Arts Installations

Star Charts

We love maps. But how about a map of the stars that is almost 2000 years old. This one was found underneath writing on a reused manuscript, but is now readable using some fancy technology.

This page has photos and a description of the discovery

a report in the press with links to find out more

more info from the India times

Arts Installations


The cluaran project was initiated by Simon Lidwell as an art project. It’s aim was to build a boat, but it became more about building interest in heritage. So what is heritage? You might think of treasure, but one definition is simply anything you can inherit.

So, stories, craft skills, the experience of being on the water with a crew of time travellers – all of this is heritage.

As the year gets going we will soon be launching “Crafts for the King”

This activity will give people the opportunity to set up “Cottage Industries” which will use cheap and easy to access materials to make desirable products. These products can then be donated “To the King” and will be sold on a mediaeval stall at the Robert the Bruce 750 medieval market in Dumfries.

Proceeds from this will be re-invested into holding a harvest time Medieval feast for all those involved.

This activity makes available what we have learned about organising community feasts and making hands on heritage crafts.

It provides the opportunity to think about the nature of kingship – or authority in general (Which king are we talking about? What type of King would you choose? What is Kingship? )

If you would like to buy any of the sort of Jewellery featured in the pictures on this page, please visit Simon’s Etsy Shop

Arts Installations Events

The Treaty of Perth

Here is a blast from the past!

This short video is made of photos from our display remembering the signing of “the treaty of Perth

You can read a bit more about the day and the other organisations involved here.

The boat will be on the water in Dumfries on Thursday the 24th of August getting ready for Nithraid!

Arts Installations Events Nithraid 2023

Boat Evening

Thursday the 24th of August

What would it have been like to be a Roman on the River Nith?

Meet at the Wordsmith Crafts Workshop by 7pm. If you want to go on the water you will need to become a member of “Cluaran” so that we can keep track of the paperwork.

If the tide is right we will be rowing, if there is no water then there are plenty of other tasks!

These include boat related crafts, maintenance – and character development for Nithraid on the 2nd of September.

For more Wordsmith Crafts events – check out the calendar page

Arts Installations Events Nithraid 2023

Cluaran Boat Session


Thank you to everyone who came along to get the boat on the water on the 13th of July. This goes for the shore crew as well as those who braved the watery depths… well shallows… of the Nith.

We were successful in launching and rowing the boat. The shore crew caught some of it on camera – and we even have a film of it made by David Slater (DRS Video Clips)

Launching and recovery on the 13th of July 2023

The next boat evening we have scheduled is for Thursday the 24th of August. 1900 to 2100 again, rendezvous at the Wordsmith Crafts Workshop (3 James Avenue, Dumfries).

More details will be posted closer to the time.

If you want to think about the sorts of characters who might, could have or perhaps will inhabit the Nith, then have a go at filling in this form:

You can also become a member of Cluaran by signing up to the newsletter lists of your choice (or volunteering to help manage the project!).

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Arts Installations Events Nithraid 2023

Nithraid 2023

Cluaran will be taking part in Nithraid 2023. Rather than racing though, they will be rowing around the town and time.

How can you row around town?

Most people think about the river Nith as a scenic backdrop. For much of time however it has been used actively.

Dumfries is built round a river and beside a river crossing. The Burgh of Dumfries is blended with the Burgh of Maxwelltown now, but for centuries they shared the river crossing and boundary which brought merchants and pilgrims to both of them when they needed to cross the river.

The river has always been an asset and a challenge! Its location means that you can paddle on from your doorstep, but also that some houses are at risk from flooding. When there was a cattle market by the river that flooding would perhaps have been a welcome clean up.

Dock park is a harbour where trading ships used to dock. In a time before railways, water travel was a very attractive way to move goods around Scotland – and the rest of the world. Having a harbour in your town centre was definitely an advantage.

Time and technology changes though, some of it is very welcome. Plumbing and washing machines have changed the way the sands have been used for the better. We will therefore be rowing around the upper reaches of the Nith and interacting with the public, telling stories from the past, present, and future. Thinking about how we can relate to the river.

Planning starts this evening at 7ish in the Wordsmith Crafts Workshop

Arts Installations

Research and development

Some snapshots from us using the Wordsmith Crafts CIC studio to develop skills.

Arts Installations


One of our community engagement tools is a large skin boat.

It was made one summer on the banks of loch ken as a community art installation. People dropped in (walking, driving, and boating) to take part in early medieval crafts and to help build the boat.

This was funded by Catstrand, and the loch was loch Ken, so the finished boat is called Catken.

She is in the workshop just now for some much needed repairs. Hopefully we will have her on the water again before the end of the summer! Before that she will help interpret the Archaeology of Carlingwark Loch this weekend in Castle Douglas as part of a land based display though.

Arts Installations

Characters on Nithbank

If you come down to Deer park in Dumfries today you are in for a special treat. Along with the Cluaran boat we have characters fished out from the Nith as it flows through time (and the imagination!) This is part of the Nithraid organised by the Stove Network

As well as talking to them you can also imagine a character for yourself – and use it to tell a story.

Here are some questions to think about:

Just in case the google form isn’t working, you can find it by following this link

If you can’t be by the river Nith in person, you can still join in. Use the idea of the river to travel through time. What stories would you tell if you were standing there? What stories would you want to listen to, or do you want people to research. What would help turn the places you live in into a home, rather than somwhere you are passing through?

Here are some signposts to places and groups who might be able to help you turn these ideas into research and reality!

And of course, Wordsmith Crafts CIC, especially through the Cluaran Project