February 2021 (Vol. 44, Number 08)
The Banner Says…
For the love of Scotland
This month as we approach Valentine’s Day our world is vastly different to just a year ago. So many have endured such hardship, grief and loss of connection.
The international Scottish community however continues to do incredible things at keeping our traditions alive with virtual events and plans are being made for gatherings to again begin once it is safe.
These all reflect our shared love of Scotland and the incredible culture that Scots have formed internationally. Whilst Covid-19 has played havoc on so much; it has not diminished peoples love of Scotland.
Traditionally, whether you are in a large city or regional area, the sights and sounds of Scotland can be found, bringing people together to enjoy a part of Scottish culture and tradition. Scotland is such an historic nation which draws so many to its shores.
People often ask me what it is I love so much about Scotland and are sometimes surprised to not get an instant well scripted answer of my favourite things about the country. For me it is more complex than a simple answer as it is such a layered response. It says something significant about a country when its enduring icons are woven in tartan, some of the most incredible landscapes, historic cities and towns, the sound of trad music and the pipes and drums, a whisky that is as complex as it is universally admired and, of course, the people. It confirms that Scotland is no ordinary place but, instead, a magical destination with a full and unique flavour, brimming with rich experiences.
The nearness of the past that permeates the whole Scottish experience
Wherever you travel in Scotland, from the cities to the remotest corners, the country’s unusually dramatic history lies waiting to be discovered just beneath the surface of the present. Dating back to 2000 BC, the standing stones at Callanish hint at early appreciation of astrology. Every New Year’s Day, the ball game of Ba’ rages through the streets of Kirkwall in the Orkneys as it has for countless centuries. And Cawdor Castle, where Macbeth carried out his bloody ambitions in the 11th century, remains one of the most romantic and best-preserved fortresses.
No visit to Edinburgh is complete without a stroll through the polished halls of Holyrood Palace, where Mary Queen of Scots witnessed the murder of her trusted secretary by her jealous husband Lord Darnley in 1556. Nearby, the Writer’s Museum displays the desk at which Robert Burns wrote his evocative poetry, and the pipe smoked by Walter Scott as he brought Ivanhoe to life. The Golf Museum at St. Andrews gives context to the game once outlawed in the 17th century because its popularity was causing soldiers to neglect archery practice. At another royal retreat, Balmoral, Queen Victoria grieved the loss of her husband Albert, walking the heathertinted Highlands in the company of her groom, Mr. Brown.
The nearness of the past that permeates the whole Scottish experience is perhaps best summarised by the Stone of Destiny. In 1292, the Scots’ coronation emblem was taken
from Scone Abbey by the invading Edward I of England and held in Westminster Abbey in London. After 700 years of effort, it was finally returned in 1996. Three years later, in 1999, the Scottish Parliament was re-established in Edinburgh, 292 years after it was abolished by Earl of Seafield on May 1, 1707. Now plans are under way to bring this historic artifact “home” to Perth, the original capital of Scotland.
In this issue
Keeping with the Valentine’s theme we look at just some of Scotland’s many romantic places, of course this list is very subjective, and many will have their favourite spot -why not share yours with us? This is what happens when you have a stunningly beautiful and varied countryside, ranging from craggy coasts to dramatic Highlands, from mirror-still lochs to softly meandering rivers and cities which merge the old and new worlds.
Robert the Bruce is certainly one of the most iconic figures in Scottish history and is today revered by many both in Scotland and across the world. The marriage to his young wife Elizabeth may have been one of convenience or arrangement and she endured a punishing life in support of her husband. Elizabeth was a loyal rebel Queen and played her own uniqu role in Scottish history.
Many Scottish castles now stand in solitude, often on hilltops that accentuate their apparent isolation. The freestanding tower is, after all, a recognisable icon of Scotland. Recent research, however, challenges this notion – with few exceptions, these towers were just one part of a bustling castle complex whose traces vanished over time. We look at the myth of the lonely tower as it has been thoroughly debunked, and what it means for how we talk about Scotland’s castles today.
The spirit of Scotland
The prospect of visiting Scotland just now to enjoy all its amazing sights and culture is not possible. But that does and will not stop all the lovers of Scotland appreciating this unique and forward-thinking ancient land. Scotland is brimming with a wealth of stories, history
and landscapes that, over time, have been woven together to create traditions and a spirit of Scotland.
This spirit is celebrated around the world and is in fact the reason the Scottish Banner was created, and still exists today. We would love to hear from our readers as to what they love about Scotland and her spirit. Perhaps that question for you brings with it an answer with as many layers as I have, and maybe that is what we all love so much about Scotland…
What do you love about Scotland or do you have a favourite place you have fallen in love with? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us
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