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For the first of our Flashback Friday Film Festival from the University Archives we’re going back nearly 90 years. The film has been set to music by Steven Gellatly, with many thanks to him, https://www.stevengellatly.com/.

In the early 1930s Professor Alexander David Peacock, University College Dundee’s Professor of Natural History from 1926-1956, led a number of expeditions to the islands of Rona and Raasay, taking along a cameraman and artist to record the trips. The two 1933 expeditions to Rona, which was at that time inhabited by only three people, led to the discovery of a new dark variety of butterfly. During the 1934 expedition to Raasay Peacock and his fellow travellers debunked a myth that there was a volcano on the island and discovered a large, undocumented ‘mystery stone’ in the floor of an old chapel.

The films taken during the expeditions were shown during a series of lectures over the winter months of 1933 and 1934. Peacock was keen to popularise biology and natural history and gave frequent lectures and radio broadcasts; he was responsible for regularising the Saturday Evening Lecture series (now Saturday Series). This short film is an edited version of the 1933 and 1934 films, the full version is held by the University Archives along with photographs, reports and other material collected by Peacock and others who accompanied him on these and other expeditions.

At the end of the film, Colin Gibson the wildlife artist and UCD’s official artist, can be seen sketching, this is a sketch he made of the 1935 trip.

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