Article 12 – Kinross, Perth & Kinross
In the Footsteps of Geddes and Article 12
Article 12 is a Stirling-based organisation active throughout Scotland. Their key mission is supporting some of the most marginalised young people, such as young Gypsy/Travellers, care experienced young people, young people with disabilities and young people experiencing poor mental health.
The name of the organisation is taken from the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UK signed it in 1990, and it came into UK law in 1992. It consists of 45 articles; the twelfth article, quoted below is the inspiration for ‘inclusive engagement’ – key mission for Article 12 as well as PAS – focuses on enabling ‘seldom-heard’ groups to share their views and have them considered with seriousness.
Article 12 (respect for the views of the child):
Every child has the right to express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously. This right applies at all times, for example during immigration proceedings, housing decisions or the child’s day-to-day home life.
Article 12 believe that governments, professionals, and the wider community all have a role to play in building an environment that respects, values and validates the contributions of young people.
Their work is underpinned by the principle of free participation: the right to participate as equal citizens at all levels of society without fear or favour and a process that facilitates the participation of all young people on their own terms and according to their own realities. It is a principle that, if realised, facilitates informed choice, freedom, dignity, respect and demonstrates an acceptance that young people – regardless of their background and personal circumstances have the same human rights entitlements as adults.
Gypsy/Traveller community in Scotland
The origins of the Scottish Gypsy/Traveller community remain disputed. However, there is a degree of acceptance that this group of people has roots in a Celtic nomad population in Scotland. Historically, there has been some inter-marriage as well as social and trading networks with the Roma, a nomadic population that has likely migrated from India through Egypt and Eastern Europe to Western Europe. There is written evidence of the presence of the Gypsy/Traveller community in Scotland dated as 1505 in an account written up by the then Lord High Treasurer of Scotland.
The Scottish Gypsy/Traveller community is now recognised by the Scottish Government as an ethnic group in its own right. This recognition acknowledges that it is a community comprised of several distinct groups, each with its own cultural origins, histories, traditions and language. The Equality Act (2010) provides the legislative framework which protects this community (and other ethnic groups) from being discriminated against on the grounds of ethnicity.
The modern identity of Gypsy/Travellers has many forms. Some families spend all of their time ‘shifting’ (i.e. travelling), some only travel during certain parts of the year and others live in ‘bricks and mortar’ houses. Nevertheless, regardless of lifestyle and upbringing, Gypsy/Travellers share a strong sense of cultural identity. This identity lives on and thrives through traditional crafts and fairs as well as storytelling and music.
Workshop in Kinross
A one-day workshop was delivered at the end of June to work with a group of young Gypsy/Travellers. Some of them were local to the Perth & Kinross-shire; they were joined by another group of youngsters from Edinburgh. Prior effort was me to build connections with and gain trust of the aforementioned young individuals by visiting them at their respective areas of residence with the help of the Article 12 staff. This translated into good numbers of participants involved in the project.
The participants first populated maps of Scotland with various information, stemming from their experiences of living in and travelling through many parts of the country. They tested and improved their geographical knowledge by identifying major cities and geographical waypoints. This information was then accompanied by their opinions about particular areas and sites, as well as memories and personal experiences lived in them.
The Valley Section was then used to identify historic trades and professions. This resource, linking geography and different landscapes with human activity in rural and urban settings, resonated well with the group, as many traditional and modern activities associated with the Gypsy/Traveller community are interconnected with land and nature and the rhythm of the seasons. The group then considered which of the jobs have disappeared since the times of Patrick Geddes in the last 100 years and what they have been replaced by.
Another part of the workshop involved the use of the Place Standard tool to assess the quality of the sites currently occupied by the young people and the wider area. This element of the session was co-delivered with the Article 12 staff as part of their programme of supporting the literacy skills development of those young individuals. By looking at the quality of place following the Place Standard’s framework of 14 categories, the group was able to understand better what makes for a good place and identify areas which could do with some improvement. The Place Standard’s structure also enabled justification of one’s opinions through prompts linked to each category.
The feedback on the quality of place varied, possibly due to the fact that the participants came from different areas (Kinross and Edinburgh). One part of the group indicated public transport, natural space and play and recreation as areas requiring the most improvement and work and local economy, facilities and amenities and traffic and parking as deserving of positive scores. Another one considered natural space and play and recreation as scoring well, alongside moving around, while traffic and parking, housing and community, feeling safe and care and maintenance as scoring below average. The last part of the group felt that traffic and parking, influence and sense of control, traffic and parking and housing and community as scoring below average; social interaction, feeling safe and moving around had little room for improvement, accordingly to those participants. This varied feedback shows the diversity of views and issues experienced by young Gypsy/Travellers in their areas. It is hoped that giving consideration to what determines the quality of place and discussing the issues will lead to enabling the individuals in question to building confidence and capacity to take active part in discussions about the places they live in and spend time in.
The set of participants also engaged well with the 3D scanning exercise. Similarly to other project groups, it was their first direct interaction with this exciting technology. Items chosen from the souvenir shop at the Huntingtower Castle were used in the creation of the 3D selfies, which can be viewed below.
Huntingtower Castle (formerly known as Ruthven Castle or the Place [Palace] of Ruthven) is located near the village of Huntingtower in Perth & Kinross. It is near the city of Perth on the main road to Crieff.
Huntingtower Castle was built in stages from the 15th century by the Clan Ruthven family and was known for several hundred years as the ‘House (or ‘Place’) of Ruthven’. In the summer of 1582, the castle was occupied by the 4th Lord Ruthven, who was also the 1st Earl of Gowrie, and his family. Gowrie was involved in a plot to kidnap the young King James VI, son of Mary, Queen of Scots. During 1582 Gowrie and his associates seized the young king and held him prisoner for 10 months. This kidnapping is known as the ‘Raid of Ruthven’ and the Protestant conspirators behind it hoped to gain power through controlling the king. James eventually escaped and actually forgave Gowrie, but after a second abortive attempt by Gowrie and others to overthrow him, Gowrie was finally executed and his property (including Huntingtower) was forfeited to the crown.
As well as seizing the estates, the king abolished the name of Ruthven and decreed that any successors would be ineligible to hold titles or lands. Thus the House of Ruthven ceased to exist and by royal proclamation the castle was renamed Huntingtower. The Castle remained in the possession of the crown until 1643 when it was given to the family of Murray of Tullibardine (from whom the Dukes of Atholl and Mansfield are descended).
John Murray, 1st Duke of Atholl resided in the Castle, where his wife Lady Mary Ross bore a son on 7 February 1717. The Castle began to be neglected and after Lady Mary died in 1767, it was abandoned as a place of residence. It would be then occasionally used by farm labourers for accommodation. The last inhabitants were the family of the castle custodian Niel Cowan. The Cowan family of Niel, Margaret, Alexander and Lorraine left in late 2002.
Today, the castle can be visited by the public and is sometimes used as a venue for marriage ceremonies. It is in the care of Historic Environment Scotland, who enabled the group of young participants of “In the Footsteps of Geddes” to visit the site and explore from the ground up to the roof level.
The youngsters were keen to inspect every nook and cranny of the ancient building while learning about what various rooms were used for back in the day. While the layout and form of the building was nothing like any kind of modern accommodation, be it bricks and mortar or mobile, many of the functions were recognisable (kitchen, dormitories, storage areas etc.). A particularly interesting feature was a secret cavity in the wall of one of the rooms, historically used for safekeeping of valuables – equivalent of a modern safe.
The group used the panoramic photography technology extensively throughout the site, capturing both the interiors and the exterior of the castle, as well as some of the views stretching from the rooftop.