Here we intend to post any relevant items relating to Hugh MacDiarmid, Scottish literary and other arts activity, community events in and around Biggar and further afield.  Let us know of things you think we should publicise by submitting details of any news, events and happenings. Simply email us at

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Photograph of National Collective, James, Alan and Denham outside Brownsbank March 2014.

In March 2014 The National Collective made a film at the cottage featuring James Robertson and Alan Riach discussing MacDiarmid. You can watch this important record by entering ‘Ode To All Rebels’ in the search box on


Saltire Society:

Scottish Poetry Library:

Scottish Book Trust:


This programme was broadcast on Sunday 24 January 2021.It includes the Makar Jackie Kay in conversation with Alan Riach talking about Hugh MacDiarmid.The photographs of Jackie and Alan at the cottage shown below were taken when the film was made in September 2020. The programme also features James Robertson discussing Robert Fergusson with Jackie. You can watch the film, a superb journey into Scottish poetry, by clicking on the following link:

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Alan Riach: Cottage

Now we have all we need’ – no drains, no running water,

No indoor toilet, and poverty is as it was, but Valda: now we have all we need:

A roof, two beds, two hearth-fires, rooms to live in, breathe in,

Read in, write in, think – and listen to the opposition,

All those voices coming through in English, radio waves, and

All that screened and screening American trash, junk Scottish pap,

The scum of the universe, magnified and avalanched –

And then the solitary visitors, the mercies enacted

Of great aspirations: Yevtushenko, Ginsberg;

Salutations from admirers: Lowell, Heaney;

Visits to Pound, to Mao, to Ireland and America;

And friends: MacCaig, MacLean and Stevenson;

And family: Michael and Deirdre, grandchildren.

- And still the world to fight for

You can watch a recording of this fascinating event by clicking on the following link:

An illustrated essay which accompanies the recording may be downloaded as below.

Download PDF


Landmarks: Hugh MacDiarmid's Brownsbank' brings together portraits by Alexander Moffat, landscapes by Ruth Nicol and poems by Alan Riach. Hosted by the University of Glasgow with Biggar and Upper Clydesdale Museum and MacDiarmid's Brownsbank, the show takes us through the poet's life but centres on his years with his wife Valda at their home near Biggar in Lanarkshire, 1951-78. The artists are in discussion about their work and MacDiarmid's significance, his encounters, friendships and flytings with some of his contemporaries (including Dmitri Shostakovich, Ronald Stevenson and Hamish Henderson), his domestic and countryside environment and the companionship, support, fierce dedication and love of his wife Valda.

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Sandy Moffat: ‘Double portrait, Chris and Valda’

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Ruth Nicol: ‘Brownsbank Cottage Study ( The Blue Door)

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A beautiful catalogue has been produced for this exhibition.  It is available to purchase at £15 at The Biggar and Upper Clydesdale Museum throughout the duration of the exhibition and beyond.  Should you be unable to come to Biggar but still would like a catalogue you can order it by emailing


13th November 2021, 2pm

Biggar & Upper Clydesdale Museum, 156 High Street, Biggar

A film by Carolyn Scott and Andy Sim with music by Steven Gellatly.

In 2019, a quarter of a century after he lived there, the author James Robertson came back to Brownsbank, former home of Hugh MacDiarmid, one of 20th-century Scotland’s greatest cultural figures. The two years James spent in the tiny cottage were life-changing. In this short film, he reflects on MacDiarmid’s legacy, and the continuing national importance of a seemingly insignificant place just a few miles from Biggar.

Following the showing of the film (approximately 20 minutes), James will talk about the impact that Brownsbank and MacDiarmid have had on his own work. The filmmakers will also be present to discuss the project. James will be signing copies of his new novel, News of the Dead, which will be available to purchase courtesy of Atkinson-Pryce Books.

Free Entry but donations to MacDiarmid’s Brownsbank welcome. Booking essential, phone 01899 221050

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10th March 2022

Carolyn Scott and Andy Sim’s film featuring James Robertson at the cottage reflecting on his time as the first writer in residence in the early 1990’s is being shown on Thursday March 10 in Edinburgh.  The friends of Edinburgh University Library are hosting the screening.  For full details and booking tickets (Free) go to

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Wednesday 11 May 2022

Hawthornden Lecture Theatre | Royal Scottish Academy


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A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle

 ‘And let the lesson be - to be yersel’s,
Ye needna fash gin it’s to be ocht else.

To be yersel’s - and to mak’ that worth bein’,

 Nae harder job to mortals has been gi’en.’