Photo courtesy of Josh Berson @bersonphoto

Loch-down: Connecting to Scotland Through Objects of Memory

This page is a record of how people stayed connected to Scotland when they were unable to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Research Centre for Scottish Studies at SFU invites you to email us at to share images of any material object that played a part in helping you stay connected with friends and family back in Scotland during this time. It could be a book (of Burns's poetry?), a photograph (of your grandparents or your trip to the Trossachs?), an article of clothing (your favourite kilt or tartan scarf?), or a trophy from the Highland Games? Feel free to tell us a bit about the item as well. In times of crisis, it's often the objects that surround us that provide us with special memories of the past and offer us hope for future meetings. They will be curated on this page as a record of what is important to our community about their Scottish connections—as well as a hopeful message of the continuing importance of Scottish cultural memory in B.C.  

(Please let us know if you would rather have your image and story posted anonymously, and please, no images of children—unless historical photos.)

Our Loch-down project is proud to have the endorsement of Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture in the Scottish Parliament.  

"I find the concept of creating historical artefacts relating to COVID-19 lockdown of both historical and social importance. This approach is reminicent of how people coped during times of crisis and emphasises how personal associations to a place are important. This project will be useful when future generations study COVID-19 and this period as events of local and international historical significance."

—Fiona Hyslop

Objects of Memory

Professor Leith Davis' Fiddle

My "Loch-down" object of memory: This is my first fiddle, bought at "Stringers" when I was living in Edinburgh in 1994. I had played piano, but never any kind of stringed instrument before. A friend of mine convinced me to give fiddle a try, however, and I loved it. Between my work and family, I don't have a lot of spare time for playing, but the fiddle helps me feel connected to all my music and dance friends in Scotland. Favourite Scottish tune: The Dark Isle. 



Rebecca Budd’s Visit to the Burns Cottage Rose Garden

My life-long goal was to visit Alloway, Scotland, the birthplace of Robert Burns: Burns Cottage, a simple two-roomed clay and thatched home fully restored and part of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. The highlight for me, was to stroll through the Burns Cottage rose garden. As I walked, I recited the unforgettable lines of “O my Luve is like a red, red rose...”. This photo is of a rose that bloomed in the garden.

Jennifer Prosser Wade's Scottish Jewellery 

Scottish jewellery came into fashion when Queen Victoria started collecting some of the lovely ordinary silver pieces  that were beautifully crafted. In this collection there is the large brooch in the centre which is a cairngorm set in sterling. Cairngorms are found in four of the other brooches all with Scottish themes—stag, scepter, thistle, etc. The green stones in two of the other pieces are Iona stones from the unique vein of green marble on the Island of Iona. Then there are two thistle brooches, one made of clay and the other of enamel on silver. No one could miss your being a Scot if you were to wear these. What is not shown here are some of the lovely embedded agate brooches made in Scotland—again all beautifully crafted (Cairngorm stones are yellowish/brown quartz stones from the Cairngorm hills).

Thomas Budd's Practice Chanter

My journey as a bagpipe player began in Summer 2004 when I purchased this practice chanter from Tartantown Ltd. in Coquitlam, British Columbia. It was crafted by John Walsh Bagpipes Ltd. of Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The first tune I learned on this chanter was the well-known Scottish folksong, Mairi’s Wedding. I would go on to purchase a full set of bagpipes and join British Columbia’s piping and drumming community. Throughout my time playing this grand instrument, I have used this practice chanter to develop my technique and repertoire of tunes. Wherever I have travelled with my bagpipes, this practice chanter has accompanied me every step of the way. It remains my earliest object of memory that connects me to Scotland. 

Neil Carroll's Eilean Donan Castle Tour

My favourite castle in Scotland is Eilean Donan. It’s in Ross-Shire—on the way to Skye. It is small, no history of battles... a faint link to Bonnie Prince Charlie (maybe very faint). But just a jewel to see.

Neil Carroll's Golf Clubs

The home of golf, St. Andrews "Royal and Ancient" course, where kings and queens would play the links, with "mashies" and "spoons", before there were "drivers" and "wedges".

Neil Carroll's Jimmy

This is the red-haired Scottish highlander—wild enough to take on the English, even when the odds are dismal, but where there's a soccer ball, there's hope!

Neil Carroll's Haggis Crisps

I haven’t eaten them yet, but I just had to buy them. Mackie is my mother’s maiden name. I’m sure they'll taste as good as the real stuff!

Neil Carroll's Jacobite Jimmy

This is a “Jacobite Jimmy” because he is wrapped in the soccer strip of the Celtic Football Club, of which I am a "dyed in the wool" supporter. Jacobites have links to James II, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Culloden, Drambuie, and much more sad, but uplifting folklore... (Drambuie is the uplifting one).

Taylor Breckles' Burns' Poetry and Travel Photographs

A well-worn copy of Robert Burns poetry, Nessie poised on a stone from Loch Ness, and multiple Highland Coos have kept me attached to Scotland during this pandemic. There's something special about removing oneself from reality by curling up with a good book, a dram, and some fiddle music. Plus, getting lost in photos from past trips doesn't hurt either!


Sue Cowan's Paintings

For the last few years I have been fortunate to be able to spend four to six weeks each summer or fall in Edinburgh. My brother has a cottage where I am able to stay, just down the road from where we lived as children. In my late 60s, I still feel very attached to the country I left at age 11. 

I spend my time there walking, exploring my favourite places, visiting friends but most of all sketching and painting. The act of creating art in a place so meaningful to me personally is very significant for me. This year I was of course unable to go to Scotland so looking over my sketchbooks and canvases renews my connection to the place I love. Here are a few photos of my artwork.