THIS week, the team from the Live Borders Museum and Gallery, Tweeddale Museum in Peebles, bring us more details about their latest 'Lives in a Landscape' exhibition...

When the Chambers Institution was opened in 1859, a steady stream of objects was donated to it for display.

These were mostly from landowners and wealthy locals who either held valuables at home or who collected whilst abroad.

These were the days before photography and television so collecting and displaying curios was seen as a public education.

Listed in the accession catalogue of 1863 are ‘whisky toddy ladles, made from Rowan wood by a shepherd, 100 years of age, at Gameshope, Tweedsmuir.’

But was the man or the ladles that were 100 years old?

William Anderson was listed as the shepherd and head of the household at Gameshope in 1834 and the family recorded there until 1890s.

Male family members lived into their 60s, a fair age for countryside people then. So we can deduce that it is the ladles whose age is recorded, made around 1763 and now over 250 years old.

Distilling whisky for personal use was a way of life for centuries. Shepherds would have had their own stills to share with herders and others passing through the countryside.

Following the act of 1701, heavy taxes were imposed on whisky distilling and the stills were hidden from sight so the taxman couldn’t find them.

The whisky was drunk straight from the ladle, and the use of Rowan wood is interesting as longstanding cultural belief discourages cutting down this tree.

Also known as the ‘lady of the mountains’ the Rowan tree was used as protection against witchcraft and enchantment from the ‘little people’.

Frequently planted in gardens, many houses still have an archway of Rowan over the gateway.

The exhibition ‘Lives in a Landscape’ continues to display a selection of key objects which tell the story of the history of the area is now on display in the Chambers Room.

If you would like to research objects in the collection, or have other queries, you can get more information from the Live Borders team at Tweeddale Museum on 01721 724820 or