Northword, also known as Storytagging, is an international project funded by the Interreg Northern Arctic and Periphery Fund. It brings together academics and wider stakeholders across the Northern Periphery region which includes the North of Scotland and Isles, Sweden, Finland, Northern Ireland and Russia. The purpose of Northword is to collect stories from each of the partner countries, and to bring these to life through collaboration with creative practitioners. The outcome of the project will also include a digital platform and documentary film to promote stories across the region, and the creative products and experiences developed during this time.
The project is led by Robert Gordon University who have, alongside their partner countries, started collecting stories in the North of Scotland in the last few months. Professor Peter Reid and Dr Rachael Ironside have set up a website (www.northword.online) to gather stories from a geographical area which includes the Northern Isles through Caithness, Sutherland and Ross-shire to the communities along the Moray Firth. Project partners at the University of Highlands and Islands are covering the rest of the Highlands and Western Isles.
Peter and Rachael are reaching out to heritage organisations and communities within this area to share any ‘things’ or stories that encapsulate the spirit of the North. They have already collected over 30 ‘things’ and hope to collect at least 70 more, and have started to build an exhibition of online stories. These currently include legends and folklore, stories of landscape and natural events, community memories and personal testimony, and tales around famous artefacts. In the new year, these stories will become part of the next stage of the project which will invite local creative practitioners to bid for funding to transform these stories into creative products and experiences.
To help with the collection of stories Peter and Rachael will also be hosting a festive Christmas storytelling workshop. The online event will invite people from across the North of Scotland to share their stories of tradition and superstitions, people and communities, food and drink and gifts and giving from the festive season. It is hoped that this will be an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the broad range of traditions, both historic and contemporary, that encapsulate the ‘story’ of Christmas in Scotland.
Peter and Rachael would welcome any stories from across the North and invite anyone to get involved by visiting their website.