Dunollie Castle

MacDougall Collection
The Hope MacDougall Collection

The Hope MacDougall Collection is an important social history collection drawn not only from Argyll but from throughout Scotland, with comparative material from all over the world.MacDougall Collection

Around five thousand objects were collected by Miss Hope MacDougall, who was daughter, sister and aunt to three successive chiefs of the Clan MacDougall and grew up at Dunollie House.

While passionate about her family history and the Clan, her keen personal interest was in the ordinary working and domestic lives of people in Scotland. She recognised the strands and themes which linked the ordinary business of life across many cultures, and included comparative objects from throughout the world - gloves from Peru and Fair Isle, winnowing sieves from Argyll and Israel do the same job but have their regional differences.

Hope started her collection with a single wooden spoon in the 1950s and amassed thousands of items before her death in 1998. The inventory spans life in the country from agricultural tools, saddlery, a blacksmith's forge, early distilling, bee-keeping, dairying, shoe-making, a travellers camp to a laundry, knitting and weaving, dying, lace sewing machines, an early collection of vacuum cleaners, the complete Ford Post Office, an early school classroom and the complete contents of a herring gutter's cist - the list goes on.

What is particularly unique is that each item is backed up with clear documentation as to its origin and owners and often Miss MacDougall's own research. Her written archive contains much original material, fascinating anecdotes and excellent photographs and is accessible for research in The 1745 House at Dunollie.

The Hope MacDougall Collection is of national significance, but its importance as a learning resource is even greater for people living in Argyll, and for people who emigrated - enforced or willingly - to the New World. It is an outstanding record of a vanished way of life, providing markers for the way people and communities worked over hundreds of years in rural Scotland, and which translated to the new emigrant communities in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The Hope MacDougall Trust continues to work towards creating a permanent museum of the Collection as part of plans at Dunollie, with the first step being the creation of a new purpose-built store where the objects can be kept safe. This is an absolute priority, as current conditions are poor. Fundraising for the new store is ongoing, and donations would be welcomed. Please email info@dunollie.org if you wish to make a donation specifically to the Dunollie Reserve Collection Store project.