THE DANCING STONES Autumn Season Open Weekend

2–4 September 2016

Autumn Season Open Weekend

2 – 4 September 2016

Artists: James Rigler, Patrick Allan Fraser

Speakers: Dave Anderson, Lesley Harrison, Crispin Hayes, David Hewitt, Graham McNicol

Musicians: Sean Heath, Mark Spalding

You are invited to a weekend of events to celebrate the bicentenary of the publishing of The Antiquary by Sir Walter Scott and explore the connection to Hospitalfield as a place of inspiration for Monkbarns, a key location in the novel. The title of this open weekend is THE DANCING STONES, a reference to Scott’s description of Monkbarns, which struck a chord with James Rigler, the artist that we have commissioned to make new sculptural works for the house and grounds. Rigler undertook a residency at Hospitalfield in 2015 where he was exploring the history of stone carving and the use of stone as an architectural material from grand houses to hermits’ shelters. The weekend starts on Friday 2 September with a Meet Your Maker discussion which gives the chance to hear about Rigler’s methods and materials, followed by an evening event where you can enjoy readings of The Antiquary within the Arts & Crafts rooms of the House. The weekend continues with a full programme of events over Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 September so you can plan to spend the day at Hospitalfield – explore the house and grounds, get involved in a workshop, see artists’ work, take a tour and listen to a talk. Please read on for more information. There’s also booking links for some of the events.

Part of Angus Heritage Week,  national Doors Open Days and the Scottish Government’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design and Festival of Architecture. Meet Your Maker events are supported by Craft Scotland.



James Rigler sculptures in the house and grounds.

Patrick Allan Fraser exhibition of Vide Antiquary paintings in the Study Room & Courtyard Room.

John Ainslie’s 1794 Map of the Shire of Angus on display.

Cafe open for lunch and cakes, 11am – 5pm, Saturday and Sunday

House and Garden open to explore, 11am – 5pm, Saturday and Sunday


Friday 2 September

4.00 – 6.00pm: Meet Your Maker event with artist James Rigler where he will discuss his materials and processes. In partnership with Craft Scotland. £5 includes cream tea, please book online. *

6.00 – 8.00pm: The Antiquary evening event with readings from Walter Scott’s novel by Scott scholar David Hewitt who is Emeritus Professor at University of Aberdeen and editor of the The Antiquary for the Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels in 2009.

Saturday 3 September
11.00am – 1.00pm:  Writing workshop with Lesley Harrison, an award winning writer living and working in Auchmithie, which gives the participants the opportunity to explore ‘the coast as boundary between order and chaos’ and ‘the coast as a beginning’. £5 booking fee, please book online. *

12.00 – 1.00pm: Heritage Tour

2.00 – 3.00pm: Heritage Tour

3.00 – 4.00pm: Talk by Crispin Hayes, who leads the National Orchard Inventory for Scotland project, about Monks and historic apple growing in the Tay area. It’s very likely that the monks of Monkbarns brought and cultivated apples here from the 12th Century.

4.00 – 6.00pm: Opening Reception with harpsichord music from Sean Heath and readings from The Antiquary by esteemed actor and playwright Dave Anderson.

6.00 – 8.00pm: Walk with Picnic Bags Available. With the theme of The Antiquary and the drama of the coastal jourey, this evening walk will take place whatever the weather so please dress appropriately. £5 for food, please book online. *

Sunday 4 September

11.00am – 1.00pm: James Rigler sculpture workshop. Create casts, pressings and panels using clay and plaster. £5 booking fee, please book online. *

12.00 – 1.00pm: Heritage Tour

2.00 – 3.00pm: Heritage Tour

2.00 – 3.00pm: Graham McNicol will talk about the elaborate Mortuary Chapel built by Patrick Allan Fraser in the 1870s followed by visit to the Mortuary Chapel at the centre of the Western Cemetery. Free, please book online.

3.00 – 4.00pm: Heritage Tour

As space for each event is limited, these are nominal booking fees which we put in place to encourage people to attend when they book a place.


Friday 2 September

4.00 – 6.00pm: Meet Your Maker event with James Rigler. £5 includes cream tea, please book online.

Sunday 4 September

11am – 1.00pm: James Rigler sculpture workshop. £5 booking fee, please book online.

Born in New Zealand, James Rigler trained at the University of Brighton before completing an MA in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art. He makes large, architecturally-inspired ceramic and mixed-media works that attempt to decode the hierarchies within objects and buildings. Often using highly-finished elements to mirror mass-produced objects, his work is both familiar and strange, precise yet handmade.

In 2013-14 Rigler undertook a six-month ceramics residency with the Victoria and Albert Museum and is included in their public collection. He has exhibited widely and examples of his work can also be found in the collections of the Crafts Council and Chatsworth House, Derbyshire. Additional residencies include; the International Ceramics Research Centre, Guldergaard, Denmark, the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, and Cove Park, Scotland. In 2014 he was the recipient of the prestigious European Ceramic Context New Talent Award.

In 2015 Rigler was part of our Hospitalfield in Industry programme which included a month long residency in the Autumn and collaboration with stonemasons Fyfe Glenrock in Aberdeenshire.



Born in Arbroath in 1812, Patrick Allan Fraser was the artist who, along with his wife Elizabeth Fraser, developed Hospitalfield between 1843 and 1890, leaving the estate in trust to be used to support education in art.

After studying in Paris and settling in London, he came back to the area to make illustrations for an edition of Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Antiquary, commissioned by the publishers Cadell. This series of paintings, made around 1840, show the town life of Arbroath, or Fairport as it is called in the book, including the fisher families, the jail and the shoreline. For the first time these paintings will be exhibited as a complete set during our Autumn Season open weekend.


Image: Steenie Mucklebackit, painted by Patrick Allan Fraser, commissioned by Cadell publishers for The Antiquary circa 1842.


The Antiquary is a novel written by Sir Walter Scott and published in 1816. Walter Scott is said to have visited Arbroath several times in the 30 years prior to publishing this book and elements of Hospitalfield as it would have been at that stage are recognisable in the text. Most notably the main location Monkbarns, has clear connections to the hamlet of domestic and farm buildings which had been established on the site since the time of the monks, including a large granary barn.

“Secluded from the town by the rising ground,… the house had a solitary and sheltered appearance. It was an irregular old-fashioned building, some part of which had belonged to a grange,… inhabited by the bailiff of the monastery, when the place was in possession of the monks. It was here that the community stored up the grain,… and hence, as the present proprietor loved to tell, came the name of Monkbarns. To the remains of the bailiff’s house, the succeeding lay inhabitants had made various additions in proportion to the accommodation required by their families; and, as this was done with an equal contempt of convenience within and architectural regularity without, the whole bore the appearance of a hamlet which had suddenly sat still when in the act of leading down one of Amphion’s, or Orpheus‘s, country dances.”

Sir Walter Scott, writing Mr Lovel’s description of Monkbarns as published in Chapter Third of The Antiquary, 1816.


Hospitalfield is taking part in a conference about Walter Scott later this year organised by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Abbotsford Trust.

Scott the Antiquary

Friday 7 – Saturday 8 October

A conference on Sir Walter Scott and his antiquarian interests celebrating the bicentenary of the publication of his book, The Antiquary. This two-day conference will be held in both Edinburgh and at Sir Walter Scott’s home at Abbotsford. To register your interest:

Image: Sir Arthur and Miss Wardour at the cliffs, illustration by J. MacWhirter (etching by Alex Ansted) published by Estes and Lauriat, 1893.


Dave Anderson will read The Antiquary on the opening reception on 3 September at 4-6 pm. He has worked as an actor, musician and musical director for numerous Scottish theatre companies including the legendary 7:84 and Wildcat which he co-founded in 1978, touring internationally. Film credits include Gregory’s Girl, Heavenly Pursuits, Post Mortem and Orphans. Anderson is well known for his part in the long running BBC sit-com City Lights alongside his appearances on Taggart, Rab C. Nesbit, Monarch of the Glen and many other shows.


David Hewitt will read Walter Scott’s novel The Antiquary on the special opening evening event of the Autumn Open Weekend at Hospitalfield at 6-8 pm on 2 September. He was Regius Chalmers Professor of English Literature when he retired from the University of Aberdeen in 2008. He was editor-in-chief of the Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels, the first scholarly edition of Scott’s fiction, which was published in thirty volumes by Edinburgh University Press, 2009. He personally edited The Antiquary and Rob Roy in this series. The Edition has revolutionised ideas of Scott and his achievement. With Professor Dr Alison Lumsden he led the Walter Scott Research Centre, which conducts and promotes research into Scott and his works, his intellectual context, and the ways in which his work was used by other writers, other arts, business and politics, particularly in the nineteenth century. Hewitt has wide interests in Enlightenment, Romantic and Scottish literature, and particularly in Burns, Scott and Byron, as well as Scottish language, and in textual and bibliographical research. He is currently Emeritus Professor at the University of Aberdeen.


On the morning of Saturday 3 September Lesley Harrison will run a writing workshop which is open to people who want to develop their writing skills or find fresh approaches. The workshop will focus around the psychological implications of the coast and offer the opportunity to work on themes such as ‘the coast as a beginning’ or ‘the coast as a boundary between order and chaos’, two ideas also reflected in The Antiquary story. This practical workshop will finish with a reflection session and chance to present the work to each other. £5 booking fee, please book online.

Lesley Harrison grew up on the Angus coast.  Through her poetry she examines how we locate ourselves in a landscape, forming our collective sense of place through intimacy with language, weather, history and local myth.  She is currently doing a practice-led research PhD on poetries of the North Sea coast. Her publications include Beyond the Map (Mariscat), a poem sequence which explores the aftermath of the whaling industry, following the Dundee whalers up to the Northern Isles and into the polar seas beyond, and Ecstatics: a Language of Birds (Brae Editions), a collaboration with Orkney artist Laura Drever, which won the National Library of Scotland Callum Macdonald Award in 2012. She has held artists’ residencies in Ilullisat, Greenland and Longyearbyen, Svalbard, as well as the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship residency at Grez-sur-Loing, France.  Her first full collection is due early in 2017.

Images: Landing at Cuthlie harbour, just north of the Red Head; Humpback whale skeleton at Castlesea beach near Auchmithie; Muckle Backit cottage, Auchmithie.


Reading the descriptions of Monkbarns within The Antiquary reveals a description of a peculiar apple tree planting technique employed by the monks which included “placing paving-stones beneath the trees when first planted, so as to interpose between their fibres and the subsoil” presumably in order that the roots ran out along the well drained and fertile top soil. Dr Crispin W. Hayes has undertaken specific research into the history of apple growing, pomo-culture, in the lower Tay Valley and his talk will draw attention to some of the physical, historical, economic and social influences and implications of orchards in this area. His research charts the growth and then decline of apple growing from the 12th Century agricultural activity brought by the Tironesian order who established both Arbroath Abbey and Lindores Abbey at Newburgh.

Dr Crispin W. Hayes CEnv has been in land-based research & consultancy since 1989, prior to which he worked in agriculture both in the UK and overseas. His early experience covered soils & materials, ecological restoration and sustainable waste management. Having preference to work at the soft end of environmental consultancy, he has been focussing on ecological consultancy and the services that can be tangibly useful to the private, public and social sectors. His eco-consultancy, based in Cupar, offers support in ecological footprinting, zero waste, localisation and community environment projects. He also has a specialism in traditional orchards, and leads the National Orchard Inventory for Scotland, an SNH funded research project.

@OrchardRevival for facebook and twitter

This project is part of the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design programme for 2016 and has received funding from Event Scotland.

Craft Scotland have supported the project through their Meet Your Maker scheme.

Thanks to Tomatin Distillery who have supplied their The Antiquary Blended Scotch Whisky for our opening events.


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