Bushy beards and pets from the past: 14 early photographs from the Scottish Highlands

Just as Instagram feeds us with selected details about someone’s life, a collection of historic photographs allows us a look into the past, to see people and their outfits, poses and smiles. The following photos from the Scottish Life Archive date from the 1880s to the 1920s, are reproduced on glass lantern slides and were taken in the Glenfinnan area in the Scottish Highlands, where in 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart raised his standard to initiate the final Jacobite Rising. Most photos are monochrome, #nofilter, and show us relationships with animals in a time when cat videos didn’t exist and Bambi wasn’t even a novel.

1) Let’s begin this with a selfie, or rather, a photo of a photographer if we assume that he’s not standing in front of a mirror. He’s wearing tweed, countryside clothing, and surely looks very dapper.

Early photograph of an early photographer

2) And it’s not all selfies. This man wore a tweed outfit, too, and surely liked cats.

Photograph of man and cat, 1880-1920

3) But more extraordinary animals were also domesticated. Here a badger mesmerised two men, and they fed him.

Men and badger, 1880-1920

4) And of course, there are photos of man’s best friend.

Man and dog, 1880-1920

5) Loyal companion to many.

Man and dog, 1880-1920

6) But badgers still steal the show.

'Badger at door', 1880-1920

7) Farm animals were, as always, commonplace.

Woman feeding chickens, 1880-1920

8) Rather extraordinary and surely shy was this pet deer. What was its name?

Woman with deer, 1880-1920

9) In the wild, deer steer clear of humans. But they can surely pose for a picture.

Deer, 1880-1920

10) Or eventually for a photo shoot, around more majestic scenery.

Deer, 1880-1920

11) However, the photographer wasn’t the only one observing the beasts.

Hunters, 1880-1920

12) In fact, a hunter was ready to take a quite different shot.

Hunter, 1880-1920

13) And later, the hunters and the hunted had their photos taken.

Hunters and hunted, 1880-1920

14) The final shot of the deer is arguably on a less impressive background.

Deer, 1880-1920

Want to see more? You can explore historic photos of Scotland in the Scottish Life Archive and our Victorian Photography collection.

Photography: A Victorian Sensation finished last year, but there is an opportunity to delve into the stereocards once more as Christine McLean, our Community Engagement Manager, leads a free online course. Find out more and sign up to Stereoscopy: an Introduction to Victorian Stereo Photography here.

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