£10,000 needed to establish the Falkirk Wallace trail to tell the story of Sir William Wallace

Falkirk plays a huge part in the Wallace story ,from his mother’s Connection to Grangemouth to his uncle preaching at Dunnipace as well as his closest friend hailing from the area.

The Battle of Falkirk itself played a huge role in Falkirk’s history. While Wallace would ultimately lose at Falkirk this would set up Wallace future and is grisly murder.

Bring history to life

The Wallace Trail wants to bring the multitude of stories that weave the fabric that is not only history of Falkirk buy also Scotland itself. From the 600 men of Bute to the heroism of Macduff of Fife, Graeme and Stewart to the theory of betrayal.

The project aims to bring schools and community groups into creating a Wallace trail that will not only bring history to life but also encourage the community to contribute and get involved on its creation.

If you can help bring history to life see: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/thewallacetrail

The inauguration of the Chief of Clan MacBean/MacBain

By: Phillip Beane

The 23rd hereditary Chief of Clan MacBean was installed by the Lord Lyon at MacBain Park near Inverness in August and a memorial was dedicated to the memory of Alan Bean, the astronaut who took a piece of MacBean tartan to the moon. The Chief of Clan MacIntosh was present along with clansmen from both sides of the Atlantic as US reader Phillip Beane explains.

The inauguration of the Chief of Clan MacBean/MacBain.

August 6, 2022, was going to be a big day for Clan MacBean, and for my wife Jennifer and me.  We had planned to go to the Alan Bean Memorial ceremony when it was originally scheduled back in August 2020.  We paid for the tickets and added a tour of Scotland and were to spend some time in the Inverness area.   COVID, canceled those plans but instead of a refund, I did get a credit towards a future tour, which we decided to use this summer. The sad deaths of Chief James MacBain and his wife Peggy in the past year now meant that a new Chief of Clan MacBean/MacBain had to be put in place.   My own Mother and Father had known MacBain and his wife since meeting them in the 1980’s.  I had met him when I was President of the Clan MacBean and when he came to the Sumter and Greenville, SC games, I acted as sort of an aide for both.   But now, their son Richard was going to be inaugurated as the new Chief of Clan MacBean and we had the chance to be present for that historic occasion.

We wanted to be in Inverness a few days before the ceremony so we could explore the area where the MacBean Clan had lived so long ago.  Of note, the standing stones made famous in the Outlander TV series are just outside of Inverness at the Clava Cairns.  Jennifer ran up to the big stone that Claire Randall had touched.  Claire had then been transported in time back to Scotland of the 1740’s, but thankfully Jennifer is still here with us today.   The MacBain Park is not on a regular tour route, so I paid a driver extra to take us to the park. We were the only visitors and we wondered around and took pictures, the Alan Bean Memorial was very well done.  We drove on down to Dores for dinner and signed the Clan MacBean guest book. At the dinner, Jennifer and I were seated at a table with 8 members of Clan MacBean.  I do believe that our Clan had maybe 40 people present for the dinner and our new Chief, Richard McBain of McBain was a guest and speaker.  

The inauguration

At our table, was John MacBain, brother of Allan MacBain who will become the “chieftain” of Clan MacBean for the UK.  After the work on the Alan Bean Memorial was stopped by COVID in March 2020, John was asked by Richard to be the local representative to deal with the stone masons and other workmen to get the project completed.  After the original masons did not work for 1 year, John approached some masons who were very expensive and couldn’t guarantee a finish before October 2022.   John then found a local stone mason and he and that gentleman finished the Memorial, two benches and worked on the older Chief’s Memorial further up the hill.   John was instrumental in getting the Alan Bean Memorial finished within budget and on time.   For that our entire Clan should be thankful. Our new Chief made a few comments at the dinner, and it should be noted that the Lord Lyon presented Clan Chattan with its very own Coat of Arms.  This heraldry is for the organization of Clan Chattan and every member is entitled to wear the special Coat of Arms.  It doesn’t belong to just any one individual, like the Coat of Arms of a Clan Chief.

The day of the inauguration was a beautiful day, blue skies with some white clouds. Although Loch Ness was very close, it was not visible from the park then due to the summer foliage. The City of Inverness also sent a representative to this very important regional event. Local cyclists rode by, and some paused to watch the very colorful proceedings.   Mr. Phillip Beddows of the UK was doing a great job as MC for this event.  He is also a Clan Historian and the Seanachaidh to the Chief.   I am glad I am writing that title and don’t have to pronounce it.   The dignitaries marched in behind the official Clan MacBean piper, Stewart McBain who played a special pipe tune that was made especially for the Chief of Clan MacBean. First was the dedication of the Memorial to Astronaut Alan Bean who took the Clan MacBean tartan to the moon and back.  A truly notable achievement, if you ask me. They played a recording of Alan Bean’s daughter, Amy, who talked about her Father and his connections to Clan MacBean.  The Chief gave formal recognition to John MacBain and others who gave of their time and efforts to have the Memorial completed on time.

23rd Hereditary Chief of Clan MacBain

Phillip and Jennifer Beane at the Alan Bean Memorial.

Next the Lord Lyon, Joseph Morrow, gave a talk about the importance of the ceremony inaugurating the new Chief of Clan MacBean.   I talked with the Lord Lyon afterwards about the significance of our Chief living in Arizona.   The Lord Lyon stated that adhering to all the requirements and duties of the office was much more important than where the Chief lived.  He pointed out that over the centuries so many Clansmen had gone to other parts of the world and that it would be expected that some Chiefs would also live away from Scotland.   The Lord Lyon, told me that inaugurations, like the one that day, were important and that he was there representing the Scottish Community.  He felt strongly about the Clan and family system that exists in Scotland.  He feels that it gives so many a sense of identity, a sense of belonging, and a word he used…rootedness.   Clans were original formed for safety and community.   They can still fulfill a role today in giving one a Scottish community they can belong to.   We moved on to the actual inauguration of our new 23rd Hereditary Chief of Clan MacBain.   The Lord Lyon spoke about the history of these events.  Phillip Beddows gave the genealogy of our line of Clan MacBean chiefs and presented Richard with a special and elaborately made “Cromach”.  Money from many Clan members went towards the purchase of this special Shepherds Crook. 

The Chief talked about the future of the Clan and the history of the MacBain Memorial Park.   Whisky was passed out and a toast was given to the new Chief of Clan MacBean.  It was a wonderful and moving ceremony. Later, the Chief talked to me about how pleased he was about how well the whole thing had come together, and explained that the four main organizers of the event all lived in different locations on both sides of the pond (most had met for the first time only on the day of the Clan Chattan Annual Meeting that week). The Chief discussed his wish that Allan MacBain assume the role of Clan Chieftain and represent him at events where he can’t attend, particularly in the UK.   There is some discussion by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs about the role of Clan Chieftains but our Chief feels strongly about the position. Richard also told the story of finding a penned tune for a piper in his father’s papers.  The tune had apparently been authorized by his grandfather back in the 70’s for a pipe band in Calgary.  Phillip Beddows posted the tune on Facebook and a man named Stewart McBain had copied it and learned to play the tune.  He volunteered to travel hundreds of miles to MacBain Park and play the tune for this ceremony. The Chief appointed him the Clan Piper for the UK.    The Chief also discussed the YouTube sites for Clan MacBean and Clan Chattan.  With 100 subscribers, YouTube gives page holders a lot of privileges, to include live streaming.  This could be used for future events such as the Clan Gatherings, etc. This trip was certainly a bucket list for myself and the whole adventure exceeded all my expectations.  The Scottish people, the weather and the countryside were wonderful and made the trip one I will remember always. 

Main photo: Richard McBain of McBain. Photo: Scott McElvain.

Two in a row for Lisa Williams at the World Porridge Making Championship

Lisa Williams from Suffolk has been crowned World Porridge Making Champion after beating competitors from around the world at the 29th World Porridge Making Championship, which took place in the Highland village of Carrbridge. Lisa was amongst 26 competitors competing for the highly-coveted title of World Porridge Making Champion and the Golden Spurtle trophy. Following five heats, the final cook off included competitors from Australia, Iceland, Cyprus, Scotland and England.

Lisa said: “I can’t put into words how delighted I am. I came to Carrbridge thinking that I was saying goodbye to the Golden Spurtle trophy, and I can’t believe that I am taking it home with me again. It has been so lovely being back in the village seeing everyone. There’s great camaraderie amongst the competitors, and the whole event is so friendly and welcoming.”

The best traditional porridge

The title of World Porridge Making Champion is awarded to the contestant deemed to have made the best traditional porridge using just three ingredients – oatmeal, water and salt.

Entries are judged for appearance, texture, colour and taste. This year’s judges included former Gleneagles Executive Chef, Neil Mugg, Scottish MasterChef finalist Sarah Rankin, and New Zealander Kirsten Gilmour, owner of KJ’s Bothy Bakery in Grantown on Spey.

Neill Mugg, Chair of the judges, said: “Lisa’s porridge was really well made. Rich, flavourful, well seasoned and the perfect consistency.”

In addition to the main competition, the title of Speciality Porridge Champion is awarded to the creator of a sweet or savoury dish where oatmeal can be combined with any other ingredients. This year’s speciality winner was Chris Young, owner of street food and events caterer The Rolling Stove, who wowed the judges with his porridge noodles two ways, with hand-dived seared scallops and caramelised figs. The 2022 World Porridge Making Championship was held in person for the first time since 2019. A virtual speciality competition was held in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic.

Karen Henderson, the main organiser of the 2022 World Porridge Making Championship said: “It has been wonderful to have porridge fans, their supporters and so many visitors in a very packed Carrbridge village hall. What started very much as a small local event has grown to be a highlight of Scotland’s food and drink calendar, and it has been fantastic being able to welcome back visitors from around the world again.”

Main photo: 2022 winners Chris Young and Lisa Williams.

Top Ten Reasons to Visit Scotland in 2023

Autumn is often the time when thoughts turn to travel plans for the coming year. To inspire you in planning you next trip, we’ve teamed up with VisitScotland, Scotland’s national tourism organisation, to bring you our top ten reasons to visit Scotland in 2023!

1) Explore Scotland’s UNESCO Trail

In a world first, Scotland has launched the first ever UNESCO digital trail. What makes Scotland’s UNESCO digital trail so unique is that the 13 designated sites featured, from Dumfries and Galloway in the south to Shetland in the north, feature such a variety of different experiences. These range from Cities of Literature, Music and Design, to World Heritage Sites of architectural and historic significance, and even geoparks and biospheres with fascinating geological and natural stories to tell. For more information see www.visitscotland.com/unesco-trail

2) Get a taste of farming life

A trend which has really taken off in the last few years is agritourism. More and more people are becoming aware of food provenance, and are looking to find out more about sustainable farming methods on a farm, croft or estate when they come to Scotland. Go Rural is a close-knit network of quality agritourism businesses throughout the Scottish countryside offering visitors high quality farm produce, accommodation and memorable experiences. They are passionate about producing the highest quality food and drink, caring for the environment, and protecting Scotland’s landscapes for everyone to enjoy responsibly. From luxury lodges and cosy cottages to camping and glamping, you’re sure to find your ideal farm experience. See www.goruralscotland.com

3) Relax on a wellness break

Given the fast pace of modern life, more and more of us are looking for ways to relax, de-stress, and reconnect with nature. The tranquillity of the Scottish countryside is so conducive to this type of break and there are a variety of options right across the country. You might choose to commune with the natural world by staying in a rural cottage in a peaceful glen, take to the waters on a sailing experience and spot wildlife as you go, or enjoy the soothing experience which an island holiday offers. You might want to undertake a mindfulness course or yoga retreat amid stunning countryside. Whichever you choose you’ll find it in Scotland. More information on these and many other wellness options at www.visitscotland. com/holidays-breaks/wellness

4) Discover the freedom of cycling

Scotland is made for cycling, offering 32,000 square miles of cycling adventures. Whether you’re a complete beginner, want to challenge yourself, or simply take it slow and enjoy some family time, there’s a cycling experience in Scotland that’s perfect for you. There are several long-distance routes through awe-inspiring scenery, purpose built world-class mountain biking trails at over 25 centres across the country, and lots of safe, traffic-free cycling networks and routes for fun, family days out, plus lots of options for bike hire and guided cycling tours. See www.visitscotland.com/cycling

If spectator sports are more your thing, the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, the biggest cycling event ever staged, will bring the world’s greatest riders together in Glasgow and across Scotland from 3 to 13 August: www.cyclingworldchamps.com

5) Connect with your Scottish ancestry

For anyone with Scottish connections, there’s nothing like actually being in Scotland – walking in the footsteps of your ancestors in landscapes they would have known well, and maybe even touching the walls of your clan or family castle which has seen centuries of history. If you have Scottish clan or family surnames in your family tree, you can visit the regions and places in Scotland most strongly associated with those names. For those wishing to explore their family genealogy, there is no better place to start than ScotlandsPeople in Edinburgh which holds a collection of records acknowledged to be among the best in the world (www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk). The Scottish Council on Archives, located in the same building, can provide fascinating insights into the wider social aspects of Scotland’s history (www.scottisharchives.org.uk). To find out more about how you can enjoy the unique and special experience of exploring your ancestry in Scotland, go to www.visitscotland.com/ancestry

6) Stay somewhere unusual

Hobbits overlooking Loch Ness at the Loch Ness Holiday Park, Invermoriston. Photo: VisitScotland/Paul Tomkins.

From holidaying in an apartment topped with a gigantic pineapple to enjoying a stay in a Hebridean cottage built to the design of a prehistoric island dwelling that looks like a set from a Tolkien novel, Scotland’s fantastic range of visitor accommodation offers so many experiences. You can stay in a castle, a lighthouse, a boat, a yurt, a church, a glamping pod, a tree house, a log cabin – all in midst of breath-taking countryside. You’ll find an abundance of suggestions at https://www.visitscotland.com/ accommodation/unusual-places-to-stay/

If you have a special occasion anniversary or event coming up, you might want to consider celebrating it Scotland by treating yourself to a touch of luxury. There are plenty of ideas to inspire you at www.visitscotland.com/luxury

7) Uncover the story of tartan

Although most closely associated with Scotland, tartan is known throughout the globe. It has a rich history, has inspired unity as well as rebellion, and while strongly linked with tradition, it has also made its mark on the contemporary world, even touching the pinnacle of high fashion. A fascinating, not-to-be missed exhibition entitled Tartan will take place at the V&A Dundee, Scotland’s design museum, from 1 April 2023 to January 2024. Bringing together a unique collection of objects and media, the exhibition will tell the story of the impact of tartan right up to the present day.

www.vam.ac.uk/dundee

8) Discover Scotland’s Royal connections

Balmoral Castle has been a Royal residence since 1852 and, situated on the south side of the River Dee, near the village of Crathie. Photo: VisitScotland/North East 250/Damian Shields.

Following the sad news of the loss of Her Majesty The Queen in September, there has been a renewed focus on her famous love for Scotland, and the Scottish locations associated with the British Royal Family. Balmoral Castle at the heart of Royal Deeside is normally open to the public between April and July each year, though it is said His Majesty King Charles may be considering extending this. There are also a number of holiday cottages on the estate (www.balmoralcastle.com).

In Edinburgh, the Royal residence is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, lying at the foot of the historic Royal Mile where visitors can explore the rooms which once belonged to Mary Queen of Scots (www.rct.uk/visit/palace-of-holyroodhouse). Other Royal places to visit include the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh (www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk), Glamis Castle in Angus (www.glamis-castle.co.uk), the enchanting childhood home of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, her beloved holiday home at the Castle of Mey on the North coast of the Scottish Highlands (www.castleofmey.org.uk) and Dumfries House in Ayrshire which is now a visitor attraction and event venue (www.dumfries-house.org.uk).

9) Visit Scotland’s most fascinating churches

Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland since Columba arrived there in AD 563. Photo: VisitScotland/Paul Tomkins.

While Scotland has experienced times of religious turbulence, there’s no doubt that our many churches offer havens of peace and contemplation.

Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh has a rich history, from the Convenanters who fought for Scotland’s religious freedom to the story of the famous Greyfriars Bobby, plus a programme of world-class classical music performances (www.greyfriarskirk. com). Iona Abbey, located on the tiny island of the same name is a place of pilgrimage for many. Originally founded by St Columba in 563 AD, it is a magical place with a special atmosphere. See www.historicenvironment.scot or the Iona Community (www.iona.org.uk). Although no longer used as a church, the Italian Chapel in Orkney, built by Italian prisoners of war during WWII from two Nissan huts, is one of the islands’ best loved attractions. www.orkney.com

The Pilgrim Way is a 64-mile route across the Kingdom of Fife to St Andrews which for 400 years was one of the main pilgrimage destinations in Medieval Europe.

www.fifecoastandcountrysidetrust.co.uk/ walks/fife-pilgrim-way

The Lammermuir Festival takes place in East Lothian each September. This cultural gem offers stunning music and choral performances in a variety of equally stunning locations, including the county’s many churches. www.lammermuirfestival.co.uk

10) Experience Scotland’s newest city

Some of Scotland’s greatest medieval monarchs were laid to rest at Dunfermline Abbey. Charles I was delivered here in 1600 – the last monarch to be born in Scotland. Photo: VisitScotland/Damian Shields.

Dunfermline is now officially Scotland’s newest city, having been granted city status in June. It actually boasts a rich and ancient history – no surprise, since it was once the capital of Scotland!

The impressive 12th century Dunfermline Abbey and Palace is effectively a Royal mausoleum, since it is the final resting place of Robert the Bruce and the burial site of 11 other Scottish kings and queens. The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum is located in the humble cottage which was once the home of the world-famous philanthropist and tells the story of his life and legacy, and as you might expect, Dunfermline also has a Carnegie Library & Galleries! The city’s Pittencrieff Park, gifted to the local people by Carnegie himself offers an abundance of colour throughout the year with its Japanese, Rock and Kitchen Gardens, and glasshouses containing exotic plants from across the world.

For more information on Dunfermline see: www.visitscotland.com/info/towns-villages/dunfermline

For more inspiration on planning your 2023 visit, go to: www.visitscotland.com

Main photo: Blairmore farm, Crieff, luxery farm stay holidays. Photo: VisitScotland/Luigi Di Pasquale.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

December – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 06)

Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum. Photo: Lorne Gill/NatureScot.

The Banner Says…

The cancellation of Christmas

When most people receive this month’s edition of the Scottish Banner, they will no doubt be looking at a busy month ahead with festive events, get-togethers with friends and family and perhaps just spending a little bit too much money on gifts, food and festive cheer.

I remember as a child the excitement of going to bed on Christmas Eve and wondering what might be in some of those wrapped packages bearing my name on them. We were lucky to have as part of our family tradition the offer of opening a small gift on Christmas Eve before going to bed and getting some milk, cookies and of course carrots out for Santa and his loyal crew of reindeer.

Banning Christmas

I am glad those traditions were part of my growing up and cannot imagine not having them as part of my childhood memories. However, for many years Scottish children did not have such traditions as part of their growing up experiences. Some may be surprised to learn that Christmas was actually banned in Scotland for centuries. Christmas had its early origins in Scotland when those fierce Vikings raided the land and made communities in Scotland from the 8th century, with them they brought the custom of celebrating the winter solstice in a pagan festival which became known as yule.

Yule was a multiday celebration which honoured their ancestors in the darkest time of the year, this eventually became a Christian tradition. During the Reformation years Scottish Protestant kirks broke ties with the Catholic Church and thus began to cut ties with all things Christmas.

Christmas was abolished in 1640 by the Scottish parliament as it was seen as a Roman Catholic tradition and celebrating Christmas became illegal. The law was strictly enforced, and it was even illegal to bake a yule log or sing a Christmas carol. And though you would no longer be thrown into prison for celebrating Christmas, it did become just another working day for many Scots well into the 20th century. Whilst some of the banned period may feel like part of medieval history it was not in fact until 1958 that Christmas even became a public holiday in Scotland, that is less than 70 years ago.

Even more recently, Boxing Day did not become recognised as a holiday in Scotland until 1974. In some parts of the country, December 26th was Sweetie Scone Day, when the Lord or Lady of the estate would give cakes made with dried fruit and spices to their workers and the poor (who couldn’t afford these luxurious ingredients).

In this issue

The iconic Kinloch Castle is located on the Isle of Rum. Built in the late 1800s, the A listed Victorian mansion has quite a history and was once a playground for the rich, privileged and famous of England and Scotland. Sadly, the state of the Kinloch Castle has fallen in such bad shape it needs someone with very deep pockets to get it back on track. The small but passionate local Rum community also have their ideas on how Kinloch should be restored and managed. A buyer is needed who will be both sympathetic to the castle and the community.

Strathblane is in Stirlingshire but just outside of Glasgow making it an ideal commuter town. However, the rolling hills and green spaces that surround the area certainly let you know you are not in Glasgow. Visitors can enjoy walking and cycle trails, and picturesque drives. Not to mention the stunning hill ranges of the Campsies and a great whisky distillery. It is great we can highlight this lovely spot, and one that is quite easy to get to when you are next in Scotland.

Hogmanay

Scots of course were not completely deprived of fun and cheer during the festive period. They would whole heartedly embrace New Year’s Eve, or as we all know it Hogmanay, as back in the day Scots could not celebrate Christmas itself. Some amazing Scottish customs also have been developed over the years which still take place today. Many Hogmanay celebrations still light up the dark cold night with fire, from torchlight processions to fire ball ceremonies Scotland holds on to these unique celebrations which signify the Winter Solstice, ancestors and the rejuvenating energy of the sun.

Speaking of fire some Scots still practice the tradition of burning a twig from a rowan tree during the festive season. It is believed that burning rowan gets rid of jealousy or mistrust between family, friends and neighbours. Hundreds of years ago it was popular to burn a Yule log and the ashes were considered lucky and would protect the house for the year ahead. From this tradition some Scots today burn a candle in the window as a welcome to family, friends and even strangers.

Of course, Christmas is a joyous time for most of us today, however some will be doing it tough this holiday season. Some will be alone, some sick, some working, or just missing someone special who is not around the table this holiday season and I always think of them at this time of the year.

I hope you and yours have a safe, wonderful and happy holiday season. We also thank all our readers, customers, subscribers and advertisers for all their support in 2022.

Merry Christmas, or as some may know in Scots Gaelic, Nollaig Chridheil!

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We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Ian Bairnson-Shetland’s music maker

By: Neil Drysdale

For some Scottish musician Ian Bairnson may not be instantly a recognised name, however you are very likely to have heard the many projects which he was part of. Neil Drysdale tells the story of the Shetland guitarist who played on Kate Bush’s biggest hit Wuthering Heights. Ian Bairnson, also had a No 1 hit with Pilot, recorded backing vocals on Paul McCartney’s Mull of Kintyre and sold millions of records with the Alan Parsons Project.

It’s the longest-ever period between an artist having No 1 singles; a gap of 44 years from when Kate Bush scaled the peaks with Wuthering Heights to the success of Running Up that Hill this past Scottish summer. When the singer-songwriter first released her Gothic song, inspired by the Emily Bronte novel, early in 1978, she was still a teenager, Jimmy Carter was the American president, Margaret Thatcher was a year away from becoming the Prime Minister and Grease was the summer’s big box-office movie hit. But if Kate appeared to have emerged from her own private world, she was helped by the otherworldly guitar performances of another young musician who had grown up in the far north of Scotland.

And, even as a new generation enjoys her work after Running Up that Hill was featured on the series Stranger Things, it’s time to pay homage to how Ian Bairnson was an integral part of Kate’s early hits. Bairnson, born in 1953, spent his early years in Levenwick, a small village about 17 miles from Lerwick, on the east side of the South Mainland of Shetland. From an early age, he was interested in music and bought his first guitar at the age of six, for £3 15 shillings, with what he later described as “some birthday money”.

Expertise as a guitarist

His father, John, owned a local shop and while it was a remote setting, the youngster was encouraged by one of his neighbours, Peerie Willie Johnson, who dwelt at Bigton on the other side of the hill. Though still a child, Bairnson marvelled at the rhythmic sounds which Johnson could produce on his guitar whenever he visited him. Tragically, he lost his dad when he was just nine in 1963 and the family moved to Edinburgh. But that was only the start of a peripatetic career which propelled Bairnson to the top of the charts before he ever met Kate Bush. In some quarters, they were derided as teenyboppers, but with hindsight, Pilot were the antithesis of the Bay City Rollers.

When they released their first LP From the Album of the Same Name in 1974, it featured a compelling mixture of pop, rock, bossa nova, a quirky pub anthem in Auntie Iris and a bona fide classic hit single in Magic, which is still heard on football terraces and the occasional TV advertisement. Bairnson only featured on one track, but he was fully on board for their next effort, Second Flight, which propelled the band to the top of the charts with January at the beginning of 1975. And it offered further evidence that Bairnson and his fellow band members, David Paton, Billy Lyall and future 10cc drummer Stewart Tosh, weren’t simply expert craftsmen, but as comfortable with appearing live on The Old Grey Whistle Test as they were on Top of the Pops. The Pilot project soon hit the buffers, and there was something ironic from Bairnson’s perspective about how January was knocked off its pedestal by Cockney Rebel’s Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me). Prior to joining his fellow Scots, he had been given the opportunity to become part of Steve Harley’s iconic band, but politely declined the offer.

In the grand scheme, it didn’t matter much because Bairnson’s expertise as a guitarist had attracted interest from some seriously big names – and, as 1976 turned into 1977, he and Paton were recruited as the engine room of The Alan Parsons Project which became a global multi-million-selling phenomenon.

Life was hectic for the Shetlander and his companions. Whilst recording the Alan Parsons work I Robot at the famous Abbey Road studios, he and Paton were enlisted to provide backing vocals for a song being created next door. It just happened to be a catchy little ditty called Mull of Kintyre by Paul McCartney and Wings, which subsequently became the top-selling single in UK history for the former Beatle and his new bandmates. By this stage, punk was taking over the charts to a large extent, but there was always room for new talent with a USP – and nobody could have foreseen the impact made by Kate Bush when she unveiled The Kick Inside in 1978. This was an LP of staggering imagination, featuring several songs which had been written when she was only 13 or 14. It was balletic, melodic, eccentric, occasionally mad as a bag of frogs and mesmerising in equal measure.

But what would the first single be? EMI wanted James and the Cold Gun (which might be the worst track on the album). Bush, who described herself as “the shyest megalomaniac you’re ever likely to meet” disagreed. And eventually, they all plumped for the song with nods to the Bronte canon. Now it was time for Bairnson to do for Wuthering Heights what Raf Ravenscroft had done for Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street.

Wuthering Heights

It turned into one of those joyous occasions where everything clicked. Bush recorded her vocal in a single take and even some seasoned studio hands were amazed at the nonchalance with which she performed the swooping lyrics. The melancholic guitar solo was played by Bairnson, who initially said he disliked the tone due to “purely guitarist reasons”, but that’s what happens when you are a perfectionist. Audiences loved it, not least because it has a heartbreaking quality as the record fades out the way the novel ends. Engineer Jon Kelly – who went on to work with the likes of Paul McCartney, Tori Amos and the Beautiful South – was an ingenu when he was at the helm for that original session of the song.

No wonder he said later: “I remember finishing that first day….and thinking: ‘My God, that’s it. I’ve peaked!” Wuthering Heights was simply unique in the history of popular music. It was the first time a female singer-songwriter had ever topped the charts with a self-penned song. It had a video which featured just her in a swirl of fog and choreographic movement. She was completely in control at the age of 19.

Behind the scenes, Bairnson and Paton recorded the majority of the tracks for both The Kick Inside – which went platinum – and the follow-up Lionheart. There was great work on such songs as The Man with the Child in His Eyes, Strange Phenomena (long before Stranger Things) and Hammer Horror.

And although they had departed by the time Bush released Running Up that Hill in 1985, that didn’t mean life was any less hectic. If anything, Bairnson seemed determined to prove he could hit his stride in any musical genre whether writing, recording or performing. During the 1980s, he worked with The Alan Parsons Project, Jon Anderson, Buck’s Fizz (he co-wrote their 1983 hit Run For Your Life), Elaine Paige, Mick Fleetwood, Bananarama, Kenny Rogers, David Sylvian, in addition to rejoining Kate Bush for her experimental 1982 album The Dreaming. Then, in the 1990s, he teamed up with the likes of Sir Tom Jones, Jim Diamond, Beverley Craven and Tam White, while touring with Alan Parsons.

Nobody could ever accuse him of being one-dimensional or lacking industry or innovation. And, meanwhile, Japan woke up to the delights of Pilot and their albums suddenly became popular again with a whole new fan base, who demanded fresh material from Bairnson and Paton.

However, his busy itinerary couldn’t carry on indefinitely or not once his wife, Leila, posted a message on Facebook in 2018. She said: “I and Ian’s family would like to make you aware that he has been diagnosed a while ago with a progressive neurological condition which affects his communication skills. As a result, he will not be playing in public in future, although he still plays guitar and piano daily for his own pleasure. We would like to thank you for your loyal support through the years and to assure you that he is otherwise very healthy and receiving good care”.

It’s sad that such a gifted musician can no longer perform on concert stages. But Ian Bairnson has left a rich legacy for future generations to savour. And that unforgettable, spine-tingling fade-out on Wuthering Heights!

Chicago Scots host 21st annual Kilted Classic golf tournament

Experience the most unique golf tournament on this side of the pond while enjoying performances from Highland Dancers, Scotland’s finest whisky, beer and food tastings, Scottish trivia and much more. Chicago Scots, the oldest non-profit organization in Illinois, is celebrating its 176th anniversary this year and recently hosted the 21st annual Kilted Classic golf tournament at Cantigny Golf Course. Players could enter the tournament as a foursome, pair, or single, and were matched with a group after registering online.

The most unique golf tournament this side of the pond

Dubbed the most unique golf tournament this side of the pond, Kilted Classic players enjoyed performances from Highland Dancers, got to taste Scotland’s finest with whisky, beer, and food stations, test their knowledge with Scottish trivia, participate in competitions like Beat the Scot and Longest Drive, plus got the chance to win a bottle of whisky on every hole.  “We’re thrilled to be able to host our annual golf tournament for the 21st year,” said Gus Noble, President of the Chicago Scots. “It’s something we look forward to all year and is tons of fun, all while supporting a cause we deeply care about.”

Following all the fun on the links, golfers and non-golfers were invited to stay for a causal dinner, cocktails and an auction to benefit Caledonia Senior Living & Memory Care, Chicago Scots’ primary beneficiary for over one hundred years that offers a range of outstanding services including Assisted Living, Sheltered Care, Memory Care, Intermediate and Skilled Nursing Care, and Respite Care.

For more information about the Chicago Scots, please visit: www.chicagoscots.org.

Ian Rankin archive goes on display

A selection of items from Ian Rankin’s literary archive has gone on display at the National Library of Scotland. Rankin – a crime writer of international literary success and renown – donated his archive to the Library in 2019, and also paid for a post to catalogue the collection. Since then, the Library has made most of the archive available for consultation at the reading rooms, and the forthcoming ‘Collections in Focus’ display will highlight just a taste of what’s in store for anyone who wishes to delve into the archive.

Manuscripts Curator Dr Colin McIlroy said: “For more than 30 years, Detective Inspector Rebus and other recurring major characters have captured the minds of millions around the world. Rankin enjoys a loyal following of people who are in love with his version of Edinburgh. The sense of place he has created is profound – anecdotally, we know many readers feel they have an intimate knowledge of the city without ever having been here. The world of Rebus and other characters had their genesis in the Library’s reading rooms, and it makes it all the more fitting – and thrilling – that documents chronicling decades of this writer’s thought processes are back home at the Library. We look forward to sharing some of the highlights on display.”

The archive is substantial

The size of the archive is substantial – in Library shelving terms it equates to 21 feet of archival material. Alongside working drafts of his novels, the archive also contains Rankin’s correspondence with other writers, and unsurprisingly, correspondence with police officers. Almost as famous for his music tastes as his writing, the archive also contains clues as to what Rankin might have been listening to while working on a particular novel, or what societal conundrum he was seeking to make sense of at the time. But as a whole, the archive provides tremendous insight into the working mind of a novelist, from early career to the top of their game.

Dr McIlroy adds: “It contains what people would typically expect – drafts of novels with handwritten notes to help guide the next draft. But it also includes the unexpected, such as highly critical notes to self. We’re truly indebted to Ian for including this oftentimes personal material. Emerging writers should take note, and comfort, that – even for successful authors – the writing process invariably involves a degree of internal struggle and self-criticism. But from this, it compels a writer to push themselves further. Where Rankin is concerned, the results speak for themselves.”

‘The Rankin Files’ runs until 29 April 2023, at the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. Entry is free. The Library will host an event with Ian Rankin on 24 November at George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, which will be live-streamed via YouTube.

150th Waipu Highland Games

After a few years of cancellations due to covid the Waipu Caledonian Society are excited to be able to hold the annual Waipu Highland Games, welcoming visitors from all over the world to join in celebrating all things Scottish.

On January 1, 2023, the society will be proudly be celebrating their 150th Waipu Highland Games – a huge milestone in anyone’s history and they approach it with great anticipation. Activities and entertainment for all ages. There will be Highland dancing, solo piping and drumming competitions and traditional Scottish field events, kids’ events, adult tug o’ war, and a variety stage. A range of local stalls, food, and refreshments.

Celebrations start on the evening of the 31st of December with the Helen McGregor Memorial Trophy in the Celtic Barn Foyer at 7.00pm.  An opportunity for pipers to “flair their fingers” playing whatever they like – be it a medley or several pieces, a modern pop song or something composed by themselves.

On January 1st the day starts at 9.00am with the Street March and the grand entry of the band and clans with the salute to the chief.  The 2023 Chief is Bain McGregor and our host Clan for 2023 is Clan McLeod.

Competitions start from 9.00am.  and continue through the day, with a break for Lunch at 12.00pm for the official opening in the main arena.  The very popular and anticipated mass bands will form for the crowd to be entertained by pipers, drummers, and the Mass Highland Fling.  Finishing with the presentation of the Assynt Quaich.  

Competitions resume at 1.00pm with excitement in the Main Arena as heavyweights try and attempt to break records. The day finishes with a Ceilidh in the Celtic Barn at 7.00pm with special appearances and performances from our piping, drumming and dancing winners from the day throughout the night.

Waipu Highland Games take place on January 1st in Waipu, Northland, New Zealand. Waipu are one of the longest-running Scottish gatherings in the Southern Hemisphere, offering fierce competition, spectacular entertainment and a full day of family-friendly fun. For more information on the 150th Waipu Highland Games see: www.waipuhighlandgames.co.nz

GoFundMe campaign launched for 24th Annual Pipes of Christmas

The Pipes of Christmas will celebrate its 24th joyous season with performances in New Jersey and New York this December. The holiday favorite opens on Saturday, December 17 at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, located at 921 Madison Avenue (at 73rd Street) for two performances at 2 and 7PM. The concert moves across the Hudson River on Sunday, December 18 to Central Presbyterian Church located at 70 Maple Street in Summit, NJ also with performances at 2 and 7PM.

In preparation for the concert’s return, producers have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help cover financial deficiencies brought about by two years of weathering the global Covid pandemic. Proceeds from the concert support an extensive music scholarship program, which include annual gifts to the National Piping Centre and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (both located in Glasgow, Scotland) the Gaelic College of Nova Scotia and the Carol Hassert Memorial Fine Arts Scholarship at Summit (NJ) High School.

Proceeds also support the annual Tartan Day on Ellis Island celebration and the Society’s sponsorship of the US National Scottish Harp Championship, the Gaelic Literature Competition at Scotland’s Royal National Mod, and an academic research prize at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland’s Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye. The concert is also seeking Title Sponsors as well as Program Advertisers. These gifts help offset production expenses and outreach programs.

Celebration of the Christmas season and the Celtic spirit

Tickets will soon be available. GoFundMe donors will receive priority notice of ticket availability. As an extra incentive, donors exceeding $100 or more will also receive a specially produced downloadable EP featuring music from past concerts never before released. The EP features two remastered tracks from the Pipes’ highly acclaimed 2020 virtual concert, which was a finalist in Scotland’s 2021 MG Alba Trad Music Awards. O Holy Night features Scottish tenor Jamie McDougall and was recorded at Glasgow Cathedral. Famed Gaelic singer, Christine Primrose’s Lenabh an àigh, or Child of Joy, was recorded on the Isle of Skye.

Additional tracks from last year’s concerts in New York City and New Jersey include holiday favorites from the Blandford Pipe Band of Redlands, California; the US National Scottish Harp Champion Rachel Clemente; and a rollicking Traditional Set arranged by Steve Gibb from Inverness, Scotland and performed by top musicians.

Since its debut in 1999, The Pipes of Christmas has played to standing-room-only audiences. Now a cherished holiday event, the concert gives audiences a stirring and reverent celebration of the Christmas season and the Celtic spirit. Audience-goers return year after year to experience the program, many reporting that the Pipes of Christmas has become part of their family’s annual Christmas tradition.

The concert has been lavished with critical acclaim. In his review for Classical New Jersey Magazine, Paul Somers wrote, “The whole evening was constructed to introduce gem after gem and still have a finale which raised the roof. In short, it was like a well-constructed fireworks show on the Glorious Fourth. The Westfield Leader described the concert as “a unique sound of power and glory nowhere else to be found.”

For more information on the Pipes of Christmas visit: www.pipesofchristmas.com

To donate: www.gofundme.com/f/the-24th-annual-pipes-of-christmas

Scotland’s ancient clans unite to ‘crown’ first Buchanan Chief for 340 years

The clans of Scotland have reunited for the inauguration of the first Buchanan Clan Chief for over 340 years. Bringing together the Buchanan clan for the first time in centuries, John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan was appointed as the true heir and chief of the Buchanan Clan.  As the leader of a global community of over five million members, and one of Scotland’s oldest and most prestigious clans, the newly inaugurated chief pledged to lead the clan into the modern era. This historic Clan Chief’s Inauguration ceremony was based on existing resurrected ancient Celtic rituals and customs.

The Buchanan, John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan.

This unique event took place at Cambusmore, Callander, the modern seat of Clan Buchanan and the chief’s ancestral home. International representatives of the clan’s diaspora celebrated alongside the chiefs and other representatives of ten ancient Scottish clans. The last Buchanan chief, John Buchanan, died in 1681 without a male heir. Identifying the new chief required decades of genealogical research conducted by the renowned genealogist, the late Hugh Peskett. The inauguration event drew on Scottish traditions dating back prior to the coronation of the first King of Scots, Kenneth MacAlpine, in 843 AD. Heralded in by trumpet fanfare and accompanied by a procession of pipers and banner bearers, the chief was officially named and presented by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, Dr Joseph Morrow.

Clansfolk from around the world.

The ceremony cemented its place in Scottish history as the first for many hundreds of years, and the new chief swore an oath to protect and champion the Buchanan Clan. His first act as chief was to restore the Clan Parliament, for the first time in over 350 years, in order to explore the future of Clan Buchanan and discuss how its traditions can be celebrated in the modern day. The chiefly family was joined by several hundred clansfolk from across the globe, members of the Clan Buchanan Society International and heraldic expert Sir Crispen Agnew. The chief was honoured with the Letters Patent, which confirmed the Court of the Lord Lyon’s acceptance and legitimacy of his claim as chief.

The world’s oldest clan society

Lucy Buchanan with the crown.

He was ‘crowned’ in traditional chiefly fashion with the ‘Balmoral Bonnet’ hat featuring three golden eagle feathers, the more contemporary style of headwear now used by Scottish clan chiefs. He was then presented with painstakingly recreated ‘clan jewels’ based on those historically thought used for this type of ancient inauguration ceremony. This included the Chief’s Signet Ring bearing The Buchanan coat of arms, representing family heritage, eternity and the Clan unification. The Chief of Clan Buchanan said: “This is a turning point in our clan’s history. For centuries our traditions were confined to the history books so it’s truly humbling that members of Clan Buchanan and our good friends from other clans have reunited to celebrate with us.  I have pledged to bring Clan Buchanan into the modern era by restoring our ancient traditions and championing the values, relevance, and importance of the global community we represent. For centuries our clan had no chief or Clan Parliament, so this is the start of a new era for Clan Buchanan.”

While Clan Buchanan can be traced back to 1010 AD in Scotland, its global community includes members across Great Britain, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa among many other countries. Over 120 affiliated family surnames are recognised as part of the clan including Watson, Morris, Richardson, Coleman, Gilbert, Walter and Harper. They are represented by the world’s oldest clan society, the Buchanan Society, which was established in 1725 to support members of the clan in times of hardship, and the worldwide Clan Buchanan Society International.  Kevin (Buck) Buchanan, Vice President of Clan Buchanan Society International based in California, said: “It’s fantastic to be here representing Clan Buchanan’s members from the USA. Our clan is spread across the globe but today we’ve united to make it relevant in the modern day while restoring our ancient traditions. This has been such a historic moment in Scotland – I’m proud to be part of it.”

Did you know?

-The Buchanan is the manager of Cambusmore Estate in the Southern Highlands near Callander. He has four children with his wife The Lady Buchanan including, Angus, Bruce, Lucy, and Rory.

-As well as those with the surname Buchanan, clansfolk also include those with Scottish roots and surnames such as Bohannon, Coleman, Colman, Cormack, Dewar, Dove, Dow, Gibb, Gibbon, Gibb, Gibson, Gilbert, Gilbertson, Harper, Masters, Masterson, Morris, Richardson, Rush, Rusk, Walter, Walters, Wasson, Waters, Watson, Watt, Watters, and Weir. In the modern day, these are known as affiliated families but were previously known as septs of the clan.

-Clan Chiefs must be approved by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. The Lord Lyon has full judicial powers to enforce use of heraldry and coats of arms in Scotland through the Lyon Court, the last surviving ‘Court of Chivalry’ in the world. Its powers are governed by an Act of the Scots Parliament from 1672. Many features of the inauguration ceremony came from a book by the late Lord Lyon, Sir Thomas Learney of Innes’ who wrote The Clans, Septs & Regiments of the Scottish Highlands.

-The inauguration celebration took place on Saturday 8 October at Cambusmore and was followed by the Clan Parliament meeting at Cambusmore Chapel and in the walled garden.

-Further information about the uniquely reconstructed ‘clan jewels’ are available at www.theclanbuchanan.com/jewels

Main photo: The Lady Buchanan with The Buchanan.

United States Consulate General asks public to help choose official tartan

After opening its doors 224 years ago, the United States Consulate General in Edinburgh is launching an online poll and asking the Scottish public to help choose its official tartan.  One winner will be chosen among three designs, which incorporate colors and patterns influenced by the shared history between Scotland and the United States.  The poll closes Monday, November 21, with the winning design announced on St. Andrew’s Day, November 30.  Officials at the Consulate General partnered with acclaimed tartan designer Clare Campbell of Prickly Thistle, based in Evanton, north of Inverness, to develop the three options. The Consulate General’s winning design will be registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans, where it will be publicly accessible among thousands of other tartans.

Clare Campbell from Prickly Thistle said:   “I was delighted to work with the U.S. Consulate General on their tartan project.  Tartan is an expression of history, geography, and self-expression.  These designs are instantly recognizable as Scottish but help visually tell the story of the different ways America and Scotland are interlinked.  No matter the winner, Scotland will be welcoming a wonderful new tartan onto its national tapestry.”

Tartan aims to celebrate

The Consulate General’s team will seek to engage online audiences throughout the competition.  The winning tartan will form a distinctive part of the U.S. diplomatic presence in Edinburgh, symbolizing the deep connections between the United States and Scotland and boosting awareness of the Consulate General’s activities.   

U.S. Ambassador to the UK Jane Hartley said: “Tartan is embraced internationally as a symbol of Scotland, and we are thrilled to be one step closer to finally having an official tartan to call our own.  All three designs up for a vote are representative of the deep historic and contemporary ties between the United States and Scotland.  I hope our tartan will come to symbolize the continued growth of our relationship.”

U.S. Consul General Jack Hillmeyer added: “The United States has maintained a diplomatic presence in Scotland since 1798, when President John Adams appointed the first U.S. Consul.  Since then, the ties between our nations have grown wide and deep.  Millions of Americans claim Scottish ancestry, including dozens of U.S. Presidents.  Americans harbor a deep love of Scotland, and the United States boasts more than 1,000 Scottish associations and clubs.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans visit Scotland annually, in addition to the thousands more who choose to study in Scotland each year.  We are proud to be Scotland’s principal international trading partner, and our bonds continue to grow in new and emerging industries.  This tartan aims to celebrate all we have in common with each other.”

The tartan poll can be accessed via the Consulate’s @USAinScotland Twitter page or by visiting https://bit.ly/3fSUWhs

Billy Connolly art exhibition comes to Canberra and Sydney

Billy Connolly’s highly-collection of limited-edition prints and stainless-steel sculptures Born on a Rainy Day is as humorous as his own comedy. It was on a rainy day in 2007 that Billy first put pen to paper. Taking refuge from the grey drizzle of Montreal, Canada, he entered an art shop with a twinkling curiosity and left with an armful of supplies and the urge to create. Back in his hotel room, his felt-tips and sketchbook formed a portal for his imagination. And over the subsequent years his drawings evolved into his debut fine art collection. Billy says” “Drawing has given me a new lease of life. I managed to get pictures together and people like them, which surprises me and amazes and delights me.”

Billy last performed in Australia in 2014, and formally retired from stand-up comedy in December 2020. In March 2022 he released his eighth collection of Born on a Rainy Day. Explaining his flexible approach, Billy says: “It’s lovely, the way people think you do it. People think I paint or draw things on purpose. I don’t, I just draw. And then as it goes on, it becomes obvious what it’s going to be (to me). And then I can think about it along those lines: a horse, a man or a balloon. That’s when I name it – at the end.” 

Extraordinary self-awareness and humanity

Billy’s art has been likened to the cave paintings of the Aurignacian period (40,000-25,000 BC), which are characterised by their linear, one-dimensional approach. Charmingly simplistic, his faceless figures possess an extraordinary self-awareness and humanity. Devoid of emotion or expression, their anonymity opens them up to individual interpretation, creating a unique bond with the viewer.

Harley Medcalf of Duet Group said: “My hope as the Producer of this event, is that we are successful in Canberra and Sydney, and can roll this out to other cities in 2024. Having presented Billy on eight tours over 35 years, I know first-hand how much he is loved in Australia. Working with Billy has been a highlight of my long career and my love and admiration of him personally the motivation for me to run the Exhibition”

Born on a Rainy Day will have an exclusive preview in Canberra:  Hyatt Canberra, November 19 and 20, 10am to 5pm. Premiere Season in Sydney: Hyatt Regency, 166 Sussex S, November 24 – December 23, 10am to 5pm. Free Entry, Original Art, Limited Edition Prints and Sculptures by Billy on sale at the Exhibition only. For more information see: www.bornonarainyday.com.au

Celebrating tales from Dundee and Angus

Visitors to Dundee and Angus this autumn are being encouraged by VisitScotland to discover more of unique history and legends of the region as part of Year of Stories 2022. The Themed Year aims to spotlight, celebrate, and promote the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland.  Located within the V&A Dundee in the heart of the city’s waterfront development, VisitScotland Dundee iCentre is an important resource for visitors and local tourism businesses offering recommendations on things to see and do, helping with reservations and bookings and practical advice on travelling around the area.

Unique stories, legends and hidden gems

With more than 35 years of visitor experience between them, the team of friendly and knowledgeable local staff are also on hand to help visitors unearth some of the unique stories, legends and hidden gems in the region including:

Bruin the Dundee Polar Bear, Dundee High Street – Dundee’s status as the UK’s only UNESCO City of Design is an important draw for visitors with over 600 pieces of public art on offer. One of the newest sculptures depicts a famous incident from 1878 when a polar bear named Bruin escaped and ran through the city’s streets. It is said that the bear ran into the shop Messers J. Jamieson & Co, Clothier and Outfitters and after being distracted by its own reflection in one of the shop’s mirrors was recaptured. The sculpture can be found outside Maisie & Mac on the High Street which was previously Messers J. Jamieson & Co, Clothier and Outfitters.

Earl Beardie and Old Nick, Glamis Castle – celebrating its 650th anniversary this year, Glamis Castle is famous for its links to the Royal Family but is also home to several ghost stories including the tale of Earl Beardie and Old Nick. It is said that while playing cards one Saturday night at the castle the Earl was reminded by a servant that it was close to midnight with gambling on the Sabbath a sacrilege. Despite this, the Earl continued to play and at the stroke of midnight a mysterious figure asked to join the game. It is reported the mystery man was the devil and having won the Earl’s soul in the game of cards, condemned him to until Doomsday for daring to play cards on the Sabbath. To this day sounds are reported to come from the West Tower of the castle – the alleged site of the card game.

Bamse, the Norwegian Navy Dog, Montrose Harbour – Bamse was a St Bernard dog that lived during the Second World War and was regular visitor to harbours at Montrose and Dundee onboard the Royal Norwegian Navy vessel Thorodd. He became well known for collecting his crewmates from local pubs while they were on shore leave and there are also accounts of Bamse breaking up brawls and saving a sailor from a robbery attack near Dundee Docks. He died in Montrose and buried with full military honours attended by hundreds of Norwegian soldiers, Allied servicemen and civilians. A statue dedicated to him can be found today overlooking the harbour in Montrose.

The Strathmartine Dragon, Dundee Murraygate – Dundee is a city of dragons from the city coat of arms to statue on Murraygate and spire on top of St Andrews Church. The connection is based on an old Dundee folk tale of a dragon that killed nine maidens at Pitempton on the outskirts of the city. Villagers tracked the dragon to the foot of Sidlaw Hills with a local man named Martin slaying the dragon. The name Strathmartine it is said was created by the villagers shouting “Strike, Martin!”. Alongside the Strathmartine Dragon statue on Murraygate, a stone marking the site where the dragon was slain can be found at the foot of the Sidlaw Hills near Bridgefoot.

Interesting history and folklore

Eleanor Mitchell, VisitScotland Visitor Services Advisor said: “There is more to Dundee than you think with the city and surrounding area full of interesting history and folklore.  Year of Stories 2022 presents the ideal opportunity for our visitor services advisors to lift the lid on some of our more unique characters and places. We would encourage locals and visitors alike to pop into our iCentre in the V&A Dundee for new suggestions on things to see and do in area this autumn. Between us we have over 35 years’ experience and love nothing more than regaling visitors with a local tale or two. We find it is often the more quirky and unusual stories that our visitors remember the most.”

The delivery of a programme of special events is an important part of the Year of Stories with over 300 taking place across the country.

For more information on Scotland’s Year of Stories, visit: www.visitscotland.com/about/themed-years/stories/

Armadale celebrates Celtic style

Thousands flocked to the dales for the City of Armadale’s annual kilt run and Highland Gathering on Sunday 9 October 2022. Minnawarra Park was filled with lasses, laddies and wee bairns ready to enjoy a full program of Scottish-themed events and activities.

“This year’s Highland Gathering and the Perth Kilt Run was a fantastic celebration of our City and community,” City of Armadale Mayor Ruth Butterfield said. “More than 25,000 people joined us throughout the day to witness a huge program of live action, including medieval battles, strength competitions, dog agility courses, music, highland dance and pipe bands. For some it was the chance to reconnect with their roots, for others it was the chance to don a kilt for a day and experience some Scottish culture at its best.”

For information see: www.perthkiltrun.com.au

Photos courtesy of the City of Armadale.

Scotland’s UNESCO Trail

Some of Scotland’s most iconic, diverse and culturally significant sites are being promoted to domestic and international visitors with the launch of a dedicated VisitScotland marketing campaign, developed in collaboration with UNESCO and designation partners. The campaign will promote Scotland’s UNESCO Trail to potential visitors with the aim of encouraging them to discover more about the country’s 13 place-based designations included in the trail.

The world’s first UNESCO Trail was launched last year to connect the unique sites that include World Heritage Sites, Biospheres, Global Geoparks and Creative Cities to form a dedicated digital trail.  The trail was designed specifically to support the ambitions of the national strategy to make Scotland a world-leading responsible tourism destination by encouraging visitors to stay longer, visit all year round, make sustainable travel choices, explore more widely and at the right time of the year, and in turn, contribute to the sustainable quality of life of those communities surrounding the designated sites.

The world’s first ever UNESCO trail

Tourism Minister Ivan McKee said: “Last year I launched the world’s first ever UNESCO trail at the V&A in Dundee, which brings together some of Scotland’s most iconic, diverse and culturally significant sites.  I welcome the next phase of the trail and the opportunity to promote our unique UNESCO designations within the UK and Europe, to invite visitors on a cultural journey across the country to experience everything from history to science, music, design and literature to nature and cityscapes.  The trail helps visitors make responsible and sustainable choices through environmentally friendly travel and partnership with green accredited businesses. This will help support sustainable recovery and achieve our mission to grow the value and enhance the benefits of tourism across Scotland as set out in our tourism Strategy Scotland 2030.”

The full list of designations included in Scotland’s UNESCO Trail are the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere, Dundee UNESCO City of Design, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, Glasgow UNESCO City of Music, Shetland UNESCO Global Geopark, North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark, the Forth Bridge UNESCO World Heritage Site, Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Antonine Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site, New Lanark UNESCO World Heritage Site, Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage Site, St Kilda World Heritage Site.

For more information, visit www.visitscotland.com/unesco-trail

Main photo: The Forth Bridge UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of 13 sites part of Scotland’s UNESCO Trail. Photo: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam.

The Clan Macpherson Museum re-opens

On Friday 5th August 2022, as part of the 75th Annual Clan Macpherson Gathering, Clan Chief James Brodie Macpherson of Cluny and Blairgowrie invited a group of approximately 190 clansmen and women to ‘raise a glass’ to the future prosperity of the Clan Macpherson Museum as the latest chapter in the Museum’s illustrious history was written.   The Clan Macpherson Museum was opened in 1952 by the Chief’s grandmother. Unique then, the first ever clan museum in Scotland, it comprised just two rooms housing artefacts rescued from Cluny Castle following the sale of the estates in 1943,  Subsequently, the Museum has undergone two extensions. Most recently it has benefitted from a new roof and internal reconstruction of the displays. Over the years, the collection has expanded with acquisitions and donations, while the way the collection has been presented has also changed, whether in reality or virtually. 

An exciting innovation was the development of the Electronic Museum, presenting artefacts to those unable to visit the Museum. Future plans propose a new and interactive website, harnessing the best to match ambitions. In 2007, the Museum was awarded Visit Scotland’s four-star rating, an accolade proudly retained to this day, as well as a long-standing formal Accreditation by Museums Scotland.  Emerging from COVID 19 quarantine like a butterfly, the Museum abounds with colour and light, through interconnected galleries taking the visitor through different chapters of Clan history.  Familiar and traditional themes are presented to capture the imagination, and to inform and delight. In addition, a theatre area is provided, as well as a dedicated space for children, and an expanded shopping area which will focus on the work of local artists.

Reborn and reinvigorated

The Lord Lyon and Chief James Brodie Macpherson.

The Museum’s new Curator, Aila Schafer, is working to forge new and lasting relationships across the local and wider communities and building a network of volunteers to help manage the Museum. Since her arrival in April, she has been pleased to welcome many visitors to the Museum, some of whom have not visited in years. Over seventy years, many people have been, and continue to be involved in creating and maintaining the Museum. Funding bodies and government agencies from whom grants have been received, Friends and Guardians of the Museum, generous visitors, people from afar who have raised money, office bearers and committee members. And not just Macphersons – members of the local community and people much further afield have helped.

The Chief went on to commend Ewen SL MacPherson’s newly published and highly recommended book, The Clan Macpherson: Trials, Triumphs & Treasures, wherein reference is made to the Museum as a jewel in the Crown of Scotland.  The Chief concluded, “Clansmen and women, the people of Badenoch … friends and supporters of the Museum – as your Chief, I invite you to raise a glass to those that had the foresight to set up the Museum 70 years ago and those, donors, public agencies and contributors of time, energy and imagination, who have enabled it to reach this, the next stage of its development – Newtonmore’s Clan Macpherson Museum, reborn and reinvigorated, a jewel in the Crown of Scotland: the Museum.”

For further information about the Clan Macpherson Association, and the Museum contact your Branch Chairman at: www.clan-macpherson.org/branches.html, and visit www.clan-macpherson.org/museum

Stuff The British Stole-Stoned

Coming to ABC this month the Stuff The British Stole. Follow Marc Fennell on a globe-trotting, emotional quest for the truth as he unravels the twisted mysteries behind six iconic and priceless objects taken by the British Empire and meets those who want them back.

When King Charles has his Coronation next year he will face a choice: Will he sit on the Scottish people? Or at least, a potent and sacred symbol of them. British monarchs have long been crowned on a throne built around a sacred stone that was taken from Scottish kings. Marc investigates the strange story of one Christmas, where a group of four Scottish students snuck into Westminster Abbey to steal it back. What followed was a bonkers heist gone wrong that unveils a complex relationship within the United Kingdom itself – between England and Scotland.

The stone may look plain in its appearance but its history is wild. Marc travels to Glasgow to piece together this outrageous heist. He meets university students Emma Hill & Nico Matrecano. Together, they literally try to recreate the audacious robbery where a crucial part of royal history was snatched right under the noses of the British. Without going into too much detail: a very heavy barrel of scotch and a lot of masking tape is involved. Medieval Historian Lucy Dean takes Marc through a maze that leads right to the heart of British power and Scottish mythology.

Then the comedian Bruce Fummey takes Marc on a guided tour through the Scottish national identity. But all is revealed when Marc comes face to face with the actual mastermind (the late Ian Hamilton) of the entire plot to relieve the British of one of their most potent royal symbols. Ultimately, this is a crime that illuminates that the United Kingdom may not be quite as united as you might imagine.

Stoned airs Tuesday 2 November at 8pm on ABC TV and ABC iview.

Photo: Ian Hamilton (right) and his family.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2022 to screen in Australia and New Zealand cinemas in November

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which made its highly anticipated return to the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade in late 2022 with its show Voices, will screen in Australian and New Zealand cinemas on November 19 and 20. Featuring over 900 performers, Voices is a spectacular combination of music, dance and military precision from some of the world’s leading armed forces and cultural performers from the UK, Mexico, The United States, Australia (Brisbane Boys College Pipes and Drums), New Zealand (the New Zealand Army Band, and The Pipes and Drums of Christchurch City), Switzerland, Germany and Canada.

This show is the first from the Tattoo’s new, and first non-military, Creative Director—New Zealand-born Michael Braithwaite—whose stellar background in entertainment includes producing Live Entertainment for the Jim Henson Company; working for Warner Brothers on two Harry Potter films and producing the Outdoor Festival for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.  Voices is a celebration of expression which draws inspiration from people across the globe connecting to share their voices creatively through spoken word, song, music, and dance – languages common to all. Military acts continue to play a central role in the performance, with the Army acting as the lead service this year. Audiences will hear the legendary sound of the Massed Pipes and Drums, supported by Tattoo Pipes and Drums, Tattoo Dancers, Tattoo Fiddlers, and musicians from UK Military Regiments. 

Celebrated as the Musical Ambassadors of the Army, The United States Army Field Band make their Tattoo debut this year with a marching, military blend of traditional and contemporary music. The United States Air Force Honor Guard, the official ceremonial unit of the Air Force, returns to the Tattoo with its dynamic display of precision drill. Acts include the iconic The Top Secret Drum Corps; the colourful carnival energy of 100 performers from Banda Monumental de Mexico and the renowned Highland Divas, in their Tattoo debut, showcasing their eclectic repertoire including the Folk Music of Ireland, Scotland, and New Zealand. 2022 marks fans’ favourite New Zealand Army Band’s 7th year performing with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Edinburgh, and their 12th appearance with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo brand.

New-look Tattoo to cinema audiences

Brisbane Boys’ College Pipe Band.

The full line up also includes: The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, British Army Band Colchester, British Army Band Sandhurst, The Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland Pipes and Drums, The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland Pipes and Drums, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland Pipes and Drums, Combined Scottish Universities Officers’ Training Corps Pipes and Drums, Royal Air Force Pipes and Drums, The Crossed Swords Pipes and Drums, Paris Port Dover Pipes and Drums, The Pipes and Drums of Christchurch City, and Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools Choir.

Janelle Mason, CinemaLive Director and Producer, said: “We’re really excited to bring this year’s new-look Tattoo to cinema audiences. Its vibrant energy, spectacular location and the theatricality of its dances, songs and music make for a perfect big-screen experience with cinema-quality sound. Voices will amaze and entertain both traditional lovers of the Tattoo and a brand-new audience.”

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo will screen in more than 120 cinemas around Australia, and more than 40 cinemas across New Zealand. Tickets are on sale now from cinema box offices and websites. To find a cinema near you see: www.cinemalive.com

Reader Giveaway:

The Scottish Banner is giving away 10 double passes for Australian readers and 6 double passes for New Zealand readers, courtesy of CinemaLive. To enter simply email: [email protected], via our website at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us or post (sorry no telephone entries) our Sydney office, our full contacts can be found on page 2.

Prize details: Winners entitled to one double pass (two tickets) to The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2022 in cinemas (tickets not valid for Gold Glass or other premium seating options). Winners will receive a letter confirming their prize, along with a Complimentary Admit Two pass, which they need to take to the participating cinema of their choice to exchange at the box office for actual tickets. Prize value: each double pass has a minimum value of $44.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

November – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 05)

Luxury farm-stay holidays, just one of the travel options for 2023. Photo: VisitScotland/Luigi Di Pasquale.

The Banner Says…

A Man of Destiny

In November 1996 an important piece of Scottish history was returned to Scotland after years in exile. The Stone of Destiny, or also known as the Stone of Scone, had been used for centuries at the coronation of Scotland’s royalty. It was located in Scone in Perthshire, and was built into the seat of a royal coronation chair used for Scottish monarchs and remains a symbol of Scottish nationhood.

The Stone of Destiny

The Stone of Destiny was stolen from Scotland in 1296 by King Edward I and placed in Westminster Abbey, where he had built a coronation throne with the Stone of Scone embedded into it. That chair would be used at the coronation of Edward II in 1301, and since then all British monarchs have been crowned on a throne built around the sacred Scottish stone.

On the very symbolic date of St Andrews Day, 30 November 1996, thousands of people lined Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to witness the Stone of Destiny return to Scotland for the first time in 700 years. However, the stone did make one brief return to Scotland prior to 1996. On Christmas in 1950 four university students, Ian Hamilton, Gavin Vernon, Kay Matheson and Alan Stuart made a brazen and dramatic trip to London which would eventually see the stone come back to Scotland.

Ian Hamilton

The mastermind of the repatriation of the stone was Paisley born law student Ian Hamilton. It was Ian’s own raincoat that was used to haul the 152kg/336 lb. sandstone out of Westminster Abbey, which would lead to one of the largest manhunts in Britain’s history, as well as the first closure of the border between Scotland and England for more than 400 years. The stone was hidden in England before being repaired and turning up draped in a Scottish flag at Arbroath Abbey (where the Declaration of Arbroath was produced in 1320), it returned to Westminster three months later and would not come back to Scotland again until 1996. If this sounds like something out of a movie, well you would be right as Ian Hamilton would go on to write a book which was adapted to film in 2008.

Some long-time readers of the Scottish Banner may recall Ian contributed to our pages over the years and remained a friend of the Banner. It was certainly with sadness to learn that in October Mr Hamilton passed away at the amazing age of 97, the last living member of the 1950 student plot. Ian Hamilton was obviously much more than this one event, as he became a very successful lawyer, author and father, but it was this iconic moment in the history of the UK which will forever define him and would win him respect and praise from generations of people.

In this issue

Born in Lerwick in Shetland Ian Bairnson is a talented multiinstrumentalist who has worked with some of the best in the business. His sound has been played across the world with acts such as The Alan Parsons Project, Kate Bush (whose career has recently skyrocketed to a new generation), Paul McCartney and Wings, Chris De Burgh, Elaine Paige, Mick Fleetwood, Tom Jones, and Kenny Rogers to name a few. With millions of record sales he really is Shetlands music maker.

This month we highlight two important Clan Chief inaugurations which recently took place in Scotland. Clan Buchanan had to wait for over 340 years to get their new Chief, John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan who we have featured in the Scottish Banner previously.
Richard McBain of McBain travelled back to Scotland from the USA to become the 23rd Chief of Clan MacBain. Two proud Clan’s welcomed new Chief’s to take on the role as head of the Clan and spearhead the Clan’s place in our modern world.

Myths of the stone

There are many myths which surround the origins of the Stone of Destiny, could it in fact be from Egypt, Spain, Italy or simply quarried from Perthshire stone (geological results did confirm that the stone was quarried from the Scone area)? Did King Edward I in fact bring back the real stone all those years ago? Some say he got a replica faked by local monks. In fact, it was Ian Hamilton himself who told the Scottish Banner back in 2014 that he was convinced the real stone went to England for all those years.

Mr Hamilton said: “Had it been a substitute for Edward to carry off it would have been produced when King Robert the Bruce remained in his kingdom. It wasn’t.” The stone is still in Edinburgh today but plans for it to move are now underway. Next year the world will witness the Coronation of King Charles III, and it is expected the Stone of Destiny will be sent back to London for this event, this was the agreement with Scotland that it should return to London for Coronation events. This will be the first such use since 1953.

In 2024 the stone will then be moved from Edinburgh Castle to become the centrepiece of Perth’s new £26.5 million museum at City Hall, close to where it was first installed at Scone Abbey around AD841, and where it is hoped to remain as a symbol of the great nation of Scotland, and somewhere Mr Hamilton would likely very much approve of.

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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We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

A Hebridean Halloween

The otherworldly magic of a traditional Hebridean Halloween was captured on camera by Margaret Fay Shaw, who amassed a huge collection of Gaelic song, poetry and images when she lived in the west of Scotland from the 1930s onwards. Margaret and her husband, Gaelic scholar John Lorne Campbell, bought the Isle of Canna in 1938, donating it to the Trust in 1981. Their collection, archived at Canna House, includes images and film of Halloween, or Samhain, festivities in South Uist. The roots of Halloween in Scotland go back to the Gaelic festival of Samhain.

‘There are lots of theories about the origins of Samhain, but the overriding idea is that it was a time when the boundary between this world and the other world could be crossed,’ says Canna House archivist and manager Fiona Mackenzie. “That was the origin of dressing up – you were disguising yourself from the spirits and trying to please them, so they’d look after you during winter. Costumes were usually made out of sheepskin or whatever was lying around the croft. Unravelled rope was used to make headpieces. In Margaret’s photos you can see someone dressed entirely in sheepskin. She wrote in the 1930s about watching a boy skin the head of a sheep, leaving the ears intact. He lifted it over his head and looked just like a sheep,’ continued Fiona.

All Hallows Eve


Traditional Samhain costumes © Canna House Photographic Collection.


Fiona adds: “There’s a lot of food involved in Samhain too, both as a feast day for yourself but also to leave food out for the spirits.”

One tradition was to leave a place set at the table to welcome the souls of dead relatives. Food for Halloween (the word comes from the Scots shortening of All Hallows Eve) included a pudding shared by the family, with a silver sixpence, a thimble and a button hidden inside. There were also traditions to do with romance. You could foretell the future of two sweethearts by throwing two nuts into the fire. If they exploded at the same time, it was said ‘they were away together’.

Text and images courtesy of the National Trust for Scotland. For more information on the Trust or to help them protect Scotland’s heritage see: www.nts.org.uk

Main photo: © Canna House Photographic Collection.

South of Scotland golden eagle population reaches new heights thanks to novel research technique

The pioneering South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project has become the first in the UK to successfully translocate free-flying young golden eagles (aged between 6 months and 3 years) to boost a low population of this iconic bird. These new additions bring the total number of golden eagles in the south of Scotland to around 33 – the highest number recorded here in the last three centuries.

Taking a new research approach, under licence from NatureScot, the team leading the ground-breaking charity project revealed that they had successfully caught, transported and released seven golden eagles from the Outer Hebrides.

Ground-breaking project

The Outer Hebrides were selected as the source to boost the south of Scotland population because these Islands host one of the highest densities of golden eagles in Europe. The birds were released almost immediately on arrival in a secret location in the southern uplands of Scotland. The project team is continuing to monitor the birds’ progress to see if they settle and breed in the area. If they do, this could be a ground-breaking for the project.

Francesca Osowska, NatureScot’s Chief Executive, said: “This ground-breaking project has accomplished so much over just a few years, bringing a viable population of golden eagles back to south Scotland and inspiring other similar initiatives around the world. Particularly during the twin crises of climate emergency and biodiversity loss, it’s wonderful to see a success like this. Golden eagles are a vital part of Scotland’s wildlife, and we’re passionate about returning them to places where they used to thrive.  This is brilliant partnership working, and a great support for the local green economy.”

The Witchcraft Act and its Impact in Scotland, 1563-1736

By: Ruth Schieferstein, Nikki Moran and Morvern French

In Scotland in 1563, the Protestant Church passed the Scottish Witchcraft Act, making it a crime to conduct witchcraft or consult with witches. The Act resulted in a century and a half of witch hunts throughout Scotland. Thousands of people died as the Witchcraft Act called for the death penalty for all offences. Not much is known about the fate of accused witches, but these are some of the stories of the people who were charged under the Witchcraft Act.

In 1560, Scotland’s parliament had made Protestantism the official religion, and morality was high on the agenda. The government and the Church wanted to enforce godliness among the people. They thought that the whole country would suffer if there were malevolent elements within it that they believed to be in league with the Devil. This is the setting in which the Witchcraft Act came into existence.

A pact with the Devil

People believed that the Devil left a mark on his followers when they made a pact with him. So-called ‘witch prickers’ were brought in to prick the accused person with needles numerous times and in intimate places in search of this mark. People believed that the mark would turn the area on the body invulnerable so it couldn’t bleed or feel pain. Often it would have been a birthmark, wart, mole or scar.

The aim of the torturous method was to get the accused to give in and confess to the alleged crimes. Other evidence used in trials were neighbours’ testimonies. These could come about after quarrels with other accused witches. They would often name the person that had crossed them as their ‘accomplices’ which could land the troubling neighbour in court as well.

Most of the accused and prosecuted were women. The popular belief was that women were ‘weak willed’ and their intellect inferior to that of men. This supposedly allowed the Devil to influence them more easily.

The Witchcraft Act in practice

Curiously, the Witchcraft Act is brief and does not clarify what a witch is and what constitutes witchcraft. Yet, people were able to identify witches within their communities and bring cases against them.

“…na maner of persoun nor persounis of quhatsumever estate, degre or conditioun thay be of tak upone hand in ony tymes heirefter to use ony maner of witchcraftis, sorsarie or necromancie…”

“…no manner of person or persons of whatsoever estate, degree or condition they be of take upon hand in any time hereafter to use any manner of witchcraft, sorcery or necromancy…”

Most accused witches were ordinary people but the one thing they were thought to have in common was ‘smeddum’ – spirit, mettle, resourcefulness and quarrelsomeness – qualities which went against the ideals of femininity.

A family of witches

© Robert Gordon University. 

In 1597, a whole family was embroiled in a witch hunt. It started with the mother, Johnnet Wischert, who faced accusations of witchcraft by her neighbours, servants and even her son-in-law. The accusations covered decades of believed wrongdoings, misfortune, and even described shapeshifting!

Her son, Thomas Leyis, also faced accusations which focussed on the witches’ sabbath: a gathering of witches in which they worshipped the Devil. Other witches, in their confessions, named him as the leader of a sabbath held at Aberdeen’s Mercat Cross. He was also branded as an active accomplice of his mother, and both were burned.

Johnnet’s husband, a stabler called John Leyis, and their three daughters, Elspet, Janet and Violet Leyis, also faced accusations. However, they were only convicted of associating with known witches – namely their own family members – and were banished from Aberdeen.

Why would people confess to practising witchcraft?

Investigators usually tried to get confessions from witches that would prove interaction with the Devil. This was of importance to the court. To get confessions witches were routinely tortured – often with sleep deprivation, but also with physical torture. In 1616, Elspeth Reoch was tried in Orkney as a witch. For a while, she was mute and suffered beatings from her brother to encourage her to speak again. In her confession, she claimed to have the ‘second sight’ and to have had interactions with fairies since she was 12 years old. She was found guilty and was consequently executed. Visiting wells and springs for healing is recorded in kirk session records, which deemed the practice against the teachings of the Protestant Church.

In 1623, an Issobell Haldane confessed that she had gone to the well of Ruthven to fetch water to use to wash a sick child. The child later died and Issobell admitted to consorting with fairies. She was imprisoned and interrogated at the Tolbooth in Perth, convicted of witchcraft and executed.

Innocent until found a witch

Issobell Fergussone, who was married and lived in Newbattle, was pricked by a professional witch pricker in July 1661. She maintained her innocence and denied all accusations against her. It seems that she asked to be pricked, probably to prove her innocence. However, the witch pricker was successful in finding the Devil’s mark and she subsequently confessed to a pact and interactions with the Devil. She was tried in August 1661 and eventually executed.

The fate of most accused witches is unknown. The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft estimates that about two-thirds were executed. Most witches were strangled and then their dead body was burned. Only a very small number are known to have been burned alive. But the experience of being interrogated, possibly tortured then executed would still have been extremely invasive, frightening and painful.

Formal repeal of the Witchcraft Act

The last prosecution for witchcraft was in 1727. In Dornoch Janet Horne’s daughter was allegedly “transformed into a pony and shod by the Devil, which made the girl ever after lame both in hands and feet”, and that Janet rode her daughter like a pony. Both were imprisoned, tried, and condemned, but the daughter escaped. Janet was the last person in the British Isles to be executed for witchcraft. By the eighteenth century, there was growing scepticism among the authorities about witchcraft, and prosecutions were less likely to result in execution.

Evidence which before had been essential for conviction – including pricking – was now considered unreliable. In 1736 the British parliament repealed both the Scottish Witchcraft Act of 1563 and the parallel English act. In 2022 Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, issued an apology for the historic persecution and execution of accused witches, describing it as “injustice on a colossal scale”. The Church of Scotland then also recognised the terrible harm caused to the thousands of people – mostly women – who had been accused.

Text and images courtesy of Historic Environment Scotland. Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is the lead public body established to investigate, care for and promote Scotland’s historic environment. For more details see: www.historicenvironment.scot

Ruth Schieferstein, Nikki Moran and Morvern French work together in the HES Cultural Resources Team, which researches and interprets the history and archaeology of Historic Environment Scotland’s properties in care. With the increasing attention on Scotland’s history of witchcraft accusations, and the recent anniversary of the Witchcraft Act on 4 June, we wanted to remember the thousands of people and their lives which the Act impacted.

Main photo: © University of Glasgow / Newes From Scotland 1597 (London: Bodley Head, 1924).

Tales of the Sma’ Glen

By: David C. Weinczok

The Sma’ Glen in Perthshire may be only two miles long, but it is big on stories. Its slopes and riverbed are lore-laden, telling of the legendary Fianna and the bones of the great bard, Ossian. I have come to think of it as something like a miniature Glencoe, albeit one much closer to the Central Belt at just twelve miles west of Perth. And yet, this proximity to Scotland’s major centres has not given the Sma’ Glen away – it remains very much a place that relatively few know of. These are just a few of its many tales.

The shadow of Rome

Let’s start at the southern edge of the Sma’ Glen. On a hillock near a modern road bridge once stood a Roman watchtower, part of the extensive line of defences monitoring the Highland passes. Nothing is now left of it except a slightly raised circular spot of heather-covered ground, but the fact that any trace at all is visible after 2,000 years is extraordinary. From the position where the watchtower stood, the hills of the Sma’ Glen and Strathbraan appear massive, their stone shoulders leaning so tightly over the floor of the glen that, were they to lean a little forward, it seems they could form a mountainous canopy.

The remnants of Rome were woven into later lore, as seen at the nearby Roman fort of Ardoch. By the Middle Ages the area’s Gaelic-speaking peoples attributed the slopes and ditches of the fort to the mighty Fianna, a race of heroic Irish giants led by Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool). Ardoch was their camp, and one story tells of their downfall. One of their number, Garaidh, was left behind with the women while the rest went hunting, though the story notes that the women of the Fianna were no less formidable. Knowing how proud and vain Garaidh was of his long, golden hair, they waited until Garaidh fell asleep in the grass outside the fort.

Seeing their chance to teach him humility, they snuck out and silently coiled strands of his hair around large wooden pegs which they drove into the earth around him. Assembled on the fort’s wall with the gate shut, they all shouted. Garaidh leapt to his feet, tearing out huge clumps of his hair. Mad with pain, he piled timbers around the fort, paying no heed to the increasingly urgent protests of those inside. He set it all aflame, and none survived. Seeing smoke rising to the south, the Fianna returned to the scene of the massacre and slew Garaidh where he stood. This, it is said, is why the Fianna are no more, as there were no children born to them after Garaidh’s crime.

Two Stones, Two Stories

Within the Sma’ Glen itself is a large, upright stone not ten paces from the tarmac road. It is not a standing stone, but a test of strength. Called ‘The Saddlin’ Mare’ or ‘Saddlin’ the Mare’, the top of the stone, which stands about six feet high, is smoothed to a rounded, tapered point. Three smaller stones lay at its base – the first the size of a fist, the second weighing about 40 pounds, and the third clocking in at over 200 pounds. For two centuries at least, local men have taken up the challenge of trying to lift the heaviest stone, the ‘Saddle’, onto the top of the upright stone, the ‘Mare’. Such tests of strength were once commonplace throughout the Highlands, but this is one of very few known examples which survive, and are used, to this day. I managed the 40-pounder, but could barely get the big one to budge!

One of General Wade’s famous military roads ran from Crieff, once the site of a major cattle market that saw drovers descend upon the town from the furthest reaches of the Highlands, through the Sma’ Glen on to Aberfeldy and Kenmore on the banks of Loch Tay. Made of layers of rubble and compacted gravel, Wade’s Roads cut a clear swathe across the landscape, much like the Roman roads did in the south of Scotland over 1,500 years before. Very near Wade’s Road and not far north from The Saddlin’ Mare is another storied stone, Clach Ossian – ‘Ossian’s Stone’.

Ossian was the warrior-poet among the Fianna. The story goes that Wade’s road builders dislodged Clach Ossian to move it out of their way. Underneath it they discovered a vessel, Roman in appearance, containing burnt bones thought to be the remains of Ossian himself. Wade left a guardsman to watch over the stone and vessel, while the rest of the roadmen returned to their camp at Ardoch. In the night, the guardsman saw trails of fire descend from the hills and heard pipes howling laments through the air. These were the locals who had witnessed the desecration of their hallowed bard’s burial place. They took the vessel and buried it in a secret spot upon Dùn Mor, the site of an ancient hillfort attributed to the Fianna which towers over the Sma’ Glen. There the bones of Ossian allegedly remain to this day.

Lessons from the Sma’ Glen

In his definitive 1914 novel The New Road, the Scottish writer Neil Munro mused on the passing of time and legacy. Set in 1733 during the period between Jacobite risings when General Wade’s roadbuilding programme into the Highlands was well underway, the character Ninian Campbell observed: “And yet – and yet, this New Road will someday be the Old Road, too.”

These words proved true. Today, Wade’s Road through the Sma’ Glen is little more than an earthen impression, often sodden underfoot with the stonework cleared away, leaving shallow pools and faint tracks in their place. It took less than 300 years for Wade’s ‘New Road’ to become the ‘Old Road’ – indeed, a modern tarmac road runs alongside it. Before too long, in the grand scheme of things at least, it, too, will become the ‘Old Road’. Who is to say what shape the next ‘New Road’ will take? It’s all part of how history, and legends, take shape.

Brisbane Boys’ College Pipe Band representing Australia in Scotland

By: Shona Woodruff

This year, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo made its spectacular return to the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade with a new show titled Voices. The shows, performed over the Fringe Festival month of August, marked a celebration of the power of expression with a combination of music, dance and military precision from hundreds of performers from as far afield as Canada, USA, Mexico, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia.

This event marked the culmination of months of practice and logistical organisation for our own school, Brisbane Boys’ College. Although located on the other side of the world, our school embodies the spirit of Scotland, not just in the foundations of our Presbyterian and Methodist Church organisation, but in the evocative sounds of our own Pipe Band where ‘our Hunting MacLean tartan speaks of our origin, the drum line our heartbeat, and the bagpipes our voice’. Alongside many international performers, our troupe of 32 school students, old boys and accompanying staff took up living quarters in the Edinburgh University, Pollock Halls of Residence. Located beside Arthur’s Seat, the volcanic formation framing Edinburgh, our boys worked off their jetlag by practising each afternoon under vast oak trees in the University grounds.

Excellence

Band warm-up at the Castle ramparts.

Two days later, we travelled to Dumbarton on the windy west coast to contest the Scottish Championships.  Under the backdrop of the iconic Dumbarton Rock and on the banks of the River Clyde, 111 pipe bands in all shades of tartan competed for the top spots. Our Number One Pipe Band (Division 4A), secured a creditable second place against a combination of adult and schoolboy bands while our Number Two Pipe Band (Division 4B) were delighted to come away with a fifth place in this demanding competition. These results provided our team with a surge of self- belief as we moved into an exacting week of rehearsals back at the local Redford army barracks and up at the famous Edinburgh Castle; all conducted under the ever-watchful eye of Major Gordon Rowan who accepted nothing less than excellence with any aspect of drill, turnout, piping or drumming. 

On the 5th of August, the Tattoo performances began. Beneath the impressive colossus of the atmospherically lit Edinburgh Castle, our pipers and drummers marched under the castle’s ancient portcullis, across the drawbridge and past a set of flaming braziers into the floodlit arena to perform in front of an international audience of 8,000 people. Massed Pipes and Drums, UK Military Bands, Tattoo Pipes and Drums, Fiddlers and Dancers were joined by performers from the New Zealand Army Band, the United States Army Field Band, the United States Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team, the Top Secret Drum Corps, Banda Monumental De Mexico and The Highland Divas to wow the cheering crowds. This date also coincided with the Princess Royal’s birthday. Alongside the Chief Executive, Major General Buster Howes, and HRH Private Secretary, Charles Davies, our Voices Massed Pipes and Drums wished her many happy returns by playing a massed happy birthday at the ramparts of the castle. We were also honoured that she took the time to speak with some of our students.

Involvement in key championships

Practice at the Castle Esplanade.

In addition to the Tattoo shows, our involvement in key championships continued and our haul of silverware grew to a final of nine trophies. On the 13th of August, our pipe band, along with 145 bands from across the globe, competed for the top prize at the World Championships at Glasgow Green. 40,000 spectators made their way to Glasgow for the event including a bus full of our own loyal parent group sporting Hunting Maclean scarves, brollies, tailor-made Hunting Maclean pants and bright pink BBC Pipe Band caps.

This event marked the pinnacle of the pipe band competitions and was the culmination of months of dedicated practice from our boys under the indefatigable guidance of our brilliant director, Mr Stevie Stanley and his offsiders, Mr Liam Cox and Mr Aidan Scott. Our boys put on an impressive show and it was well worth the wait for our kilted staff, Mr Brett Jennings and Mr David Bell, who respectively collected trophies for our No 2 band who achieved 6th in the world and our No 1 band who were placed 3rd in the world. At the time of the trophy presentations, our boys had already returned to Edinburgh to play the first of two evening tattoo shows. These trophies were added to ones already won at the North Berwick Highland Games, on the 5th August, where both bands achieved 1st place in their respective grades and also won the drumming.  Additionally, our No1 band secured 1st place in Division 4A and our No2 band secured 4th place in Division 4B at the Bridge of Allan Highland Games on the 6th August.

Special mention must be made of the contribution of our Pipe Major for the Worlds, Alisdair McLaren, who led our 4A band. Alisdair is an accomplished piper and a multiple world champion who was also Pipe Major of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Pipes and Drums at the Tattoo. We are grateful to our mature old boys: Tim Rush, David Jerrard and Jim MacDonnell and our recent old boys; Blaise Campbell, Jack Woodward, Patrick Roach, Jordan Smith and Fergus MacDonnell for their dedicated service to the band. Similarly, the contributions of our contingent of Scots PGC boys including School Captain Nic McGahan, Rory MacFarlane, Josh Hullock, Fraser Collins, and Samuel Bourke were exceptional. These boys, plus the 4B pipe band, were ably led by Pipe Band Director, Sandy Dalziel. This success is made all the more remarkable since the boys were able to maintain a full academic program, being taught during the day by school staff: Ms Woodruff and Messrs. Fisher, Bell and Jennings. We are immensely proud of each and every one of our boys for sustaining such a high level of performance and commitment and for representing the College so well on a global stage.

A great sense of pride

Princess Anne chatting to members of the band.

It was with a great sense of pride and elation to witness our boys perform their last night at the Tattoo. From the top of the castle ramparts, the Lone Piper stood in solitary spotlight as the sounds of Sleep Dearie Sleep carried on the wind to the hushed audiences below. At the top of the Royal Mile, hundreds of people lined the street to witness the last flourish of tartan as the final bands marched around the corner and disappeared into the night.

A spectacular 28 shows had finally come to an end. It is fitting to close with a quote from Walking on the Waves, a song performed by the band Skipinnish and sung by Cammie Barnes. This musical piece featured nightly throughout the Tattoo and captured the essence of this iconic cultural event:

‘And it’s a game of sweet surrender

When there’s nothing left to say

And there are moments to remember

Once these days are long away’

We, as one of many of the teams to proudly represent our school and country, will treasure our memories from being a part of the Tattoo and look forward to climbing the steps to the castle in full kilt regalia, pipes and drums in hand, to do it all again one day soon.

Nessie hunting 365 days a year thanks to new webcams

Visit Inverness Loch Ness (VILN) has installed five new webcams along Loch Ness, making it easier for avid Nessie hunters to look out for the Loch Ness Monster and discover the destination from the comfort of their own home 365 days a year. The new cameras are located at Craigdarroch Hotel, Foyers; Drovers Lodge near Drumnadrochit; Shoreland Lodges Fort Augustus; Loch Ness Clansman Hotel; and Airanloch B&B, Lochend; and live feeds will be available to watch from VILN’s website.

Speaking about the webcams, Michael Golding, CEO at Visit Inverness Loch Ness, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide live footage of the beautiful Loch Ness every day of the year. For people all over the world to watch Loch Ness through the changing seasons and get a glimpse of the beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife is very special. Of course, the webcams will also give Nessie fans another way of spotting our elusive and most popular resident!”

A stunning view of Loch Ness every day

Karl Engel from Airanloch B&B added: “We are lucky enough to get a stunning view of Loch Ness every day and we never tire of it. To have one of the webcams here, knowing that it is being watched by potentially millions of people around the world is just amazing and we hope it inspires people to come and visit Inverness and Loch Ness.”

Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, said: “Loch Ness is renowned the world over for its most elusive resident, Nessie, but these cameras will also give people from around the world the chance to see how beautiful the loch and its surrounds are, as well as possibly spotting some local wildlife – on or off the water! By having the opportunity to see Loch Ness from so many different viewpoints, more potential visitors will be inspired to travel to this beautiful part of the Highlands, to see for themselves why it is such a must-visit destination. In Scotland’s Year of Stories, it is great to see Visit Inverness Loch Ness offering people around the globe the chance to catch sight of Nessie – the subject of so many myths, tales and stories over the years.”

When viewing Loch Ness via the webcams, VILN recommends looking out for the following:

•Nessie

•Highland cows

•Birds such as golden eagles, osprey and ptarmigan

•Deer

•Different types of trees such as birch and cherry trees

•Northern Lights

•Cruise boats, kayaks, canal boats

To discover Loch Ness and Inverness for yourself, visit: www.visitinvernesslochness.com/live-stream

Scottish paper £20 and £50 notes withdrawn from circulation

The Committee of Scottish Bankers, on behalf of the Scottish note issuing banks, Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank, and Bank of Scotland, has announced that all Scottish paper £20 and £50 notes are being withdrawn from circulation this month. Since 2015, Scottish issuing banks have been introducing Polymer notes into circulation. Polymer delivers significant benefits over paper, particularly when combined with state of the art security features which make the notes much harder to counterfeit. Polymer is also stronger than paper and so notes will last longer, remain in better condition and deliver environmental benefits. Scottish polymer notes now account for approx. 90 per cent of £20 and 50 per cent of £50 bank notes circulating in Scotland.

Polymer notes

A spokesperson for the CSCB confirmed: “Thanks to the work that the issuing banks have already undertaken to swap the older paper notes with the more secure, environmentally friendly polymer notes, the majority of £20 and £50 notes have already been replaced with polymer. The Scottish note issuing banks will continue to accept old paper based notes and there are currently no plans to change this.”

Issuing banks will continue to accept all Scottish notes from their own customers. These can be either deposited into their bank account or exchanged for polymer notes. Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale and Bank of Scotland have also agreed that they will exchange their own paper £20 and £50 notes from non-customers up to the value of £250, provided that photographic I.D. is presented. Other banks, building societies and The Post Office may continue to accept and exchange Scottish paper notes after the 30th September 2022. The withdrawal of Scottish paper notes coincides with the withdrawal of Bank of England £20 and £50 paper notes from circulation, which is also took place on 30th September.

The Hebridean Baker

The Scottish Banner speaks to Coinneach MacLeod, The Hebridean Baker

Coinneach you began doing TikTok videos during the pandemic, would you ever have imagined that would lead to you having millions of views and becoming an author and internet celebrity?

I had dreamed for some time of creating a storyline around the Hebrides, our food, our identity and our culture. I had gone on to TikTok and found it to be one of the most creative communities I had ever engaged with, and it really inspired me to start creating my own content. The genuine reason I really started was that I was over at my Aunt Bellag’s house, who lives in the next village, and we were sitting by the stove, and she had Clootie Dumpling bubbling away. She was telling me the story of her wedding day, which had been 70 years ago that day, and she had made Clootie Dumpling on her wedding day. As she shared this story and made the cake, I thought I really want people on the island to know these stories and make sure we don’t forget the traditions we have. I really did not want people on the island to lose these stories and when I started all this it really was for people on the island, and I never imagined it would be something people across the world would enjoy. I am now on 21 million people who have watched my recipes and video stories, and I definitely know there is not 21 million people on the island of Lewis!

It has been an amazing experience and brought great opportunities for me. The thing however that has been most joyous has been talking about Scotland and the Hebrides and our culture, identity, the Gaelic language and of course our food culture. I think I am one of the luckiest people alive to be able to do that.

You draw on much traditional Scottish recipes and also your own family’s favourites. How important is it for you to share and promote Scottish cooking traditions?

It really seems to have resonated with people. A lot of people over these last couple of years have been looking for a sense of community and belonging. There is a beautiful word in Gaelic called cianalas, and while it does not have an actual english translation people sort of translate it to homesickness, but it is more of a longing for somewhere, somewhere you belong and sometimes it’s even for somewhere you have never been. When I did my US book tour, I noticed many people who were very proud of their Scottish heritage or ancestry, particularly if they had Highland or Hebridean identity, and they may have not been to visit but reading my stories and recipes there was a kinship they really enjoyed.  That was an unexpected bonus for me, and it has centred what is really important, for me that is making sure that Scottish folk around the world are able to feel proud of their produce, recipes, flavours and stories.

I try and picture what someone will do when they are baking one of my recipes, especially the older ones, which have a story connected to them. There is a wonderful Shetland shortbread recipe in my first book called a Bride’s Bun, which is traditionally made by the mother of the bride on the day of her daughter’s wedding. Tradition states when the bride comes home from the wedding, and rather than giving her a big hug, the mother smashes the shortbread over the bride’s head which is very good luck not only for the bride, but guests try and catch a piece of the shortbread is it hits the ground. You are meant to put the shortbread under your pillow and have sweet dreams. A lot of my traditional recipes have story lines that go with them and that is one of my favourite things to bring across in the books.

You share not just recipes, but your cookbooks and social media also celebrate the incredible Scottish landscape, music, travel tips and the Gaelic language. How important is it for you to be an ambassador for brand Scotland and share what an incredible country it is?

For me this has been the biggest part is to promote Scotland and our identity. I have been so honoured to do campaigns for VisitScotland and for the Outer Hebrides, our island tourist board. I have had several ‘pinch me’ moments when I have been representing Scotland. Soon I am off to Las Vegas to represent Scotland at a baking expo which is incredible. It makes me proud that I can represent Scotland positively. In everything I do I do not try and make the Hebrides, or Scotland, into this picture-perfect location in my video you will see the rain and the darkness of the winter nights and working hard on the land. I portray a real Scotland in the most positive way as possible.

Your lovely Westie Seòras features in your videos and books. How great is it to have him by your side and could he be just as popular as your recipes?

Yes, Seòras is the Gaelic for George, and honestly, I think Seòras has become Scotland’s most famous dog. He is just loved across the world and even when I was recently in Cape Breton, which was a real dream of mine to go to Nova Scotia, everywhere I went the first question was “Did you bring Seòras?”

I am sure there is a core fanbase out there who go through my recipe videos just to get to the next Seòras adventure.

You recently toured Canada and the US to promote your cookbook. How was it for you to connect with international Scots?

It was so humbling to arrive at the book events, in the US I did 12 cities in 13 days, and each night was sold out and it was a wonderful mix of people that had stumbled upon my page and started to enjoy my content but more than anything else it was people with Scottish heritage and ancestry or were people who were from Scotland and just missing it so much and seeing my recipes just gave them so much joy. Everywhere we went we met wonderful people and could not help but smile as I travelled around. I am already booked to go back for a second book tour at the end of January.

You come from the Isle of Lewis, the northernmost island in the Outer Hebrides, can you tell us what life is like living in such a remote place? Also, any tips for those who have yet to visit this part of Scotland?

The word remote is one we try and not use on the island and in our identity. That comes from a story when the first First Minister Donald Dewar visited the island, and he asked an older lady working on her potatoes in her croft “Don’t you feel remote?” and she replied, “Remote from where?” and I thought was very poignant that he thought people may feel remote from Edinburgh or Glasgow. We do feel far away, when you have to get a ferry and then a six-hour drive, you definitely feel far away. We do feel where we live is so wonderful that we do not feel we are missing out or remote in anyway. To get to Lewis is an adventure and taking the ferry makes you feel like you are going somewhere different, even though you can fly I do recommend you get a car and take the ferry.

Lewis and Harris have the most wonderful mix of historical aspects, as well as a flourishing food scene. It is impossible not to come here and not go to the 5,000-year-old Callanish Standing Stones and Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, which is a re-creation of the stone thatched cottage homesteads that families, and the animals, lived in until the 1950’s. We also have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world here from Luskentyre to Bosta beach they really are beautiful. There is definitely a new energy on the islands, particularly with the food scene. I was lucky to recently do a foodie trail from Barra to Lewis stopping at restaurants, cafes and seafood shacks on all the islands of the Outer Hebrides, and yes, I may have put on a few pounds, but I had the best time.

Is it true you live off the grid and your home is only accessible by canoe?

Myself and my partner Peter are lucky enough to have two homes, our main home is on Lewis. Peter is from Oban on the west coast and his father is from the island of Seil and his mother from Mull and his father had a dream to build somewhere that he could sit at his window and look at the island he was born on and the island his wife was born on. There is a lifestyle in Scotland called hutting, a concept of having a place to go to rear your animals or grow vegetables and the responsibility of hutting is that it must be off grid and you can’t have running water or connected to any electric grid. We must canoe for 25 minutes to get there, but it is the most idyllic life, and we spend about half our year there living off the grid. We absolutely love it, and it is something we will continue to do long term in the future.

You are obviously a very proud Hebridean, but also proud of your Viking heritage, can you tell us more?

As many readers may well know the Outer Hebrides were part of a number of the Scottish islands that were part of the Norse Kingdom. We were part of what is now called Norway for 400 years. The Norse settled well into the Hebrides and brought a lot of good things to the islands. The input of the language of old Norse, has been used in our Gaelic in the Outer Hebrides. Norse has influenced our Gaelic for example I am from the village of Cromore and crò is the old Norse word for cattle and mòr is the Gaelic word for big. Even our accents are different, and I can be in the central belt of Scotland and be asked if I am Norwegian or Icelandic. My new cookbook coming out in late January internationally also has a chapter on Scandinavian recipes with Nordic bakes.

Something that is still fascinating with the relationship between Scotland and Norway is that in 1266 Scotland bought the Hebrides from Norway and they paid 4,000 merks for them. It is an obligation of the Scottish Government to pay the Norwegian Government £100 per year to keep the Hebrides as part of Scotland. I always have a feeling that one day I will wake up and find out they have forgotten to pay, and we are part of Norway again. I don’t know if Nicola Sturgeon would let that happen and I hope she doesn’t!

Some may be surprised to learn you have had a role as a development officer in sport, what has that been like?

I have always loved sports and have worked in sport for nearly 20 years. The thing I was most proud of was I used to work for the Scottish National Team in football and walking off a plane to go to an away match with your national team, there is nothing prouder. Hearing your national anthem being played in Spain, Sweden or Serbia is absolutely amazing. In development work I travel overseas to developing countries to help professionalise the sport and the organisation of the sport which involves working with governments and different organisations. I am doing that role less as The Hebridean Baker is definitely a full-time life now.

You will be performing at this month’s Royal National Mòd in Perth, can you tell us what you will be doing?

I will be singing in the duet competition at the Mòd with my partner Peter, we won it four years ago and last year came second. Second place is brilliant because you get the confidence that people think you are OK, but do not need to do the formalities of being first like interviews etc. I don’t know anyone who wants to come second but we would be happy with that again as we can sing and then head off to the pub!

This year we will be performing the Gaelic version of Auld Lang Syne, which has never been performed at the Mòd before in its 130-year history.

The Hebridean Baker: Recipes and Wee Stories from the Scottish Islands is now available and The Hebridean Baker: My Scottish Island Kitchen is now out in the UK and being released internationally in January. For more details see: www.hebrideanbaker.com

From the new book Hebridean Baker: My Scottish Island Kitchen

Shortbread Dips – makes a dozen

There are three traditional ways to serve shortbread – petticoat tail, rounds and fingers. These fingers dipped in chocolate still have the butteriness of traditional shortbread, with that extra indulgence given by the white and dark chocolate. The shortbread biscuit has been made in Scotland for hundreds of years. However, it is widely regarded that it came to prominence thanks to Mary, Queen of Scots. She fell in love with the shortbread served by her French chefs and from then on, it became the iconic Scottish biscuit we all adore today.

Ingredients:
300g soft butter
125g golden caster sugar
300g plain flour
50g cornflour
½ tsp fine sea salt
150g dark chocolate
150g white chocolate
2 tbsp chopped pistachios
2 tbsp freeze-dried raspberries

Method:

Preheat the oven to 170°C, fan 150°C. Grease a 20cm square baking tin and line the base and sides with baking parchement.
Cream your butter and sugar in a bowl until lightly coloured and fluffy.
Add in both the flours plus the salt and stir until it begins to come together, though take care not to overwork the dough. Bring the dough together with your hands and press the mixture into the prepared tin. Flatten the surface of the shortbread with the back on a spoon and use a fork to prick marks along the length of the fingers.

Bake for 45 until pale golden. Remove from the oven, and with a knife, mark lines where you are going to cut the shortbread. Leave to cool in the tin.
Melt the dark and white chocolate separately in heatproof bowls set over a pan of gently simmering water. Take each of your shortbread fingers and use a teaspoon to coat one third with the chocolate. Sprinkle pistachios or freeze dried raspberries over the chocolate end and allow to set. Serve with a hot cuppa or they will keep in an airtight container for up to four days.

All images courtesy of Susie Lowe.

20th Scottish North American Community Conference

The Scottish North American Community Conference (SNACC) will take place in person in New York, and online, over the weekend of October 21 – 23.  Celebrating its 20th year of this annual conference of leading members of the Scottish American Diaspora, this year the Conference will discuss  ‘How Do We in North America Express Our Scottishness’.

The Conference opens with remarks from Dr Joseph Morrow, Lord Lyon of the Lyon Court as we will explore how one’s expression of our Scottishness is based in the where, how, and why our ancestors left Scotland plus most importantly revealed through the lens of who we are today. 

As the Diaspora nation having by far the highest percentage of Scottish ancestry,  both aspects significantly differ for Canada from the USA.   Our Canadian contingent for the conference will deliver their perspectives on the significant Scottish contributions which are found in all facets of our shared experience as we discuss this aspect to our opening up the discussion between the USA and Canada.

Celebrating our Scottishness

Continuing on Saturday with opening remarks from Chris Thomson, Scottish Affairs Counsellor to North America, which will be followed by the Conference’s keynote remarks on October 22nd, will be given by Professor Sir Tom Devine, one of Scotland’s most distinguished historians.  Sir Tom’s theme is Icons of Scottishness: the intriguing origins of Tartanry and Highlandism – examining a topic which has had a huge impact, not only on the identity of the American and Canadian Scottish diasporas from the nineteenth century to the present, but on the world’s perception of Scotland itself, leading into discussion of:

•Early formation of clubs and organizations and where we are today

•Discussion of the World of Clan and Family Societies and

•The Next Generation, social media – the changes in communications

The afternoon begins with remarks from The Convenor is Donald MacLaren of MacLaren and Achleskine, 25th Chief of the Clan Labhran.

Panel discussions will include discussions on

•Highland Games – New Directions

•Celebrating our “Scottishness” with an introduction from Alan Beck of the Robert Burns World Federation. From Burns Suppers and St Andrew’s dinners, to the National Tartan Week celebrations, kilted golf,  Kilt Skate, etc.

On the Sunday morning SNACC will hear news of the year ahead from Scotland to the USA, fashion, food, events and more

Organized by co-founders the Chicago Scots and American Scottish Foundation (ASF), together with Detroit St Andrews, CASSOC, COSCA and the Scottish Studies Foundation, SNACC 2022 is available online or in person in New York hosted by the ASF.

Join for all or part of the conference – or join for the evening programming. To learn more and to make a reservation to join SNACC online or in person – or for the evening events on October 21 or 22, visit SNACC website at https://scottishleadershipconference.com/

Currie-“30 for 30” Anniversary Campaign

By: Robert Currie

Since 1992, the men and women of the worldwide Learned Kindred of Currie have embarked upon an incredible journey. A journey that has taken us from but a minimal awareness of the MacMhuirich (Currie) Bardic Dynasty to the expansive Scottish cultural and heritage organization we have become. While the name MacMhuirich belongs to an age long-since past, the heirs and descendants of our historic family, recently recognized as the Learned Kindred of Currie, have continued the great bardic tradition of preserving and promoting Highland heritage, producing programs, events, exhibitions and documentaries which honour Scotland’s rich culture and ancestry.

In recent years, Curries have researched and wrote family histories, hosted clan gatherings, sponsored Scottish music and arts scholarships through the Clan Currie Society, and expanded their family connections worldwide and through various community expressions. Their efforts and growth have been recognized by the Scottish Diaspora and leading cultural heritage and clan figures within Scotland. Interestingly, at the same time as the Curries were expanding their cultural influence, scholars outside the clan were re-discovering and exploring the history of this ancient family. As a result, the past 30 years have seen the publication of multiple scholarly histories, research papers, poetry collections, and documentaries featuring the MacMhuirichs from world-renowned scholars and historians, lending outside weight, understanding and appreciation to the historical influence of the Learned Kindred of Currie.

30 incredible years

In 2018, after over a quarter century of revived and expanding cultural engagement under the leadership of Rev. Dr. David Currie, a gathering of Curries from around the world held a Family Convention in Glasgow, following which the Rt. Hon. Dr. Joseph Morrow, Lord Lyon King of Arms, commissioned Dr. Robert Currie as Commander of the Name and Arms of Currie.  As we in the Learned Kindred of Currie enter our next 30 years, our goals include strengthening the Society itself by choosing and electing a Chief, building a new engagement-based member website, and establishing a permanent clan centre in Scotland, as well as increasing our growing influence on and service to the Scottish arts through continued historical and archaeological research, educational programs, and arts and music scholarships. Of course, all of this will require strengthening our financial base.

2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the Clan Currie Society/Learned Kindred of Currie as a non-profit arts and heritage organization. Along the journey, we have re-established our place in Scottish history, erected family monuments, distributed educational scholarships, created an internship program and created and sustained cherished Scottish events and have come together as a family to elect a Family Commander. The last thirty years have been impressive. Not just for the Learned Kindred of Currie but for the good of all of Scotland’s history and Diaspora. As we enter our fourth decade, we will require additional support from our worldwide Kindred to realize our long-term goal of having a Chief of our own, a clan badge of our own and a permanent family heritage centre in Scotland.

Your participation is critical. Thanks in advance for your contribution to help us in marking our 30 incredible years of success and funding our Family Society to continue on this remarkable and historical journey. Please consider what the Learned Kindred of Currie has meant to you and your family and give generously.

For more information about our history, society and our past three decades of accomplishments, please visit us at www.clancurriegathering.net, or find us on social media, and to donate see: https://gofund.me/fb264853

Representing Canada at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The Paris Port Dover Pipe Band of Canada is now 22 years old, having formed in 2000 with ten pipers and one drummer and being led by Pipe Major Gordon Black. It has grown from its humble beginnings to currently more than 100 members. Members include pipers and drummers ranging in age and ability from beginner to advanced but all share a passion for Scottish music and culture. The band, as an organization, has had Graded champion competition pipe bands, performed at Glasgow’s World Pipe Band Championships, and is also currently known as a highly regarded international show band.

The Paris Port Dover Pipe Band has also had the opportunity and honour to play on two occasions for Sir Paul McCartney at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto and once as the opening act for Sir Rod Stewart at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario. The band has been invited to and played at many other international events including the Virginia Tattoo in Norfolk VA, Juno Beach Celebrations in Normandy, the Marymass Festival held in Scotland, and the Calgary Stampede in Canada.

International performances

Drum corps.

The band was invited to Crete in 2010 as guests of the Greek Minister of Tourism participating in parades and performances for thousands of spectators. In 2019, the band was invited to China to perform at the Qingdao International Beer Festival and was welcomed by crowds of nearly 100,000 each night.

The band has also performed at the International Basel Tattoo in Basel, Switzerland on four separate occasions in the past eight years. Even more, this was the third time the band had been invited to and performed at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. They departed Canada on Thursday, July 21st. Upon their arrival, they quickly checked in to the University of Edinburgh campus which would be their Edinburgh home for the next four weeks. For most of the band’s members, this was their first time participating in this prestigious event.

Piper Ethan Caverly.

The first week was dedicated to bringing together all cast members from various countries. After months of individual learning and practicing their music, the bands and groups congregated to finalize the sets and learn the formations involved in the show. There were a few 13-hour days, but members rose early and gave it their all to get through the exhaustion that is part of this experience. Windburn and sunburns were quite evident after the long days of rehearsals in the Scottish elements. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo management team took extreme Covid-19 precautions. After having to cancel the event these past few years, it was evident that they wanted to ensure the show’s return to Edinburgh Castle would be successful.

A particular highlight during the final day of rehearsals for the band was the attendance of Her Royal Highness, Princess Royal, Anne, who holds several appointments in the armed forces of the Commonwealth realms. She took a great amount of time to personally speak with dignitaries as well as to four members of each band/group of performers. The Paris Port Dover Pipe Band was represented by Zara Malik, Scott Croome, Tony Johnson, and Paul Officer. The conversation centred around where our band called home, to which Princess Anne commented on the strength and number of pipe bands in Canada and their notable presence in the competition circuit.

Unforgettable life-long experience

Bonding at the castle.

When opening night finally arrived on Friday, August 5th and after several run-throughs of full-dress rehearsals earlier in the day, the first official show was a resounding success, despite the blustery Scottish winds causing the tails of feather bonnets to blow about. All the hard work and preparation had come together brilliantly and the cheers and applause from the stands assured the band members that their efforts were appreciated.

The weather in Scotland can be unforgiving but each night as they entered through the gates of the castle, the skies were clear and the temperatures quite pleasant. That was, until the night of August 16th when the island’s reputation of having frequent, heavy rains came to fruition. With no gear to protect them, the show went on as planned. It took the entire following day for everyone’s plaid, tunics, bonnets, and spats to dry and be ready for that evening’s performance.

Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, greeting the band.

All during August, whilst participating in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, The Paris Port Dover Pipe Band members were also able to meet up with friends from past Tattoos and make new friends as well. As the nightly shows fell into a regular schedule, members had the daytime hours free to rest, explore the city, or venture further afield and enjoy other activities. Everyone tried to look the other way when member Paul improvised his birdie at the Old St Andrew’s golf course by blowing on the ball as it rested on the edge of the hole.

Arthur’s Seat, which is situated adjacent to the residence where the majority of civilian bands and groups resided during the Tattoo, was a very common trek. Early morning climbs were generally preferred before the heat of the day made them more of a challenge. The view from the top was exceptional and worth the exhausting and strenuous hike. Overall, having participated in The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo was a great, unforgettable life-long experience for everyone in the Paris Port Dover Pipe Band. Thank you, Scotland, for your wonderful hospitality once again.

The Paris Port Dover Pipe Band is located in Ontario, Canada. For further detail see: www.ppdpb.com

A King’s welcome found at museum

Curators at Museums & Galleries Edinburgh working on Auld Reekie Retold, the largest inventory in the organisation’s history, have rediscovered a key object relating to the visit of King George IV to Edinburgh in 1822. This year marks 200 years since the visit, and while Museums & Galleries Edinburgh are marking the visit with various events, this rediscovery was entirely coincidental. While sorting through files and boxes in the Museum of Edinburgh, Curator Helen Edwards found two small wooden boxes with glass lids. One box was empty, but the other contained a delicate silk rosette with a silver saltire and thistle and the text “Welcome to Scotland”. Helen saw the link with the royal visit, but some museum detective work was needed to find out more about these items, involving a trawl through decades of documents, inventories, lists, and letters.

Both boxes contained small paper labels from the Corporation Museum. This was the City Council’s first public museum long before the existing Museum of Edinburgh opened. It was housed at the City Chambers, where items were accompanied by these handwritten labels. The label in the empty box told staff that the missing rosette was a gift from an L. J. Butti, so curators were able to search the collections database and match this label with a well-documented rosette held in store at the Museum Collections Centre. The second rosette was a mystery. The team knew from the style of the labels that the rosette must have been in the museum collections by the early 1900s, but no-one could find mention of it anywhere. Curators searched for the name of the donor of the rosette, but still found nothing. When the Museum first started collecting in the 1870s, items were listed in the Register, and curators concluded that this second rosette escaped being recorded anywhere. With no record anywhere, it effectively became lost and unknown.

The George IV rosette

Vicky Garrington, Curator of History, said: “It was such an exciting moment to hear about the rediscovery of a George IV Royal Visit rosette. I’ve been researching the way the public dressed for the visit as part of our marking of its bicentenary. These rosettes or cockades were worn by hundreds of gentlemen attending pageants or audiences with the King, but their fragility means that few have survived. They sit alongside items like our commemorative plaque, silver badges and lamps for illuminating houses to show the huge effort that was made to welcome the first reigning monarch to visit Edinburgh in nearly 200 years.” Now that it has been tracked down, it has been documented, photographed and put away safely in the store. Since 2019, the Auld Reekie Retold project has found thousands of items from the museum’s earliest days with little or no listed information. These objects are now all well documented, many with their unique stories, and hundreds photographed, so they can now be enjoyed for years to come.

Cllr Val Walker, Edinburgh’s Culture and Communities Convener, said: “The Auld Reekie Retold project is all about providing the best care we can for our collections. This includes improving our records so we can access objects and information easily. This in turn enables us to connect the stories of our objects with our audiences so we can have conversations about Edinburgh’s past. The rediscovery of the George IV rosette not only helps us solve a mystery in our records, but also provides a chance to talk about the visit of George IV in 1822 and what that meant to Edinburgh.”

Visit of George IV

The Royal Visit to Edinburgh was the first by a British monarch since the parliamentary Union of 1707. Orchestrated by Sir Walter Scott, the Visit used public ceremonies, dress, objects and pamphlets to embed George IV in Scottish minds as the legitimate heir to Scotland’s national past. Highland dress was encouraged, the cityscape was altered to look its best, and stands for spectators lined the streets to allow everyone a glimpse of their monarch. On 14 August 1822, before the King disembarked at Leith, Sir Walter Scott presented him with a brooch and cutlery belonging to Charles Edward Stuart. This was designed to symbolise the legitimacy of George IV, by aligning him with the Stuart kings. Many in Scotland remained loyal to the house of Stuart, and were wary of the Hanoverian dynasty of which George IV was a part. In preparation for the Royal Visit, streets were redirected and resurfaced to enable a stately procession. ‘Unsightly’ buildings were knocked down and removed, or else covered by decorative screens and archways in order to make the most imposing scene for the King and spectators.

No-one knew exactly when the King might arrive from the sea, and watch parties of well-dressed Scots were seen on Calton Hill and Salisbury Craigs from the 10th of August onwards. Bonfires were lit and information from out of town on the King’s likely progress was exchanged. One of the key processions of the Visit was the King’s journey from Holyrood Palace to the Castle with the Regalia of Scotland carried before him.

These symbols of the Scottish monarchy were presumed lost after the Union, but had been rediscovered by Sir Walter Scott in 1818. Their presence was another way of legitimising George IV’s place in Scottish history. The weaving looms of Scotland went into overdrive in the lead-up to the Royal Visit, producing tartans not just for Highlanders, but for anyone who claimed a clan connection. Kilts, trews, jackets and scarves made a colourful impression on the streets, and the King himself appeared in Highland dress, drawing ridicule in some quarters for his ‘pink tights’ and short kilt. A pamphlet was distributed around the city, presumed to have been written by Sir Walter Scott in 1822, entitled Hints Addressed to the Inhabitants of Edinburgh, and others, in Prospect of His Majesty’s Visit By an Old Citizen. In it, the author instructs every gentleman in Edinburgh on their uniform for the event; “The Magistrates expect all gentlemen to appear in a uniform costume – blue coat, white waistcoat, white/nankeen [roughly beige] pantaloons and a ‘St Andrews Cross by way of a cockade’”.

Royal National Mòd 2022 to bring dazzling display of Gaelic music and culture to Perth

The Royal National Mòd will showcase and celebrate the very best in Gaelic music and culture when it comes to Perth for the first time in 18 years this month. A vibrant programme of fringe concerts, shows, ceilidhs and exhibitions, has today been unveiled and will delight audiences across the city between the 14th – 22nd October 2022. The eight-day event is Gaeldom’s premier musical and cultural celebration staged annually at a different Scottish town. This year’s Royal National Mòd in Perth will mark 130 years since the first ever event took place in Oban in 1892.

Around 1000 musicians and participants will fill over 10 venues, the length and breadth of Perth this October, including Perth Concert Hall, Perth Theatre and North Inch Community Campus. Sporting events will also take centre stage, with shinty and football hosted at Bells Sports Centre, while a joyous massed choir’s event on Perth High Street will close the nine-day celebration.

The very best Gaelic talent

Royal National Mòd 2022 to bring dazzling display of Gaelic music and culture to Perth Programme of fringe performances unveiled ahead of October event. Pictured James (9) and Elizabeth Maclean, aged 11 from Goodlyburn Gaelic Medium in Perth Photograph by Martin Shields.

With the recently reported rise in the number of Scots knowing some Gaelic words and phrases, this year’s Royal National Mòd is expected to attract thousands of competitors and concert goers who have an interest in the language and its culture. This significant number of attendees will make a hugely positive impact on the local economy of Perth.

Cuirm-Fosglaidh a’ Mhòid 2022 (Mòd 2022 Opening Concert) will welcome some of the very best Gaelic talent to the Perth Concert Hall stage this October. Singers Mairi MacInnes, Arthur Cormack, Ceitlin Lilidh and Darren MacLean will perform alongside an all-star band led by Gary Innes and Ewen Henderson of Mànran fame. The Saturday evening will showcase a very special night dedicated to the thriving Gaelic culture and traditional music that Perthshire has to offer. Entitled Ar Cànan ‘S Ar Ceòl (Our Language Our Music), this special night will feature a host of notable names including Margaret Bennett, Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton’s Symbiosis, alongside Patsy Reid. This concert will not only celebrate the well-known musicians and singers who have put Perth on the musical map, but also the many community and educational groups who work tirelessly with passion and enthusiasm to ensure the local traditional cultural community continues to thrive. These groups include Perth Gaelic Choir, The Gordon Duncan Experience and The Tayside Young Fiddlers.

A new competition for Perth Mòd 2022 is the Cogadh nan Còmhlain (Battle of the Bands). This junior competition will provide a wonderful opportunity for young people to perform live on stage, with the winning bands receiving a recording session experience with Wee Studio in Stornoway. Cuirm Crìochnachaidh a’ Mhòid (The Mòd Grand Finale) will welcome West Coast favourites Trail West to the Perth Concert Hall to close Gaeldom’s 2022 premier musical and cultural event.

A huge celebration of Gaelic language and culture

Duais Ealain na Gàidhealtachd (The Highland Art Prize) will also take place in Perth’s City Contemporary Art Gallery. It will exhibit recently selected artwork by local art associations and galleries that celebrate art and culture from across the Highland and Islands. In conjunction with the Royal National Mòd, the winning artwork will be chosen and presented with a prize of £1000 ( shared between the artist and their corresponding gallery), alongside an opportunity to exhibit their work at a high-profile Glasgow gallery in 2023.

The vibrant fringe programme will accompany a full suite of in-person competitions, some online competitions and a selection of exciting new categories. Competition categories include singing, bàrdachd, instrumental, drama and Highland dancing, while new elements include an accompanied choirs’ competition aimed at harmony singing groups of between five and ten singers alongside a new solo singing contest, The CalMac Competition, which is open to adult learners. Outwith the syllabus, a new TikTok competition and Sruth, an event aimed at encouraging more natural conversation among young people, will be part of the programme this year.

Shona MacLennan, Ceannard, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “We are delighted to see the Royal National Mòd returning to Perth. The Mòd is always a huge celebration of Gaelic language and culture, providing opportunities to use the language in a wide range of events. It also contributes to a sense of wellbeing, particularly through bringing old and new friends together after some very challenging years. We welcome all celebrations of Gaelic and its culture and I’m sure Perth will be an outstanding location again this year.”

This year’s Royal National Mòd will run from 14th – 22nd October 2022.  More information at www.ancomunn.co.uk.

New digital archive protecting legacy of piping in Scotland goes live

Scotland’s national centre for excellence in bagpiping has launched a new, free to access digital resource and research hub. The Archives from The National Piping Centre will protect the heritage and legacy of piping in Scotland and make valuable pieces of piping history available for students, scholars and enthusiasts around the world. The Archives from The National Piping Centre holds digitised copies of five influential piping periodicals dating back to 1948 – Piping Times, Piping Today, The International Piper, Piper and Dancer and Notes from the Piping Centre – as well as photograph galleries of piping through the years. It also incorporates The Centre’s Noting the Tradition oral history archive, which holds recorded interviews with people involved in piping at all levels and all over Scotland over the past 50 years.

The legacy of the piping in Scotland

Available to access at archives.thepipingcentre.co.uk, The Archives from The National Piping Centre keeps the legacy of these publications, information, conversations, images and other materials alive and makes them more easily accessible than ever before. The British Library and website developers Mucky Puddle provided digital expertise to complete the project and it was all made possible by a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign launched last year. An incredible £33,500 was donated by piping fans from right around the globe, allowing the Centre to complete the mammoth task of digitising the titles and launching the new platform within a year. The National Piping Centre now plans to continue adding to the resource and is encouraging piping fans with historic materials related to piping to share them so they can be utilised for research purposes and preserved for future generations.

The National Piping Centre’s Director of Piping, Finlay MacDonald, said: “With this new online resource, the legacy of the piping in Scotland which is recorded in vital publications, interviews and photographs, can live on. The contents of this remarkable archive will continue to educate and inform pipers, fans and researchers the world over. What is so exciting about this project is that it has the potential to grow and accommodate various sources of information provided not just by us, but by the global piping community. We would encourage researchers or enthusiasts who think they have something to add to The Archives from The National Piping Centre to please get in touch.The creation of this resource was a big task, but it was also extremely important. We are so grateful to all those who helped us reach our crowdfunder target, and those who, like us, recognise the importance of championing the history and heritage of piping.”

Great value to the international piping community

Head of Piping Studies at The National Piping Centre, John Mulhearn, said: “The history recorded in The National Piping Centre’s magazine and oral history archives is of great value to the international piping community. Students and scholars of the bagpipe deserve, and will greatly benefit from, the access granted to them through The Archives from The National Piping Centre project. In making this resource accessible, and allowing piping enthusiasts globally to contribute, we hope to open up new conversations and opportunities for learning.”

The periodicals – and the important information and data they hold – have been completely digitised and are held by the British Library and searchable on the new online platform. Piping Times and Piping Today together record over 70 years of piping history and were recognised internationally as the most significant source of piping information, opinion and news. Both were forced to cease publication in 2020, however, due to the unprecedented financial challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

To contribute photograph collections, audio recordings, music collections or any other materials to The Archives from The National Piping Centre email [email protected]. The Archives from The National Piping Centre can be accessed at archives.thepipingcentre.co.uk

Edinburgh reflects on momentous few days on world stage

The significant operation to get Edinburgh moving again took place last month, following the departure of the Queen’s cortège from St Giles’ Cathedral to Edinburgh Airport. This work follows an unparalleled period of time for the city, with thousands lining the streets and the eyes of the world watching significant ceremonial events to mark the passing of Her Majesty The Queen. The Queen’s cortège arrived first at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, with The King and members of the Royal Family following to participate in the Ceremony of the Keys.

Historic procession

They then joined a historic procession up the Royal Mile and a service at St Giles’ Cathedral, where the Queen lay at rest until her final departure for London. There were also two public Proclamations in Edinburgh to announce the Accession of The King. Hundreds of thousands of people descended on the city to pay their respects and millions more across the world tuned into the broadcast coverage.

Rt Hon Lord Provost and Lord Lieutenant of the City of Edinburgh, Robert Aldridge said: “The last four days have marked a significant, historic occasion globally, and it is with immense pride that we look back on Edinburgh’s contribution. It’s thanks to the monumental efforts of all those involved that we, along with the public, were able to say a heartfelt farewell to Her Majesty, whose strong connection to the Capital and Scotland was widely known.This has been the result of a very detailed and successful planning operation that has been delivered flawlessly by a community of partners and is a shining example of the power of coming together in difficult circumstances.I know many will remember this for a lifetime, and we’re honoured to have played such an important role in this moment.”

Remembering Queen Elizabeth II and her love for Scotland

By: Nick Drainey

Portrait, 1959. Library and Archives Canada, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

It was the place where she chose to spend part of her honeymoon, where she took her summer holidays every year and where, according to friends, she was “never happier”. And it was, last month, the place where Queen Elizabeth II, the longest serving British monarch, spent her final days. The Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire has belonged to the Royal family since 1852 when Prince Albert bought it for his wife, Queen Victoria, and it has been passed down the generations ever since.

The Queen has spent every August and September at rural Scottish retreat; this summer her fragile health meant there had been question marks over whether she would make the journey north, but the 96-year-old monarch had apparently insisted.  And it was at this estate, with its grand baronial castle and 50,000 acres of land, where The Queen died on September 8, just two days after performing her last Royal duty – to invite Tory leader Liz Truss to become the new Prime Minister. The pictures of the event – the final official shoots taken of The Queen – show a frail woman, bent over a stick but with a smile and spirit undimmed.

Elizabeth II spent a lot of time in Scotland

Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen, 1943. Photo:  Yousuf Karsh, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL, via Wikimedia Commons

And while the estate, near the quaint village of Crathie, held a special place in her heart, The Queen held Scotland as a whole in her affections. There were, of course, strong connections through her Royal line on her father’s side, which can be traced back to the ancient Stuart line of Scotland. But on her maternal side, The Queen’s mother, Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, later known as The Queen Mother, was Scottish; the daughter of Lord Glamis, later the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, she grew up at Glamis Castle in Angus. As a girl, the future Elizabeth II spent a lot of time in Scotland, either at Balmoral or at Glamis with her maternal grandparents – aged 11, in a thank you note to her maternal grandmother, the Countess of Strathmore, she said her summer holiday break with them in Angus had been “one of the happiest weeks I have ever spent.”

When she married Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1947, she and her new husband spent part of their honeymoon at Birkhall, part of the Balmoral estate, and then spent their Augusts and Septembers at Balmoral, including a visit to the nearby Braemar Gathering, where The Queen was Chieftain. She first visited with her parents and grandparents in 1933 and this year was one of only four occasions in her 70 years as Queen when she had missed attending – an indication of just how special she regarded the Highland Games event and how frail she was becoming.

She and the rest of the Royal family were also regular attenders at Crathie Kirk while at Balmoral, a tradition started by The Queen’s great-great-grandmother, Victoria. And it was outside the Church in 2014, during the Scottish independence referendum campaign that The Queen told people gathered outside to “think very carefully about the future” before casting their vote, a comment which some took to mean she was against the yes vote. If so, it was a rare foray into the world of politics for The Queen, particularly at Balmoral. For while Prime Ministers did come to stay at the estate, owned privately by the Royals rather than the Crown, it was the place where the family could shrug off the pomp and ceremony of their official duties and be themselves, indulging in their favourite pastimes of riding, walking, stalking and fishing. The Queen, with her passion for horses, dogs and the outdoors, was often seen with a casual headscarf swept around her head and a pair of wellies on, striding over the moors, driving a Land Rover and on picnics. Tourists visiting Balmoral have been known to discover that the smiley lady in tweeds they were chatting to was in fact the monarch. Such was the down to earth feeling the surroundings encouraged, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once bought The Queen a pair of rubber gloves after spotting her doing the washing up with her bare hands.

Her love for Scotland

Balmoral Castle.

But there were formalities too on The Queen’s Scottish visits. The official Royal residence is the Palace of Holyroodhouse and events during “Royal Week” or “Holyrood Week” – an annual week in June or July when The Queen would carry out official engagements – would centre on the Edinburgh landmark. That included the annual garden party, when around 8,000 people from all walks of life would be welcomed as a thank-you for their services to their communities and an Investiture, also held at the palace, again honouring people from across Scotland for outstanding contributions to society. She also travelled around Scotland – recent visits have included the Irn Bru factory in Cumbernauld and the Children’s Wood in Glasgow

In fact, her long reign and her love for Scotland means there are few places she hasn’t visited. Her annual Balmoral holiday was once preceded by a cruise around the Western Isles on the Royal Yacht Britannia. The yacht was decommissioned in 1997 but she has twice charted luxury ship the Hebridean Princess for cruises with her family around the isles, in 2006 to celebrate her 80th birthday and again in 2010. She became the first reigning monarch since the Viking King Haakon to visit Shetland in 1960, going on to visit on another two occasions.

The Queen in 2015. Photo: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk, via Wikimedia Commons.

Among the numerous engagements over the years were several iconic moments, including launching The Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise liner in Clydebank in 1967 and descending 1,600ft (500m) to visit the coal face in a mine at Rothes Colliery in Fife in 1958 while wearing an immaculate white boiler suit. She also opened the Borders Railways between Edinburgh and Tweedbank on the day in 2015 that she became the UK’s longest-reigning monarch, overtaking Queen Victoria’s record.

Three days after her death, her coffin travelled from Balmoral to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, before a procession saw it being taken to St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh for an official lying in state. Tens of thousands of people visited the cathedral on the Royal Mile to pay their last respects to the much-loved monarch before the coffin travelled to London for a second lying in state at Westminster and the state funeral.

King Charles

The new King, Charles III, the oldest child of Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, also has strong connections to Scotland. Charles was four when his mother became Queen and he inherited several Scottish titles, including the Duke of Rothesay (the title by which he was known in Scotland) and Lord of the Isles.  His school days at Gordonstoun private school in Elgin were not happy but, like the other Royals including his mother, his summers in Balmoral were relaxed and joyful times. He shared his mother’s love of the outdoors and pictures show him in kilts and jumpers, sketching in the estate grounds and out walking with dogs.

In 1980, a children’s book written by the then prince, called The Old Man of Lochnagar, was published; the tale of an old man who lives in a cave under a mountain which overlooks Balmoral, it is a testament to his affection for the Highland landscape. He spent part of his honeymoon with his first wife Diana at Balmoral, and proposed to his second wife, Camilla, at Birkhall, in 2005; they also spent part of their honeymoon there.

The couple stay there regularly; Charles is said to adore the gardens there and be so fond of the red squirrels which live in the area that he leaves the doors open and nuts in jacket pockets for the love of seeing them coming in and foraging. Birkhall, like Balmoral, was bought by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband. More recently it was the Queen Mother’s and she bequeathed it to her grandson, along with the Castle of Mey near John O’Groats.

In 2007 he helped to save Dumfries House, an 18th century mansion in Ayrshire which was due to be sold at auction, leading a consortium to buy the house and save it for the nation. It is now run by the Prince’s Foundation and where he was staying when he was summoned urgently to Balmoral last month.

Main photo: The Queen at the opening of the Scottish Parliament. Photo: The Scottish Parliament, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland celebrates 20 years

The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland (NYPBS) recently celebrated its 20th year with a special performance at Piping Live! 2022. Taking to Glasgow’s City Halls stage in August, a group of participants of the fantastic youth band performed compositions created especially for the band by 10 young composers who took part in the NYPBS’ Emerging Composers project.

Finlay MacDonald, Artistic Director for Piping Live!, said: “We are delighted to have The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland marking their 20th birthday at this year’s festival. The Emerging Composers project is a brilliant opportunity for young musicians, and it will be fantastic to hear this original music performed by some very talented young players.”

Represents Scotland at performances both at home and abroad

A non-competing performance pipe band for 10-25 year old’s, NYPBS was set up in 2002 by The National Piping Centre with the aim of bringing together Scotland’s most talented young musicians from a range of backgrounds. NYPBS represents Scotland at performances both at home and abroad. Over its 20-year history, NYPBS have staged a number of notable performances., they recorded the official soundtrack for the handover of the Commonwealth Games from Delhi to Glasgow, and in 2012 they performed for Queen Elizabeth II in Perth, when its city status was reinstated to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Reflecting on the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland’s 20th birthday, Director Steven Blake said: “It’s amazing to look back over the past 20 years and see everything that the NYPBS has achieved, it’s such a fantastic group for young pipers and drummers to be a part of and all of our musicians past and present should be very proud of themselves. I can’t wait to see where the next 20 years will take us.”

2022 Montréal Highland Games

It was a spectacular return for the Montréal Highland Games on July 31 at the Douglas Hospital Grounds in Verdun; co-sponsored by the St. Andrew’s Society of Montréal and Pembroke Management and supported by the City of Montréal. Close to seven thousand people celebrated Scottish culture on a gorgeous summer day.

From babes in strollers, to teens in kilts, families in matching tartan, to the elderly with canes; Montrealer’s of all ethnicities revelled in the sound of bagpipes, the taste of haggis, and the thrill of seeing the caber toss. Crowds cheered for the Highland heavy athletes who competed in the main field. The winner of the Canadian Scottish Athletic Federation Open Championship title, Lorne Colthart, hailed from Blair Atholl, Scotland. Highland dancers competed for coveted trophies.

President of the St. Andrew’s Society of Montréal, Guthrie Stewart, congratulated each winner and commented that it was the highlight of his day at the Games; “Connecting with our youth is so important, they are our future!” Medieval knights battled in the ring while little ones enjoyed the bouncy castles and tried their hand at tossing “wee cabers” at the National Bank Family Village. Crowds cheered in the lower field as teams pulled together for a cause in the Tug-of-War. The Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment may have won the cup, but the real winner was the Douglas Foundation. Funds raised from the competition will go to this largest research centre in mental health in Québec —to continue its ground-breaking mental health and neuroscience research, to offer first-class care to individuals living with mental illness, and to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Joie de vivre found in Montréal

Visitors sought out their “long lost families” in the Scotties Celtic Mile and congratulated Clan Fraser for winning Clan of the Day and Jacques McNicoll for being awarded Chieftain of the Day. They led the Clan Parade throughout the grounds in the afternoon. Crowds lined the ring of the main field to watch massed bands perform their intricate marches during the opening and closing ceremonies. Familiar tunes such as Scotland the Brave and Auld Lang Syne were performed by winning bands Ottawa Caledonian Pipe Band, Glengarry Pipe Band Grade 4, MacMillan Birtles Pipe Band, and the MacMillan Pipe Band. Winners of the Drum Major competition were Patrick Dowd (professional) and Robert Labreche (amateur). The Ceilidh Tent never skipped a beat as Mariner’s Curse and Hadrian’s Wall, along with Guest of Honour Michael Yellowlees performed to an appreciative audience.

As the day drew to a close and guests gathered for last call, President of the Games, Scott Mackenzie, raised a toast, “To the more than 150 volunteers who make this day happen, to our vendors, our concessionaires, our athletes, dancers and musicians, we wouldn’t be here without you! Slainté! Thank-you! Merci! Gracias!”

There may be bigger Games, but none can match the “joie de vivre” found in Montréal. See you in 2023!

Each year the Montreal Highland Games brings together Montrealers of all backgrounds to celebrate Scottish sport, music and culture. For more information see: www.montrealhighlandgames.com

Photos courtesy of Peter Matulina.

The Highland Gathering and Perth Kilt Run is back for 2022

Join the City of Armadale to celebrate all things Scottish at the largest Highland Gathering event held in Western Australia that has people saying things like…

“As a multi-generation Aussie of mostly-Scottish extraction, I love having a local event where I can celebrate and enjoy my Scottish heritage.”

“I LOVED seeing so many people engaged in celebrating their Scottish heritage.”

“Omg everything was so well planned! And the diversity of things to see and do is amazing.”

Scottish delights

The morning of October 9 begins with the fun and quirky Perth Kilt Run, the only fun run in Australia that’s done in a kilt! Register for the 2.5km Classic or the 5km Warrior challenge and purchase your very own kilt in the process. It’s a charity fun run with a difference and you’re guaranteed to have a good time!  As you’d expect… the excitement doesn’t stop there.

Following the Perth Kilt Run, we roll straight into the Highland Gathering where you’ll have the rest of the day to experience highland dancing, pipe bands and heavy event competitions, meet and greet Scottish dogs, explore Clan histories, friendly battles between the medieval groups in the arena, live music and test your taste buds with the variety of Scottish delights, and lots more!

This is a family friendly, COVID safe and smoke free event hosted by the City of Armadale.

Further details are available at: www.perthkiltrun.com.au

The real Bonnie Prince Charlie

By: Nick Drainey

The overwhelming impression of the man looking out from the portrait is one of sadness. The stare doesn’t quite meet the viewer’s eye, the cheeks are jowly and the eyes droopy and hooded. His lacy cravat and blue sash seem half hidden, as if embarrassed to be there.  It’s a quite extraordinary contrast from the portraits painted a few decades earlier where a confident, sometimes almost impish young man stares out of the frame, sash and medals prominent across his chest. This is Bonnie Prince Charlie, painted in 1786 by artist Hugh Douglas Hamilton in Rome where he was living in exile, just two years before he died.

It is one of 16 paintings spanning four generations of the House of Stuart, which are on show at the West Highland Museum in Fort William until October. They start with James VIII, the Old Pretender, and his wife Princess Clementina Sobieska, through their son, Charles Edward Stuart, to his daughter, Charlotte, the Duchess of Albany and her daughter, Princess Marie Victorie de Rohan.

That most pivotal character in Scottish history

Bonnie Prince Charlie, painted in 1786 by artist Hugh Douglas Hamilton.

But while he may look sad, according to Peter Pininski, chairman and founder of the Liechtenstein-based Pininski Foundation which owns 11 of the paintings in the exhibition, that appearance is a little deceptive. “It is a fantastic picture. It shows an old man as he was, with no attempt to beautify or make him more ugly and that’s actually very important with the history of portraiture of Charles Edward Stuart.” The Stuart line had been deposed from the British throne in the time of Charles’ grandfather James VII (or II of England) over fears that he was about to re-introduce Catholicism to the country. The English parliament invited the Protestant William and Mary over to rule instead in 1688. The ancient Stuart line had lived in exile in continental Europe ever since. James had died in 1701 and his son, also James, took on the mantle of the Stuart claim, leading an unsuccessful attempt to reclaim the throne in 1715.

“When Charles’ father was alive – and he didn’t die until 1766 – he would tell artists what they should do,” explains Count Pininski. The most extreme example, he says, comes from 1729 when James commissioned artist Antonio David to paint Charles and his brother Henry but said to make them look three years older so it wouldn’t go out of date so quickly. “He does look sad,” says Count Pininski of the 1786 portrait. “But you must remember he wasn’t. This was the very beginning of the final and happy stage of his life.”

Sometimes it feels as if Bonnie Prince Charlie, that most pivotal character in Scottish history, made his entrance in life at Glenfinnan in 1745, raising the standard for his father’s cause, and exited it as he disappeared in Flora MacDonald’s boat heading for Skye after defeat at the battle of Culloden in 1746.

The West Highland Museum.

But in fact, the prince had an extraordinary and turbulent life both before and after fighting at the head of a Jacobite army at the last serious attempt by the Stuarts to retake the British throne. Count Pininski, author of a new book, Bonnie Prince Charlie: His Life, Family, Legend and a descendant of the prince, says his life can be separated into several distinct phases. The first, as a small child, was happy, being cared for by a group of women and seeing his beloved mother, Princess Clementina Sobieska, often. After the age of four, though, he was put under the strict care of two Jacobite Scottish nobles, Lord Dunbar and Lord Inverness, who restricted Charles’ access to his mother, while factions opposing the pair indulged the boy in the hope of undermining them. All of which combined with his father’s suffocating presence led Charles to become something of a brat. “Perhaps for understandable reasons he was a spoilt, difficult immature boy.”

This changed in 1737 when Charles was sent off to tour the northern Italian states. “No sooner was Charles out from under his father’s slightly suffocating wing then his behaviour totally changed. It was as if he had matured as a man ahead of his years,” says Count Pininski. Gone was the petulant child and in his place was a modest, intelligent, charismatic young man. And this was the youth who was painted by Venetian artist Rosalba Carriera, the most celebrated female artist of her day, in 1737, which is also in the exhibition.

It was one of only three portraits which can be definitely said to have been painted from life – another is the 1787 portrait. And it was this new “heroic” Charles which took the Jacobite cause to the brink of victory in the 1745 Rising but which ended in defeat at Culloden. But in its wake comes the darkest period of his life. Distraught at the heavy price the Highland people who had backed him were paying and unable to convince the French to launch a new assault, Charles turned to alcohol and two love affairs. “He let off steam by way of these two love affairs, both with cousins on his mother’s side, and heavy drinking.” Two years later he was expelled from France and his love affairs ended, leaving him more reliant on the bottle.

Extraordinary family

Clementina by William Mosman

In the 1750s, he resumed his relationship with an earlier Scottish lover Clementina Walkinshaw and she bore him a daughter, Charlotte. But the couple’s relationship broke down due to Charles’ drinking and behaviour. Mother and daughter went to live in a convent in France; Charles refused to recognise Charlotte as his daughter but still forbade her from marrying or becoming a nun. His volatile temperament due to his drinking at a meeting with the French in 1759 meant they abandoned any ideas of including him and his claim in a planned invasion of Britain. And in 1772 Charles married Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern. The much younger princess was supposed to produce an heir but that did not happen and eight years later she left him amid claims of abuse. But just as his life was looking unremittingly miserable, a momentous change happened. “In 1784, he invited Charlotte back into his life. He had forbidden her from marrying or becoming a nun but he didn’t explain why” says Count Pininski.

Charlotte was his Plan B in case a male heir didn’t appear, his reasoning behind now inviting her back into his life. He legitimised her and made her the Duchess of Albany. “She was amazed, she had given up all hope,” Count Pininksi continued. But Charlotte became more than a dynastic tool for Charles. “She was a wonderful influence on him. She coaxed him out of his drinking and back into a relationship with his brother Henry, a relationship which had appeared broken beyond repair for years.” The 1787 portrait, along with one of Henry, a Cardinal, were to be used to create a double pair for each brother to have.

So, Charles’ final years were happy ones, alcohol free and reconciled with his daughter and brother. Sadly, Charlotte died not long after her father – and she had a secret that she had never revealed to the prince. During her years in exile, she given birth to three illegitimate children – their father was an archbishop and as both were forbidden to marry, the link with the prince remained a secret only uncovered by research by Count Pininski 20 years ago in his book, The Stuarts’ Last Secret: The Missing Heirs of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Charlotte’s daughter Princess Marie Victorie de Rohan is the final generation of this extraordinary family pictured in the exhibition.

Main photo: A recently discovered portrait of the prince by Rosalba Carriera.