Resources for Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller History Month
Did you know that June is Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller History Month? We’ve collated some resources and event prompts to help museums and galleries commemorate this annual event.
The Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller community in Scotland
The GRTHM.scot website features an outline of Scotland’s Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller community and highlights several community events which have taken place in recent years.
Some Scottish Travellers identify as Nawken. The GRTHM.scot website offers a description of this term:
“There is no fixed or settled spelling of Nawken, which reflects its origin in an oral tradition, the Cant, one of the languages of Nawken. Other forms of this word include: Naken, Nacken, Naggen, Naggin, Nagin, Nakkin, Nargen, Noggen and Norken. Translations of these terms from the Cant have been given as ‘myself’ and ‘no home’.”
“Why I think self-defining as ‘Nawken’ will help reduce depression rates…” is a blog post by Davie Donaldson which explains how self-definition can be an effective way of responding to cultural trauma.
To find out more about Nawken support networks, political advocacy, and cultural preservation, visit Nawken.com.
Advice and information
- In 2021, we held a Knowledge Exchange on how museums and galleries can engage with the Roma community. This event also led to a follow-up blog by Leo and Blanka from the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Scottish Heritage project.
- The Tinkers’ Heart in Argyll & Bute is the only physical monument to Traveller communities in Scotland. In 2016, Historic Environment Scotland published a detailed report on the history of this monument and its significance to Traveller communities.
- As with all non-material cultural traditions which are actively practiced in Scotland, GRT community traditions are an important element of our Intangible Cultural Heritage. Janos Lang, a member of Roma cultural advocacy group Ando Glaso, spoke on this topic at a 2023 event on Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Organising an events and activities, developing a temporary exhibition, or conducting targeted research on your collections are just some of the ways that museums and galleries can take part in Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller History Month.
Events held in 2023 include a paper flowers craft session and Gypsy/Traveller tour of Stirling at the Stirling Smith, and the construction of a traditional bow camp, traditional Traveller skills demonstrations, and an exhibition of Traveller lives and stories at Auchindrain.
Other event ideas include:
- storytelling sessions
- music performances
- film and documentary screenings
Museums and galleries have also created and shared digital resources which relate to Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller history.
The history and contents of the Traveller camp at the Highland Folk Museum are highlighted in this interactive map of the museum site. The museum has also created a 3D scan of a tin lantern from their collection.
Members of the Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller community are featured in many of the photographs in the Gordon Shennan collection at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery.
Auchindrain’s website includes blog posts on the history, stories, and traditions of the local Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller community.