Stories in the Land – Highland Drovers

StorylineRSGS- The Drovers is a teaching approach in which the teacher decides on the chapters or ‘line’ of the story, while considering curricular aims and skill development, and the pupils develop the story. We have been using Storyline as a way for primary school pupils to connect with their local landscapes and cultures.

Our first Stories in the Land project used a Droving Storyline to encourage young people and their communities in Lochaber and Badenoch to become collectors, creators and tellers of old and new stories inspired by the land and by the epic journeys of the Scottish cattle drovers. The drovers would move their cattle long distances south from the Highlands on foot, to sell in towns with larger populations. In the evenings around the fire, the drovers of old would tell stories connected with their journeys.

Our project encouraged collaboration between young people and older people, in capturing and sharing these stories. Another part of this project was Travelling Tales in Badenoch, a five day journey with storytellers, which included school workshops, evening story-walks for the public, and a celebratory event at the Highland Folk Museum in Kingussie.

Our first Stories in the Land project was generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Ernest Cook Trust, The Gannochy Trust, The Robertson Trust, and Perth & Kinross Council.

A Gaelic version of the Droving Storyline was piloted in summer 2014 by Rockfield Primary School in Oban, who celebrated their project by going on a live drove with 10 feisty highland cattle, filmed by BBC Alba. The Gaelic version has since been used by the Gaelic School in Edinburgh, who celebrated their project with a residential visit to Comrie Croft, where they set up a drovers’ camp with a storytelling team.

Storyline consultant Sallie Harkness has written a revised Droving Storyline set in 1840, during the period when Falkirk (rather than Crieff) was the main tryst. This version was piloted by two P6 classes in Grangemouth and Falkirk in the summer 2014 term.

More recently, we worked with two P4 classes at St John’s Primary School in Perth. With financial support from the Living Communities programme (a partnership between Perth & Kinross Council and The Gannochy Trust), we were able to include outdoor droving camp sessions run by the Stories in the Land storytellers and others. In June 2014, both classes took part in Travelling Tales.

Storytellers and an historical re-enactor shared their experiences and stories with two P4 classes in Crieff. Crieff Primary School and St Dominic’s Primary School used the Droving Storyline in autumn 2014 to coincide with the annual Droving Festival held in Crieff in October.

“I learned a lot about how Scotland has changed since the 18th century.”
P6 pupil, Kinnaird Primary School, Falkirk

“The Drovers Storyline is wonderful: it has everything you need to set the scene and keep the Storyline going throughout the topic. It fits history, geography and Scottish-based outcomes in Curriculum for Excellence, and we used it to cover all our language outcomes for the term. The children loved this approach and were hooked from hearing the first part of the story.”
Teacher, St John’s Primary School, Perth

“Being outside is important because you have more adventures to put in your stories.”
P3 pupil, St John’s Primary School, Perth

Droving Storyline Resources


pdficon An Introduction to Storyline, by Steve Bell and Sallie Harkness, Storyline Scotland – Download Here

jpegicon A R B Haldane’s map of The Drove Roads of Scotland, reproduced with kind permission of Birlinn Publishers, Edinburgh – Download Here

zipicon Droving Storyline Background Information and Bibliography – Download Here

pdficon Droving Storyline 1745 Topic Planner – Download Here

zipicon Droving Storyline 1745 Extracts (English) – Download Here

pdficon Droving Storyline 1745 Extracts (Gaelic) – Download Here

pdficon Droving Storyline 1840 Topic Planner – Download Here

pdficon Droving Storyline 1840 Extracts – Download Here