Erskine Beveridge

1851 - 1920

Textile manufacturer and antiquarian, noted for his archaeological investigations in the Hebrides. Born in Dunfermline, the eldest son of the most significant linen manufacturer in the town, Beveridge was educated at the Abbey School there, the Edinburgh Institution (which became Stewart's Melville College), and the University of Edinburgh. He took over his father's business manufacturing household textiles and expanded it to reach a global market, with warehouses in London, Manchester, Montreal and New York, and agents as far afield as Australia, Argentina, Egypt and South Africa. At one stage more than 1200 people were employed at the company’s mill on St. Leonards Street in Dunfermline, which is now converted to domestic use as Erskine Beveridge Court.

Beveridge is most notable as an antiquary, historian and photographer. He published books on the local history of Fife, together with works on archaeology, including Coll and Tiree: Their Prehistoric Forts and Ecclesiastical Antiquities (1903). He owned Vallay House on the island of Vallay in the Outer Hebrides and excavated several sites thereabouts, publishing North Uist: Its Archaeology and Topography in 1911. He travelled around Scotland taking many photographs of topography, vernacular architecture and culture. A number of these were published as Wanderings with a Camera, 1882-1898 (two volumes, 1922). A toponymic work The 'Abers' and 'Invers' of Scotland was published the following year.

He was granted an honorary doctorate by the University of St. Andrews, and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

His artefacts were given to the Museum of Scotland, while his photographs are held by Historic Environment Scotland (previously the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland), having been recovered in the 1960s from almost certain destruction in a former mill building. RCAHMS held a major exhibition of his work in 2009.

Beveridge died in Dunfermline and lies buried in the churchyard of Dunfermline Abbey. He is remembered in an exhibition at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre on North Uist.

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