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink were left outside for them. The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. Mumming and guising were part of the festival, and involved people going door-to-door in costume (or in disguise), often reciting verses in exchange for food. The costumes may have been a way of imitating, and disguising oneself from, the Aos Sí.” [Source: Wikipedia]

Our Wikipedia event was to remember & honour the dead through setting a place for them on Wikipedia and we were fortunate to secure two great guest speakers in Dr. Emily Lyle, an Honorary Fellow at the School of Scottish Studies, and Dr. Neil Rhind from the Beltane Fire Society.

Neil Rhind and Faerie Porters (courtesy of Eugenia Twomey)

Neil Rhind and Faerie Porters (courtesy of Eugenia Twomey)

More pics and tweets from the day can be found on the Storify here.

Outcomes of the Wikipedia editathon (16 new articles created & 300 openly licensed images uploaded)

  1. Honor Fell, British scientist and zoologist, translated onto Swedish Wikipedia. Her contributions to science included the development of experimental methods in organ culture, tissue culture, and cell biology. Wikipedia’s new Content Translation tool is easy to learn in just 3 minutes and means you can easily translate Wikipedia articles from one language into another.
  2. Brenda Moon – Librarian to the University of Edinburgh from 1980 to 1996. She was the first female chief of a university library in Scotland, and one of the first female librarian chiefs of a major UK research university.

    First female chief librarian at a Scottish university, Brenda Moon. CC-BY-SA

    First female chief librarian at a Scottish university, Brenda Moon. CC-BY-SA

  3. Janet Anne Galloway (1841–1909)
    Janet Anne Galloway. CC-BY-SA

    Janet Anne Galloway.

    promoted higher education for women in Scotland. As a result of the limited educational opportunities open to women, Janet became an active supporter of the movement for higher education provision for women. In 1877 Janet was appointed as the honorary secretary of the new Glasgow Association for the Higher Education of Women, founded by Jessie Campbell and financed by Isabella Elder. John Caird, principal of Glasgow University at the time, was the first Chairman of its General Committee.

  4. Katherine Clerk Maxwell – a Scottish physical scientist best known for her observations which supported and contributed to the discoveries of her husband, James Clerk Maxwell. She born Katherine Dewar in 1824 In Glasgow and married Clerk Maxwell in 1859. Her contributions are largely recorded in writings on her husband, partly due to a fire at the Maxwell family estate which destroyed many of the family papers.
  5. James MacLagan – a Church of Scotland minister and collector of Scottish Gaelic poetry and song. He was the creator of the McLagan Manuscripts, a collection of some 250 manuscripts containing 630 items of primarily Gaelic song and poetry collected in the second half of the eighteenth century including many of the most well-known 17th- and 18th-century Gaelic poets such as Iain Lom, Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh and Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair.
  6. Jeffery Collins – prolific electrical engineer who directed and researched experimental physics, robotics, microelectronics, communications technologies and parallel computing.
  7. David Houston (zoologist) – Demonstrated Sex Allocation in lesser black-backed gulls in a practical study with Pat Monaghan in 1999.
  8. Susan Manning (professor) 
    Susan Manning (CC-BY-SA)

    Susan Manning (CC-BY-SA)

    – Scottish academic born in Glasgow, Scotland[1]. She specialized in Scottish studies and English literature. Before her untimely death in 2013 at the age of 59 years, she was the Grierson Professor in English literature in the University of Edinburgh and the Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities (IASH) an institute under the University of Edinburgh. Prof. Manning’s work on Scottish enlightenment and transatlantic literature got her international acclaim. Due to her intellectual and academic expertise, Susan was a fellow in the prestigious Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce, Edinburgh. Susan Manning after completing her Bachelors of Arts from Newnham College, University of Cambridge in 1976 went to do her doctorate under Prof. David Levin, a literary scholar and the Commonwealth Professor of English in the University of Viriginia, USA.

  9. Joan Brown (potter) – British potter. She setup her pottery workshop in 1967 in Richmond and exhibited widely in Britain. She was born in Aberdeen and was the daughter of Gerda and Walter Bruford. She was married to the landscape architect Michael Brown and worked on several projects for architects, including creating a water sculpture for her husband’s sunken roof garden design for the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. She was an associate member of the Craft Potters Association and exhibited several times in the Royal Scottish Academy Christmas Show.
  10. Magdalena Midgley – former Professor of the European Neolithic at the University of Edinburgh (2013-4), dedicated her archaeological career to teaching and researching early farming cultures of Continental Europe. She became renowned for her survey of the TRB culture (Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture), the first farming culture of the North European Plain and southern Scandinavia which was published by Edinburgh University Press.
  11. Ernest Francis Bashford
    Ernest Francis Bashford c/o Cancer Research UK / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA

    Ernest Francis Bashford c/o Cancer Research UK / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA

    – Influential oncologist who pioneered the biological approach to the study of cancer. At Edinburgh he was Vans Dunlop Scholar in anatomy, chemistry, zoology and botany, Mackenzie Bursar in practical anatomy, and won the Whitman prize for clinical medicine, the Patterson prize in clinical surgery, was appointed to the Houldsworth research scholarship in experimental pharmacology and won the Stark scholarship in clinical medicine and pathology. He established the modern practice of experimental investigation of cancer in Britain, asserting that it was a biological problem and not confined to human pathology. From 1915 he served with the Royal Army Medical Corps, initially with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force and then in France, where he held the post of adviser in pathology in the Army of Occupation. He was appointed OBE in 1919 and died from heart failure in Germany on 23 August 1923.

  12. Christian Kay – Emeritus Professor of English Language and Honorary Professorial Research Fellow in English Language at the University of Glasgow. She was co-editor with scholar Michael Samuels, for the world’s largest and first historical dictionary Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (HTOED), a project she dedicated 40 years to (1969 – 2009). Kay also founded the Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech and published work on historical semantics and lexicography, and contributed metaphor and semantic annotation based projects on the Historical Thesaurus of English dataset (HTOED). Kay was educated at The Mary Erskine School in Edinburgh. She completed a MA in English Language and Literature at the University of Edinburgh, before continuing on to Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, USA. Retiring in 2005, then Professor of English Language, Kay remained active in the facilitation and research in Thesaurus-derived projects. Kay is credited to have created the first computer laboratory for English studies in the world, developing cutting-edge teaching software, and first of its kind research-led courses in literary and linguistic computing. The result of 44 years of work, the HTOED received critical acclaim and was awarded the Saltire Society Research Book of the Year Award in 2009. The Christian Kay Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Research into Modern English Language and Linguistics was set up in the Professor’s memory.
  13. Anne Strachan Robertson – archeologist, numismatist and writer who was a professor of archeology at the University of Glasgow.
  14. George Robin Henderson (mathematician) – Scots mathematician with a flair for music. Noted as an inspirational character in his field, he taught at Boroughmuir High School, lectured at Napier College, played cornet and tuba, and through the 1980s and 90s as a member of the MacTaggart Scott Works Band he revived the band and pushed them to have a “positive impact on the community”.
  15. William Lindsay Renwick – Professor of English Literature at the University of Durham from 1921 to 1945 and Regis Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at Edinburgh University from 1945-1959 where he founded the School of Scottish Studies. William was educated at the Woodside School. He then went on to enrol at the University of Glasgow in October 1907. In 1912, he was awarded the George A. Clark Scholarship which allowed him to study French & Italian at the Sorbonne, Toulouse and the British School in Rome. Upon the outbreak of war, William joined the tenth battalion of the Cameronians (The Royal Scottish Rifles) on 27th September 1914. He experienced trench warfare with this regiment & rose quickly in the ranks to become a Captain, serving at home and in France where his battalion took part in the Battle of Loos. After experiencing this particularly devastating attack, according to his entry on Glasgow University’s Roll of Honour, he felt ‘like a ghost, an old ghost, sceptical and disillusioned.’ William returned to civilian life in 1919 and enrolled at Merton College at Oxford University where he completed a thesis on the renaissance poet, Edmund Spenser. William moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne to become Professor of English Literature at the University of Durham in 1921. He remained in this role for the next twenty-four years. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, William joined the Home Guard where he was made a commander. Following the end of the war in 1945, William was appointed Regis Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at Edinburgh University. Moving to a new home in Edinburgh overlooking Arthur’s Seat, he was to remain in this role until he retired in 1959.
  16. Isabella Elder – article improved.
  17. Queen Margaret College (Glasgow) – article improved.
  18. Galoshin section added to Mummers_play#galoshin
  19. 7 openly-licensed images of carved pumpkins and turnips uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.
  20. Evelyn Gillan – Champion of women’s rights, co-founder of the Zero Tolerance campaign and the main proponent in bringing about a minimum alcohol pricing law in Scotland.
  21. Sethu Vijayakumar page created. Sethu Vijayakumar is Professor of Robotics at the University of Edinburgh and a judge on the BBC2 show Robot Wars. He was instrumental in bringing the first Valkyrie humanoid robot out of the United States of America, and to Europe.
  22. 294 openly-licensed images of the #Somme100 ‘We are here’ soldiers commemoration uploaded to WikiCommons.
'We're here because we're here.' Public domain image.

‘We’re here because we’re here.’ Public domain image.