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27 December 2018

Commemorative plaque recognises Scotland's first female archaeologist

Christian Maclagan is to be commemorated as part of Historic Environment Scotland’s 2018 Commemorative Plaque Scheme

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has announced that Christian Maclagan, Scotland’s first female archaeologist, will be honoured with a plaque for her contribution to archaeology in Scotland.

Christian Maclagan was a pioneer of stratigraphic excavation and of scholarship on brochs, with her section drawings of Coldoch Broch in Stirlingshire published five years before Pitt Rivers – who is generally credited with the introduction of this field method to British archaeology. Another major achievement was her meticulous collection of rubbings of Pictish era stones, which include some of the earliest at Wemyss Caves.

Maclagan also devoted much of her life to philanthropic activities, establishing a Sunday school and devoting money and time to the removal of slums in Stirling.

A lifetime champion of equality, she was a suffragist who pushed for female inclusion, herself a victim of the institutionalised sexism of the times when she was denied full membership of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland because of her gender. This rejection of full membership, and the fact she could still not formally publish with the Society - requiring a man to publish her work under his name - prompted Christian to send all her rubbings from stones to the British Museum in London.

Ursula Martin, Professor of Computer Science at Oxford University, nominated Christian Maclagan for recognition through the HES Commemorative Plaque Scheme to bring attention to her story and the pioneering role she played in the archaeology field.

Caroline Clark, Grants Operations Manager at HES, said: “The beauty of our Commemorative Plaque Scheme is that it both highlights notable historic figures and brings attention to properties that were key to their stories.

“Christian Maclagan’s plaque is a worthy addition to our list of historic figures commemorated over the last six years.

Christian was Scotland’s first female archaeologist and her dedication to recording and preserving antiquities and archaeological research into prehistoric Scotland remain important to this day.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said: “Christian Maclagan was a remarkable Scottish pioneer in her field and is a fitting recipient of a Historic Environment Scotland commemorative plaque. Her ground-breaking talent and life-long commitment to archaeology stand alongside her fight for women’s empowerment and gender equality to make her an iconic figure for many to this day.

“Now in its sixth year, Historic Environment Scotland’s Commemorative Plaque Scheme has cast a new light on some of the most outstanding figures in Scottish history, from all backgrounds and walks of life.

I commend Historic Environment Scotland for their success in developing and leading this initiative, and I look forward to discovering the next round of plaque recipients.”

The Plaque will be affixed to the house where Maclagan lived in Stirling, 19 Clarendon Place, which was built in 1858-65.

The HES Commemorative Plaque scheme, which has been running since 2012, celebrates significant people by erecting plaques on the buildings where they lived or worked.

Past nominees for the scheme have included artists, scientists, inventors, philanthropists, actors, engineers, explorers, suffragettes, poets, politicians, writers and architects.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of HES.
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Year of Young People 2018

The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally. Over 200 young people throughout Scotland will become #YOYP2018 Ambassadors, ensuring their communities know about local opportunities to celebrate young people.

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For further information, please contact:

Dean Hendry
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct line: 0131 668 8714
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