Help needed to unlock house’s history

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A volunteer is being sought for some detective work at House of Dun which may unlock some of the property’s long-lost secrets.

With the new tourist season fast approaching, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) is looking for someone to help match up all of the house’s dozens of odd keys with its myriad cupboards, cabinets and doors during its annual spring clean.

As part of the preparations, house staff are also about to undertake a furniture-moving programme to make way for a new exhibition of paintings which will open at the start of April. The upstairs library will be emptied to make way for several dozen works by Scottish Colourists but property manager John McKenna said this will have a knock-on effect to items in other parts of the house and all cupboards, particularly china cabinets and bookcases, will have to be checked and locked before they can be moved.

He said: “You find that over the years property managers and keys move around. We have all kinds of keys but they’re not all in the right place and some of the cupboards haven’t been opened in years because we can’t find the keys.

“We have cabinets in the library that need to be moved and furniture that has to be moved and we have to get all the keys in place.

“We’re trying to repatriate the furniture into its proper location but when we move something, something else has to be moved to make room for it and it’s quite a logistical task.”

The trust is keen that, from cabinets to clocks and everything in between, no latch must remain undone and there is a hope that some long-forgotten relics will turn up.

Mr McKenna said: “Who knows what we will uncover? The vast majority of the locked collection is the huge cache of books at Dun. Part of our investigations will be to re-catalogue the books and maybe uncover some hidden gems which may help to unlock the story and history of Dun.

Anyone who has what it takes or would like more information can contact Mr McKenna at 0844 493 2144 or by e-mailing jmckenna@nts.org.uk.