Traveller's Ingenuity

International Museums Day is a chance to celebrate the fantastic museums and galleries across Scotland, sharing memories about what people love and miss the most within the collections. To celebrate this day, how we thought we’d share one of our most recent acquisitions with you; a Gypsy Traveller ‘cruise’ lamp, which we hope sparks your imagination and shows how varied Auchindrain’s collections are.




This lamp was made for us by our Farm Manager, Kathy McGuigan, as a replica of the type that she remembers using as a small child within her family’s bow tent.


Unlike more traditional cruise lamps, the oil for this one would be contained within the teapot and sucked up the wick within the spout. The fuel would be paraffin and the wick kept in position with anything fireproof, in this case window putty. As you can imagine, the risk of fire was ever present within Gypsy Traveller tents so re-purposing something as stable as a teapot meant it was less likely to be accidentally knocked over.


Gypsy Travellers were known to be excellent crafts people, making everything from baskets to saucepans, and were highly respected for their repairing skills too. They would travel from place to place, collecting, buying, selling, and swapping as they went. We think this is a brilliant example of using something mundane in an unexpected way and it’s an honour to have it made especially for our collection.