Archive for the ‘About Scotland’ Category

The Stone of Scone

Saturday, August 21st, 2010
The Stone of Destiny. Replica, original is now...
Image via Wikipedia

Up the river Perth there is an old abbey, surrounded by trees and partially overtaken by wild nature – it is the Scone Abbey, a historical place where Scottish kings were crowned with the help of the Stone of Scone. Now long gone from it’s original place of power, the Stone still holds a great meaning, even after 700 years.

A 14th century English cleric and historian Walter Hemingford writes:

“In the monastery of Scone, in the church of God, near to the high altar, is kept a large stone, hollowed out as a round chair, on which their kings were placed for their ordination, according to custom.”

The stone has many names. Coronation Stone, Stone of Destiny, as it is said that it was deciding if a person was worth to become a king of the Scots. Jacob’s Pillow Stone, for as the legend says, it had been used by Jacob as a pillow in Haran before it was transported to Syria and later to Spain. In Scottish Gaelic – Lia Fáil. Whatever name it was, the truth is that ever since Kenneth I every monarch of Scotland, England and later Great Britain had to sit on the stone during the coronation. (more…)

Scottish Legends

Sunday, August 1st, 2010
Eilean Donan en, fr
Image via Wikipedia

Whether you are planning an adventure to travel to Scotland or you are interested in studying the history of the country, you will be fascinated by the legends and lore of Scotland. When researching Scottish legends, the first thing that most people think of is the Loch Ness Monster or William Wallace but the history of Scotland has produced some of the more interesting legends that people are not aware of.

The history of Halloween can be traced back to Scotland where it began as a religious celebration of the end of summer, called Samhain. Samhain is a Druid festival that marked the time of the year when the days grew shorter and darkness started earlier.

The Shellycoat is condidered the Scottish boogeyman, Boobrie is a legendary water bird that haunts Scottish lakes, Fachan is a creature who dwells in the western highlands of Scotland, Red Cap is an evil creature who lives in a castle on Scotland’s border. (more…)

5 ways to spend summer in Scotland

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Summer is in full bloom, most of us think of spending their vacation somewhere, where they could see beautiful places, engage in relaxing activities or just sit back and enjoy the moment. If you decided that this year you would like to spend your free time in Scotland, here are some ideas for what is there to do in the beautiful country:

1. Golf

Scotland is well known for it’s golfing background. If you are an enthusiast of the game, you might fancy spending you time visiting some of over four hundred golf courses – one of the oldest in the world, called links. Usually it is best to make a reservation but there is no problem with arriving unannounced. Scottish golf courses, even though some of them have their own membership policies, make a lot of exceptions for foreign tourists with only requirement being the payment between 5 and 20 GBP, depending on the field size.

Golf[photo by: Easywebsites.ky] (more…)

Scottish Words

Sunday, July 11th, 2010
Haggis
Image via Wikipedia

Scottish words have seeped into our language and added all the color and texture of a tartan plaid. In fact, tartan, which is cloth woven in colored checks and intersecting lines, is one of the many words of Scottish origin that is now recognized world wide.

Lassie, meaning a young unmarried woman, and its companion, laddie, a young man, have been popularized through television and song. Most people in Western cultures have heard the Scottish folk song,  “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”. bonnie means pleasing to the eye.

Quite a few landforms owe their names to Scottish origins. Loch, the word for lake, has gained recognition through widely reported sightings of the legendary monster, Nessie. But words like glen, a secluded valley, and firth, an estuary, are also well recognized. (more…)

Recent Developments in the Mystery of the Loch Ness Monster

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010
Loch Ness Monster, Seasnake, Seamonster, Seesc...
Image via Wikipedia

As early as the seventh century, rumors and reports of a prehistoric aquatic beast in the mysterious Loch Ness have brought many to visit this dark, deep lake in the Scottish highlands. But the mystery of the Loch Ness monster still remains something more than just legend, as sightings have continued for more than a century now. Take a look at some of the latest developments in this mystery over the last five years.

The one of the last documented observations of the Loch Ness Monster – or Nessie – occurred at October 15th 2005 at 6pm in the evening (we had also one more in 2009). A local park owner named Robbie Girvan was walking his dogs when he saw a long neck emerge from the water. Robbie ran back to grab his camera and managed to snap five photos of a “dark green and silvery” creature before it disappeared once again into the murky depths. (more…)

4 Stereotypes about Scotsmen

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Most people, when you ask them what do they know about Scotsmen, would answer that they imagine a tall, strong man with fiery red hair, dressed in kilt, standing on a cliff on a misty morning, playing his bagpipes, possibly with some sheep in the background. To be honest, the truth is not as romantic and in many cases completely different from what the world thinks of them. Here are some myths and stereotypes about Scottish people that are not entirely true:

Scotsmen are miserly and reserved because of the hardship their nation went through.

Nothing less true. What many consider avarice  is actually being practical. Even though it is often said that expenses are being cut in various fields, in all actuality the nation is developing at least as well as the rest of Great Britain, in some areas even better. Aside from that, on a more personal level, Scotsmen are very open and don’t hesitate to help others in need. Many immigrants praise the way they were welcomed by the natives when they arrived to Scotland.

[credit: amandabhslater]

Scottish dishes are inedible.

This is probably a myth that origins from the famous haggis, which, for many can be a bit overwhelming. But many well known, delicious dishes come from Scotland. Tattie scones, Dundee cake – which is known for its rich flavour – they all come from Scottish cuisine.

[credit: sicamp]

Scottish economy stands on… sheep.

Yes, Scotland is known for its sheep. But in recent years sheep breeding business is shrinking rapidly – it is seven hundred thousand pieces smaller than it was seven years ago. Aside from that Scotland has a good coal mining base, oil extraction on the North Sea shelf, well developed metallurgical, mechanical, chemical and electrical industries.

[credit: foxypar4]

Men that wear kilts are always cold.

It is actually really difficult to feel cold in a kilt. For one, it is almost 23 feet of thick wool covering the area from waist to knees – that in itself is plenty to keep one warm. Aside from that, there are the woollen socks covering the lower legs – if anything, it can only be too warm. And that actually ties with another stereotype – that Scottish men don’t wear anything under their kilts. It probably depends on a person but sometimes, adding another layer could really be a bit much.

[credit: rfduck]

5 Interesting Facts About Highland Games

Friday, June 4th, 2010
The caber toss event at the 2005 Pacific North...
Image via Wikipedia

Sports in the modern age come and go; the Highland Games in Scotland predate written history. They originate from the earliest Clan gatherings, not only for localities to show off their strongest and most athletic young men, but for Clan leaders to get a good look at the talent available for battle. Regarding the first and best of sport in Scotland:

1. The “Haggis Toss” is not a traditional Highland game. Indeed, tossing a haggis about is a criminal waste of food, so flying haggis at true Highland Games is right out.

2. The weight and dimensions of objects used at each Highland Games vary; today, as in the past, real stones and logs are used.

3. The pine logs used in caber tosses from year to year tend to dry out. Many cabers, then, are soaked for a time in water before the games, to attempt to add the lost weight.

4. Highland Dancing is a competition that demands strength, grace, and stamina. Originally, only men danced at the games, but in the late 19th century, Jenny Douglas entered the competition. Today, 95% of all Highland Games dancers are women. (more…)

A Guide To The Scottish Highlands For Tourists

Thursday, May 27th, 2010
The steep south face of Ben Nevis from Sgurr a...
Image via Wikipedia

The Scottish Highlands is a term given to the mountainous areas of Scotland that are to the west and the north of the Highland Boundary Fault. This region is the perfect holiday destination for tourists looking for a relaxed holiday or an action packed adventure. The area features dramatically different landscapes, making it the habitat for various plant and animal species. The Scottish Highlands are especially steeped in culture and traditions that spring forth from its unique history.

The Highlands are particularly famous for their natural attractions and offer visitors a wide range of stunning views. Ben Nevis, the tallest peak in the British Isles is located in this area. From gorges to peculiar rocky features, ancient woodlands and even some beaches, the landscape of the Scottish Highlands has a little bit of everything. Visitors to this region are especially advised to visit the Corrieshalloch Gorge, the Falls of Glomach in Kintail and the curiously stacked rock feature known as the Old Man of Storr. To admire the beautiful forests and woodlands, one must visit Speyside which is home to the pinewood, or make a trip to Ardnamurchan which features a temperate rainforest.

The best time to visit this wonderful location is either in spring or early summer. During this season, tourists can indulge in various activities from hill-walking to golfing, fishing, cruising, orienteering, and water sports or even shooting. For tourists who would prefer a more leisurely holiday, the Highlands have excellent country house hotels and hideaways as well as a number of spas. (more…)

Wild Nature of Scotland

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Whenever we think of Scotland, old castles, lakes and wilderness in general, mixed with endless fields. But there is so much more to the beautiful country than that, things people appreciate less and less these days. Days, when wild, untouched nature is becoming a rarity. But here, in this beautiful part of the world, most of it is still breathtaking and wonderful.

Scots_Pine[photo by: foxypar4]

Both flora and fauna of Scotland are typical of the north west European part of the Palearctic ecozone. Aside from the agricultural areas, most of the country is covered in woods, heather moorland and peatland. You can see a lot of native Scots Pine, Silver Birch and Heather, although there is not as much of it as it used to. In near proximity of these tres, you can find beautiful Creeping ladies tresses, which is one of the few British orchids that is almost exclusive to Scotland. If you are looking for more secluded and wild scenery, it is best to go north, where human influence is not as visible as in the rest of Scottish land, especially Western Isles.

Heather[photo by: foxypar4]

Because of the location on the world map, the plants grow differently there. The growing season starts later than in more southern parts of Britain. In the beginning of the year nothing is growing much, with just a few species flowering, but during the months of June, July and August the you can see myriads of flowers blooming all around.

Seal[photo by: left-hand]

Puffin[photo by: RATAEDL]

When it comes to wildlife, Scotland also has a lot to offer. It is home to a wonderfully diverse range of species, from the bottlenose dolphins of the Moray Firth to the capercaillie of the Central Highlands and the thousands of seals and puffins inhabiting the beautiful coastlines. If you want to spy some of rarest specimens, then you’ll have to confine your search: to the wet lochside woods around Fort William for the brightly coloured chequered skipper butterfly; or the north coast of Caithness and Sutherland and Orkney for the Scottish Primrose endemic to the shores.

Loch_Ness_Monster[photo by: Cayetano]

Of course, when speaking of animals, we shouldn’t forget the one and only Nessie, supposedly habiting the depths of Loch Ness. But that’ of course, is another matter entirely.

What is Scotland Famous For

Thursday, February 4th, 2010
Loch Ness - With Urquhart Castle in the foreground
Image via Wikipedia

Well, I’ve narrowed it down to the three things that Scotland is most famous for, and we’ll see if you agree…

#3 is the Loch Ness Monster. That slimy, lovable sea dinosaur is one of the first things people associate with Scotland. Nicknamed “Nessie”, she first popped up in 1933 and has been wreaking havoc all over Scotland ever since… actually she is quite tame, and has only been seen on photograph with her infamous giraffe-like neck peering out of the water. Unfortunately, she hasn’t popped up for decades. Come on, Nessie! Show yourself!

#2 is the Kilt. The Kilt is a mysterious and exciting piece of clothing. It has been around since the 16th century and is essentially a skirt for a man. Scottish men have no problem wearing a skirt because, well, they’re Scottish, and you better not have a problem with it either. Made of twill woven worsted wool, the kilt is very durable and can withstand long days and nights of singing, dancing and bagpipe playing… which brings us to our number one item Scotland is famous for… (more…)