Charms and tales form new project

Pendent warn by sailors to protect against drowning. Photographs by David Chalmers
Pendent warn by sailors to protect against drowning. Photographs by David Chalmers

OLD superstitions of Scarborough fishermen are being brought back to life as part of a new project.

Following funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund of more than £45,000, the Charmed Lives Project has been created in a bid to collect local stories and artefacts.

Kingfisher nailed to the mast of a fishing vessel used as a charm to bring a 'good catch'. Photograph by David Chalmers

Kingfisher nailed to the mast of a fishing vessel used as a charm to bring a 'good catch'. Photograph by David Chalmers

A special focus is being placed on the fishing industry, which over the years created charms and beliefs to help protect fishermen from danger and ensure a good catch.

As with the industry itself, many of those beliefs are dying out and are at risk of being lost forever.

The project seeks to capture such information along with other folklore beliefs from the older generation in the area and use it as part of an exhibition: Fears, Foes & Faeries which will take place at Scarborough Art Gallery in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

As part of the project Scarborough Museums Trust’s youth engagement group, Cultiv8, will collect stories and charms relating to health, both from the elderly and from their own peer group.

At the same time Scarborough Maritime Heritage Group will be focusing on collecting stories associated with local fishing industry superstitions and beliefs.

Both groups will then work with students from the Department of New Media at the University of Hull to develop unique interactive displays that will form one of the attractions in the Fears, Foes & Faeries Exhibition.

Karen Snowden, head of collections at Scarborough Museums Trust, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity that simply wouldn’t be possible without the funding from the HLF. To be able to record this information before it is lost forever and preserve it will mean that we can add depth and greater meaning to the already extensive collection of charms and amulets we have.

“The original charms, collected by ex-museum curator William James Clarke, will be at the heart of the exhibition next year alongside the ones which Cultiv8 will be collecting, and all interpreted through the brand new interactive displays”.