Scotland's Year of Stories Project: Up the Middle Road: Crichton Stories of Recovery and Resilience

The project shone a light on the Crichton Royal in Dumfries; an asylum with many hidden histories. Patients’ and staff’s first-hand stories were shared, in words and songs, as well as tours of the landscaped estate.

‘Up the Middle Road’ is the local name for the former Crichton Royal Asylum, founded 1838 in Dumfries. This event shared its lived experiences of mental health – until recently, buried in a culture of silence. Through words and music, the voices of former patients, nurses, support staff and those who grew up on site were heard, where they happened: powerful and authentic, reflecting life from the 1930s to 1990s. Recorded by the event director, Dr Valentina Bold, as part of an oral history project, these powerful, authentic accounts are compassionate and inspiring: stories of resilience and recovery.

The event brought together storyteller Amanda Edmiston, who specialises in healing tales, award-winning tour guide Kathleen Cronie (of Mostly Ghostly Tours) and internationally-renowned singers and musicians, Emily Smith and Jamie McClennan.

The dynamic performance moved through the estate, taking in the large church building and the tree-lined lanes. Audience and performers pass together through the centre of The Crichton’s parkland, rock gardens, sports fields and woods, pausing by the historic buildings — which many remember as a ‘village’.

Valentina Bold also spoke about the event and her approach to recording hidden histories at the 'Creative Responses to ICH' event, held at St. Cecilia's Hall, Edinburgh on March 3, 2023.

This event was supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund was delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.

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