Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….


Gracing our front cover: The next generation at the World pipe Band Championships. Photos: Glasgow Life.

October 2018 (Vol. 42, Number 04)

The Banner Says…

Supernatural Scotland

This is always a month where things go bump in the night just that much more, as millions of children and adults around the world plan and create the perfect costume or scary trick with Halloween finishing off the month each October.


As the sugar rush of treats hits its peak many may not be thinking of Halloweens Celtic origins. Samhain is an ancient Celtic celebration based on the tradition of the Feast of Samhain, which marked the end of the Celtic year and the beginning of the new one, much like New Year’s Eve traditions we have today.

Samhain also marked the end of summer and the change of season (taking place between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice) ahead for Celts as nights draw in and cooler weather prevails, and dates back thousands of years.

Part of the Samhein celebration involved rituals to honour people’s deceased relatives and spirits that roam the land. Scotland is no doubt a hot spot for ghosts and spirits, proving it really is a must see destination, as even in the afterlife people visit! With so many historical sites, with such at times brutal and horrid pasts, there is no doubt Scotland is a land filled with spooky opportunity.

Most parts of the country will have a story to tell and while some laugh it off as folklore others leave with some unique tales to tell. I have had a few experiences in different parts of the country which I cannot explain, nor do I feel the need to, they become part of the Scottish experience for me.

Rosslyn Chapel

I remember being in Rosslyn Chapel, located in the village of Roslin outside of Edinburgh, admiring its incredible stone work and going into a lower chamber and getting the sense that someone was around me and a very strong rush of cold also came around me. This was in winter so I try to explain that to myself as a probable reason, but this was different than the cool air everywhere else…

Regardless this is an incredible place to visit just to take in the incredible stonework which is filled with mysterious Celtic symbolism and detail. There are of course numerous reports of “happenings” here with reported sightings of spirits such a lady in white within the chapel to a horse rider in black outside the chapel, it is the possible place of the Holy Grail, considered to be on a spiritual fault line and even had reports of aliens visiting by UFO spotters!

In this issue

The bagpipes are the sound of the Scotland and we have a roundup of this year’s World Pipe Band Championships as bands and piping fans descended on Glasgow for one of the pinnacle pipe band events in the world. Bands from all over the world attended including of course Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. These bands joined not only bands from across Scotland, Ireland and the UK but diverse nations such as France, Oman, Switzerland, and even Zimbabwe. Proving the bagpipe really is a global instrument.

The colours of a Scottish autumn are a sight to be seen. The nation begins a fiery dance of colour as tress change and skies soften. Crisp air and blankets of fallen tree leaves make it a great time to visit as the crowds drop away but the nation puts on a natural display the whole world is invited to enjoy.

The song Caledonia is known by millions of Scots the world over and this year is having its 40th anniversary. We have been lucky to again catch up with our friend Dougie Maclean on his musical journey from penning that as a young man in the late 1970’s to how that song and his musical overall talent has helped him create a creative family business in Perthshire.

One of the most haunted countries on Earth

For those who dare and are intrigued by spooky spots in Scotland we do give some a mention in this issue. There are of course hundreds of other places that have stories to tell, in fact you can’t go far without finding a haunted story in Scotland, and perhaps you have visited and experienced something yourself?

Edinburgh is considered not only one of Scotland’s most haunted spots but one of the most haunted cities in the world with tales around every corner and close. This Halloween marks the 190th anniversary also of the final killing in Edinburgh by the infamous William Burke and William Hare, two Irish labourers who murdered 16 people in the space of a year and sold their bodies for medical research. They preferred suffocation and this became known as “Burking”.

Their last victim, Marjory Campbell Docherty, was killed on October 31st, 1828 and William Burke was hung in the Lawnmarket district of Edinburgh the following January. William Hare was spared and fled to England after the gruesome events took place. Today Burke’s skeleton is still on display at Surgeon’s Hall in Edinburgh next to his death mask adding to the city’s spooky credentials.

From haunted moors to spooky castles Scotland is considered one of the most haunted countries on Earth, but that dark past only adds to its magical appeal. If you happen to be at Halloween event or have a visiting trick or treaters at your door you may want to think of our Celtic ancestors who celebrated this time of year and marked a new Celtic year ahead, a year filled with opportunity and celebration of those who walked before us, and perhaps are still walking amongst us today…

Have you had a spooky experience in Scotland?  Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

This month also marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month and includes our pink tartan cover, the Scottish Banner will be donating proceeds from this issue to help this great cause, and we thank our readers for their support.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….


Gracing our front cover: members of The Society of John De Graeme at Callendar HousePhoto: Vass Media

September 2018 (Vol. 42, Number 03)

The Banner Says…

Many readers of the Scottish Banner no doubt take the chance to embrace our heritage by attending a Highland Games, whether it be near or far, to celebrate Scotland with like-minded friends old and new.

In any given month we list hundreds of Scottish events on our website, and in each edition, from around the world allowing us to have one of the most comprehensive international Scottish events listings available anywhere.

I have attended hundreds of Highland Games and Scottish/ Celtic events across the world and regardless of where I am, I always am checking the weather in the lead up to the big day. I am sure that is something that many a reader can relate to.

I was recently at a Highland Games which began with blue sunny skies and no wind, a perfect day for a Games. However as the day progressed the winds picked up and a dark clouds approached, as I scrambled to close down the Scottish Banner tent I wondered if I could get everything packed away safely.

All in it together

As one of my display items hurled across the field it hit someone’s legs, thankfully not causing any injury, he brought it over to me and said; “You are going to need some help here!” He and his friend jumped into action and helped me get everything away safely with not one minute to spare before the heavens opened as the wind whirled around us. I have witnessed this incredible act of community kindness before and am sure some readers have helped or been helped at events in the past.

On another occasion my van got bogged in the ground and I was helped by some of the heavy events men and women who pushed out my van like it was a shopping trolley. I was so thankful to them but they insisted it was no big deal and that “we were all in it together”. This sums up so many people that attend Scottish events around the world, happy to help each other and look out for one another.

So make sure you check our calendar of events and find a Scottish community event you can attend. You may just run into one of the many kind Scots I have, and find reason to join one of the many great Scottish organisations our community offers. The international Scottish community is very fortunate to have so much on offer year round, and so many great people running, participating and attending these events.

In this issue

Speaking of community groups, this month we speak to an re-enactment group in Scotland who are passionate about sharing the story of Scotland to the wider community. The Society of John De Graeme promote not only an important figure in Scottish history but the overall story of Scotland itself. These passionate volunteers spend many personal hours away from family and friends to engage with people and the Society’s Convener David Keith is a great example of Scots promoting their own history.

The story of Scotland has been told many times over in word with hundreds of books documenting Scotland’s struggles, humour and individuals. Readers of the Scottish Banner no doubt love a good page turner much like those who will be visiting the 20thWigtown Book Festival in Galloway this month. The Festival has not only become a major event for the region but also a fantastic platform for Scottish writers and has given the town of Wigtown a new lease of life. How amazing that books can have such a profound impact on a town and its people and that in itself is a story worth telling.

This month the eyes of the world will be on Dundee and the opening of the V&A Dundee (Victoria and Albert Museum), the only other V&A Museum anywhere in the world outside London. V&A Dundee will be Scotland’s first international centre of design and is part of a major revamp of the city. Scotland’s fourth largest city is now the capital of cool and is the UK’s only UNESCO designated City of Design. Dundee has been declared Scotland’s sunniest city and it will no doubt be in the spot light not only this month but for the foreseeable future.

The kindness of Scots

In last month’s editorial I spoke of the passing of my father Jim Cairney. Whilst our family is still working through the sadness of this, I have been so touched by the great many comments of support I have received from people around the world. Some know me or my Dad and some of us have never met but the compassion from the Scottish community has been incredible. Though I know my Dad would say “That’s what Scots do!”

It again affirms to me the kindness of Scots and the friendship that we have within the readership of the Scottish Banner.

To the two gents who helped pack up the Scottish Banner tent recently, thank you for your kindness that day, and no doubt it’s simply what you do…

Have you had an act of kindness from a fellow Scot you wish to honour or recognise?  Share your story with us by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us