Skip to content
  • Video
  • 5 mins

OpenLearn Live: 7th March 2016

Updated Monday, 7th March 2016

A week in Dundee starts with the city churches; remembering the father of email.  Free learning from across the day.

This page was published over five years ago. Please be aware that due to the passage of time, the information provided on this page may be out of date or otherwise inaccurate, and any views or opinions expressed may no longer be relevant. Some technical elements such as audio-visual and interactive media may no longer work. For more detail, see our Archive and Deletion Policy

OpenLearn Live makes the links between your real life and the world of free learning. This page will be updated across the day.

On Friday, we completed a week of 'super' things, considered tax avoidance and celebrated 100 years of Dadaism

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

FutureLearn this week

FutureLearn, our sister site, has a busy Monday today. They've launched a number of courses about starting a business from the University of Leeds - you can find details on Leeds' FutureLearn page here.

Also starting this week:

Open Education Week 2016

It's Open Education Week 2016, the week that celebrates the sort of thing that OpenLearn was born to do - the sharing of high-quality open education resources [OER] for all under the banner of Creative Commons. 

You can find a massive list of OERs at the Open Education Week website, but here's a couple of things that caught our eye:

The University of Edinburgh's Open.Ed collection includes a range of scanned books from the University's collection, and a whole bunch of pieces of everyday learning including everything from the science of skin to creating waves in a flow tank. That latter one is pretty hypnotic:

Visit the Edinburgh Open.Ed site

And Kent University have produced a card game called Copyright, which is an easy-to-play way of understanding copyright issues when accessing Open Educational resources.

Download the Copyright Card Game

@rest: Ray Tomlinson

Ray Tomlinson, the man who invented email and chose the '@' symbol which would become so much part of our lives, has died. He sent the first email, and obviously had to send it to himself because nobody else would have been able to respond; unlike today, of course, where most emails are sent out to other people and nobody responds to them anyway.

Here he is, talking about his contribution to human communication:


You can read a biography of Ray at the Internet Hall of Fame

We spoke to Ray (and some other experts) back in 2008 about how email can be a blessing and a curse - you can watch those videos here on OpenLearn.

Coming soon, we'll have a new free course about navigating an ever-more-virtual world, Succeeding in a Digital World - find out how to get involved

A week in Dundee: The City Churches

On Thursday, a new musical celebrating Jackie magazine opens in Dundee. What better time, then, than to celebrate this most durable of cities as they celebrate this most durable of magazines?

We're starting the week at the City Churches.

Steeple Church, Dundee Creative commons image Icon Gordon Ednie under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Steeple Church

There's plenty of evidence of human activity in the Dundee area dating back as far as the meseolithic era, but it was the 12th century, and the granting of a charter to David, 8th Earl of Huntingdon, which marks the beginings of modern Dundee.

David had a special attachment to the place. Returning from the Third Crusade, David was caught in a storm and, as you might expect from someone on his way home from a religious war, he prayed to his god for a safe landfall. God - or changing meterological conditions - came through for him, and he landed safely on the banks of the Tay. He pledged to build a church to honour the Virgin Mary there as a sign of his thanks and, according to some, dubbed the area Donum Dei - God's gift. This, corrupted down the years, became Dundee.

There are, of course, competing claims to where the name originates. According to the National Library of Scotland:


The name Dundee is commonly interpreted as ‘fort of Daig’ derived from the Scottish gaelic word dun meaning a ‘fortified place’ and Daig, a personal name. This may refer to the stronghold on the Law. Mackay also suggests alternative derivations such as Scottish Gaelic Dun-dubh meaning ‘dark hill’ or Dun-De meaning the ‘hill of God’.

God's Gift is a great option though. The denizens of many cities believe they're god's gift; only Dundee holds out the possibility that this might be more than an aspiration.

Anyway, in 1190 a church was opened in Dundee honouring Mary. David had kept his vow and Dundee started to prosper.

The church wouldn't have a quiet existence though - in the late 13th century, the English sacked the city of Dundee and razed the church to the ground. The church was rebuilt, only to be destroyed again by the English in 1385.

St Marys was constructed again, on a grander scale - the tower, 156 feet high, still stands as part of Steeple Church. The rest of this particular version of St Marys, though, is long gone - the Duke of Somerset destroyed it in 1548, after having used it as stabling for his invading force's horses. 

This time, rather than rushing to fix the church, the people of Dundee took a wiser step of building a protective wall around their city instead.

By this time, custodianship of St Marys had passed from the Church into the hands of town council of Dundee. Rather than rebuild the church, they opted to create a new building around the old church's choir. This would become the first Reformed Church in Scotland.

In 1588, the church became collegiate - the area around the steeple was reconstructed, and this became the Second Church. By 1759, there would be four congregations on the site.

This wouldn't be the end of the tumultuous history of the churches - a fire in 1841 destroyed three of the churches, with a heat so wild the exterior walls of the buildings shattered. The fire did £15,000 worth of damage - around a million and a half as a modern equivalent. One of the congregations left the site to build a new church, St John's Cross. (The successor congregation to that church, Logie And St John's Cross, split in 2013 over different approaches to same-gender marriage.)

Gilbert George Scott - the architect of St Pancras and the restoration of Chester Cathedral, amongst much else, was drafted in during the 1870s to lead a restoration and conservation programme.  The tower is the oldest building in Dundee.

The site played host to the remaining three congregations until the 1980s, when three became two. The space opened up by the merging of the Steeple and South Church congregations is now used as the Mary Slessor Centre, a community facility. It's named for Mary Slessor, a Dundee-raised missionary who spent 40 years living and prosletysing in Nigeria.

Nearly a millennium on from David's landfall, and despite many trials both practical and religious, the congregation he founded still gathers on the same site.

Discover more about Dundee's history with our free course: Dundee, Jute and empire

Try our historical walk around Dundee





Related content (tags)

Copyright information

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?