Leith Customs House, Edinburgh, is a store for the National Museums of Scotland and is where their main basket collection is held. I’d been there before in May, and we had all discussed how valuable it would be to have a basket-maker along with me (as a researcher), when looking at the baskets. And so it proved to be. Liz is in fact no mere basket-maker, and her knowledge of east coast Scottish baskets and their history completely eclipsed both mine and Lyndsey’s, the curator. Every basket we looked at Liz could tell many stories about and provoked a wealth of information, even those for which Liz said, “Well, I don’t really know so much about this sort of basket…”.
And so we learned how useful cane (rattan) was to the Scottish basket-maker and user, and how durable it is; how to tell which is an Arbroath basket; and much more, which we’ll upload on to each relevant section. This also reminded Lyndsey of the old 19th century ceramics of fisher lassies carrying baskets which we them looked at. So a very productive day.