In an age of mass production it is sometimes easy to overlook the importance of craftsmanship. Yet the skills necessary for producing high quality goods have been central to the evolution of our society for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
The Craftsmen of St Andrews Past and Present is a project inspired by the early modern craft books held within Special Collections at the University of St Andrews Library. These books record the meetings of different craft guilds active in St Andrews from around 1550 up to the 1800s, and are an incredibly rich source for the history of the town.
The aim of the project is to connect the history of the crafts in St Andrews with modern-day businesses and community groups. It focuses on the books of the Fleshers, Baxters and Hammermen (today’s butcher, baker and blacksmith trade). It will culminate in a festival showcasing the work of three local craftsmen and offering a range of displays and activities relating to the history of the crafts in the town.
The project is led by Dr Claire Hawes, and funded by a Cultural Engagement Award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and a local history bursary from the Burnwynd Trust. It is linked with the Medieval St Andrews project and run within the Institute of Scottish Historical Research at the University of St Andrews.