Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
The Scottish Nation
Poetry and Stories
New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Book of Scottish Story
The Life of John Duncan
History of Glasgow
History of Banking in Scotland
25 years of Village Cricket
Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
Scottish Influence of my Scottish forebears in NZ
Total Immersion Plus - Making Great Strides
Notice of Runic Inscriptions (New Book)
ELECTRIC SCOTLAND NEWS
We were down for around 24 hours on Saturday as our server system
hard drive blew up after a power cut. This meant rebuilding the
server from scratch. All our data was preserved ok but it takes time
to re-build a web server from scratch so well done Steve on doing so
well to get us back up and running.
I got a few more comments back from my article last week and one
such from New Zealand gave me a url for an article about GlobalScot
which you can read at
Also should mention the Fall Meeting at the Uni of Guelph is on
Saturday 27th September. Always an enjoyable event and the
McLaughlin library often sells of duplicate copies of books which
can be quite a bargain. Admission includes coffee, lunch and
Registration this year will be with the Ossian Art Exhibition in the
University of Guelph's Mclaughlin Library from 9.30am. Come early
for coffee and a private viewing of the exhibition and meet the
artist Calum Colvin at 10am. You then take a short walk to Rozanski
Hall for the rest of the program which includes speakers...
Duncan Macniven, Scotland's Registrar General, who will talk about
Scottish Genealogy, the census and ScotlandsPeople. Other speakers
will be Dr Tom Normand (St Andrews), Ms Kim Sullivan (Otago), Dr.
Graeme Morton (Guelph) and Professor Cairns Craig, FBA, FRSE, OBE,
Glucksman Professor & Director of the Research Institute for Irish
and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen.
I'm off to the the Selkirk Faire just outside Wallaceburg this
Saturday and hopefully this time there will be sun! :-) The event is
over Saturday and Sunday so hopefully if you live in the area you'll
manage to get there. They do have a web site at
I also wanted to say sorry for the site being so slow these days.
We've actually exceeded our bandwidth but I can't afford to increase
it at this time. We'll just need to suffer it until we can move to
Michigan where I'll be able to afford to increase it. Estimated time
scales for this are now into October.
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
This weeks Flag is compiled by Jennifer Dunn in which she is giving
her thoughts on the next by-election.
In Peter's cultural section he tells us about cricket in Scotland...
Eight years ago, in the early days of The Flag, Jim Lynch caused a
minor brouhaha by casting doubts on the popularity of cricket in
Scotland – he was probably right from the point of view of
spectators but as I pointed out at the time there are more cricket
clubs in Aberdeenshire than there are in Yorkshire, England. That
must be true as my Dominie at St Combs Primary School, who played
for Huntly CC, told me so! He also taught me the rudiments of the
I was reminded of this on Monday as I settled down to listen to
Scotland v England on Radio Scotland in the very first official
cricket game between Scotland’s national team and England. Although
there has been the occasional exhibition or friendly game it has
taken 220 years before the first serious game, a one-day match at
the Grange in Edinburgh, attended by First Minister Alex Salmond.
Scotland regained the status to play one-day internationals (ODIs)
in 2005. Fortunately or unfortunately the start was delayed due to
rain until 12.30 pm enabling me to switch on in time for the start
after a morning volunteer shift at New Bayview, home of East Fife
FC. I almost wished immediately that I had missed it as Scotland put
in to bat slumped to only 11 runs for three wickets. But a spirited
fight-back from Gavin Hamilton (60 runs) and Colin Smith (36 runs)
ensured that Scotland finished the revised 44 overs on 156 for 9.
England responded with 10 runs off the first 15 balls as they chased
the Scots total before rain once more stopped play and the game
ended up as a no-result.
The full house at the Grange showed that there is an audience for
the top games in Scotland. Hopefully rain will not ruin the next
major ODI in Scotland next year when the Scots will face the power
of Australia on 28 August 2009. Further good news emerged this week
that Scotland will also take part in the ICC World Twenty tournament
in England next year, following the formal withdrawal of Zimbabwe.
They will face stiff opposition in the shape of South Africa and New
Zealand in Group D.
Hopefully Scotland will find some top form batting in these matches,
and preferably someone who can hit a century. On a historic note the
first recorded cricket century to be scored in Scotland was made by
the Hon Charles Lennox, way back on 9 October 1789. He scored 136
not out on that day. Cricket grounds were firmly established before
the emergence of modern football. Indeed the first International
football match played in the world – Scotland v England – took place
at a cricket ground in Patrick, Glasgow. A crowd of 4,000 paid a 1/-
a head to watch the 0-0 draw. Scottish writers such as Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle and James M Barrie were keen cricketers and as you will
see from this week’s History Dates 108 years ago, Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle bowled out the legendary W G Grace, one of England’s greatest
With some 200 local clubs and over 25,000 people involved in the
sport, cricket has a firm place in the traditional way of life in
Scotland. In towns and villages, the length and breadth of the
nation, resounds to the sound of ball on willow during the summer
months. Week in and week out fielders will hope to avoid the dreaded
dropped catch but this week’s recipe – Dropped Scones – should
appeal to all cricketers when the stumps are drawn.
Ingredients: 4oz self raising flour; pinch of salt; 2oz caster
sugar; 1 egg; milk to mix, approx 4 tablespoons
Method: Mix the flour, salt and sugar, add the egg and gradually
beat in the milk to make a thick batter. Bake 2 or 3 at a time by
dropping spoonfuls of the mixture on a hot, well-greased griddle.
Butter and enjoy.
The Scottish Nation
My thanks to Lora for transcribing these volumes for us.
We're now onto the S's with Seaforth, Selkirk, Semple, Seton and
A substancial account of Seton this week which starts...
SETON, a surname derived from Say-tun, the dwelling of Say.
Anciently there were in England two families names Say, of Norman
descent. The first of the race who came into Scotland was Secher or
Saiker de Say, who obtained from David I. lands in Haddingtonshire,
and was the ancestor of the noble family of Seton, earls of Winton.
He was the son of Dugal de Say, by his wife, a daughter of De
Quincy, earl of Winchester, constable of Scotland.
Alexander de Seton, son of Secher, witnessed a charter of David I.,
to William de Riddell of the lands of Riddell in Roxburghshire. He
was proprietor of Seton and Winton in East Lothian, and Winchburgh
in Linlithgowshire, and his son, Philip de Seton, got a charter of
these lands from William the Lion, to be held in capite of the
crown. Philip’s eldest son, Sir Alexander de Seton, witnessed many
charters of Alexander II., and also a donation of Sayer de Quincy,
earl of Winchester, to the abbacy of Dunfermline, before 1233.
His son, Serlo or Secher de Seton, had two sons and a daughter, Sir
Alexander, Sir John, and Barbara, the wife of Sir William Keith,
great marischal of Scotland. Among those who swore fealty to Edward
I. in 1296 was Alisaundre de Seton, valet, Richard de Seton, del
counte de Dunfres, and John de Seton of the same county. Sir
Alexander, the elder son, was father of Sir Christopher Seton, who
married Lady Christian Bruce, third daughter of Robert earl of
Carrick, sister of King Robert I., widow of Gratney, earl of Mar. He
was one of the principal supporters of his brother-in-law, and was
present at his coronation at Scone 27th March 1306. At the
disastrous battle of Methven, 13th June following, he rescued Bruce
when he was unhorsed by Philip de Mowbray. He afterwards shut
himself up in Lochdoon castle in Ayrshire, and on its surrender to
the English, Sir Christopher Seton was, by order of Edward I.,
executed at Dumfries.
He appears to have been succeeded by his brother Sir Alexander
Seton, who signed, with other patriotic nobles, the famous letter to
the Pope in 1320, asserting the independence of Scotland. He had
grants from King Robert I. of various lands, as well as of the manor
of Tranent and other extensive possessions previously belonging to
the noble family of De Quincy, attainted for their espousal of the
cause of Edward. He also got the lands of Falside or Fawside,
forfeited by Alexander de Such, who married one of the daughters and
heiresses of Roger de Quincy, earl of Winchester.
Falside castle, situated near the boundary with Inveresk, was one of
the ancient strong fortalices of the Setons. A younger branch of the
family styled themselves the Setons of Falside. Their principal
castle was Niddry in Linlithgowshire, the ruins of which still
remain. Sir Alexander de Seton had a safe-conduct into England 7th
January 1320, and Robert I. applied for another, 21st March 1327,
for him to treat with the English. He was governor of the town of
Berwick when it was besieged by the English in 1333. His son Thomas
was given as a hostage to King Edward III., that that place would be
surrendered on a certain day if not relieved before then. Sir
William Keith having arrived with succours, assumed the
governorship, and refused to deliver up the town. Edward ordered
Thomas Seton, and, some accounts say, two sons of Keith, who had
fallen into his hands, to be executed in sight of the besieged. The
day after the defeat of the Scots army at Halidon-hill, 19th July
1333, Berwick surrendered to the English. Sir Alexander Seton was
present in Edward Baliol’s parliament, 10th February following, when
he witnessed the concession of Berwick to the English. He had a
safe-conduct to go to England, 15th October 1337, and in August
1340, he was one of the hostages for John, earl of Moray, when he
was liberated for a time. He appears to have entered into a
religious order in his old age, as “Frater Alexander de Seton miles,
hospitalis sancti Johannis Jerusalem in Scotia” had a safe-conduct
into England on the affairs of David II., 12th August 1348.
By his wife, Christian, daughter of Cheyne of Straloch, he had three
sons and a daughter, namely, Alexander, killed in opposing the
landing of Edward Baliol near Kinghorn, 6th August 1332; Thomas,
already mentioned; and William, drowned in an attack on the English
fleet at Berwick, in sight of his father, in July 1333. The
daughter, Margaret, became heiress of Seton. She married Alan de
Wyntoun, supposed to have been a cadet of the Seton family. This
marriage, we are told, produced a feud in East Lothian, and
occasioned more than a hundred ploughs to be laid aside from labour.
His children took the name of Seton. He died in the Holy Land,
leaving a son, Sir William Seton, and a daughter, Christian or
Margaret, countess of Dunbar and March.
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 Old Machar
The parish of Old Machar was originally a deanery, called the
Deanery of St Machar, and comprehended the parishes of Old Machar,
New Machar, and Newhills. In times of Popery, they do not seem to
have been divided into separate parishes, but to have been chapels
in the deanery, at which chapels divine worship was regularly
performed, as the inhabitants of so extensive and populous a
district could not conveniently meet in one place for public
worship. New Machar seems to have been erected into a separate
parish about the time of the Reformation; and Newhills about the
The extent of this parish is great, and its form irregular. Its
south-east corner forms the north and west boundaries of the city of
Aberdeen, or parish of St Nicholas. It extends about three miles up
the Dee, by which river it is bounded on the south, and divided from
the parish of Nigg, and county of Kincardine. The western boundary
stretches in a crooked line from the Dee to the Don, at the distance
of about two miles and a-half from the parish church. By this line
it is divided from the parishes of Nether Banchory and Newhills.
Crossing the Don, it extends a mile and a-half farther up the river,
making in all four miles from the river's mouth. On this part the
Don divides it from the parishes of Newhills and Dyce; its northern
boundary passes by the parishes of New Machar and Belhelvie, till it
joins the sea at the Black Dog, forming a sweep, every part of which
is distant from the parish church at least four miles. On the east,
it is bounded by the sea, from the Black Dog to Aberdeen, the extent
of coast being about five miles. Its greatest length, from north to
south, may be seven or eight miles, and its greatest breadth about
This parish rises in a gentle slope from the sea, and though there
is no eminence in it that deserves the name of a mountain, its
surface is beautifully diversified by rising grounds. The windings
of the Dee and the Don, the manufactories, and the woods on the
banks of the latter, some detached clumps of planting on the rising
grounds, interspersed with a number of gentlemen's seats and
villas,—together with the various prospects of the sea, the rivers,
the cities of Old and New Aberdeen, and the villages of Gilcomston
and Woodside,—give a pleasant variety to the general appearance of
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 5 of this tale which completes this
story and here is how it starts...
Next day the miller spoke to James anent his marriage, an’ tell't
him, as they were no to move frae the mill, it needna be putten aff
ony langer; sae it was settled to be in a fortnight, an' that
created an unco bustle in the house. An’ Jeanie was every now and
then speakin’ o' how they were a.’ to manage, but the miller ne’er
seemed to mind her.
So ae day, when they’re in the kitchen by themsels, she begins on’t
“An` James an' his wife will hae to get the room that he an’ William
are in ; an’ then William he maun either get mine, or sleep outby,
for there’ll be nae puttin’ him in yon cauld, damp bed,unless we
want him to gang like a cripple; sae I dinna ken what's to be dune."
"Ye forget, Jeanie," said the miller, “that John Murdoch sleepit
there, an’, he didna seem to be the waur o`t.”
"Aye, for ae night, nae doubt, and in fine weather; but how lang
will that last?”
The miller gies her nae answer; but after sittin’ thinking a wee, he
rises and taks down his bonnet.
"It’s a fine day for being out," says Jeanie; "but are ye gaun far,
"Nae farer than the Hope," said the miller.
"The Hope!” exclaimed Jeanie, as her face reddened.
"Ay," says the miller; "and I’m thinking o’ speirin if there’s room
there for ane o' ye."
"Now God bless my gude auld father," said Jeanie; "he sees brawly
what I wanted, and wadna even look me in the face to confuse me."
Here is how the account starts on Cocker's Nursery, Aberdeen...
PASSING from Raeden House over the hill-top known as the Cocket Hat,
one comes upon a wide extent of nursery ground and, forasmuch as our
series of Scottish garden types would not be complete without a
sample of commercial horticulture, Miss Wilson has chosen a corner
of this ground called Honey Braes, which forms a fitting subject for
her art. The day may come when this drawing may have an interest
more than aesthetic; for already this part of the nurseries has been
marked off in building plots, and the red-roofed house is doomed to
disappear at no distant date. It was under these red tiles that Mrs.
Byron (nee Catherine Gordon of Gight) lived with her son George,
whom she described to her sister-in-Jaw, Mrs. Leigh, as being "very
well and really a charming boy" in 1791. Seven years later the
"charming boy" succeeded his great-uncle, the "wicked Lord Byron,"
as sixth Lord Byron, with such results upon English literature as we
wot of. It suggests curious commentary upon early training and what
surprises may await those who calculate upon its result, to read
Byron's notes upon his start in letters. "I had," he says, "a very
serious, saturnine, but kind young man, named Paterson, for my
tutor. He was the son of my shoemaker, but a good scholar, as is
common with the Scotch. He was a rigid Presbyterian also."
The Life of John Duncan
Scotch Weaver and Botanist with Sketches of his Friends and Notices
of the Times
By William Jolly (1883)
Have now added more chapters from this book...
Chapter XXII - John returns to the Gadie
Return to Auchleven; Sandy Smith's cottage; Sandy Smith himself;
John and Mrs. Smith; his abstemiousness; his methodicalness; his
quiet humour—night-caps and social standing!; John and young Sandy:
Emslie, the carpenter's rife; her kindness to John; their
intellectual intercourse; her opinion of him: Mrs. Lindsay's
cottage; John by the fireside there; John sleeps with a "pig!"; his
returns for kindness received. 1849-1852.
Chapter XXIII - His Studies and Friends at Auchleven
Intellectual pursuits ardent as ever; John's studies in "the
philosopher"; "We've laid by the moon and ta'en up the stars?";
John's practical answer; botanising round Gadie side; out all night
and "like naebody else"; his style of speech; holds the first
Botanical Exhibition; his discourse then, "Botany not a beast"; his
fame spreads: still an herbalist: his Astronomical studies; makes a
telescope; John on the stars at a soiree: Entomology: Meteorology:
Theology; studies the Greek Testament; anti-papal reading:
bewildered opinions of him at Auchleven; "he's a fool"; John regards
the exoteric and the esoteric: John and young Dr. Mackay; their
friendship; their joint studies of Botany and Theology. 1849-1852.
Chapter XXIV - John becomes an Essayist
Rise of the Mutual Instruction movement in the north; "Corresponding
Committee" appointed; "Address to Farm Servants" issued; "Mutual
Instruction Union" formed; Female classes; "Rural Echo" published;
the after history of movement: the Auchleven Class; its meetings,
soirees and library; John at the meetings; his essays there: his
Essay on Botany; advocates Natural History for children; his praise
of Linnaeus: Essays on Astronomy; Essay on Weaving: Essay on
Practical Gardening; good effects of flowers everywhere; advices on
gardening; criticism of gardens in general; influence of such
natural studies. 1846-1852.
Chapter XXV - Friendship and Courtship
Renewed intercourse with Charles Black on the Gadic; their last
ramble together; their subsequent connection: wishes a home of his
own; John a great ladies' man; his matrimonial qualifications; a
love-letter of John's; John and the housekeeper; John gets another
denial; John and a third lady on the hill-top; John's chivalry in
Chapter XXVI - Settlement and Word at Droughsburn
Events during his residence at Auchleven: the Vale of Alford and
John's relations to it; Droughsburn described; his workshop and home
there: William Watt his predecessor; their connection; eminent
weavers: John settles down there; his future labours; a good judge
of cloth; his general aspect in his wanderings; how he finished a
web; his journeys to Aberdeen. 1852-1859.
The History of Glasgow
By Robert Renwick LL.D. and Sir John Lindsay L.D. in 3 volumes
We are now making progress with these volumes and this week we have
Church Building—Bishop Joceline
King William's Burghal Legislation
Glasgow and Dumbarton—Royal Mint
Collection of the King's Customs
Building of Glasgow Cathedral Resumed
And here is a bit from Chapter XVII...
Between the lands of Glasgow barony and the district of Argyle, thus
united to the kingdom, lay the earldom of Levenachs, otherwise
Levenax, a name latterly softened to Lennox, originally taken from
the river Leven to the lands through which it flowed, and in time
extended to the wide district embracing Dumbartonshire with a
considerable portion of the shire of Stirling and other adjacent
lands. The first owner of this territory is said, but on doubtful
authority, to have been one Arkyll who lived in the time of Malcolm
Canmore, and it was supposed that his son or grandson, Alwyn, was
the first earl. Both the first earl and his son and successor were
named Alwyn, but the precise dates of possession are uncertain. When
the succession opened to the second earl he was in minority, and
till he came of age for military service the earldom was held by
King William's brother, David earl of Huntingdon. [Lindores
Chartulary, p. i; Scots Peerage, `Lennox,' vol. v.; Reg. de Passelet,
One interesting bit of information connected with the administration
of the earldom about this time is preserved in the Register of
Glasgow Bishopric. By charters granted between 1208 and 1214 the
second Earl Alwyn and Maldouen, his son and heir, granted to the
church of Glasgow and to Bishop Walter and his successors, the
church of "Kamsi," with the land which he gave to it at its
dedication, and with the chapels adjacent to the church, common
pasturage throughout the whole parish and other easements, all in
free and perpetual alms. The charters are accompanied by a minute
description of the bounds of the parish, but these limits have been
altered by subsequent disjunctions. [Reg. Episc. Nos. 101-3.]
Campsie became the prebend of. the chancellor of the cathedral, but
at first the bishop's title to its possession was not clear. During
Earl David's wardship he had granted Campsie church to the monks of
Kelso, and their claim was only surrendered in consideration of
their receiving payment of ten merks yearly from the benefice. [Reg.
Episc. No. 116; Origines Parochiales, i. p. 45.]
History of Banking in Scotland
By Andrew William Kerr (1908)
We now have up several chapters from this book...
Origin and Development of Scottish Banking
The Darien Company
The Bank of Scotland
The Equivalent Company - The Royal Bank of Scotland
Competition - Private Banking - John Coutts & Co.
Ramsays, Bonars & Co., - Rebellion of 1745 - The British Linen
Chapter I starts...
THE state of Scotland at the close of the seventeenth century—the
period at which Scottish banking commenced—was not favourable to
commercial enterprise. Foreign and domestic wars and tumults had,
from time immemorial, drained the country of its hardiest manhood
and of its scanty treasure. Commerce, except in that minimum
proportion which is indispensable to the distribution of the
necessaries of life, had never had opportunity to establish itself.
The nation was sunk in poverty. Even the few large landowners could
only be called wealthy in comparison with the plain living
commonalty, who could with difficulty supply their wants. Even the
officers of the Crown were in the enjoyment of but petty incomes,
which the evil fortunes of the nation frequently interrupted the
payment of. The currency was debased in quality and scarce in
quantity. It would appear that payment in kind was usual in the
settlement of rents, and it is probable that barter in some forms
was not uncommon in the more remote country districts. The history
of Scotland as an independent country is one of almost constant
misfortune ; for even the brilliant victories gained by the Scots
over their great enemies, the English, were but the barriers which
averted ruin. They did not, like the triumphs of the French or of
the Spaniards, add new territory to the State, or increase the
wealth of the kingdom. They merely enabled the unconsolidated
community to continue its rude existence in independence at the cost
of chronic penury, intensified by internecine feuds and periodic
coups d'etat. Eventually the nation reaped a rich reward for the
sufferings it had endured in the struggle to preserve its freedom,
for it gained access to boundless fields for the exercise of its
restless energy, achieved large profits for its untiring activity,
and became united into one of the most law-abiding and industrious
countries in the world. At the time when our history begins,
however, the clouds of night were still overshadowing the country;
and the sun of prosperity, destined to shine with undimmed
splendour, had not yet risen on the national horizon.
The Union of the Crowns of England and Scotland in the year 1603, by
the accession of James VI. of Scotland to the throne of England, put
an end to the hereditary warfare waged for centuries between the
kingdoms; but though the wounds were bound up they were not healed,
and international jealousy and dislike still prevented the full
advantage of community of interests. As being the weaker power,
Scotland suffered most in this new phase of its struggle with its
domineering associate, who ever and anon checked its enterprise
whenever it seemed to trench on English prerogatives. It did,
however, snatch an uneasy rest during the forty years which elapsed
before the great civil war between the Commons and the Crown broke
out in 1642. In that six years' struggle, as in all the succeeding
troubles, the efforts of Scotland were generally spent on the losing
side. The Scots, indeed, escaped the brunt of the conflict, but they
suffered terribly in the end by the iron hand of Cromwell, whose
power they had well-nigh crushed at Dunbar, but for the infatuation
of their clerical dictators prevailing over the military skill of
their sagacious general, Leslie. Through the Commonwealth and the
restored Monarchy, the country's grievances continued; and it was
not until the peaceful revolution of 1688 placed the constitution on
a firm basis, that there was even the possibility of prosperity for
Scotland; and not until the effects of the legislative union of the
countries in 1707 had had time to develop themselves, that the
nation's spirit was at rest.
Scottish Influence of my Scottish forebears in NZ
Anne Stewart Ball has produced a 2 part account of the Scots
Diaspora in New Zealand as a result of my editorial of a couple of
weeks back. She starts by saying...
Reading your Newsletter, Alastair, has provoked considerable thought
on the Scottish Influence of those early immigrants who made New
Zealand their new home- their legacy and how the Scottish Influence
has permeated into our way of life – business, economics, transport
systems, community, church and culture.
It has been said at times that Dunedin is a true Scottish town –
more Scottish than Scotland. The newspapers of 1889 record a crowd
of at least 15000 turning out to unveil a statue of Robert Burns.
Mr Whyte MHR in a responding speech at a dinner held to celebrate
the opening of the Waiorongomai Battery and Tramway was reported as
saying." In the composition of the House there were about 50 English
men, 6 or 8 Colonials, 4 Maories, 8 or 9 Irishmen, and 25
Scotchmen,” He added to this that “ the presence of the Scotchman
had had the effect of producing a large amount of practical work.”
Total Immersion Plus - Making Great Strides
A great article talking about how to learn the Gaelic language by
Finlay MacLeod. This came about from my editorial of a couple of
weeks back and subsequent comments made on Scotland on Sunday.
Finlay phoned me from Scotland and I hope this will be the first of
a number of articles from him.
The article concludes with...
A student's perspective
I first began learning Gàidhlig with the organization
Sgoil-Ghàidhlig an Ard-Bhaile in February 2007. I remember seeing
the ad in the paper for the classes, and I couldn't get to the phone
quick enough to find out more! I have always had an interest in the
language ever since I was a kid. I was informed that the classes
employ the Gàidhlig aig baile (Gaelic in the Home/community), which
is essentially immersion. I was a bit nervous... but Kathleen Reddy
(now my tutor) stated that if one is truly interested in becoming
fluent in a language they must do immersion at some point.
Since then I have attained a modest level of 'conversational
fluency' and can understand much of what is being said by fluent
speakers, but as they say, you never stop learning. Gàidhlig is by
far the best thing I've ever become involved with. I now have
knowledge of a language which is the Keystone to all areas of the
culture I love so much. I have even learned five or so Orain Luaidh.....
or Milling songs.
For anyone who is interested in the Language or the Culture, I would
strongly recommend you check out a Gàidhlig aig Baile class near
you... you have everything to gain!
Notice of Runic Inscriptions
This is a small book to do with excavation of Maes-Howe and other
old barrows and such on the Island of Orkney. I have posted it up by
both ocr'ing the text but there are also many illustrations and thus
many images that make up the book. I had posted it up as just one
page but found it was taking far too long to download due to all the
images so have now divided it into 3 parts.
I might add that I visited the Orkneys once a year for six years and
had never heard of these old stone buildings until I started to do
the histories some years later.
Here is a wee bit from the first part to set the scene...
EARLY in the month of July 1861 I was enabled, by the kind
permission of my friend David Balfour, Esq. of Balfour and Trenaby,
to put in execution a scheme long contemplated, but from various
circumstances unavoidably delayed, the excavation of some of the
great tumuli in the neighbourhood of the Stones of Stennes, or Ring
of Brogar. I had in the year 1854 partially explored one of
considerable size on the east side of the great circle of stones,
which stands on the west shore of the Loch of Harray. No discovery,
however, of any importance was then made.
Some days were
devoted to excavations close to Stennes, to which allusion will
afterwards be made, but as several gentlemen of well-known
antiquarian reputation from Edinburgh and Aberdeen were expected,
and as I was desirous of having the benefit of their experience and
advice, I determined at once to commence operations on the great
tumulus of Maes-howe, the subject of this notice. My attention had
been particularly called to this tumulus by Mr. Balfour, whose
decided opinion that a careful examination might result in some
important discovery, afforded me great encouragement, as I well knew
that he had for many years taken considerable interest in Orkney
antiquities, and his opinion that Mass-howe was a sepulchral
chamber, appeared to be confirmed by local traditions. [The country
people state that the building was formerly inhabited by a person
named - Hogboy, possessing great strength. Haugbuie, in Norse,
signifies "the ghost of the tomb;" and Haugr, "tumulus."]
On the afternoon of Saturday the 6th of July, therefore, guided by
the experience of Mr. George Petrie, and assisted by the
professional knowledge of Mr. Wilson, road contractor, ground was
broken on the west side of Maes-howe, and on the same evening, Mr.
John Stuart and Mr. Joseph Robertson of Edinburgh, with Colonel
Forbes Leslie of Rothie, and Mr. James Hay Chalmers of Aberdeen,
arrived by the Prince Consort steamship. As it was anticipated that
a couple of days would suffice to make a large opening in the
tumulus, arrangements were made for meeting there on the 10th of
July. Before proceeding with the description of what followed, it
may not be out of place to give a short account of the Stones of
Stennes, as described by Lieutenant Thomas in a work published by
him in 1851 :--
"The Great Circle of Stennes, or Ring of Brogar, is a deeply
entrenched circular space containing almost two acres and a half of
superficies, of which the diameter is 366 feet. Around the
circumference of the area, but about thirteen feet within the
trench, are the erect stones, standing at an average distance of
eighteen feet apart. They are totally unhewn, and vary considerably
in form and size. The highest stone was found to be 13-9 feet above
the surface, and judging from some others which have fallen, it is
sunk about eighteen inches in the ground. The smallest stone is less
than six feet, but the average height is from eight to ten. The
breadth varies from 2-6 to 7-9 feet, but the average may be stated
at about 5 feet, and the thickness about 1 foot—all of the old red
sandstone formation. The trench round the area is in good
preservation. The edge of the bank is still sharply defined, as well
as the two foot-banks or entrances, which are placed exactly
opposite to each other. They have no relation to the true or
magnetic meridian, but are parallel to the general direction of the
neck of land on which the circle is placed.
The trench is 29 feet in breadth, and about 6 in depth, and the
entrances are formed by narrow earth-banks across the fosse. The
surface of the enclosed area has an average inclination to the
eastward. It is highest on the north-west quarter, and the extreme
difference of level is estimated to be from 6 to 7 feet. The trench
has the same inclination, and therefore could never be designed to
He has sent in a wee humour story for us and here it is for you to
You Think You Have Problems?
A little guy is sitting at a local bar just staring at his drink for
half an hour when this big trouble-making truck driver sits down
next to him, grabs his drink and gulps it down in one swig.
The poor little guy starts crying.
"Come on man, I was just giving you a hard time," says the truck
driver. "I'll buy you another drink. I just can't stand to see a man
"This is the worst day of my life," says the little guy between
sobs. "I can't do anything right. I overslept and was late to an
important meeting, so my boss fired me. When I went to the parking
lot, I found my car was stolen and I have no insurance. I grabbed a
cab home but, after the cab left, I discovered my wallet was still
in the cab.
At home I found my wife in bed with the gardener. So I came to this
bar trying to work up the courage to put an end to my life, and then
you show up and drink the damn poison!"
And that's it for now and hope you all have an enjoyable weekend :-)
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