Research Output
Asylum Armada - Knowledge, Practice & Community Engagement in Participatory Documentary Practice
  “Asylum Armada - Knowledge, Practice & Community Engagement in Participatory Documentary Practice ” frames the preliminary research phase of a participatory practice-led research and documentary film project exploring the legacy of Spanish Armada ships and their crew who were ship wrecked around the Scottish coast in 1588.

The documentary is inspired by the journeys and fates of two Armada ships- El Gran Grifon, which ran aground on Fair Isle, and the San Juan de Sicilia, which harboured & was blown up in Tobermory Bay, on the Isle of Mull. Although enemies of the English crown, Armada ships and sailors who were shipwrecked in Scotland were granted asylum. As wrecks both ships have been the subject of excavation and plunder, and the fates of their crews variously documented in historical texts. However this research represents the first attempt to bring together Scottish Armada stories and explore their broader impact on local communities, past and present. The film will explore the historical significance and contemporary relevance of the Armada stories as well as the myths and rumour that persist and which keep the memory of the Spanish Armada in Scotland alive.

The film will be based on a series of local community based projects in areas associated with the Armada - Fair Isle (where the Gran Grifon landed), the Orkney island of Westray, (where Armada Spaniards are believed to have married into the local population), the Fife village of Anstruther (the Gran Grifon crew were transported here and accommodated en route to Edinburgh), Mull (where the San Juan de Sicilia landed and was mysteriously blown up in Tobermory Bay) and in Spain (from where the ships departed and some of the crews returned). The film and research will draw on local knowledge and participation to create short documentary projects which will feed into a longer documentary film connecting the communities and the Scottish Spanish Armada histories.

The filmmaking is part of a broader practice led research project examining the processes and relationships of community engagement and documentary production and which explores the construction and preservation of historical knowledge and identity in Scottish (and Spanish) communities. Drawing on practice led methodologies, which incorporate the process of collaborative documentary production, the research will also examine the relationship between local histories and national and international narratives.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    16 October 2016

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    HT Communities. Classes. Races

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    307 Communities

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Macleod, K. (2016). Asylum Armada - Knowledge, Practice & Community Engagement in Participatory Documentary Practice. Edinburgh Napier University Teaching Fellows Journal, Autumn 2016, 16



Documentary, local history, knowledge, Spanish Armada, community,

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