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It's your Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend is nearly
here :-)It's your Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend
is nearly here :-)
Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
The Scottish Nation
Poetry and Stories including Poems for Kids
New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Book of Scottish Story
The Life of Tom Morris
The Industries of Scotland, their Rise, Progress and Present
The Life of John Duncan (New Book)
Chronicles of Stratheden (New Book)
Robert Burns Lives!
Atholl, Scotland's Heartland
ELECTRIC SCOTLAND NEWS
I start off by giving you a story from the BBC as it does have huge
significance for Scottish Politics as the by-election was in the
Labour Party's safest seat. This was a by-election for a Westminster
seat in the UK parliament (not the Scottish Parliament).
The SNP has
pulled off a stunning by-election victory by winning Glasgow
East, one of Labour's safest seats.
The Nationalists overturned a
Labour majority of 13,507 to win by only 365 votes with a swing
The SNP polled 11,277 votes in
the contest, while the Tories came third with 1,639 and the Lib
Dems, with 915 votes, came fourth.
SNP candidate John Mason said the
victory was "off the Richter Scale", while Labour expressed
Voter turnout was 42.25%, down on
the 48% figure at the last election, with 26,219 votes cast.
The result was declared in the
early hours of Friday following a delay, after a re-count was
requested by Labour, which won 10,912 votes in the contest.
SNP candidate John Mason said the
victory had sent a message to Downing Street.
Labour minister Douglas Alexander
said the result was "very disappointing" and admitted it had
been a "notable victory" for the SNP.
Speaking from Glasgow's Tollcross
Leisure Centre, Mr Mason said: "Three weeks ago the SNP
predicted a political earthquake.
"This SNP victory is not just a
political earthquake, it is off the Richter scale.
"It is an epic win and the
tremors will be felt all the way to Westminster."
Nine candidates stood in the
seat, in a contest sparked by the resignation of Labour's David
Marshall on health grounds.
Scotland's Deputy First Minister
and deputy SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, said the swing towards
the Nationalists had been of "epic proportions".
Steve will be
working on the forums this weekend so there might be a time when you
can't access the service but shouldn't be down for very long. We've
received a couple of security upgrades which need to be done and a
couple more upgrades for bits of the service. We do need to
bring down the service to do these updates and upgrades and hence
some down time.
Have made a start at the account of John Duncan for which more
Haven't heard back from Glasgow City Council as yet so if I don't
hear from them by next week I'll make a start on "The History of
There is a Robert Burns & the Scottish Diaspora International
Conference, Edinburgh 10-11 July 2009. You can get more details at
We have done a major upgrade to our ScotGenealogy program at
in which some 131 changes and improvements have been included. For
example you can now add a Google map of a place, add more media and
create a pdf file of your family tree.
recommend anyone using the service backup their data by exporting it
to a Gedcom file and likewise if you already have a gedcom file of
your family tree you can also import it into the service.
The Robert Burns Lives! article below highlights that by purchasing
the book now you can get your name printed in it under the list of
Subscribers and it will be delivered in time for Christmas.
The Clan MacIntyre Gathering in Scotland is now over and at some
point I'll be getting an account to post up on the site. That said,
some early pictures have been sent in and you can view these at
ABOUT THE STORIES
Some of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do
check out the site for the full versions. You can always find the
link in our "What's New" section at the link at the top of this
newsletter or on our site menu.
THE FLAG IN THE WIND
As Tricia, that normally does the Flag, is away on holiday I've did
the last issue and this one but thankfully she'll be back in time
for next weeks issue :-)
This weeks Flag
is compiled by Ian Goldie in which he tells us more about the
Glasgow East by-election and you'll be able to see the result on
Friday night :-)
The SNP won the by-election!!!!
THE SNP have won the Glasgow East by-election,
claiming victory over Labour with a margin of 365 votes.
The results were as follows:
John Mason (SNP) 11,277 (43.08%, +26.06%)
Margaret Curran (Lab) 10,912 (41.69%, –18.99%)
Davena Rankin (C) 1,639 (6.26%, –0.64%)
Ian Robertson (LD) 915 (3.50%, –8.35%)
cultural section he's telling us more about his visit to the new
This week we continue the description of our recent visit to the new
£9 million National Trust for Scotland Culloden Visitor and
Exhibition Centre. Having left the splendid new building we made our
way to the Leanach Cottage which stood within the Hanoverian lines
and proceeded to walk, on the new footpaths, to some of our
favourite spots on the battlefield.
Walking towards the Culloden Memorial Cairn, you pass the Well of
the Dead. Here the brave leader of Clan Chattan, Alexander
MacGillivary of Dunmaglas, died crawling towards the well. His
regiment was the first to charge and break through the first
Hanoverian line but the impetus of the Highland Charge was gone by
the time they hit the second line. The devastating fire of the
Government forces turned Drummossie into a killing zone. In spite of
her husband and Clan Chief being a serving Hanoverian officer, Lady
Anne Mackintosh raised Clan Chattan for the Prince under the command
of Alexander MacGillivary. Red Alexander, Alistair-Ruadh-na Feille,
paid the ultimate price for his loyalty to the Stewart cause. After
the battle his body was removed from the battlefield and his
betrothed, Elizabeth Campbell, allegedly arranged for his secret
internment under the doorstep of Petty Church. She died of a broken
heart on 22 August 1746.
From Red Alexander’s dying place, you proceed passed the Clan graves
as marked in 1881 by Duncan Forbes, 10th Laird of Culloden, to
arrive at the Memorial Cairn he erected, from his own pocket, in the
same year. He was a descendant of the famous Duncan Forbes, 5th
Laird of Culloden and Lord President of the Court of Session, who
did so much to avert the 1745 Rising and prevent its success. The
cairn stands approximately mid-way between the lines of the opposing
armies and carries an inscription which fails to convey the full
story of the 1745 Rising, but does serve as an appropriate salute to
loyalty and bravery –
THE BATTLE OF CULLODEN
WAS FOUGHT ON THIS MOOR
16th April 1746
THE GRAVES OF THE GALLANT HIGHLANDMEN
WHO FOUGHT FOR
SCOTLAND AND PRINCE CHARLIE
ARE MARKED BY THE NAMES OF THEIR CLANS
Next week we will look at a few more notable spots on the
battlefield and as last week’s recipe referred to the German-led
Hanoverians, this week’s Potato Gnocchi is a reminder that Prince
Charles Edward Stewart was Italian-born. This is basically a
Scottish potato scone mixture shaped and cooked differently.
Ingredients: 1 lb/500 g floury potatoes (cooked and mashed finely);
6 oz/175 g plain flour; salt and pepper/ ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Method: Mix all together thoroughly and roll into a long sausage
about a finger diameter. Cut into 1 inch lengths and make a dent in
the middle of each so that it curls a little. Bring salted water to
the boil and drop in a few at a time. Cook each batch about 3-5
minutes or until they rise to the surface. Scoop out with a
perforated spoon and put into a buttered ovenproof dish. Keep hot
until all are cooked. Dot with butter and sprinkle with parmesan
cheese. Serve with tomato sauce.
See the Scottish Food, Traditions and Customs in the Features
You can read the Flag, listen to the Scots Language, enjoy the Scots
Wit and lots more at
Christina McKelvie MSP's weekly diary for this week did not arrive.
The Scottish Nation
My thanks to Lora for transcribing these volumes for us.
We are onto the R's now with Rosslyn, Rothes, Rothesay, Row,
Roxburgh, Roxburghe and Roy.
As always lots of interesting stories in there accounts and here is
how the account of Rothes starts...
ROTHES, earl of, a title in the peerage of Scotland, conferred,
before 20th March, 1457-8, on George de Lesley of Rothes, Fifeshire,
the ninth in descent from Bartholomew, a Flemish baron, ancestor of
the family in Scotland. The first earl died about 1488, and having
been predeceased by his only son, Andrew, master of Rothes, was
succeeded by his grandson, George, second earl, who, with his
younger brother, William, was killed at Flodden. The latter had two
sons; George, who succeeded as third earl, and John, one of the
prisoners taken by the English at the rout of Solway in 1542. He has
obtained an historical name as being one of the chief conspirators
in the assassination of Cardinal Bethune. After the martyrdom of
George Wishart, March 1, 1546, he declared in all companies, holding
his dagger in his hand, that “that same dagger and that same hand
shall be priest to the cardinal,” and he kept his word.
You can read the rest of this account at
You can read these entries at
Poetry and Stories
Another poem from John Henderson called "Tak Tent An Bide A Wee"
which you can read at
Margo Fallis has sent in a few more of her poems for Children. See
Stan Bruce sent in a new poem which you can read at
We also have some new poems and articles from Donna, Alastair and
others in our Article Service at
On the Article Service I might just suggest that when you go to the
home page you take the time to sign in as that way when you read an
article and feel you'd like to add a comment you'll be able to do
that right away. If you don't sign in then you are asked to do so
before you can add your comment and that way you might find it more
difficult to find that article again that you wanted to comment on
Also, when you sign in the login panel becomes your personal panel
allowing you to Change Password, Submit an Article, list your
Favorite Articles, list My Articles, List My Comments, Hide Contact
Info, Subscribe and to Logout.
New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
The first volume I am dealing with is the one on Aberdeenshire.
There are some 85 parishes in this volume and a write up on each.
This week have added...
Parish of New Macher
Name.—In the earlier registers, the parish is called the Upper
Parochine of St Machar; and in those of later date, Upper Ma-char.
The modern name is New Machar, in contradistinction, no doubt, to
the name of the adjoining parish of Old Machar, of which it
originally formed a part.
Extent.—The length of the parish from north-west to southeast may be
10 miles; average breadth about 2½ miles.
Boundaries, &c.—It is bounded on the north and north-east, by the
parish of Udny; on the east, by the parish of Belhelvie; on the
south, by Old Machar and the river Don; and on the west, by the
parishes of Fintray and Keith Hall. The greater part of the parish
is situated between gently sloping hills of moderate elevation,
inclining from north-west to south-east, and is considerably
diversified by small hills, cultivated or under wood.
Eminent Characters.—Robert Gordon.—This eminent geographer and
antiquary was born at Kinmundy in this parish on the 14th September
1580. He was the second son of Sir John Gordon of Pitlurg, a
gentleman who long stood high in the favour of his sovereign, James
VI. Mr Gordon has the merit of being the first who applied actual
mensuration in topographical surveys to Scotland. At the request and
earnest solicitation of King Charles he undertook, in 1641, the
preparation of an atlas of Scotland, which was published in 1648,
and soon afterwards went through a second and third editions. It was
his diligence and accuracy in the science of geography, then in an
extremely rude state, that first obtained for him the celebrity
which he afterwards enjoyed.
Dr Thomas Reid.—This distinguished metaphysician and moral
philosopher was settled minister of this parish May 12, 1737, and
continued in that office till June 21, 1752.
You can read this account at
On the index page of this volume you can see a list of the 85
parishes and also a map at
Book of Scottish Story
Our thanks to John Henderson for sending this in for us.
This week have added...
The Miller of Doune: a Traveller's Tale
This week we have up Chapter 1 of this tale and here is how it
In the reign of James the Fifth, the mill on the Teath, near Doune,
was possessed, as it had been for abune a century, by a family of
the name of Marshall.
They were a bauld and a strong race of men, and when the miller of
whom we’re now to speak was in his prime, it used to be a common
saying in the kintra, " Better get a kick frae a naig’s foot, than a
stroke frae John Marshall;" and even now that he was threescore and
one, there were unco few that liked to come to grips wi’ him. But
though John kent he need fear nae man, and would carry things wi’ a
high hand when needfu’, yet he was onything but quarrelsome, and was
aye mair ready to gree wi’ a man than to fight wi’ him; and as he
was a gash sensible man, and thoroughly honest, he had mony frien’s
and weel-wishers, and was muckle respeckit in the hale kintra side.
John’s family consisted of twa sons and a dochter, who had lost
their mither when they were but weans. The eldest, james, was as
like what his father was at the same age, as twa peas; only, if
onything, a thought stronger. William, the next, was mair slender;
but though he couldna put the stane, nor fling the fore-hammer,
within mony an ell o’ James, yet he could jump higher than ony man
he had ever met wi’; and as for rinnin’, naebody could come near
him. Of Jeanie Marshall we need say nae mair than that she was a
sensible, spirited, light-hearted lassie, the pride of her brothers,
and her father’s darling.
It happened ae night, as the miller was coming back frae gien his
horse a drink at the water, that he heard something cheep-cheeping
in the grass at the roadside, and every now and then it gied a bit
flee up in the air, and then doun again; and upon looking at it
again, the miller saw that it was a robin chased by a whuttrit,
which was trying to grip it ; and the miller said to himsel, "I
canna thole to see the puir bit burdie riven a’ to coopens afore my
very een ; "so he banged aff the horse, and ran and got it up in his
hand, and he let drive sic a kick at the whuttrit, that the beast
gaed up in the lift, and ower the hedge, just as if it had been a
On lookin’ at the robin, John saw some straes stickin’ to’t wi’ burd-lime,
which had stoppit it frae fleein’, and he begood to pike them aff;
but Clod, who was a restless brute, and was wearyin’ for his stable,
tuggit and ruggit sae at the helter, that the miller could come nae
speed ava. "And now," says the miller, "gif I set you doun, puir
thing, as ye are, some beast or anither will come and worry ye; and
it’s no in my power to get on that dancing deevil’s back wi’ ae
hand—sae gang ye in there;” and he lifted up the flap o’ his pouch,
and pat in the robin.
You can read this at
The other stories can be read at
The Life of Tom Morris
By W. W. Tulloch, Member of the Royal & Ancient Club of St. Andrews
Have now completed this book with the following chapters...
A Scotch Physician - Tom as head of the Faculty
Tom as modern statesman
Tom at Home - On the Links, in Shop and House
I thought I'd let you read the entire chapter 25 here as it's a fun
TOM has frequently appeared in the pages of Punch, and the article
which we quote describes him acting as an eminent Scotch physician
the Head of the Faculty.
"Bulger was no cricketer, no tennis-player, no sportsman in fact.
But his doctor recommended exercise and fresh air. ' And I'm
thinking, sir,' he added, ' that you cannot do better than just take
yourself down to St Andrews and put yourself under Tom Morris.' ' Is
he a great Scotch physician? ' asked Bulger; ' I don't seem to have
heard of him.' ' The Head of the Faculty, sir,' said the medical man
' the Head of the Faculty in those parts.'
"Bulger packed his effects, and in process of time he arrived at
Leuchars. Here he observed some venerable towers within a short
walk, and fancied that he would presently arrive at St Andrews. In
this he was reckoning without the railway system he was compelled to
wait at Leuchars for no inconsiderable time, which he occupied in
extracting statistics about the consumption of whisky from the young
lady who ministered to travellers. The revelations now communicated
convinced Bulger that either Dr Morris was not on the lines of Sir
Andrew Clark, or, as an alternative, that his counsels were not
listened to by travellers on that line.
"Arriving in the dusk, Bulger went to his inn, and next morning
inquired as to the address of the Head of the Faculty. ' I didna
ken,`` said an elderly person to whom he appealed, 'that the
professors had made' Tom a doctor, though it's a sair and sad
oversicht, and a disgrace to the country, that they ha'ena done sae
lang syne. But I jalouse that your doctor was jist making a gowk o'
ye.' ' What! ' said Bulger. ' Jist playin' a plisky on ye, and he
meant that Tom wad pit ye in the way o' becoming a player. Mon, ye
're a bull-neckit, bow-leggit chief, and ye'd shape fine for a
gowfer! Here's Tom.' And, with this brief introduction, the old man
'Bulger now found himself in the presence of Mr Morris, whose
courtesy soon put him on a footing of friendliness and confidence.
He purchased, by his mentor's advice, a driver, a cleek, a putter, a
brassey, an iron, a niblick, and a mashie. Armed with thor
implements, which were 'carried by an orphan boy,' and under the
guidance of the Head of the Faculty himself, Bulger set forth on his
first round. His first two strokes were dealt on the yielding air;
his third carried no inconsiderable parcel of real property to some
distance; but his fourth hit the ball and drove it across the road.
' As gude as a better`` quoth the orphan boy, and bade Bulger propel
the tiny sphere in the direction of a neighbouring rivulet. Into
this affluent of the main Bulger finally hit the ball; but an adroit
lad of nine stamped it into the mud while pretending to look for it,
and Bulger had to put down another. When he got within putting range
he hit his ball, careering back and forward over the hole, and, '
Eh, man,' quoth the orphan boy, ' if you could only drive as you
"In some fifteen strokes he accomplished his task of holing out; and
now, weary and desponding (for he had fancied golf to be an easy
game), he would have desisted for the day. But the Head of the
Faculty pressed on him the necessity of ' the daily round, the
common task.' So his ball was teed, and he lammed it into the
Scholar's Bunker, at a distance of nearly thirty yards. A niblick
was now placed in his grasp, and he was exhorted to 'Take plenty
sand.' Presently a kind of simoom was observed to rage in the
Scholar's Bunker, out of which emerged the head of the niblick, the
ball, and, finally, Bulger himself. His next hit, however, was a
fine one, over the wall, where, as the ball was lost, Bulger
deposited a new one. This he, somehow, drove within a few feet of
the hole, when he at once conceived an intense enthusiasm for the
pastime. 'It was a fine drive' said the Head of the Faculty. 'Mr
Blackwell never hit a finer.' Thus inflamed with ardour, Bulger
persevered. He learned to waggle his club in a knowing way. He
listened intently when he was bidden to 'keep his eye on the ba',
and to be 'slow up.' True he now missed the globe and all that it
inhabits, but soon he hit a prodigious swipe, well over
cover-point's head or, rather, in the direction where cover-point
would have been. 'We're awfu' bad in the whims,' said the orphan
boy; and, indeed, Bulger's next strokes were played in distressing
circumstances. The spikes of the gorse ran into his person he could
only see a small part of the ball, and, in a few minutes, he had
made a useful clearing of about a quarter of an acre.
'It is unnecessary to follow his later achievements in detail. He
returned a worn and weary man, having accomplished the round in
about 180, but in possession of an appetite which astonished him and
those with whom he lunched. In the afternoon, the luck of beginners
attending him, he joined a foursome of professors, and triumphantly
brought in his partner an easy victor. In a day or two he was
drinking beer (which he would previously have rejected as poison),
was sleeping like a top, and was laying down the law on stymie and
other ' mysteries more than Eleusinian.' True, after the first three
days, his play entirely deserted Bulger, and even professors gave
him a wide berth in making up a match. But by steady perseverance,
reading Sir Walter Simpson, taking out a professional, and
practising his iron in an adjacent field, Bulger soon developed to
such an extent that few third-rate players could give him a stroke a
hole. He had been in considerable danger of ' a stroke ' of quite a
different character before he left London and the delights of the
Bar. But he returned to the capital in rude health, and may now
often be seen and heard topping into the Pond at Wimbledon, and
talking in a fine Fifeshire accent. It must be acknowledged that his
story about his drive at the second hole, ' equal to Blackwell
himself, Tom Morris himself told me as much,' has become rather a
source of diversion to his intimates; but we have all our failings,
and Bulger never dreams, when anyone says, ' What is the record
drive? 'that he is being drawn for the entertainment of the
sceptical and unfeeling. Bulger will never, indeed, be a player;
but, if his handicap remains at 24, he may some day carry off the
monthly medal. With this great aim before him, and the consequent
purchase of a red coat and gilt buttons, Bulger has a new purpose in
existence 'something to live for, something to do.' May this brief
but accurate history convey a moral to the pessimist, and encourage
those who take a more radiant view of the possibilities of life! "
The other chapters can be read at
The Industries of Scotland, their Rise, Progress and Present
By David Bremner (1869)
Have added a number of new chapters...
Manufactures in Glass
History of Glass—Difficulties of the early Manufacturers in
Britain—Origin of the Manufacture of Glass in Scotland—The Holyrood
Glassworks— How Articles of Glass are made—Glass Cutting and
Engraving—Revival of the Art of Glass-Painting.
Manufacture of Earthenware
Antiquity of the Potter's Art—Its Decay and Revival—Introduction
into Britain—The Scotch Potteries—Description of the Manufacturing
Pro-cesses—History of Bricks—Early Brick-Works in
England—Manufactures in Fireclay—Terra Cotta and its applications.
Granite, Freestone, Pavement, and Slate Quarrying
Importance of the Quarries as a Branch of Industry—Rise and Progress
of the Aberdeen Granite Trade—Granite Polishing—The
Kirkcudbright-shire Granite Quarries—Sandstone Quarries in various
parts of Scotland —The Pavement Trade of Forfarshire and
Caithness—The Easdale and Ballachulish Slate Quarries—Social
Peculiarities of the Workpeople.
Early History of Brewing—Curious old Laws affecting the Trade—The
Malt-Tax—Fatal Riots in Glasgow in consequence of the Extension of
the Tax to Scotland—Extent of the Brewing Trade in
Scotland—Description of a Brewery.
Invention of Distilling—Introduction of the Art into Britain—The
Early Distillers in Scotland—Smuggling and Smugglers—Story of the
First Highland Distillery—Progress of the Trade—The Caledonian
You can read these at
By the Right Hon. Sir Herbert Maxwell
We've now started getting up chapters on individual gardens...
Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
Castle Kennedy, Wigtownshire
Here is how the account starts on Stonefield, Argyllshire ...
FAVENTE—weather permitting the shores of Clyde and the Kyles of Bute
present constantly shifting scenes of beauty to those who go down to
the sea in the fine ships the Iona, the Columba or the Grenadier;
but of the many thousands who take their pleasure in this way every
summer, what a small percentage suspect what treasures are stored in
the sloping woods on either hand. No English gardener will believe,
till he has seen for himself, what luxuriant growth of tender
exotics can be produced on the west coast of Scotland, wherever it
is possible to provide shelter from Atlantic gales. The fierce winds
and mighty rollers that waste their fury for weeks together on the
rock-bound western isles, can work no ruin in the long, narrow
fjords which intersect the mainland. I was prepared, therefore, to
find evidence of a very gentle climate along the shores of Loch Fyne;
but what I found exceeded all anticipation.
If you look at the map of Argyll, you will see that the promontory
of Cantyre, a finger of land about forty miles long and, on an
average, not more than seven miles wide, only escapes severance from
the mainland by means of a strip of ground a mile wide. When Malcolm
Canmore ceded to Magnus Barefoot, King of Norway, all the islands
"between which and the mainland he could pass in a galley with its
rudder shipped," the Northman secured Cantyre by running his craft
ashore at the head of West Loch Tarbert, and causing it to be drawn
on rollers across the isthmus to Loch Fyne, with his own hand on the
tiller. Three hundred years later, Robert the Bruce repeated the
feat, in token of his lordship of the Isles, and built a keep at the
eastern end of the portage, which still presides, grim and
time-worn, over the snug little town of Tarbert, with its tortuous,
but profound, harbour. These incidents are commemorated in the name
of the place, Tarbert signifying "boat draft" or portage, from the
Gaelic taruinn bada.
You can read the rest of this chapter at
You can read the rest of the chapters at
The Life of John Duncan
Scotch Weaver and Botanist with Sketches of his Friends and Notices
of the Times
By William Jolly (1883)
now embarked on this book which I have personally enjoyed reading.
In the book it refers to a 3 part article about him which was
published in the 1878 edition of "Good Words". I managed to find a
copy of this edition on the web and took the liberty of capturing
the pages to a separate pd file which you may like to read before
embarking on this book. You can find this at the foot of the index
page of the book at
There are also references in the book to a couple of books that John
Duncan purchased to help him with his botany and have also found
them on the web and have produced links to them at the foot of the
The first 2 chapters are also up for you to read.
An article by W. Neil Fraser in which he tells us of another use for
Heraldic Arms. You can read this at
Chronicles of Stratheden
By a Resident (1881)
This is another new book which I actually started last week but I
forgot to tell you about it.
The Introduction starts...
IT is the aim of the writer of the following pages to sketch a
Highland parish of our own times, just as it is; and in doing this,
there will be made such references to the past as may enable the
reader, to some extent at least, to compare a Highland parish of
to-day with that of a past of from twenty to forty years ago.
While there is little or nothing sensational to chronicle, it is
hoped that these sketches will not be lacking in interest to such as
care to glance at the changes that have taken place within recent
years, in a part of the country long, on account of its remoteness,
invested with a sort of romance, and now largely frequented by many,
not only for the invigorating benefit of its bracing air, but also
for the richness and variety of its natural scenery.
Stratheden is a fairly representative Highland parish, and possesses
the interesting features of being at once materially influenced by
the changes of recent times, and of retaining a few of the special
characteristics of a Highland parish of other days.
Though not a sound particularly inviting to the lover of harmony,
the whistle of a passing railway train may now be heard along with
the bleating of the sheep that pasture on the hillsides of
Stratheden; and those of the inhabitants who can, from personal
knowledge, compare the present with the past of twenty years ago,
reckon this fact alone as a marked sign of the progress of the age,
and as a patent enough proof that the remoteness of the past has
I found the first chapter on Crofting most interesting and you can
read this book at
A good article from Frank Shaw on a new book on Robert Burns and
I've actually ordered a copy of this book myself. Should you order
it in time you'll also get your name printed in the book under the
list of Subscribers :-)
You can read this at
Frank has also had a "Chat" with the authors of the book which you
can read at
On this page you'll also get to see some sample pages of the
by James Irvine Robertson
James sent me in this 35,000 word account of Atholl that he's
produced as a Guide and History of the area.
He starts of by saying...
Some appreciate Highland Perthshire as no more than one of the most
beautiful parts of Scotland. But what makes a place special is bound
up with many things. Of course scenery and the quality of the
environment are a large part of it but the fourth dimension - time -
has transformed the bare hills. Humanity was the instrument of time
and it is our predecessors who named the landmarks and shaped the
countryside. To understand this magnificent landscape, one must
appreciate something of its legends and history, often inextricably
interlinked, as well as the way of life of its people. By knowing
this one’s appreciation of its beauty is enhanced.
The actual account starts by setting the scene...
350 MILLION YEARS ago Scotland gave a great shake and developed a
fault which runs by Dumbarton, Callander, and Dunkeld before curving
north. South and east of this boundary are the Lowlands of Scotland;
to the north and west lie the Highlands. For centuries this line
represented the greatest cultural boundary in Europe. South of the
river Forth at the dawn of history, the people were of Germanic
stock, originally subjects of the kingdom of Northumbria which
stretched down to the Humber. In the south west of Scotland they
were British, in the far north and far west from Scandinavia but in
the Highlands they were Picts and Scots who had come from Ireland.
These two last peoples were united in 848 by Kenneth McAlpine to
create the nucleus of modern Scotland but the centre of power soon
slipped south. For centuries afterwards the Highlands lay in a time
warp, preserving the last tribal society in Europe. The people of
Lowland Scotland had much in common with the English but by the
sixteenth century Highlanders spoke a different language from the
rest of Great Britain; they wore different clothes, had a different
culture and customs, and habitually carried weapons. A mutual
contempt was almost all these two societies had in common.
At the handful of passes into the rampart of frowning mountains,
settlements grew where these two peoples could trade. Dunkeld was
one of the most important of these interfaces and the straths to its
north were amongst the richest and most fertile in the Highlands. Up
until the beginning of the nineteenth century this was an unknown
country to the sassenach - the southern Scot - peopled by strange
and savage barbarians. Only the most intrepid traveller dared cross
the Tay into the district of Atholl and endure the primitive
conditions, the ‘horrid’ frowning hills, the bare moors, and the
Now the entry to the Highlands is scarcely noticeable. No narrow
pass cuts through the hills. You can waft through Atholl in twenty
minutes, sweeping down from Birnam Hill and across the Tay where the
broad flood plain of the river opens out, then north, up the great
strath before climbing up to the winter-blizzard swept pass of
Drumochter. Through the window of car, coach, or train, you will
observe the tree-covered slopes, Pitlochry, Blair Atholl, the
distant hill tops, and the rivers which originally carved out these
valleys leaving their jagged edges to be ground smooth by the
Travelling thus is almost virtual reality. You can see the land as
you pass but you cannot feel its geography. The modern road runs on
embankment above the flood-prone haughland, marches on stilts across
hillsides, and spans gorges that generations died to defend. You
cannot feel the wind which brushes over the high tops, perhaps
picking up the chill of the late season snow. You miss the midge
which can make memorable a dull late-summer evening. You may note an
osprey over the river, and the magnificence of the Atholl Palace
Hotel which you think Blair Castle until you pass the real thing a
few miles further on, but you’ll never know of the majesty of the
great trees, the tumbling burns, the tranquil lochs and mountain
summits from where Scotland lies at your feet, or the deer, the
grouse, pine martins and the capercaillie that still lurk in the
ancient pine woods. Nor will you understand the way each corner of
this country was shaped by the hand of man.
You can read this guide at
I might add that I decided to leave this as a single web page rather
than dividing it into chapters as I thought you might like to print
it out should you be going to that area on holiday. If you click on
our "Printer Friendly" button it will be easy to print.
And that's it for now and hope you all have an enjoyable weekend :-)
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