Canmore Highland Games-How to savour your inner Scot

September 2-3, 2023 brings back the full experience of Celtic culture at Centennial Park in Canmore, Alberta – so you’ll want to witness the colours of the tartans and the thrill of the pipes at the 32nd annual Canmore Highland Games. Here’s how you can awaken your inner Scot with some big fun – the Taste of the Highlands, the Canmore Highland Games and the Canmore Ceilidh, beneath the scenic peaks of the Rockies on Labour Day weekend.

Celtic culture

Sip the spirits, mead and ale at the Taste of the Highlands. Bring the whole family for the Highland Games – visit the clans, see the heavy sports, shop the Celtic market, watch the sheepdogs at work, observe the intense competitions of highland dancing and piping and drumming, enliven your palate with a Scotch tasting, sample the foods available, quench your thirst while enjoying live Celtic music in the beer garden, and discover the British automobiles on show. Let loose and expose your inner Scot at the Canmore Ceilidh – be ready to hit the dance floor! Headliners this year are Celtica Nova. Always entertaining and definitely unique, Celtica Nova are a blast of Celtic energy and won  the “International Celtic Artist of the Year” award at the 2019 Australian Celtic Music Awards!

“The Highland Games has become a signature summer event in our small mountain town. Every year we entertain the visitors to the Games while show-casing affordable Celtic culture in our communities. This creates economic support for all the local businesses who benefit,” says Three Sisters Scottish Festival Society president, Sandy Bunch.

Always an affordable event, there are advance tickets and bundles to choose from.Tickets and event information can be found at: Email: [email protected]

Piping Live! 2023 set to celebrate 20th year

Piping Live! will return for its 20th edition this summer with an eclectic calendar of events from Saturday 12th – Sunday 20th August 2023.

The world’s biggest piping festival annually attracts over 30,000 attendees to Glasgow and this year the Piping Live! team hopes to bring in even more visitors, as it celebrates two decades as a cornerstone on the Scottish cultural calendar. General tickets go on sale 10am, Friday 19th May.

The music is both steeped in tradition as well as forward-looking and innovative

Anna Smart and Ailis Sutherland at the launch of the 20th edition of Piping Live.

Finlay MacDonald, Artistic Director for Piping Live!, said: “We are delighted to be launching the 20th edition of Piping Live! It’s incredible to think back on how much the festival has grown in the last 20 years. I’m extremely proud to be involved in the direction of what is now a major cultural and musical event for Scotland, and the global piping and traditional music scene. 

“Piping is more popular than ever, there are more people from diverse backgrounds playing, the music is both steeped in tradition as well as forward-looking and innovative. This rise in popularity is in no small part down to the continued support from our audiences and the dedication of the teams behind Piping Live! and the World Pipe Band Championships. There’s a real energy in the piping and drumming scene in anticipation of Piping Live! this year. Glasgow is certainly going to be alive with music, friendship and camaraderie. 

“The team here at the National Piping Centre have been working tirelessly to deliver the festival this year, despite some substantial funding cuts across the cultural events industry, so we really need public support now more than ever – please purchase tickets, please donate what you can and please encourage others to come out and enjoy the world-class performances we will be showcasing this August. Never has your support been more vital in ensuring this iconic festival, and the scene it supports, continues to thrive.”

The Piping Live! Closing Concert will round off the 20th edition with performances by some festival favourites, including the hugely talented multi-instrumentalists Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton, who have been involved with Piping Live! since its earliest days. The duo will perform a double header show with Uilleann piper Jarlath Henderson, who performed at the first Piping Live! festival, and guitarist Innes Watson.

Full program of events

The Pipe Major Alasdair Gillies Memorial Recital Challenge, Piping Live!’s flagship evening of solo piping, will be showcased at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall’s Strathclyde Suite this year. The competition will pit five top solo pipers against each other as they take to the stage to perform a 25-minute medley of their favourite tunes. Annually a sell-out success, performances this year will come from Angus MacColl, Stuart Liddell, Sarah Muir, Callum Beaumont and the 2022 champion Matt MacIsaac.

The International Quartet Competition will feature six of the top Grade I pipe band quartets in the world; Field Marshal Montgomery (Northern Ireland), Inveraray and District (Scotland), Manawatu Scottish (New Zealand), 78thFraser Highlanders (Canada), Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia (Scotland) and People’s Ford Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia (Scotland). Each of the six bands from across the world will send four of their best pipers to compete in this head-to-head challenge ahead of the World Pipe Band Championships on Saturday 19th August. There will be five hidden judges listening to an MSR and Medley event in the Strathclyde Suite on Tuesday 15th August. 

The show Canntaireachdwill also take place on Tuesday 15th August. This exciting new collaboration between multi-award winning singers and pipers Kim Carnie (vocals), Kathleen MacInnes (vocals), Brìghde Chaimbeul(small pipes and bagpipes) and Ailis Sutherland (small pipes and bagpipes) will join forces with the formidable collective Staran. Celebrating and exploring the relationship between piping and Gaelic song, the project will breathe new life into centuries old songs, tunes and stories with new material woven throughout.

Lowland and Borders Pipers’ Society presents inB –  a new and exciting collaboration that celebrates the rich sounds of the Uilleann pipes and Scottish smallpipes pitched in the beautiful key of B. Award-winning musicians from Scotland Brighde Chaimbeaul and Fin Moore will perform on Scottish smallpipes that have been handcrafted especially in B by Fin. On the Uilleann pipes, Ireland’s Louise Mulcahy and Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn bring their unique approach to this musical collaboration. The powerful sound of four sets of pipes playing in harmony creates a beautifully unique tonal texture. inB celebrates the important history and musical connection between Ireland and Scotland.

The annual Friday Night Folk gig will open the final weekend of Piping Live! when the progressive Scottish Traditional music trio Project Smok will perform at Stereo. Supporting this fantastic band will be former BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician Eryn Rae and her band. 

The Masters Solo Piping Competition will take place at the National Piping Centre, with this prestigious competition being the qualifying event for the Glenfiddich piping competition. This huge day of performance will see the best soloists from across the world compete in Piobaireachd and Light Music on Monday 14th August.

Piping Live!’s avant Garde night of music, entitled Ceol Nua, will return to the festival when multi-instrumentalist Fraser Fifield and Estonian piper Caatlin Magi perform on Tuesday 15th August. 

Piping Live!’s final day will showcase the internationally renowned Gordon Duncan Memorial Competition. This iconic event continues to celebrate Gordon’s links to Scotland, Ireland and Brittany. One Scottish, Irish, Breton and international piper will each play sets of Scottish, Irish and Breton music and the overall winner will be the best player of all three musical styles. 

A plethora of free day time events, which will primarily take place at the festival’s iconic Street Café on McPhater Street, will include the ‘Emerging Talent’ stage where daily shows will be performed by up-and-coming trad music groups, alongside performances by international artists from Brittany, Estonia and Ireland. 

The National Piping Centre’s auditorium will also host the Pipe Idol Final, when four solo players aged 21 and under will compete after winning their heat earlier in the week. The much-coveted prize is a set of Reelpipes from Fred Morrison Pipes.

Pipe bands from across the globe will perform on Buchanan Street from 12 noon each day of the festival, including artists from Canada, USA, Australia, Belgium and of course Scotland. 

The Gig in the Gallery series will return to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow’s stunning flagship gallery, which will host a daily recital featuring international styles of bagpipes. There will also be talks and book launches across the event, and a special gallery of photos from across the festival’s 20 years will also be showcased at the National Piping Centre for all visitors to enjoy.

World-class piping

Anna Smart plays her bagpipes at the launch of the 20th edition of Piping Live!

Bailie Annette Christie, Chair of Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council Convenor for Culture, Sport and International Relations, said: “As a UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow is renowned as an outstanding destination for lovers of all types of music, and there’s certainly no better to place to experience world-class piping, with Piping Live! and the World Pipe Band Championships  the pinnacle of the piping competition calendar  both taking place in the city this August.

“These firmly established highlights of our vibrant summer events programme are extremely important to Glasgow. Attracting thousands of musicians, supporters and spectators from around the world, they showcase the city, boost its international profile and contribute greatly to its visitor economy. We are therefore pleased to continue our support of both global piping extravaganzas and look forward to welcoming audiences from near and far to this year’s exciting events.”

For 2023, Piping Live! is working with a new ticketing partner to make in-person ticket purchasing as smooth as possible. Customers will now be able to add all of their tickets into one basket, and there will be multi-ticket discounts available for the first time. General tickets are now on sale.

Live streaming will return to Piping Live!, with an exciting programme of live and premiered events and concerts to be announced.

Tickets and more information on where and when each performance is happening are available at

The 2023 Robert Burns Scottish Festival returns with a full program of events

The Robert Burns Scottish Festival (RBSF) Chairperson, Dr John Menzies OAM, is pleased to announce that festival is going ahead with a full weekend program, with several new events on offer. The RBSF volunteer committee has also created multiple Burns Bite events for the year, so please connect with them via their website and our Facebook page to stay up to date with what’s on, and when. For RBSF 2023 the festival is excited to headline Austral, an exciting young folk band who are infectiously toe-tapping, before they head overseas. They were winners of the Traditional Folk Album of the Year at the 2022 Australian Folk Music Awards.

Festival favourites; Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club and Hugh & Janet Gordon, are back. Big Fiddle Little Fiddle are new guests, their performances are energised by a sheer joy of playing music, not to be missed. Fiona Ross, a gifted interpreter of Scots song and winner of Best Folk Album: Music Victoria Awards 2020, is returning with Shane O’Mara. A line-up of talented local bands and musicians include Kyle & Merran Moir, The Twa Bards, Camperdown’s Lakes and Craters Band, The Warrnambool Pipes and Tuniversal Music Group Inc.

Fiona Ross and Shane O’Mara.

New events this year will include a Saturday Evening Soirée, to be held in the Killara Centre, and a Saturday Poetry & Ploughman’s Lunch with the Unicorn Tapestry, celebrating Scotland’s national animal. Also on Saturday there will be a show for kids, by entertainer Eric Read, that will be a fun filled, family-friendly highlight. The festival opens Thursday night with a movie at the Killara Centre, with ‘Falling for Figaro’, a delightful feel good, music rich, comedy. The Gala Dinner will be held at the Theatre Royal on Friday night.

Enjoy a sumptuous and authentic Scottish meal with an Address to the Haggis, and entertainment. Bookings essential as numbers are limited. Looking for historical context? Maree Belyea and Bob Lambell have organised four wonderful guest speakers for the Saturday Lecture Series, held at the Killara Centre. Topics include; Fiona Ross – ‘Burns as songwriter & collector, Stewart McArthur – ‘Waltzing Matilda’, Dr Rosalie Triolo – ‘Scots as ‘Sodgers’ & Teacher-Enlistees 1914-18’, Allan Willingham – ‘Portraits, Panoramas & Landscapes’.

Events and entertainment for all

The Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club.

Wee Stories will be at the library for the children, along with games, music and markets in the avenue. Highland dancers and pipers will activate the Clock Tower precinct. You might even get a photo opportunity with Rosie & Doge, two friendly Westies who will be in their tartan. If you have a West Highlander or Scottie dog bring them along… your dog might win a prize for the pooch with the waggiest tail! Choir Workshops will be held on the Saturday (TBC). The very popular Cookery Class (TBC) will be happening with Liz Patterson and Ruth Gstrein giving participants the opportunity to cook authentic Scottish food. The Robbie Burns Golf Ambrose Cup will be held at the Camperdown Golf Club.

The Twa Bards.

On both Saturday and Sunday the Camperdown Heritage Centre and the Masonic Lodge will be open for folk to visit, along with a climb of the Clock Tower. Sunday morning brings music & poetry with The Twa Bards by the Statue, followed by the Festival Finale Concert at the Theatre Royal in the afternoon, featuring The Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club. NAIDOC week starts on Sunday the 2nd of July, and the RBSF also aims to incorporate Indigenous connections in its program, as we seek to celebrate the unique heritage of where we love and live.

In 2023 we’re also celebrating a return of the school children’s program with primary and secondary aged events including art works, poetry, story writing and the popular shortbread baking competition. These activities will happen before the festival and delivered in the schools. Take a walk along the main street during festival week and see student’s work exhibited in local shop windows. Dr Menzies also said that schools can access resources from the Robert Burns World Federation website: at no cost, giving students the opportunity to learn more about Robert Burns and Scotland. There’s plenty of things to see and do, for all ages and RBSF invites you to come and enjoy what’s on offer in 2023.

The Robert Burns Scottish Festival takes place June 29-July 2 in Camperdown, Victoria. Keep up to date at: and Tickets available now: For further information please contact Catherine O’Flynn RBSF Co-ordinator on 0407 056 126.

Main photo: RBSF headline act, Austral.

The Hebridean Baker at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

Scotland’s best-selling cookbook author, Coinneach MacLeod, will be serving up the best of the Hebrides this summer at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. A seminar will be held Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 6PM in the Flora MacDonald Gammon Memorial Platform(otherwise known as the whisky tasting seminar platform).

Each session is $45 and will include his new book, his singing, his story telling, tasting his special mix of cocktails, and enjoying a nibble of one of his ‘bakes’. To buy these tickets go to; select ‘All Tickets and Registrations Here’; scroll to the bottom left and select ‘Add-Ons’.

The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games takes place July 6-9, 2023. For further information: (828) 733-1333, [email protected], or

The Scots College Pipes and Drums at NYCTW

By: Paul Hughes

The Scots College Pipes and Drums tour to New York was a unique and exciting experience for the 25 band boys involved. New York City has a rich history of Scottish and Irish heritage, and the sounds of the bagpipes and drums certainly add to the atmosphere of the city. The tour included performances at various venues throughout the city, such as parades, concerts, and cultural events and the band even took the opportunity to do a flashmob performance in Grand Central Station.  

The boys performed a 1-hour pipes and drums concert in Central Park. The band marched through Central Park gathering a huge crowd. Having the opportunity to see the boys perform in Central Park’s Naumburg Bandshell was amazing. Central Park’s Naumburg Bandshell is an original feature of the Park and has come a long way from its beginnings as a mere classical music arena. The site of both a speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. and a eulogy read for John Lennon, it has become a place of historical importance within the park. The band performed a range of traditional and contemporary pieces and our two youngest boys on tour performed a great duet of Flower of Scotland. The 300-strong audience who had just been passing and relaxing in the park stayed for the full concert and cheered the band as they finished the concert by marching back through Central Park.

Grateful audiences

Next for the band was a performance at the Buckley School. The boys performed a concert for the 400 Buckley students and staff. It was incredibly well received and both schools had a fantastic time together. The highlight for the Buckley School was certainly the drummer’s salute and the Drum Majors flourish. The Buckley students were fascinated with the band and we even managed to give the boys and staff the opportunity to try some instruments.  While in New York the band was honoured to be invited to perform for the Tartan Day organisers and performed two concerts in Bryant Park. With the most incredible backdrop of New York City the band performed for extremely grateful audiences. The band had a great opportunity to hear other pipe bands, folk bands and choirs which was greatly appreciated. As the Bryant Park concerts came to an end The Scots College and St Columba’s Pipe Band (Scotland) performed together and marched through the park. This was a great opportunity for both bands to combine and have a few tunes together.

Marched with great pride

While taking a stroll through the city after performing our second Bryant Park concert the band thought it would be a great idea to do a flashmob performance in Grand Central Station. The College Pipe Major struck up his pipes in the main terminal and instantly the public stopped to watch him. As more and more pipers joined in, we could see more and more passengers gather around the band. Once the drummers joined in and filled the main terminal with Waltzing Matilda the flashmob band had hundreds of commuters gathered around to listen to the band. This was a very memorable experience for all involved and was aired on Australian and American television shows.  

The band had the opportunity to visit some of the city’s famous landmarks and attractions, such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Times Square and many more. The boys also attend a number of sporting events in Maddison Square Gardens and Yankee Stadium.

In 1999, two pipe bands and a small but enthusiastic group of Scottish Americans, led by Grand Marshal and Academy Award-winning actor Cliff Robertson, marched from the British Consulate to the UN in the first New York City Tartan Day Parade. Since then, the annual NYC Tartan Day Parade has brought together thousands of people from across the globe providing meaningful connections through the celebration of Scottish heritage and culture. The Scots College, Sydney Pipes and Drums finished the New York tour by parading down 6th Avenue as part of the NYC Tartan Day Parade. The parade was filled with great sounds and tartan uniforms. With thousands of supporters cheering on, our boys stood tall and marched with great pride.  The Pipes and Drums tour to New York provided our students with so many unforgettable memories and a deep appreciation for the city’s rich culture and history.

The legacy of the Granite City’s Neale Cooper

By: Neil Drysdale

Picture the scene: you’ve just left school and been offered the opportunity to join a professional football club, only to discover that one of your first assignments is cleaning your boss’s toilet. That was the unpromising scenario which confronted 16-year-old Neale Cooper in 1979 when, as a young hopeful at Aberdeen, he found himself tasked with keeping Alex Ferguson’s throne in pristine condition. It was a gruelling regime at Pittodrie, but the young Cooper, a keen-as-mustard ball boy and fervent football fan from his childhood, long before he had ever signed a contract, was ready to do anything he could to succeed at the highest level. He later recalled: “Before I made my Aberdeen debut, I was cleaning Fergie’s toilet. It was my job, looking after his room and the coaches’ room. Then, one day he came in and said: ‘When you have finished sorting that out, get yourself home’. I asked why. And he replied: ‘Because you are playing tomorrow.”

It was a reminder of how swiftly the teenager burst into the spotlight. Some players make an instant impression; while others toil away for years, gradually stamping their imprint on the game. There was never any doubt in which camp Cooper belonged. He was the youngest member of the Aberdeen contingent who secured their fabled triumph over Real Madrid in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final on a rainy night in Gothenburg in 1983; an achievement which cemented their posterity for as long as people in the Granite City are talking about football. Yet, while others searched for superlatives, Cooper himself refused to buy into the hype or believe the headlines which emblazoned him as a star. Instead, he was always as happy chewing the fat with fans as he was impersonating his former manager. That philosophy was summed up by his reaction to the German maestro Franz Beckenbauer declaring – after the Dons had beaten Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals – “Young Neale Cooper is the closest thing I have seen to me at that age”. And the Scot’s reply? “That just shows that even the very best can talk sh***.”


It’s five years since Cooper became the first of the Gothenburg Greats to leave us at the age of just 54 and, even now, there is tristesse at the fashion in which the youngest member of the team slipped away. The recent celebrations surrounding the Dons’ Class of 83 being given the Freedom of Aberdeen was tempered by the knowledge “Tattie” wasn’t involved in the thick of it.  But the tributes to him were fulsome and delivered with an emotional punch, as myriad former players and fans alike commemorated somebody they regarded as their best friend. Cooper, born in Darjeeling in India, prior to attending Airyhall Primary and Hazlehead Academy in Aberdeen, might have left his roots to pursue his playing and managerial career at Aston Villa, Rangers, Reading, Dunfermline, Ross County, Hartlepool United, Gillingham and Peterhead. But he was never more in his element with a spring in his step and a joie de vivre than when he was on the rampage with the Red Army cheering him on, while he and his colleagues marauded down the Beach End.

In the aftermath of his glory days on the pitch, during which time he collected league titles, Scottish Cup medals and European honours with the Dons, and added to his silverware at Ibrox  (yet, astonishingly, missed out on Scotland selection), Cooper proved he could cut the mustard at management level. He was – and remains – a cult figure in Hartlepool and was inducted as one of the most cherished members of the English club’s Hall of Fame. Yet, despite assuming a senior role at Victoria Park and steering Ross County to uncharted heights, he was happy to indulge in spontaneous impressions of those with whom he had worked.

Sky Sports presenter, Jeff Stelling, was among those who saw how skilful Cooper could be in the art of mimicry. He said: “I remember the first time I met him, we took a camera crew to the hotel in London where the team were staying to do an interview. I had heard about his reputation for doing a Sir Alex Ferguson impression so, not knowing him at all, the first thing I asked him was if he would do it – and he refused point blank, in the nicest possible way, of course. But ‘Tattie’ was the sort of guy who just couldn’t help himself, though – and five minutes later, he was in full, fluent Fergie mode and was excellent. I hope people in the football world know that he wasn’t just loved in Aberdeen, but was loved in Hartlepool as well, because it was his second home.”

It was a measure of the fun and flamboyance which ‘Tattie’ brought to his often action-packed life and times that there was still plenty of laughter amid the tears as Richard Gordon hosted the proceedings. Joe Harper, the all-time leading goalscorer at Aberdeen, gave one of the most touching appreciations of his close friend. He said: “In those winter nights, when you see the star twinkling, that is the star of the north and that is Neale winking at you.” He left us and his family prematurely. But he will never be forgotten.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

June – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 12)

Celebrating the Year of Scotland. Photo: Jim Barker, Twelve Points Photography and the Australian Celtic Festival.

The Banner Says…

The Common Ridings- Steeped in Scottish Tradition

This month sees the return of a very unique and historic Scottish Borders tradition, the Common Ridings, which also happens to be one of the world’s oldest equestrian festivals. The Return to the Ridings is a celebration of the riding of the boundaries that has taken place for centuries with eleven towns in the Scottish Borders using horses for the traditional ride out.

Border badlands

Common Ridings can be traced back over 900 years when the ‘border badlands’ were in constant disruption during the long wars with England and because of the tribal custom of looting and cattle thieving, known as reiving (the ancient Scots word for theft) that was commonplace amongst the major Borders families.

Reivers could well steal not only from the nearby English but from their own Scottish neighbours. Perhaps your ancestors were reivers who terrorised the border between England and Scotland? Armstrong, Elliot, Graham, Irvine, Johnstone, Kerr, Maxwell, Nixon and Scott were among the lawless families who rode, feuded, fought and pillaged over the wild tribal borders area for 350 years. During these lawless and turbulent times, townspeople would ride their boundaries, or ‘marches’, to protect their common lands and prevent encroachment by neighbouring landlords. As more peaceful and settled times came, the ridings ceremony remained in the border region in honour of local legend, history and tradition.

Historic equestrian pageants

The Hawick Common Riding is the first of the Border festivals and celebrates both the capture of an English flag in 1514 in Hornshole by some young Hawick locals and the ancient custom of riding the marches or boundaries of the common land. Each of the eleven towns puts their own local tradition and spin on these historic equestrian pageants today, which take place from June to August each year. The Selkirk Common Riding, which takes place mid-June, is recognised as one of the oldest of the Border festivals which goes back in history to 1113, when David I wanted to establish an abbey at Selkirk, the first abbey ever for the Scottish Borders.

Today the colourful spectacle, considered one of the top annual events in the Scottish Borders, is witnessed by people from across the world who take in the stunning display of horsemanship, pageantry and tradition by hundreds of riders at a time. The riders are saddled up along the routes often used by their ancestors in celebration of their history, and the lawless disputed lands, we all now know as the gentle and peaceful Scottish border region.

In this issue

Earlier this year I was on a walk around Glasgow and stumbled upon the TS Queen Mary moored by the Glasgow Science Centre. While it was all boarded up when I was there, I was very happy to see her proudly resting on the Clyde. The iconic Clydebuilt ship is celebrating 90 years this year, the anniversary was in fact just before this issue was released. The Queen Mary was known as ‘Britain’s finest pleasure steamer’ and hosted many famous people. Thankfully the vessel is being restored so future generations know what it is like to go ‘doon the watter’.

If you have travelled much in Scotland, you will certainly have seen farms amongst the stunning scenery. If like me, you may have not known that Scotland once produced its very own tractor to plough those soggy Scottish fields. The Glasgow tractor billed itself as the ‘most scientifically accurate tractor on earth’, it was short lived unfortunately at just five years as it could not compete on price with US imports.

The recent coronation of King Charles saw the Stone of Destiny moved from Edinburgh Castle to London’s Westminster Abbey. It was quite an operation transporting the 125kg/275lb. stone, which is now back on display in Edinburgh. The historic stone will now remain there until it is moved to Perth, as part of the new City Hall Museum, opening in 2024. Our very own, and long-time contributor, Lady Fiona MacGregor was fortunate to be at the coronation and this month gives us some insights from this historic event.

Safe Oot, Safe In

The Scottish Borders are a real gem of Scotland and I always know when I reach Scotland, if travelling from England by train. Not by a sign or monument but the green and lush rolling hills and landscape that starts to draw you in as the beauty of Scotland begins to present itself.

The region is certainly diverse with some fantastic historic sites, stunning rural scenery and a rich history in textiles and agriculture. Clearly the ‘Border Badlands’ have been relegated to the history books and we thankfully have the picturesque and easily accessible region of Scotland ready for us to explore and discover. Should you be attending the Common Ridings this summer, or just Scotland itself, I wish you a ‘Safe Oot – Safe In’ (a well-known Borders saying, wishing mounted riders a safe journey).

Have you visited the Scottish Borders region? Do you have any favourite Scottish traditional events you like to attend? 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:

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Orkney cancer gene link revealed

People with grandparents from Orkney have a variation in a gene that could increase the chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer, research shows. One in 100 women who are descendants of families in Westray, Orkney, have the same change in the BRCA1 gene – one of the commonest genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer, according to the results. In Scotland, testing is currently available to people with a direct family connection to the BRCA1 gene, or who have a close history of ovarian or breast cancer in their family. As a result of these findings, plans for a pilot trial to widen testing to Westray people with a locally born grandparent, regardless of a family history of cancer, are being put in place by NHS Grampian and local cancer charity Friends of ANCHOR.

Viking Genes

If the pilot proves successful, it may be extended to anyone in Scotland with a Westray-born grandparent. Around one in 1000 women across the UK have inherited a variation to the BRCA1 gene. A team of geneticists from the Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh repeatedly discovered the same single change to this gene in women from Orkney with breast and/or ovarian cancer. Edinburgh Scientists studied genetic information from more than 2,000 volunteers with Orkney grandparents in the Orkney Complex Diseases Study (ORCADES). They discovered the BRCA1 variant in 1 per cent of men and women with historic Westray ancestors. As the gene variant is hereditary can affect multiple members of families. Risk-reducing surgery, breast screening with MRI from age 30 and lifestyle advice can all improve health for women with the gene, experts say. This research, funded by the Medical Research Council, is part of Viking Genes, which aims to discover the genes and any changes in these that could influence the risk of disease.

Professor Jim Wilson, Professor of Human Genetics, University of Edinburgh, said: “The fact that one in a hundred Orcadian women carry a high-risk variant for breast and ovarian cancer highlights the value of population studies such as Viking Genes, without which we would not know this. It is imperative that Scottish island populations are represented in research, to allow equitable delivery of genomic medicine across the country.”

Scotland’s zen garden-The place of pleasure and delight

By: Judy Vickers

Everything about the Japanese Garden at Cowden is designed to slow visitors down, to calm the mind and encourage contemplation, even down to the uneven stones underfoot at the entrance arch, which is carved with the words “the place of pleasure and delight”. These days, the garden, near the town of Dollar, quietly hums with tranquillity and serenity – yet its history is filled with turbulence and drama. Created by one of the most extraordinary and pioneering Scottish women of the 20th century, it has survived destruction at the hands of vandals and abandonment for more than 50 years to become restored to its former glory by one of her descendants.

This summer the final touches to the restoration of the main garden will be put into place, including a wooden sunshade, which is currently under construction. It will mark more than a decade of work by Sara Stewart, great niece of the garden’s creator Ella Christie, who inherited the estate in 2012. “I had Ella on my shoulders,” she has said of creating the plans to revitalise the 2.8-hectare site.  And Ella Christie would be quite a formidable, if inspiring, character to have watching over you.

Cowden Castle and Estate

Ella Christie, National Library of Scotland dated 1909, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Ella’s father, John, had made his money in coal in Lanarkshire and to seal his entry into the landed gentry, bought a big pile – Cowden Castle and Estate – in 1865. Four-year-old Ella moved there with her mother, brother and sister and grew up on the estate which had once belonged to the bishops of St Andrews. As a family they were fond of travel and Ella had already visited much of Europe by the time her mother died in 1894. Her brother had died at 12 and her sister, Alice, was married so she became her father’s travelling companion and the pair ventured further afield to Egypt, Palestine and Syria.

But this exciting lifestyle came to an abrupt end in 1902 when her father died. Lindsey Gibb, a Perthshire storyteller who was commissioned last year by Year of Storytelling funds to uncover more details about Ella’s extraordinary life, explains: “Ella was very much with her father a lot of the time but the day after he died there was a knock on the door. I always picture the man standing there in a trench coat with a clipboard. They [Ella and sister Alice] discovered only then that all their father’s money had been willed away from them and given to a charity that he had set up without them knowing. Alice was married and married well but Ella was left destitute. She had no money of her own and no home, overnight she had lost everything.”

There had been no sign of the rift between father and daughters before his death but Lindsey says: “He had had an illness before he died and his personality had changed,” and points to the possibility of some form of dementia. But even as the man from the charity left the shell-shocked daughters at the doorstep and proceeded to tour the house, cataloguing the furniture and family’s possessions as he went, Ella was forming a plan. “Ella, being Ella, doesn’t take this lying down,” says Lindsey. “She fights it in court and she wins a healthy settlement, the equivalent of several million pounds today and she manages to keep the estate and castle. The orphanage charity which her father had set up was also well provided for. Ella and her sister were very charitable themselves, so it must have been difficult for her to fight it.”

The most important Japanese garden in the Western world

Zig-zag bridge at Cowden’s Japanese Garden. Photo: Tom Langlands Photography.

With her future secure, Ella now embarked on her overriding passion in life – travel. With her trusty maid Humphries, she made journeys that few single Western women had even dreamt of in the early years of the 20th century, through India, Kashmir, Ceylon, Malaya and Borneo. She banqueted with the Maharaja of Kashmir, camped in snow in the Chorbat Pass in Pakistan, trekked on foot for 60 miles in the Desoi mountains in the Himalayas and became the first Western woman to meet the Dalai Lama.

“She must have been incredibly charming, people just open doors for her left, right and centre,” says Lindsey. But it was when, after travelling through Korea, she took a boat to Japan, that another passion was ignited. “She just falls in love with the gardens in Japan – and handily she has an estate back home where she can recreate one,” says Lindsey.

That 1907 tip to Kyoto and beyond inspired her so much that when she returned to Scotland, she hired Taki Handi, a female Japanese garden designer, from the Royal School of Garden Design at Nagoya, but at that time studying at Studley College in England to create her Shã Raku En – the place of pleasure and delight. “She [Taki] became the first woman to create a Japanese garden outside of Japan and even in Japan it was rare,” says Lindsey.

She did an impressive job, melding views of the nearby Ochils Hills into the lines of the garden and using local plants as well as imported Japanese specimens and those grown from seeds Ella had snaffled while in Japan. “The garden was created on a marshy bit of the estate, they dammed a burn to create a loch because water is a big part of Japanese gardens,” says Lindsey. A tea house, lanterns and bridges completed the site which so faithfully reproduced the exquisite gardens which had inspired Ella in Japan, that in 1925, Professor Jiji Suzuki, the 18th hereditary head of the Soami School of Imperial Design in Japan, called it the most important Japanese garden in the Western world.

He was a regular visitor, helping to maintain the trees and bushes, and from 1925, the garden was looked after full time by expert Japanese gardener Shinzaburo Matsuo who had lost his entire family in an earthquake in Japan. He found a new home in Scotland and he and Ella had long conversations about gardening plans – despite the fact he spoke no English and Japanese was not one of the four languages Ella was fluent in.

And for Ella it was indeed a place of pleasure and delight, where she held tea parties with her friends as she recharged from her latest travels – she continued to journey until a few months before her death from leukaemia in 1949. By then she was living in just a few rooms of the castle, crammed in with treasures from her globe-trotting.

Lives up to its name

Bridge and tea house at the Japanese Garden at Cowden. Photo: Tom Langlands Photography.

After her death, the estate was inherited by her nephew, Robert Stewart, Alice’s son. The castle, Lindsey believes, must have been in a poor state, as attempts to sell it failed and it was completely demolished in the 1950s. The Japanese Garden remained however until 1963 when it was destroyed in a vandal attack by local schoolboys. “It was absolutely devastated, they burned everything that could be burned and destroyed everything that could be destroyed,” says Lindsey. “They never caught who did it even though they were seen leaving in their school uniforms. No one has ever been caught and no one has ever come forward as they got older to admit it, we don’t know if it was teenage high jinks or if there was something more behind it.”

Too expensive to repair, the garden was then left to slowly decay and become overgrown until 2012 when an ageing Robert passed the garden to his daughter, Sara. She began a fundraising campaign and created a trust to restore the garden to Ella’s vision. Helped by £750,000 from the UK government, funds from other sources and expert advice from Professor Masao Fukuhara, best known for restoring the Japanese Gardens at Kew in London, the garden was slowly revived.   

Now reopened to the public, the garden is once again welcoming visitors from near and far, just as Ella planned. Lindsey says: “It’s wonderful to walk around the corner and find a Japanese garden in this rural part of Scotland – it blends so well with the landscape. I find I instinctively relax as I go through that archway, you get away from all the busy-ness of life. It lives up to its name, it is a pleasure and a delight.”

For more information see:

Main photo: Japanese Garden at Cowden. Photo: Tom Langlands Photography.

All Clydesdales great and small to be celebrated at Scenic Rim

From tiny Shetland ponies to the towering Shire horses, all Clydesdales great and small will be celebrated in the Scenic Rim over the weekend of June 17 and 18 for the hugely popular Scenic Rim Clydesdale Spectacular. Now in its 11th year, the Scenic Rim Clydesdale Spectacular is the richest Clydesdale Show in the Southern Hemisphere, where the grand champions of the breed are judged, the heritage of the breed is shared, and the history of the breed in Australia is toasted. In a major coup – an epic 11-horse team of Marlie Draught Horses is confirmed to attend. One of the largest teams in the country, they will pull a Bennett’s Wagon and perfrom twice daily. Known as the Gentle Giants of the horse world and recognised in Australia as ‘the breed that built the nation’, yet listed as ‘vulnerable’ internationally, Queensland has a long history with the Clydesdale.

“Our region owes much to the majestic Clydesdales which played a key role in establishing the Scenic Rim’s incredible agricultural base by clearing vast tracts of land, ploughing the paddocks and bringing in the harvest,” said Organising Sub-Committee Chair, Rick Stanfield. “While the advent of machinery saw a decline in the breed in the 1960s, the efforts of fan, breeders and this event committee to preserve and celebrate the 130-year history of these gentle giants here has resulted in the Scenic Rim Clydesdale Spectacular becoming one of Queensland’s most significant events.”  The event generates some $2.3 million for the region, generated 10,109 visitor nights over the weekend in 2022 and contributed to more than 13,000 visitor nights throughout Queensland. The full schedule of Clydesdale competition takes place in the main arena, while rare trades are showcased including  harness making, blacksmithing, wheelwrights, horse-drawn demonstrations & driving displays, whip plaiting and more. Additional highlights include the Queensland Whip Cracking Championships, World Billy Boiling Championships, wood chopping, working dog displays, Friesian Horse Troupe performances, artisan coopering & bush poetry.

Tribute to the Scottish descendants

In tribute to the Scottish descendants who moved to the region and brought with them their beloved Clydesdale, the event includes a stirring massing of Pipes and Drums, Calling of the Clans, the Clydesdale and Clan class and traditional Scottish caber tossing. There’ll be haggis burgers a whisky bar and Scots are encouraged to attend in their clan kilts!  Andy Scott’s Clydebuilt which sits proudly at the roundabout into Boonah, was built in a local Butter Factory workshop and a local economic development committee raised the funds to buy it after it had been displayed at the Swell Sculpture by the Sea Festival in Sydney. The sculpture is recognised by the Queensland National Trust.

“The event will feature some of the top Clydesdales in the country and shouldn’t be missed by anyone who has an interest in this magnificent breed, or anyone who loves horses, or for that matter anyone who wants a brilliant experience in the country where there is literally something to watch and experience at every moment!” said event organiser Greta Stanfield. The Scenic Rim Clydesdale Spectacular will be staged in the middle of the region’s famous EAT LOCAL MONTH, creating just another reason to visit, stay and experience.

Scenic Rim Clydesdale Spectacular 2023 takes place Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th June 2023 at Boonah Showgrounds at 8 Melbourne Street, Boonah. 8am until late both days. More information and tickets:

Holland Waterfront Celtic Festival & Highland Games

Coming next month is the 2nd annual Holland Celtic Festival. The festival was conceived by Craig Rich and Peter Grimm, along with a group of friends, who formed the 501(c)(3) non-profit, Holland Celtic Society. Highlights for this year’s event include: Friday Evening’s Cèilidh (Kay’-Lee) is a “21 & over” party in a huge “Irish Pub Tent” ($20 cover charge (tickets in advance). This features two bands: The Conklin Ceili Band and Detroit’s own Wakefire! Gates open at 6:00 PM. Music at 7:00. Close at 11:00 PM.

Saturday’s family-friendly festival is $10 admission, with children 12 and under FREE. Also free to those with their Friday evening wristband. Gates open at 9:00 AM, music starts at 10:00 am. Close at 10:00 PM.  The day features: Live music all day (10:00 AM to 9:30 PM) featuring eight performances by: Toby Bresnahan, Selkie, Mona Shores Fiddlers, Uneven Ground, Ironwood, Leprecons, CrossBow and Barley Saints. In addition, there will be five Scottish and Irish dance schools: Ardan Academy of Irish Dance, Auburn Glen School of Scottish Dance, McClintic School of Highland Dance, Michigan Irish Dance Academy and Scoil Rince Ní Bhraonáin.

Other highlights include: A full schedule of Highland Athletic Competition (caber tossing, heavy weight throwing for distance and height, hammer throwing, etc.) with 70 athletes in kilts! A Scottish Clan “village” featuring 20 Scottish Clans. Genealogy assistance in the Genealogy Tent, Celtic goods vendors and Celtic food booths, Hands-on Celtic Cricket (learn to play!), Beer, wine, seltzers, scotch & whiskey in the Irish Pub Tent, Pipe and Drum bands, a “Keltic Kids” area, Hugh Irwin, the Kilted Magician and Liam, the Extra Large Leprechaun.

The Holland Waterfront Celtic Festival & Highland Games takes place on June 23 & 24, 2023 at Ottawa County Fairgrounds, in Holland, MI (A new location due to road construction around our downtown site.). For more information please see:

Main photo: The McClintic School of Scottish Dance.

Twelve years and over 400 castles later: My favourite Scottish castles

By: David C. Weinczok

Twelve years after my arrival in Scotland from Canada, I have more than made up for the lack of true castles in the country of my birth. To date, my Scottish castle count stands at 443, almost all of which I have reached by foot, bicycle, and public transport.  To answer the two very reasonable questions that spring to mind upon reading that number: yes, that’s an awful lot of castles (being a touch obsessive does help), and no, they don’t all start blending together. Each castle carries a distinct history and character, though I concede that some leave a more lasting mark than others. There are many reasons why people still visit these ruins of the past – a fascination with history, a sense of awe, an ancient family connection, or just a way to entertain the kids or grandkids. Each is valid, with no shortage of possibilities.

With so many castle experiences behind me, my list of favourites changes every time I try to compile one. It’s worth declaring my biases first. Perhaps thanks to seeing brooding ruins in films such as The Lord of the Rings during my childhood, I have a strong preference for ruinous castles rather than fully intact and still inhabited ones. I also rule out anything built much later than 1600 AD, as the social structures which made castles a possibility and necessity were by then heavily eroded and making way for the Early Modern era. Grandiose non-defensible country houses with dozens of rooms filled with gold-framed portraits and fancy furniture hold little appeal to me. If said ruin is on the coast, even better – the juxtaposition of a crumbling tower and a body of water sates my inner Romantic.  With all that said, the following five castles are ones which I love for very different reasons and want to share with as many fellow castle aficionados as possible.

Kisimul Castle, Barra

Sometimes it really is the journey that makes a place. Five hours into the ferry sailing from Oban to Castlebay, having passed through a gauntlet of Highland shores lined with crumbling castles and crossed the open sea, Kisimul Castle at last comes into view. With waves lapping directly against its walls, Kisimul is the embodiment of a ‘galley castle’ – a type of castle found throughout coastal Scotland, but especially in the west and north, whose power is inextricable from seaways and the ships that sail them. Indeed, the Hebrides are too often referred to today as ‘remote’, when for most of their history they formed an ‘aquapelago’ with rich seaborne connections between and beyond the island chain.

Kisimul was, and still is, home to the MacNeils of Barra, a family synonymous with Barra itself. The medieval MacNeils made their reputation as marauders and pirates, and Kisimul Castle has seen everything from sieges to kidnappings. Many MacNeil descendants now reside in my home Canadian province of Nova Scotia, where the surname is common. The castle fell into ruin after a fire in 1795 and further degraded during the depredations of Barra’s absentee landlord, Colonel Gordon of Cluny, in the 1830s, being used as a herring curing station and stripped of much of its masonry for ballast. It was restored by Robert Lister MacNeil and gifted to the nation in 2003, for the annual rent of £1 and a bottle of Talisker whisky.

Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire

Scotland is spoiled by way of incredibly impressive castles, but none of them can quite compete with the ‘wow factor’ of Dunnottar, near Stonehaven. Built atop a promontory lined on all sides by steep cliffs, it would not be at all out of place in an epic fantasy film. In fact, it was one of the major inspirations for DunBroch Castle in the Disney/Pixar film Brave, and was shortlisted in 2013 to be named as the 8th Wonder of the World. There was a fort here long before the stone castle was built. In the Pictish period it was known as Dùn Fhoithear, ‘the fort on the shelving slope’. It has seen major action in every period of its history. A siege by an Orcadian fleet is recorded here in 681 AD, and in 934 AD Athelstan of Wessex laid siege as Constantine II of Scotland defended it.

In 1296 the castle submitted to Edward I of England, but William Wallace retook it the next year and allegedly burned the garrison alive within one of the thatched buildings. Montrose attacked in unsuccessfully during his campaigning in 1645, and in 1651 Cromwell’s soldiers bombarded it with cannon in an attempt to capture the Honours of Scotland held within. The Honours were secreted away by beyond enemy lines, and did not emerge again until Walter Scott rediscovered them in a sealed chamber within Edinburgh Castle in 1818. Though the castle complex itself is fairly standard with its towerhouse and stone outbuildings, the power of Dunnottar’s location elevates it into the stuff of legends.

Duffus Castle, Moray

There’s just something immensely satisfying about motte-and-bailey castles. I’m not sure if it’s their typically circular form, a shape long associated with aesthetic perfection, or the way they rise artificially yet congruously from their landscapes. Whatever the precise nature of their appeal, Duffus Castle near Elgin is the best example of its kind in Scotland. Duffus’ history speaks to two crucial stages in Scottish castle history: the ‘upgrading’ of many timber castles into stone ones in the 13th and early 14th centuries, and the arrival of powerful Norman, Flemish, and other Northern European knights in the late 11th  and early 12th centuries.

The first castle here was a timber one begun by Freskin, a Flemish mercenary, and completed by his son, William, who took the surname ‘de Moravia’, which eventually became ‘Moray’ (modernised into ‘Murray’). The later stone keep is only partially intact, with several fragments slipping down the earthen slope and giving the appearance of some great, destructive act – though the ravages are of time rather than of any siege engine. The broad top of the stone-lined bailey feels a bit like an overgrown amphitheatre, focusing the roar of jets overhead from the nearby RAF Lossiemouth airfield. One can only wonder what Freskin would make of these ‘dragons’ circling his castle!

Craigmillar Castle, Edinburgh

I have now visited Craigmillar Castle at least twenty times, and I would not hesitate to visit twenty more. The reason? It is simply so much fun to explore! With neuks and crannies galore, two layers of curtain walls surrounding a central tower, astonishing views across Edinburgh and the Lothians, and enough architectural features to occupy even the most expert eye for days, it’s the kind of place where you always discover something new with each return. It doesn’t hurt that Craigmillar is one of the best-preserved medieval castle ruins in all Scotland, with a roof still over its great hall.

It dates from at least the mid-14th century, and was a favourite escape for Mary, Queen of Scots from the toxic mix of medieval Edinburgh’s unsanitary streets and political machinations. Not that such machinations entirely eluded Craigmillar – the ‘Craigmillar Bond’, which set out to assassinate her husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, was formed here. Mary’s involvement in the Bond remains open for debate. In recent years Craigmillar has joined Doune Castle as a well-known star of the big and silver screens, having been used as a filming location for the likes of Outlander and Outlaw King. It’s also dog-friendly, amazing for kids (and adults who want to unleash their inner child with foam swords on the ramparts), and endlessly entertaining to wander through.

Monimail Tower, Fife

By far the least well-known castle on this list, Monimail Tower near Cupar, Fife, is the castle a hobbit would build if they ever had the inclination. Part of its petite charm lay in the fact that it is the only surviving fragment of the much larger Palace of Monimail, a country residence of the Archbishops of St Andrews. All that is left of this grand palace is a corner tower, surrounded by a volunteer-run community garden.

The vibe of Monimail Tower is somewhere between Hobbiton and Woodstock. A sign made from fragments of multi-coloured tiles welcomes all visitors. Its hall, always left open, is stuffed with binders, information panels, and interactive activities. Artists’ brushes, only recently set down, lay about in the tower’s dedicated arts room. Even the cheerful yellow colour of the tower itself exudes warmth and happiness. This very distinctive and warm atmosphere is thanks to the Monimail Tower Project who run activities on-site, from apple juicing and scything workshops to mini-concerts in the garden. Many castles can feel stripped of the human element that once made them what they were, and are firmly part of the past. Not so with Monimail, where people continue to reinterpret and reinvigorate it as a place for people present and future to enjoy.

Do you have a favourite Scottish Castle? Share your story with us by email, post, or online at:

Main photo: Dunnottar Castle.

The Okanagan Military Tattoo

Did you know?

Photo: Eric Anderson Photography.
  • Get ready for two hours of heart pounding, fast paced family entertainment when the 10th annual Okanagan Military Tattoo returns to Vernon, British Columbia on July 29 & 30, 2023.
  • The Tattoo is an event that will stir the heart and feed the soul.  It’s Vernon’s largest annual indoor event and western North America’s only Military Tattoo.
  • Traditionally, Military Tattoos have provided an opportunity for civilians to witness the precision and professionalism of those who have dedicated their lives to the defence and security of their country.  In recent times, Tattoos have become more inclusive with civilians participating in athletics, bands, dancing and choirs.
  • The term Tattoo evolved from a European tradition dating back to the 17th century when the Low Country innkeepers would cry “doe den tap toe” meaning “turn off the taps!” as the fifes and drums of the local regiment signalled the soldiers to return to their barracks.
  • Headliners for the 2023 Tattoo include the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy, the regimental band of the 15th Field Artillery, and the RCMP “E” Division Pipes and Drums as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the RCMP.
  • The annual “tribute to the veterans” will commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Sicily Invasion and the start of the Italian Campaign.
  • Tickets are now on sale with significant discounts for seniors, current and former members of the Military, RCMP, First Responders, Health Care workers and groups of 10 or more.
  • For more information check out the Tattoo website at:

Highland Rose, Jacobite Living History Group

By: Wade King

Would you like to see someone slain with a Lochaber axe? How about seeing someone slashed from shoulder to hip with a highland broadsword? If you have someone in mind who deserves either of those fates, you should take them along when Highland Rose is doing their thing. The Highland Rose Jacobite Living History Reenactment Group is located in New South Wales, Australia. It is a small group specialising in re-enacting the 17th and 18th century “Jacobite Era”, the period from the 1689 uprising of Bonnie Dundee to the 1745 Rising led by Bonnie Prince Charlie. They cover all protagonists of this period, Government and Jacobite, but most of its members focus on the Jacobite forces of the 1745 Rising, in particular, the brave Highlanders who fought for the Bonnie Prince and for Scotland at the Battle of Culloden in April, 1746.

The Jacobite army at Culloden included clan regiments, like the Frasers, Camerons, MacDonalds and MacPhersons, amongst others, and regiments raised in local areas of Scotland, like the Atholl Brigade recruited in Athol and the Forfarshire Regiment (Ogilvy’s) from the lands of Angus. There were also non-Scottish forces such as the Royal Ecossais (French), and the Irish Piquets. Most wore their own clothing, their tartan kilts, although some were issued tartan uniforms. Many wore blue bonnets with white Jacobite cockades.

Most carried a broadsword, a dirk and a spiked targe. Some carried Lochaber axes, sharp blades fixed to long poles. Some also carried muzzle-loading firelock muskets and pistols. Many carried their own weapons. Full stands of arms (musket and accoutrements, bayonet, sword, etc.) were brought from France and issued to Jacobite forces. Many weapons were captured from Government forces, particularly after the battle of Prestonpans. Men armed thus confronted British Government troops arrayed in drilled regiments armed with muskets and bayonets, and swords, and heavily supported by artillery firing grapeshot. The Jacobites used the tactic of the Highland Charge to close with Government troops so as to use their bladed weapons to advantage.

Centuries-old Highland culture

The men of Highland Rose carry and demonstrate Jacobite weapons. Some show the use of broadswords, dirks and spiked targes. Others display Lochaber axes, the sweep of which could cut an enemy in two. Some exhibit the use of muskets and pistols that were discharged at the enemy, then hurled into enemy ranks in the hope of knocking Government troops down. The women of Highland Rose preserve the old Highland culture by setting up a period-accurate camp, and practising historical crafts like spinning, weaving and embroidery, historical woodwork, metal- and leatherwork, sewing, cooking and more, and by giving talks and demonstrations.

Together, the men and women of Highland Rose give a faithful representation of the centuries-old Highland culture, which was swept away in the years after Culloden by the English in the Highland Clearances, an awful process of ethnic cleansing. The Clearances left much of the Highlands empty of people and fit only for sheep; they also brought many thousands of cleared Highlanders to places like Australia where their descendants celebrate their Scots heritage in annual events like the Bonnie Wingham Scottish Festival (where Highland Rose will perform on Saturday, 3rd June). Highland Rose members perform at Highland Gatherings and at schools or anywhere else they can share their knowledge and skills with interested members of the public. 

The Highland Rose Jacobite Reenactment Group is always looking for new members. It welcomes all with for a passion for this period of Scots history, those of any age, gender or experience level, as long as they have open minds and willingness to learn. Living history reenactment is rewarding but it requires commitment. Like most hobbies it is not cheap, but the group does its best to help new members get started. If this sounds like it interests you, please contact the group via Facebook Messenger or email, or come to an event and say hello.

If you are organizing a Highland Games or Gathering, a Medieval Fair or any other community event that you would like Highland Rose to attend, please get in contact to discuss details at: or [email protected].

The 2023 Bonnie Wingham Scottish Festival will take place on Saturday 3rd June, 2023. For details see:

World’s first rewilding centre opens near Loch Ness

Centre offers gateway to UK’s largest rewilding landscape, boosting jobs and supporting re-peopling.

Glen Affric. Photo: Chris Aldridge.

The world’s first rewilding centre has been opened near Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands by charity Trees for Life – showcasing how large-scale nature recovery can give people inspiring experiences, create jobs and benefit rural communities. The Dundreggan Rewilding Centre in Glenmoriston celebrates rewilding and the region’s rich Gaelic culture and offers a gateway for visitors to explore the 10,000-acre Dundreggan estate, where Trees for Life is restoring the Caledonian forest and its wildlife. “For 15 years, Dundreggan has been a beacon for rewilding our landscapes. Now it will be a beacon for rewilding people too,” said Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s Chief Executive. “This is a place of hope. We want to breathe life into the huge potential of the Highlands to help nature return in a major way – providing people from all walks of life with fantastic experiences while supporting re-peopling, boosting social and economic opportunities, and tackling the climate and nature emergencies.”

The centre, eight miles from Loch Ness on the main road (A887) to the Isle of Skye developed in consultation with the local community, the free-to-access centre has been made possible thanks to the generous support of major funders. Visitors, families, schools and those with specific needs will be able to enjoy year-round events and experiences, discover how rewilding benefits wildlife such as golden eagles, red squirrels and wood ants, and learn about Gaelic culture and its deep connections to the landscape. The centre features a stunning tree sculpture of reclaimed metal, created by acclaimed artist Helen Denerley, and offers a gateway to the wild forest, with fully accessible trails, child-friendly forest experiences, and more adventurous walks. Displays in English and Gaelic introduce rewilding and the Gaelic language, and a storytelling bothy showcases local history and heritage.

Affric Highlands

The Dundreggan Estate. Photo: Ashley Coombes.

A café and events space offer locally sourced food and drink and entertainment areas, while a purpose-built and accessible 40-bedroom accommodation building allows people to stay for longer experiences. Twenty new jobs have already been created, employing local people, and the multi-million pound investment will generate an ongoing economic boost for local suppliers and services. The period of design and construction has already involved local businesses from architects to plumbers.

Laurelin Cummins-Fraser, Dundreggan Rewilding Centre Director, said: “Whether a visitor has just an hour for a quick visit or wants to stay with us for an immersive rewilding experience, our centre will welcome people to discover stunning landscapes, unique wildlife and Gaelic culture, while connecting with the wonders of the natural world. The Rewilding Centre is embedded in the landscape and the community. Its design is inspired by Gaelic heritage and history, and by the Caledonian forest – with verticals representing trees, changing light to reflect how light plays in woodlands, and materials and colours conjuring up bracken and forest bark. It’s a really special place for people to enjoy.”

Dundreggan is part of Affric Highlands, the UK’s largest rewilding landscape which will potentially cover over 500,000 acres – restoring nature while strengthening land-based livelihoods and creating economic opportunities. Trees for Life launched the Affric Highlands initiative in 2021, in partnership with Rewilding Europe and an initial coalition of communities and landowners.

For more details see:

Main photo: Glen Affric. Photo: Grant Willoughby.

Tickets on sale for CelticFest 2023

Tickets are now available for CelticFest 2023, to be held in Warwick, the Celtic Capital of Queensland, at the Warwick Showgrounds on Saturday September 30 and Sunday October 1, 2023. The highly-anticipated event, which last year attracted almost 5,000 attendees, will bring back favourites such as the highland games heavy events, The Gathering Irish band, the medieval village, pipe band and highland dancing displays, Irish dancing, Celtic-themed markets, Celtic animals, the gathering of the clans, Celtic-inspired bar and food – and much more.

Pipe bands on parade.

CelticFest 2023 will run over two days, comprising a St Patrick’s Day themed evening of music on Saturday 30 September on the Celtic Connections stage at the Showgrounds, when The Gathering Irish band will headline a night of foot-stomping, rock-on Celtic music. Gates will open at 4pm and supporting acts and other program inclusions will be announced over the coming months. Sunday 1 October will then comprise a full-day of Celtic-themed celebrations at the Warwick Showgrounds, running from 9am-4pm.

This year, CelticFest will play host to the Highland Games Heavy Events national titles, and visitors will again be able to watch professional strongmen and women as they perform many feats of strength, including putting the stone, the farmer’s walk, and the perennially popular caber toss. The medieval village will be open for CelticFest attendees to stroll through, providing a window into a bygone era, including battles between knights of yore, graceful dancing displays of women through history, and the daily life of those who lived in feudal times.  Visitors will also be able to watch displays from pipe bands and highland dancers, wander through Celtic-themed markets, marvel at the gloriously gentle Highland cows, trace their genealogy, and feast on Celtic-themed food and drink.


Moreton Celtic Fiddle Club.

In an exciting addition to the 2023 CelticFringe – CelticFest satellite events which are separately organized and/or ticketed, and which will run at various times and venues from Friday 29 September through Monday 2 October – the Scots PGC College will host the Inaugural Australian Juvenile Pipe Band Championships on Saturday September 30. More than 20 talented pipe bands from around Australia are expected to descend on Warwick to battle it out for pipe band supremacy.

Southern Downs residents and visitors will be able to see these bands in action during the Warwick Thistle Pipe Band Centenary Street Parade down Palmerin Street on Saturday morning. The street parade is also an added CelticFringe event for 2023, starting at 8.30am on Saturday 30 September. Medieval re-enactors, strongmen and women and others will join pipe bands – including the Warwick Thistle Pipe Band, which this year celebrates its centenary, and competitors in the IAJPBC – in what is sure to be a stirring spectacle to open the CelticFest weekend.

Highland coo’s.

Other CelticFringe events will include the return of last year’s very popular Celtic line dancing workshop at the Club Warwick RSL, which will also host Celtic bands; the Southern Downs Explorer Heritage train, which will run tours on Friday night and Saturday lunch time, Celtic music and themed dinners at venues including local cafes and restaurants, and the opening of other historic local Celtic buildings including Pringle Cottage and Glengallan Homestead.

On a sporting note, the Queensland Gaelic Football and Hurling Association and the Warwick Redbacks AFL Club will co-host a Gaelic Football match, and Warwick parkrun will host a Celtic-themed parkrun on the banks of the Condamine River on Saturday 30 September – including a kilted dash! More CelticFringe events will be announced over the coming months.  Earlybird pricing for CelticFest tickets for adults and pensioners are $15 for Saturday night, $20 for Sunday full day, and $30 for weekend (Saturday night and Sunday full day). Tickets for school-aged children (between 5-17) are $5 for Saturday night, $5 for Sunday full day, and $10 for the weekend (Saturday night and Sunday full day). Children under 5 are free. Earlybird pricing will be available until midnight Friday 30 June.

For more information, please follow us on Facebook and Instagram at CelticFest Warwick, or visit our webpage:

Five reasons to visit the Moncton Highland Games

Every Highland Games around the world comes with special touches that make a visit unique. Jenna Morton, Event Manager for the Greater Moncton Highland Games & Scottish Festival in New Brunswick, Canada, shares five things to watch for at their event, June 13 – 17, 2023.

Massed bands. Photo: Jenna Morton.

1. Catch a surfer on the Tidal Bore

A what now? It’s a Maritime phenomenon. The Tidal Bore is the name given to a massive wave that makes its way down the Petitcodiac River twice a day, thanks to the immense tides of the Bay of Fundy. These are the highest tides in the world! The Petitcodiac River rises as much as 75 metres (or 25 feet) in a short burst of time, creating an epic wave that flows through between the City of Moncton and the Town of Riverview – right behind the Hal Betts Sportsplex, where the annual Greater Moncton Highland Games & Scottish Festival are held. The Tidal Bore is known to attract adventurous surfers from around the world!

2. Brandish a Broadsword or a Longbow

Merida might not be on site, but there will be archers with bows at the ready for you to try. This is always a favourite stop for young and old! There are also fly-tying demonstrations and a chance to give fly-casting a try, too. If you own your own broadsword, please don’t bring it to the field – unless you’ve signed up for the Maritime Sword School’s competition, of course! This organization is working to bring back a centuries-old practice of learning the art of swordsmanship with the introduction of single stick training and competitions locally. They were very well received at the 2022 event and we’re excited to welcome them back for 2023.

3. Throw a Tree Trunk in the Air

Heavy events. Photo: Jenna Morton.

We know, the Caber Toss and the rest of the Heavy Events aren’t necessarily unique to these games. But the Greater Moncton Highland Games & Scottish Festival is a great training ground for would-be athletes with high expectations. The Moncton Games has hosted the Canadian Scottish Athletic Federation’s Open Professional and Lightweight championships, as well as the 2022 SMAI Masters World Championships. Come see if you could join the ranks of the strongest men and women in the world with our ‘Give it a Try’ workshop on Friday night – including a chance at the Caber – then watch the veteran competitors on Saturday!

4. Cheer on the Sheep

Or maybe you’ll cheer for the dogs! Each year local sheep dogs show off their herding skills on site, with demonstrations ongoing throughout the day. You can follow the process from sheep to shawl, with shearing and weaving demonstrations on site, too. (PS: Don’t forget to visit the nearby petting zoo, including our Highland Cows, and enjoy a horse and wagon ride around the grounds – all included in the price of admission to the grounds.)

5. Eat Haggis, Drink Local, and Sing Loud

The Address to the Haggis. Photo: Jenna Morton.

Whether it’s the Haggis Poutine or an Alma Lobster roll, you’re sure to find something purely Scottish Canadian to enjoy at the Greater Moncton Highland Games! Our Pub Tent, located next to the food vendors, offers some of New Brunswick’s best ales, wines, and spirits — and the Highlands Stage is hopping with music with the likes of Gaelic singer Patricia Murray, fiddler Ivan Hicks, Cape Breton’s Nathan Bishop MacDonald, the Landry Highland Dancers, and more!

Wee dancers. Photo: Heidi-Lyn.

The 17th annual Greater Moncton Highland Games & Scottish Festival takes place June 13 – 17, 2023. There are free community concerts, flag raisings, a ‘try it’ heavies event and pub night Friday, and a full day of entertainment and competitions on Saturday. Visit the petting zoo with Highland cows, sign up for the 5KM Tartan Run, watch the dancers, pipers, drummers, swordfighters, blacksmith, spinners, weavers, sheep herders and shearers, and enjoy wagon rides, bouncy castles, and more fun for the whole family. Admission is just $10/person or $25/family, with children 12 & under free. Held on the third weekend in June, the Greater Moncton Highland Games & Scottish Festival is a great way to kick off your Maritime summer!

For more information or to keep up with the Greater Moncton Highland Games & Scottish Festival see: or

Main photo: On parade. Photo: Heidi-Lyn.

New Images for Declaration of Arbroath released

New photographs of the Declaration of Arbroath have been published by National Records of Scotland (NRS), ahead of the famous document going on display in June 2023. These never-before-seen photographs are being made available to mark its 703rd  anniversary, which took place in April. The Declaration will be displayed for the first time in 18 years from 3 June–2 July 2023 at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The Declaration of Arbroath is a letter to the Pope sent in 1320 from the barons of the Kingdom of Scotland seeking his recognition of Robert the Bruce as the country’s lawful king.

National Records of Scotland preserves the document as part of the national collections.  

Head of Conservation Linda Ramsay said: “The Declaration of Arbroath is over seven hundred years old, so it is not only precious and historic but very fragile. The National Records of Scotland Conservation team care for the Declaration and we are working with archivists ahead of this rare opportunity for the public to see it for themselves, to ensure its preservation for future generations.”

Scotland’s medieval past

Wax seals attached to tags on the Declaration, symbolising the support of individual Scottish barons.

NRS Chief Executive Janet Egdell said:  “NRS is proud to help display the Declaration of Arbroath, one of the most prestigious documents in our collections, a record of a key period in Scottish history. The Declaration is striking but at 703 years old, it’s fragile and can only be displayed occasionally to ensure its long-term preservation, under the care of our conservation experts. I hope that these new images released today bring this key period in Scottish history to life for people and as many as possible take the chance to see the Declaration for themselves from 2 June.”

First letter of the Declaration, a sheepskin document inscribed in Latin.

Dr Alice Blackwell, Senior Curator of Medieval Archaeology and History at National Museums Scotland: “We’re delighted to be able to present this rare and fragile part of Scotland’s medieval past in a free exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland this summer. Its evocative sentiments have given the Declaration of Arbroath a special distinction, not just in Scotland but around the world.  We are looking forward to inviting visitors to learn more about this fascinating document and to enjoy a rare opportunity to see it first-hand.”

The Declaration of Arbroath will be displayed at the National Museum of Scotland from 3 June until 2 July. Admission is free and the exhibition will be in Gallery 2, Level 3, 10:00 – 17:00 daily. Further information on the Declaration and its history is available at:

All images: Mike Brooks © Queen’s Printer for Scotland, National Records of Scotland, SP13/7.

The 2023 Aberdeen Highland Games

Save the date of Saturday 1st July 2023 for the Aberdeen Highland Games, at Jefferson Park in Aberdeen, Upper Hunter Valley, NSW. Gates will open at 8.00 am, with the Opening Ceremony at 9.00 am. Get to the ground early to ensure you don’t miss the magnificent Massed Band display. Our Chieftain of the day is the Hon. Simon Abney-Hasting, 15th Earl of Loudoun. Now residing in Victoria, the Earl holds several patronages and governorships and is also a strong supporter of Scottish culture.

This day will be full of all things Scottish including The Kilted Warriors will be there so come and see their feats of strength lifting the Stones of Destiny as well as the return of the Caber Toss. Childrens novelties will be in full swing with the addition of the barefoot tug -o -war, so get some friends together for this. Don’t forget the best dressed laddie, lassie and best dog. These dogs are getting smarter and in out fits. There will be a multitude of stalls including clan societies and Scottish outfitters. 2023 will also see the return of the Ceilidh.

A note for your diary will be the change of venue, this year sees a move to the Muswellbrook RSL 6.30pm for a 7pm start. The Boatmen will be suppling the music. For bookings visit and follow the links to TryBooking.

For more information contact: Scone Visitor Information Centre 02 6540 1300, or [email protected]

Dressed to Kilt 20th Anniversary Show

Scotland’s most famous fashion show, Dressed to Kilt (DTK), celebrated its 20th anniversary with a massive sold-out show in Washington with over 65 looks. The show took place on Saturday, April 1, 2023 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC, exactly 20 years to the day of the first show in New York City on April 1, 2003. This year’s theme is “Country Cool- Fashion for the Outdoors” highlighting looks inspired by hunting, shooting, fishing, camping, riding, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

A number of Scotland’s top designers participated in this show including Calzeat, Glenisla Kilts, Harris Tweed Hebrides, House of Cheviot, Kinalba Scottish Cashmere, Lorna Gillies, Strathmore Woolen Mills, Slanj, Totty Rocks and Walker Slater. Several American designers that utilize traditional Scottish fabrics that are not only suited for the catwalk but also the outdoor country lifestyle were also included in the show. The big winner here was Scottish cashmere, tweed, and tartan.

Brian Cullen and a falcon walk the runway. Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Friends of Scotland.

The show featured fabulous kilts and tartan looks worn by notable, celebrities and acclaimed professionals from Scotland, the United States, and various parts of the globe. Models who graced the runway included Edward Beyers, SEAL Team Six and US Congressional Medal of Honor recipient; Taylor Winyard, Scottish rower who holds a record for rowing across the Atlantic; Lesley Paterson, Scotland’s latest heroine and 2023 Oscar winner for All Quiet on the Western Front; and Lucy Sophia Thompson, current Miss Scotland. And for the first time ever, the show included a member of the clergy. The Rev. Canon Dana Corsello, the Vicar of the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., made her runway debut wearing the World Peace Tartan kilt. Other models included former Navy SEALs, high-profile athletes from both sides of the Atlantic, news anchors, politicians, several fearless female veterans, and a few furry friends including a Scottish terrier and a live falcon and a former Navy SEAL carrying a huge Scottish salmon down the runway.

The largest and most prestigious Scottish fashion event in the world

A model wears Lorna Gilles on the runway at the Dressed to Kilt hoto by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Friends of Scotland.

Mid-show the attendees were treated to a special performance by Scottish singer and Tik Tok sensation, Nati Dredd. This year’s show also remembered three of Scotland’s greatest supporters, Queen Elizabeth II,  Sir Sean Connery, co-founder of Dressed to Kilt, and Dame Vivienne Westwood, a huger supporter of Dressed to Kilt. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Navy SEAL Foundation. During the after-party the founders of the event received a serious invitation to hold the next Dressed to Kilt outside of the United States for the first time ever.

The Sir Sean Connery Tartan. Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Friends of Scotland.

From its genesis in 2003, DTK is now the largest and most prestigious Scottish fashion event in the world, and one of the highest profile fashion shows in the United States. They believe that fashion, without the enrichment of diverse cultures, becomes hollow. The show is produced by the Friends of Scotland charity which was co-founded by Sir Sean Connery in 2002.

A model wears Rettl Designs from Austria. Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Friends of Scotland.

In addition to supermodels, this show highlights very accomplished men and women on the runway and it is also filled with A-List celebrities and athletes from both sides of the Atlantic. In recent shows Sir Sean Connery, Gerard Butler, Alan Cumming, Kiefer Sutherland, Kyle MacLachlan, Chris “Mr. Big” Noth, Mike Myers, Brian Cox and Craig Ferguson have all walked the runway. The charity has raised significant sums for the families of wounded veterans.

For more information, please visit

Main photo: Miss Scotland, Lucy Sophia Thompson.

Scotland’s oldest tartan discovered by Scottish Tartans Authority

Glen Affric tartan goes on display for the first time at V&A Dundee Tartan exhibition.

New scientific research has revealed a piece of tartan found in a peat bog in Glen Affric around forty years ago can be dated to circa 1500-1600 AD, making it the oldest known surviving specimen of true tartan in Scotland. The Scottish Tartans Authority commissioned Dye Analysis and Radiocarbon testing on the woollen textile to prove its age. The first investigation was dye analysis carried out by analytical scientists from National Museums Scotland.  Using high resolution digital microscopy, four colours were visually identified for dye analysis: green and brown and possibly red and yellow.  The dye analysis confirmed the use of indigo/woad in the green but was inconclusive for the other colours, probably due to the dyestuff degradation state. However, there were no artificial or semi-synthetic dyestuffs involved in the making of the tartan, which pointed to a date of pre-1750s.

The oldest-known piece of true tartan found in Scotland

Photo: Alan Richardson.

Further clarification on the age of the tartan involved radiocarbon testing at the SUERC Radiocarbon Laboratory in East Kilbride. The process involved washing out all the peat staining, which would have otherwise contaminated the carbon content of the textile.  The Radiocarbon testing results identified a broad date range between 1500 and 1655 AD, with the period between 1500 and 1600 AD the most probable. This makes it the oldest-known piece of true tartan found in Scotland – the Falkirk ‘tartan’, dating from the early third century AD, is actually a simpler check pattern woven using undyed yarns. The Glen Affric tartan, which measures around 55cm by 43cm has gone on display for the first time at V&A Dundee’s Tartan exhibition. The piece will be the oldest exhibit among more than 300 objects. The exhibition examines tartan’s universal and enduring appeal through iconic and everyday examples of fashion, architecture, graphic and product design, photography, furniture, glass and ceramics, film, performance and art.

Peter MacDonald, Head of Research and Collections at The Scottish Tartans Authority, said: “The testing process has taken nearly six months, but the effort was well worth it and we are thrilled with the results! In Scotland, surviving examples of old textiles are rare as the soil is not conducive to their survival. As the piece was buried in peat, meaning it had no exposure to air and was therefore preserved. The tartan has several colours with multiple stripes of different sizes, and so it corresponds to what people would think of as a true tartan. Although we can theorise about the Glen Affric tartan, it’s important that we don’t construct history around it. Although Clan Chisholm controlled that area, we cannot attribute the tartan to them as we don’t know who owned it. The potential presence of red, a colour that Gaels considered a status symbol, is interesting because of the more rustic nature of the cloth. This piece is not something you would associate with a king or someone of high status; it is more likely to be an outdoor working garment.

National and historical significance

John McLeish, Chair of The Scottish Tartans Authority, said: “The Glen Affric tartan is clearly a piece of national and historical significance. It is likely to date to the reign of James V, Mary Queen of Scots, or James VI/I. There is no other known surviving piece of tartan from this period of this age. It’s a remarkable discovery and deserves national attention and preservation. It also deserves to be seen and we’re delighted that it is to be included in the Tartan exhibition at V&A Dundee.”

James Wylie, curator at V&A Dundee, added: “We knew The Scottish Tartans Authority had a tremendous archive of material and we initially approached them to ask if they knew of any examples of ‘proto-tartans’ that could be loaned to the exhibition.  I’m delighted the exhibition has encouraged further exploration into this plaid portion and very thankful for The Scottish Tartans Authority’s backing and support in uncovering such a historic find. To be able to exhibit the Glen Affric tartan is immensely important in understanding the textile traditions from which modern tartan derives, and I’m sure visitors will appreciate seeing this on public display for the very first time.”

Tartan at V&A Dundee is on until 14 January 2024. For details see:

Main photo: John McLeish, chair, Peter MacDonald, tartan historian, of The Scottish Tartans Authority and V& A Dundee curator James Wylie. Photo: Alan Richardson Pix-AR.

The 2023 Bundanoon Highland Gathering makes a huge return

By: Alaistair Saunders

It’s taken 5 attempts to hold our 43rd Brigadoon Gathering, beaten by Covid 19 for two years and in 2022 defeated by the horrendous weather, but once again old mother nature had the last say, it rained, just a fine Scotch mist, but heavy enough to be uncomfortable. Mother Nature may have tried but nothing was going to stop Brigadoon from going ahead as 11,000 visitors participated in a wonderful day to celebrate all things Scottish.

The Chieftain of the day was The Rt. Honourable the 15th Earl of Loudoun, the honourable Simon Abney-Hastings. Simon Abney-Hastings is an Australian Earl who is the current holder of one of the oldest Scottish noble titles, Earl of Loudoun. Earl of Loudoun is named after Loudoun in Ayrshire, Scotland. The Campbell’s of Loudoun are the oldest branch of the house of Argyll. The Earldom was originally granted to the 1st Earl of Loudoun, John Campbell – Lord Chancellor of Scotland, by King Charles 1st in 1633 and has since passed down to Simon Abney-Hastings though the laws of succession when his Father Michael, the previous Earl of Loudoun passed in 2012. The Title is one of the oldest Scottish noble titles and it carries with it the right to carry the Golden Spurs (the emblems of knighthood and chivalry) at the Coronation of a British Monarch.

Photo: Jeremy Tonks.

Our special guest for the day was His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia accompanied by his wife Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley. They enjoyed Brigadoon so much in 2019 (when he was Chieftain) that they couldn’t resist returning to enjoy another day of Brigadoon. The Street Parade was sight to behold with 1,000 participants, starting at 9.15am and featured 28 pipe bands, with some joining the more experienced pipe bands to gain confidence and self-esteem and they were wonderful. There were three newly formed pipe bands participating, our own Bundanoon Pipe Band, Presbyterian Ladies’ College Pipes and Drums, Sydney, and Granville Boys High School Pipe Band, Sydney. It was a wonderful experience for all of them accompanied by decorated children’s floats and marching Clans.

At 10.00am, the Chieftain of the Day officially opened the gathering. During the opening ceremony, spectators are treated to a massed pipes and drums display with 550 bandsmen and women participating. The sheer magic of this moment with traditional Scottish music and the swirling of a myriad of coloured tartans has to be experienced to be believed. As usual we had all our favourite events, Games, Scottish Country Dancing (you can even join in to the Dashing White Sergeant) Scottish Highland Dancing (Joy Reiher School of Highland Dance) Southern Highlands Kennel and Obedience Club, Bonnie Bairns and of course our Fiddlers Tent a very comprehensive and enjoyable list of events, something for everyone. A family friendly fun day out.

Bundanoon Stones

The Earl of Loudoun presenting an award.

The Clans attending were Clans attending Brigadoon 2023 were: Clan Donald, Clan Buchanan, Clan Henderson, Clan MacNeil, Clan Cameron, Clan Davidson, Clan Malcolm, Clan Young, Clan Farquharson, Clan MacEwan, Clan Edmonstone, Clan Gregor, Clan Campbell (15th Earl of Loudoun), Clan Fletcher, Clan MacLennan, Clan MacCallum, Clan Maclean, Clan Hope and Clan Sutherland. The Pipe bands performed individually throughout the day at 3 locations situated around the oval for the entertainment of the public. This is a time when the pipe bands can go out and let their hair down and play to entertain without having to comply to competition rules.  

The Kilted Warriors were lifting the Bundanoon Stones. Modelled on the MacGlashen Stones. The stones used for the current competition are 115kgs, 120kgs, 125kgs, 140kgs and 165kgs. The stones are laid out five metres apart lightest to heaviest with each competitor having to lift all five stones on top of a wooden barrel four feet in height. The person who can lift all five stones on top of the barrels in the fastest time is declared the champion of the day. The history of the stones goes back over one thousand years to the highlands of Scotland when a boy was considered to have reached manhood when he could lift two stone in weight from the bare ground onto the top of a stone dyke or fence as we know it. Most villages took part in this exercise and the stones varied from village to village. In the late 1970’s the lifting of the stones was brought back to life in Scotland with the introduction of the MacGlashsen Stones.

Bundanoon Stones Results 2023: 1st Sean Gillen- Brigadoon Champion, 2nd Tyler Helm, 3rd Andrew Fraser and 4th Macauley Tinker. Australian Highland Heavy Weight Championships involved an outstanding field of heavy weight competitors. Events included the Caber, Stone Putt, Weight for Height, Weight for Distance and Hammer throw – five events fiercely contested to produce just one overall champion. Australian Highland Heavyweight Championship results: 1st Terry Sparkes- Brigadoon Champion, 2nd Macauley Tinker, Joint 3rd Kurt Livens & Lance Holland- Keen and 5th Jamie Muscat.

Massed bands.

The closing ceremony is really quite spectacular lasting about 30 minutes (a real mini tattoo) with the finale of the Lone Piper and the Chieftain closing the gathering for another year, Brigadoon then fades back into the mists ready to reappear on 6 April 2024. Bundanoon is a comfortable 2-hour drive from Sydney and Canberra and the South Coast, which makes it the ideal location for travellers who just want to pop in for the day or for others who wish to stay and enjoy “Brigadoon” and the hospitality and culture of the Southern Highlands. With such an influx of people coming into the area, local businesses and the hospitality trade in particular have thrived to the point where there is hardly a room available and in most cases all accommodation is booked a year in advance.

The Bundanoon Highland Gathering is a non-for-profit registered charity. Once all our costs are taken into consideration and after appropriating a management budget for the following year all surplus monies are distributed back into the local community coffers. The committee ensures that it recognises the commitment of those local volunteer and charities groups who give countless hours of labour to the gathering by disbursing monies raised on the day on a proportional basis to each organisation. To date Brigadoon has disbursed about $1.4 million back into the local community.

For more details see:

Main photo: Brigadoon Clans. Photo: Melissa Venture.

Research shines new light on the Stone of Destiny

Innovative methods have revealed new information, including previously unrecorded markings and further evidence of the Stone’s provenance.

Cutting-edge digital technologies and scientific analysis have revealed more of the story of the Stone of Destiny, the ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy which has long held fascination and intrigue due to the mystery of its earliest origins.  Historic Environment Scotland (HES) – who care for the Stone of Destiny on behalf of the Commissioners for the Safeguarding of the Regalia – have been carrying out the work at the Engine Shed, Scotland’s national building conservation centre. This is part of their role to prepare the Stone for the Coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey in May, where it will be placed in the Coronation Chair for the ceremony.

A new digital 3D model of the Stone has been created, allowing the Stone to be viewed from different perspectives in higher detail than ever before. This has revealed previously unrecorded markings on the Stone’s surface, which have the appearance of Roman numerals. The digital imaging has also improved visibility of the geological features of the Stone, such as cross-bedding, which is indicative of the geological conditions in which the sandstone was formed and which is characteristic of sandstone of the Scone Sandstone Formation. The many tooling marks evident from original working of the stone and areas of wear and tear can now also be seen more clearly, as well as further details of the 1951 repair.

An object unique and important to Scotland’s history

The digital scanning has also been used to create an exact scale 3D printed replica of the Stone, which has been used to help preparations for placing the Stone in the Coronation Chair. Ewan Hyslop, Head of Research and Climate Change at HES, said: “It’s very exciting to discover new information about an object as unique and important to Scotland’s history as the Stone of Destiny. The high level of detail we’ve been able to capture through the digital imaging has enabled us to re-examine the tooling marks on the surface of the Stone, which has helped confirm that the Stone has been roughly worked by more than one stonemason with a number of different tools, as was previously thought. The discovery of previously unrecorded markings is also significant, and while at this point we’re unable to say for certain what their purpose or meaning might be, they offer the exciting opportunity for further areas of study.”

Harnessing a wider range of forensic techniques than available in the past, new scientific analysis has also uncovered additional information about the Stone. This has enhanced the results of the previous investigation in 1998, when fragments from the Stone underwent detailed examination by the British Geological Survey. This work identified the Stone as being indistinguishable from sandstones of the Scone Sandstone Formation, which outcrop in the area around Scone Palace, near Perth.  The new examination has provided further evidence for the Stone’s origins, while also unearthing more of its post-quarrying history. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis was undertaken to determine the elemental composition of the Stone, leading to the discovery of traces of copper alloy on the top surface of the Stone that coincide with a dark stain near its centre. This suggests a bronze or brass object has been in contact with or placed on the Stone at some time in its history.

The Coronation of King Charles

Microscopic traces of gypsum plaster were also found to be present, infilling pores in the sandstone at various places around the Stone, possibly traces of a plaster cast that was taken some time in the past.  Ewan continued: “The scientific analysis we’ve been able to undertake using cutting-edge techniques that weren’t previously available to us have offered some intriguing new clues to the history of the Stone. We may not have all the answers at this stage, but what we’ve been able to uncover is testament to a variety of uses in the Stone’s long history and contributes to its provenance and authenticity.  The Engine Shed is one of very few places within the heritage sector globally to offer this kind of cutting-edge digital and science work, and we’re delighted to be able to demonstrate the potential of these methods to enhance our understanding of such an important piece of our past as the Stone of Destiny.”

The Stone of Destiny will be included in the Coronation of King Charles III, where it will be placed within the Coronation Chair for the ceremony, before returning to Scotland. A number of different teams within HES, with a range of specialist expertise, are involved in preparing the Stone for its move to Westminster Abbey for the Coronation, working in partnership with the Conservation team at Westminster Abbey.

The 3D digital model of the Stone of Destiny is available to view on Sketchfab:

Main photo: Member of the HES Digital Documentation & Innovation team digitally scanning the Stone of Destiny at Edinburgh Castle.

Flock to Kingsville -Banding together the past, present and future

Banding Together. A truly symbiotic partnership has been forged between The Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary and the Kingsville Highland Games, somewhat prophetic given the history of the logo designed for the Highland Games recognizing the importance of the Canada Goose to Kingsville.

The Highland Games will be held on Ty Cobb Field at The Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary, 332 Road 3 West, Kingsville, Ontario on Saturday, June 24, 2023. The Committee is delighted to have found a location where every exciting element of the Kingsville Highland Games can be enjoyed on one level, a truly immersive experience for all. The Kilted 5km Run/Walk will also take place on the grounds of The Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary involving a mix of on and off-trail paths in Kennedy Woods.

A fun-filled day of Scottish and Celtic experiences

A representative from The Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary said: “Our executive team at The Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary, along with our Board of Directors, feel that the future of the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary has never looked brighter. We have several exciting ideas planned that we believe will help generate a new level of excitement which will help to support our future. And this is exciting. The Jack Miner Sanctuary is proud to be hosting this special one day event! Details on the event particulars will be announced in the weeks ahead, but just know that the event will continue, and everyone at the Sanctuary is excited at the prospect of it and the positive impact it can have!”

In 2019 more than 6,500 people gathered on the northern shores of Lake Erie for the return of the Highland Games to Kingsville to enjoy a fun-filled day of Scottish and Celtic experiences. After a hiatus of 2 years, the Highland Games returned in 2022 and currently the Committee is working tirelessly to stage another great event at this new location in 2023. On June 24th, Flock to Jack Miner’s and take a gander!

For more information visit: or email: [email protected].

Echoes of the past on East Cowal’s trails

Puck, the mischievous sprite from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, would be suitably impressed by the idyllic Argyll woodland trail that bears his name. Puck’s Glen, just a five-minute drive from Dunoon with its ferry links to Greenock and Gourock, is one of a number of historical and natural landmarks that form part of the East Cowal Heritage Outdoors (ECHO) trails.

Glenbranter. Photo: Rob Wilkinson.

Dotted around a small peninsula that forms part of the spectacular but little known Cowal region of Argyll, the ECHO Trails represent an effective ‘packaging’ of an area that really could lay claim to being a geographical and geological gateway to the Scottish Highlands. The project was officially launched in July 2022 with the help of partner organisations that include the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, Forestry & Land Scotland, Historic Scotland and the Argyll & Isles Tourism Co-operative. Accessed by both foot passenger and car ferries from Greenock and Gourock respectively, as well as by car through the stunning Rest & Be Thankful mountain pass, east Cowal comprises of a number of small settlements including Kilmun, Ardentinny, Strone, Blairmore and Lochgoilhead and loops around the banks of Holy Loch and Lochs Long, Goil and Eck.

The Kingdom of Dalriada

Puck’s Glen. Photo: Ann Stamp.

This is an area, originally part of the Kingdom of Dalriada, that has played a pivotal role in the moulding of Scotland through the ages with early Christian faith playing a part alongside some truly grim and gruesome clan rivalries. The gorge that Puck’s Glen meanders through was developed by the Laird of Benmore, James Duncan, in the 1870s. The 2.8km walkway, categorised as a strenuous trail, is an enchanting and mystical journey through a lush habitat that’s rich in mosses and ferns and punctuated with delightful waterfall after delightful waterfall. It also showcases the finest aspects of the Argyll Forest, the UK’s oldest managed forest that dates back to the 1930s.

Just down the road in Kilmun there’s a clearly signposted arboretum with a number of walking trails of differing length and challenge that features trees from five different continents. It’s a showroom, if you like, for the forest as a whole but one that reflects the international roots associated with Argyll and this corner of Cowal specifically.

There’s Elizabeth Blackwell for starters. Starter of a revolution in the field of healthcare as well as being a social reformer and genuine changemaker. She forged a path in the mid-19th century as one of the first female doctors in the world, opening up opportunities for millions of women ever since and breaking down barriers wherever she worked in the US, France and across the UK. Elizabeth was laid to rest just a few yards beyond the arboretum at St Munns Church, now home to the Historic Kilmun community and heritage organisation. It also hosts Faith in Cowal, an organisation that’s established a number of popular pilgrimage trails across the entirety of the Cowal peninsulas.

There’s a wealth of local stories to be found at this church-come-museum with visitors exploring Kilmun’s fascinating heritage as well as the resting place for countless Dukes of Argyll and Campbell clan chiefs.

Further on down the A880 coast road, pier pressure begins to tell with Kilmun, Strone and Blairmore’s marine promontories piercing the shoreline of the Holy Loch and Loch Long. All date back to the Victorian era when this part of the world became the ‘go to’ place for thousands of Glaswegians. They still do but are now joined by visitors from across the UK and much further afield enticed by that mystical grip that Scotland’s lochs and mountains exert on the human soul. Further on, the village of Ardentinny has a wealth of history and nature to draw the visitors in. From the beach, a wild camping magnet for responsible campervanners with a network of different walks, to the Dun Daraich stone age fort that’s all but hidden from sight.

Decidedly pucker

Carrick Castle. Photo: Derek Prescott.

From here, overlooking the Coulport nuclear submarine base, there’s a 5 mile shoreline walk to the 17th century Carrick Castle, now a private residence but another site resonant in conflict as a focal point for the many grisly feuds between the Campbell and the Lamont clans. Time it right and you’ll be able to get the minibus back!

Follow the road over to the Whistlefield Inn and you’ll be rewarded with some truly iconic vistas over Loch Eck. It’s money shot after money shot for those photographers with a fondness for exquisite natural compositions…as well as a decent pint and quality food in what is a supremely located, 17th Century drover’s inn! It’s up there with the Clachaig in Glencoe and the Sligachan on Skye as Scotland’s finest hostelries.

Turn right here onto the A815 and you’ll soon be at Lauder Monument, an impressively positioned shrine to John Lauder, a victim of World War One and son of Harry Lauder who purchased the Glenbranter estate in 1916. Harry was an international superstar at the turn of the 20th Century, performing all over the world and becoming the highest paid entertainer on the planet.

Overlooking Loch Eck. Photo: Stephanie Darkins.

Glenbranter, just beyond the conclusion of Loch Eck, also offers a range of paths for all abilities that snake their way through a vibrant forestscape. Head back towards Dunoon past another exquisite, picture postcard hostelry, the Coylet Inn. You’ll soon be back at Puck’s Glen but not before coming across the fantastic Benmore Gardens. It’s a large botanical paradise spread across the foothills of Beinn Mhòr and a heavenly haven for anyone with a passion for plants in their myriad forms.

There are 10 key locations within the ECHO Trails along with a number of places of interest as well as woodland walks, hikes and cycling trails across this small part of a small part of Argyll. There is so much to see and do in what is a microcosm of everything Scottish Highlands…but a wee bit closer. When describing the humans entering his woodland fairy realm, Puck utters one of his most famous lines “What fools these mortals be”. You’ll beg to differ. Spend a few days exploring this forested and loch fringed world and you’ll be feeling far from foolish …and decidedly pucker!

To learn more about the East Cowal Heritage Outdoors trails see:

Main photo: Loch Eck. Photo: Derek Prescott.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

May – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 11)

Miss Scotland Lucy Sophia Thompson at Dressed to Kilt. Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Friends of Scotland.

The Banner Says…

Equality in the pipe band movement

Pipe bands are an icon of Scotland and enjoyed by millions of people across the world, a true global sound enjoyed by not just those of Scottish descent. Think pipe bands and many will think of men proudly playing, but women can quite often be overlooked in this talented group of worldwide musicians. Historically the pipe band movement was not considered a place for women, perhaps this was reinforced as many Scottish pipe bands had links to the military and bagpipes were considered as an instrument of war.

However, women’s connections to bagpipes goes back deep into history. In the late 1800’s a set of bagpipes was found in a female’s coffin in Egypt, believed to be about 3,000 years old. The pipe band world was not an accommodating place for women, nor did it try to be for many years. The world’s first all-female pipe band is thought to have in fact started in the East End of London, England when the Dagenham Girl Pipers Pipe Band was created by the Reverend Joseph Waddington in 1930. With Scotland getting its first female pipe band in 1934. Women were not mixed into regular pipe bands more commonly until the 1970s. Prior to that they were outright barred from taking part in a pipe band.

Females in the pipe band movement are here to thankfully stay

Today it is estimated women make up around 20-30% of pipe band numbers and recognised as quite literally ‘playing’ an important role in the pipe band movement. But is that enough? Clearly gender has no role in how well someone can play an instrument. However, some today even argue that women are better off suited to the drum corps, rather than playing the pipes as they have a smaller lung capacity than male players. As we go to press with this issue a new study into the underrepresentation of women in Scotland’s piping and drumming scene has been launched by The National Piping Centre in Glasgow, in collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Entitled Women in Piping and Drumming: Equality, Inclusivity, and Diversity, the six-month study is launching an online survey, designed to gain a better understanding of women’s perspectives and experiences within piping and drumming in Scotland.

It was only a few years ago, in 2016, that Lance Bombardier Megan Beveridge made history by becoming the first serving female soldier to perform as the Lone Piper at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The coveted role, which is often a highlight for many visitors to the Tattoo, had only had one other female Lone Piper in 1977 in its over 70-year history. We cover a variety of piping events in the Scottish Banner and you may have noticed most of the solo competitions are led and won by male, and white, performers and judges. Of the most prestigious solo piping championships in Scotland, you can count female winners with one hand, and at times just one finger. The oldest piping society in the world, the Royal Scottish Pipers Society, only allowed women to join in 2015 and they were founded in 1881!

While females in the pipe band movement are here to thankfully stay, we are still far from having an equal representation of players. I know and have met many great female pipers around the world, and I hope that gender disparity in the traditional Scottish music scene continues to be put well into the history books. As we need both men and women to keep the pipe band movement flourishing around the world.

In this issue

When thinking of Scotland’s myriad of open places and stunning nature you may first think of the Highlands or the rolling countryside of the Scottish Borders. However, at the turn of the 20th century, the Scottish adventurer Ella Christie came back to Scotland from a trip to Asia and was inspired to build a Japanese garden. The historic garden at Cowden Castle was once considered “the best Japanese garden in the western world”, but sadly fell into disarray. The garden however has been nurtured back to health and again open should you be looking for something unique and peaceful to do when next in Scotland.

There is nothing more awe inspiring than a Scottish castle. They reek of history, sorrow and still today dominate the surroundings where they are located. This month our very own Castle Hunter, David C. Weinczok, reflects on some of his favourite castles he has visited in Scotland. Since he has been to nearly 450 of these historic sites across the nation, he is well poised to recommend some perhaps you have yet to visit.

Scottish fashion was the star of the show recently in Washington, DC as the 20th annual Dressed to Kilt fashion event again took place. It was the first time the event moved to the nation’s capital and tartan, tweed and style were all put on show for a great cause.

The Stone of Destiny

One of Scotland’s most historic relics will be on display for the world to see this month. The Stone of Scone or Stone of Destiny (also referred to as The Coronation Stone) is an ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy and was used for centuries in the inauguration of its kings and today is housed at Edinburgh Castle.

The stone will play a key role in King Charles III’s coronation, which will take place on Saturday 6 May 2023 at Westminster Abbey in London. Charles will be formally crowned King of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth nations, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The stone will be returned to Edinburgh after the coronation events to the castle’s Crown Room.

Are you a female member of a pipe band, if so, what are your experiences? Do you think more women should be in pipe bands? 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:

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

V&A Dundee presents the first major exhibition in Scotland in 30 years to focus solely on tartan

Tartan (1 April 2023 – 14 January 2024) at V&A Dundee takes a radical new look at an instantly recognisable textile and pattern. Set to be a major event in 2023’s cultural calendar, Tartan marks the 5th anniversary of Scotland’s design museum. Celebrating tartan and its global impact, the exhibition explores how tartan has connected and divided communities worldwide, how it has embraced tradition, expressed revolt, and inspired great works of art as well as playful and provocative designs.  Tartan at V&A Dundee brings together a dazzling selection of more than 300 objects from over 80 lenders worldwide, illustrating tartan’s universal and enduring appeal through iconic and everyday examples of fashion, architecture, graphic and product design, photography, furniture, glass and ceramics, film, performance and art.

The exhibition features loans from across Scotland and around the world, including Chanel, Dior, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Tate, V&A, National Museums of Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, National Theatre of Scotland, The Royal Collection, Fashion Museum Bath, the Highland Folk Museum and more, many of which are being shown together in Scotland for the first time.

Tartan’s importance

Robert MacNab (b.1822) and Donald MacNaughton (1812- 69), by Kenneth Macleay (1802-78), 1868, Watercolour. Photo: Royal Collection Trust/© His Majesty King Charles III 2023.

Tartan’s importance and enduring appeal as a textile has been utilised by designers throughout history, with some of fashion’s most innovative and rebellious minds exercising their refined cutting skills on tartan as a fabric. This will be reflected with pieces by Chanel, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Comme des Garçons, alongside the work of contemporary designers inspired by tartan including Grace Wales Bonner, Nicholas Daley, Louise Gray, Charles Jeffrey, Owen Snaith and Olubiyi Thomas. The exhibition takes a radical new look at tartan, juxtaposing historical objects with the contemporary and is laid out in five sections where visitors can immerse themselves in the world of Tartan.

Tartan and the Grid looks at the basic structure of tartan, introduced through textiles from around the world and positioning Tartan as a set of rules to be disrupted by designers.  Innovating Tartan looks at how tartan has always been at the intersection of technical innovation. Tartan has been translated into a pattern manifested in an incredible variety of materials, from natural to the synthetic, and even glass. It covers every imaginable surface, securing its position at the forefront of art and design. In Tartan and Identity, tartan’s global fascination including its importance to diasporic communities is examined. Also, the appeal tartan has always held for those who express themselves through their clothing, from the traditional to the radical. Tartan and Power shows how it disrupts and conforms. A force of pride and might, used to push boundaries or maintain control in war and peacetime.  Transcendental Tartan transports visitors to new worlds and possibilities in fashion, media, performance and popular culture. The exhibition will look at tartan’s many narratives and how it is used by designers as a medium for myth and storytelling.  In addition, V&A Dundee has asked the public to contribute to the exhibition. This will be The People’s Tartan, an eclectic selection of objects and memories that will spark recognition and nostalgia.

Scotland’s most iconic design

Farquharson Tartan Skirt and Scarf courtesy of Aberdeen City Council, Art Gallery and Museums Collections.

To commemorate this landmark exhibition, V&A Dundee has commissioned Kinloch Anderson to design a new tartan to be used as the museum’s exclusive tartan and developed a range of merchandise in collaboration with designers in Scotland. The spectrum of how tartan has been worn is covered in the exhibition, from an eighteenth-century tartan dress coat for the Ancient Caledonian Society, to a significant photograph from around 1908 of Scottish Suffragettes proudly wearing tartan sashes. From Sir Jackie Stewart’s racing helmet with its distinctive Royal Stewart tartan band, through to contemporary streetwear from Japan. Tartan includes objects that illustrate the global translation, appropriation, reach and appeal of tartan across cultures and borders. The indigenous textiles of Indian Madras and East African Shuka cloth are explored in relation to tartan in the exhibition. Global, diasporic and even out of this world connections are represented too, with an ensemble made from Canadian Maple Leaf tartan and a fragment of MacBean tartan taken aboard Apollo 12 in November 1969 by American astronaut Alan Bean.

Paintings, including Donald Judd’s minimalist grids, Christian Hook’s oil painting of actor Alan Cumming and Gerard Burns’ portrait of the late former Scotland International rugby star Doddie Weir OBE, sit alongside the seventeenth-century image of Lord Mungo Murray by John Michael Wright. There are items of devotion, from a fragment of tartan worn by Prince Charles Edward Stuart, now afforded relic status, to Bay City Rollers trousers, handmade by a lifelong fan. From the sublime through to the everyday – even the humble but iconic tartan shortbread tin has been considered.

Leonie Bell, V&A Dundee Director, says: “To mark our 5th birthday we are celebrating and challenging the history and contradictions within Scotland’s most iconic design. Everyone knows tartan, in Scotland and across the world, and it is linked to a hugely diverse range of identities. It is at once the pattern of Highland myth and legend, forever entwined with Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite uprising, as well as being the pattern of 1970s punks and contemporary Japanese fashion influencers. Tartan lives in the worlds of high fashion and tourism souvenirs, military uniform and palaces, football stadiums and concerts. It is adored and derided, has inspired great works of art and design, and somehow can represent unity and dissent, tradition and rebellion, the past, the present and the future. Tartan – the instantly recognisable symbol of Scotland, a global textile of oppression, rebellion, and fashion, is major and must-see show for 2023.”

Consultant curator Professor Jonathan Faiers, said: “The diversity that this exhibition encompasses is an indication of the significant position that tartan occupies as a visual representation of historical, political and economic shifts within society. Marked by wars and revolutions, modified by migrations and prohibitions, tartan is uniquely positioned to act as a reminder of the past whilst clothing the present. As tartan so richly demonstrates, textiles, from the smallest details of their pattern and construction to their global dissemination, provide rules to be disrupted with which we can understand historical transformations within society and developments in our own time. The intersections and spaces between warp and weft provide a textile template for the collisions, coincidences and ruptures that punctuate society.”

Director of V&A Dundee, Leonie Bell wearing kilt by Kinloch Anderson. Photo: Julie Howden.

Kirsty Hassard, Curator at V&A Dundee, added: “Tartan has been constantly reinvented and that is incredibly important to the narrative of the exhibition. It’s a pattern and textile that stretches back thousands of years, and some of the stories the exhibition tells are 300 years old or more, but Tartan isn’t a retrospective, it is absolutely a contemporary show. Within excess of 300 objects from more than 80 lenders around the globe, Tartan tells the story of how this pattern has travelled and explores the connection we all have to it.”

V&A Dundee is Scotland’s design museum. Designed by Kengo Kuma, the museum is at the centre of Dundee’s reimagined waterfront and is part of the V&A family of museums that celebrate creativity in all its forms from across centuries, for everyone.

Entry to the exhibition is free for members and 18s and under. Tickets are now on sale at

Main photo: Doctor Marten McMarten tartan boots. Im,ages courtesy of V&A Dundee.

Celebrating Shakespeare’s First Folio across Scotland

This year is the 400th birthday of the First Folio, the first printed edition of William Shakespeare’s collected plays. As part of the UK and Ireland Folio400 celebrations, three copies in Scottish collections will go on public display throughout 2023. The Scottish held copies that will be accessible to the public in 2023 are at the University of Glasgow, the National Library of Scotland and Mount Stuart Trust. Only 18 of Shakespeare’s plays appeared in print during his lifetime, and some of these were in corrupt or pirated editions. The First Folio collection contains 36 plays, 18 of which were here published for the first time, thus saving such works as The Tempest and Macbeth from probable extinction. About 750 copies of the 1623 First Folio were printed. 235 are known to have survived with 50 copies still in the UK, 149 in USA and 36 in other corners of the world (nine of which are listed as ‘missing’).

A monument to the enduring power of literature

An image of Shakespeare First Folio which was published 400 years ago in 1623. Photo: Martin Shields.

Professor Adrian Streete, Head of English Literature at the University of Glasgow, said: “Today the First Folio is a literary and cultural monument, as several of those involved in collecting and printing Shakespeare’s plays four hundred years ago hoped it would be. Yet in 1623, the publishing of the First Folio was an expensive and risky undertaking. Shakespeare’s popularity was not then what it would become later. The story of how Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies became the First Folio is a long and complicated one, bound up with shifting ideas of literary prestige, the theatre, and national identity. But the First Folio remains a monument to the enduring power of literature to help us make sense of ourselves and others, and to imagine new and better worlds.”

The Scottish books are three different folios, in three very different collections, with three different stories to tell. The National Library of Scotland’s Head of Rare Books, Maps and Music, Helen Vincent said: “We’ve seen everyone from school children to actors to researchers fascinated by the First Folio and the stories it contains, so we’re looking forward to bringing it to a wide audience in our Treasures exhibition. It will be on display for the actual birthday of the book in November – the month it was first offered for sale in 1623. I’m sure the people who put such effort into producing this book would love to know that 400 years later, their dedication to preserving and sharing all of Shakespeare’s plays continues to have such a profound impact on culture in all its forms.”

Folio400 aims to arrange, encourage and promote an array of shows to celebrate the 400th birthday of the First Folio, the first printed edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays, in 2023.  Folio Day, the 23 April 2023, Shakespeare’s birthday, will launch the Folio Season. A number of both institutional and Private First Folio owners will make their copies available to be viewed by the public across the UK and Ireland including the three Scottish institutions.

For more information on Folio400 see:

Main photo: Julie Gardham, Senior Assistant Librarian, and Keira McKee, Book Conservator, with the University of Glasgow’s First Folio. Photo: Martin Shields.

Berry Celtic Festival unites Celtic spirits

The sixteenth Berry Celtic Festival on the 27 May 2023, is a uniting of Celtic spirits. Many enjoy Celtic gatherings as a place to reflect on past stories, our family histories and give life to the faces in yellowing photos. That moment when the mass bands stream onto the arena causes us, like our ancestors, to hear the cries of the bag pipes rallying emotions – causing us to feel the mystical spirits of the past. Such as the ghost of Robbie the Bruce standing on the hill, sword raised encouraging us to push forward in our daily lives with conviction and passion.

At Celtic Festivals across the country, clans are represented by their regents and commissioners – all playing a part in the tapestry of clan life. These representatives, attend events to make themselves available to talk about clan history and organisation structures.  This year we will have a unique gathering of representatives of the Clan Buchanan Chief’s Council in attendance. The people key in the 2022 inauguration activities of the Chief in Scotland, who are now taking the clan into the future.

The 2023 Berry Celtic Festival will be building on last year’s castle keep feel with the stalls, Scottish soldiers’ camp, Celtic musicians, the spinners and weavers, and artisans forming an avenue around the parade ground where the pipes and drum bands, knights on steeds, dancers and Scottish soldiers feature in the entertainment program. Games, tea, coffee and scones, crafts, a steam engine, fiddles, kilts, long socks, sashes, feathers all at the Berry Showground on the 27 May 2023.

The Rotary Club of Berry stages the Celtic Festival as a fund-raising activity where proceeds go towards disaster relief projects, education programs, and community development. Join us … the $15 entry fee will allow you to unite with your Celtic spirit.

The Berry Celtic Festival takes place in Berry, NSW. Check the website for full details and ticketing arrangements.

International tennis icon, author and philanthropist Judy Murray to be honored as 2023 Great Scot at New York Gala

International tennis player and coach Judy Murray OBE will be recognized for her extraordinary contributions to Scottish sports and philanthropy at The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA’s annual fundraising gala on April 20.  “We are delighted to announce Judy Murray as the recipient of the 2023 Great Scot Award,” said Helen E.R. Sayles CBE, chair of The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA. “As the National Trust for Scotland looks forward to its centennial in 2031, it is thinking about the stories it has collected and shared over the past century – and considering what stories will be important to collect and share for future generations. Judy Murray’s career and advocacy exemplify the best of contemporary Scottish heritage.”

The mother of Grand Slam champions

“It’s a huge honor for me to receive the Great Scot award from The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA,” Murray said. “I’m so proud of my country’s heritage, its assets, and its people, and I’ve long been a supporter of the National Trust for Scotland, who do such a wonderful job in preserving, showcasing, and sharing Scotland’s national treasures and hidden gems.”

Known by many as the mother of Grand Slam champions Sir Andy Murray and Jamie Murray, Judy Murray was an accomplished competitor in her own right, winning more than 60 national tennis titles before becoming Scottish National Coach in 1995. In 2011, Murray was appointed Captain of the British Federation Cup Team and used this role to grow the profile, numbers, and standard of female players, coaches, and sports scientists across Great Britain.  Over the course of her career, Murray has become an advocate for improving opportunities for tennis across Scotland, fostering inclusivity and community engagement. Through the Judy Murray Foundation, she provided equipment and fun, doable workshops for teachers, students, parents, volunteers, and club members to ensure affordable, accessible tennis activity in some of the most deprived areas of Scotland. She also developed a comprehensive online resource for Education Scotland to show teachers and sports leaders how to deliver quality sessions for big numbers in school spaces.

Murray, a long-time member of the National Trust for Scotland, also has become a much-loved television personality, known for her appearances on Strictly Come Dancing and Celebrity Masterchef and as the presenter of the ITV series Driving Force, which showcases the lives of Britain’s most successful sportswomen. The author of the memoir Knowing the Score: My Family and Our Tennis Story and an in-demand motivational speaker, Murray’s first work of fiction, The Wild Card, will be published later this year.

Her final project is The Murray Tennis and Golf Centre near Dunblane, a family-focused community venue run by the Murray Play Foundation which will provide Scotland with a facility of national significance to showcase and grow both sports.

Scotland’s largest conservation charity

Historical reenactors play tennis at Falkland Palace.

“One of the National Trust for Scotland’s most beloved properties is Falkland Palace, with its royal tennis court built in 1538 by James V of Scotland,” said Kirstin Bridier, executive director of The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA. “It is remarkably special that nearly 500 years later we are able to recognize Judy Murray for her contributions to the contemporary game of tennis and at the same time support the conservation of irreplaceable heritage properties like Falkland.”

The presentation of the Great Scot Award is at the heart of a black-tie event that raises American funds to support Scotland’s largest conservation charity. Past Great Scot recipients include documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, comedian Sir Billy Connolly, award-winning actors Alan Cumming and Brian Cox, endurance athlete and world-record breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont, sculptor Andy Scott, and authors Diana Gabaldon and Alexander McCall Smith.

A Celebration of Scotland’s Treasures is a festive evening that features a whisky tasting by The Macallan; the recitation of Burns’ Ode to a Haggis by Alasdair Nichol, Chairman of Freeman’s auction house and a frequent appraiser on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow; Scottish country dancing; and live and silent auctions. Before heading home, guests form a circle, clasp hands, and sing Auld Lang Syne.

The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA (NTSUSA) exists to support the work of Scotland’s largest conservation charity, protecting Scotland’s heritage and natural beauty now and for generations to come. Since 2000, NTSUSA has committed more than $11 million in funding for the National Trust for Scotland’s most urgent conservation priorities.

To learn more about NTSUSA or to become a member, visit: To learn more about the A Celebration of Scotland’s Treasures gala, visit:

Scotland Is Calling For Your Extended Family Holiday

A trend which is increasingly emerging in global travel is for families taking multi-generational breaks. Although this was the case before the Coronavirus pandemic, that unprecedented global event seems to have encouraged and inspired families to get together and enjoy a family holiday across the generations. Whatever the shape of your family – from toddlers to teenagers; the young to the young-at-heart – Scotland offers a wealth of experiences for all ages to enjoy. Here’s our pick of ideas to inspire your multi-generational family break!

Page and Screen

Jacobite steam train, Glenfinnan Viaduct. Photo: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam.

Literature, films, and TV shows which tell stories of Scotland, or shows which have been filmed there, often inspire those wishing to explore the places they’ve seen on screen or read about. Great options for family breaks would be:

  • Locations associated with film versions of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books, such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct which the Jacobite Steam Train crosses (journey to Hogwarts) and Glen Coe (the fictional site of Hagrid’s Hut).
  • Moat Brae in Dumfries (incorporating the National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling), said to have inspired the enchanted lands described in JM Barrie’s Peter Pan.
  • The Beatrix Potter Garden in Dunkeld, Perthshire, which captures the Peter Rabbit characters and the magical summers the author spent here.
  • Real life places which feature in the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon and the related hit TV series such as Culloden Battlefield near Inverness, and places used as set locations, including Doune Castle near Stirling, the conservation towns of Falkland and Culross in Fife, and Linlithgow Palace in West Lothian.
  • Edinburgh, UNESCO’s first ever City of Literature, is home to the Writers Museum showcasing the stories of three of Scotland’s best loved writers (Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns), as well as the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the famous Royal Mile – hub of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival which takes place each October.

Family Friendly Holiday Hotels

For an easy to plan multi-generational break, what better than a stay in a great hotel in a stunning location with a range of activities for all generations of the family on offer?

  • In Perthshire, the world famous Gleneagles, Dunkeld House Hotel on the banks of the River Tay, and Crieff Hydro Hotel with its programme of over 60 activities, offer all manner of outdoor pursuits, all against the backdrop of this beautiful part of Scotland.
  • Cameron House on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond offers loch cruises, Segway safaris, horse riding and more.
  • Auchrannie Resort on the Isle of Arran has an array of activities to be enjoyed on this wonderful island known as Scotland in miniature.
  • At the heart of Cairngorms National Park, Macdonald Aviemore Highland Resort has a tremendous range of activities amid some of Scotland’s most dramatic landscapes.

Family Friendly Castle Stays

Thirlestane Castle, Lauder, Scottish Borders. Photo: VisitScotland/Ian Rutherford.

Who wouldn’t relish the change to enjoy a stay in a Scottish castle, irrespective of age? Definitely something to tell the folks back home about! Excellent options for multi-generational family breaks include:

  • Dalhousie Castle in Midlothian which boasts a 700-year history as well as extensive grounds and its own Falconry offering hands-in experiences with 30 beautiful birds.
  • The magnificent Thirlestane Castle in the Scottish Borders offering a range of exciting pre-bookable activities from tomahawk throwing to survival skills.
  • Muckrach Castle in Morayshire, which can be hired out in its entirety for a self-catering break, allowing you to be king and queens of your very own castle!

From Lodges to Lighthouses

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse. Photo: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam.

There’s something about staying in a holiday lodge that brings back memories of family holidays in years gone by, and these days there are so many different quirky holiday options on offer in Scotland that will be sure to inspire a similar sense of wonder for younger family members. Options include:

  • Argyll Holidays – a range of holiday park locations in picturesque waterfront settings across Argyll, from luxury hot tub lodges to static caravans and glamping.
  • St Andrews Forest Lodges – a wonderful selection of log cabins, each with its own private hot tub – ideal for relaxing after a day exploring St Andrews or cycling the Fife Coastal Path.
  • Cairngorm Lodges – forest retreats in Aboyne at the heart of Royal Deeside, with lodges and cabins charmingly named after local wildlife species.
  • Staying in a lighthouse, such as Rua Reidh Lighthouse in Gairloch, Eshaness Lighthouse in Shetland and Mull of Galloway Lighthouse Holiday Cottages near Stranraer.

Fun-packed Farm Stays

Agritourism has become increasing popular, and the whole family can learn about sustainable farming methods, get to know some of the animals and enjoy the freshest of local produce. The Go Rural agritourism partnership offers a wealth of options such as:

  • Newton Farm Holidays near Forfar in Angus where you can meet iconic Highland cattle, feed the lambs, or take an alpaca for a stroll.
  • Lennox of Lomond, where you can experience all the fun of the farm on the hills overlooking the bonnie banks.
  • Old Leckie Farm, Gargunnock near Stirling, situated on land once owned by Robert the Bruce.

Days Out With A Difference

The Pass of Glencoe. Photo: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam.

Wherever you choose to visit in Scotland, you’re guaranteed to enjoy fantastic days out which every generation of the family can enjoy. Here are just some of the experiences you can choose from:

  • Join Highland Safaris for a Land Rover safari in the hills above Aberfeldy, or a sailing safari on Loch Tay, keeping an eye out for local wildlife as you go.
  • Visit fascinating museums such as Riverside Museum of Transport in Glasgow, V&A Museum of Design in Dundee, Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Auchindrain Historic Township near Inveraray, Skye Museum of Island Life and the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian.
  • Attend a traditional Scottish Highland Games, taking place in locations across Scotland from May to September.
  • Take a boat trip from the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, East Lothian to the iconic Bass Rock to spot the area’s abundant wildlife, including the world’s largest colony of Northern Gannets.
  • Visit Scotland’s most colourful castle – Kelburn Castle and Country Centre near Largs, Ayrshire.
  • Go stargazing at Galloway International Dark Sky Park at the heart of Dumfries and Galloway – one of only four in the world.
  • Don those dancing shoes to take part in a Scottish ceilidh evening at Ghillie Dhu in Edinburgh or Skipinnish Ceilidh House in Oban.

Island Life

Luskentyre Sands, Isle of Harris. Photo: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam.

An island holiday is a truly special experience to be shared with multiple generations of your family. In Scotland we’re lucky enough to have something few other countries can offer – an abundance of stunning islands, each with its own unique history, culture, and atmosphere. Which will you choose?

  • The Isle of Mull with its wealth of wildlife tour options including boat trips to neighbouring islands, and its picture-postcard capital, Tobermory.
  • The Isle of Islay, home to unique nature reserves and a rich whisky producing heritage.
  • Orkney, famed for its natural beauty, archaeological sites and First and Second World War heritage.
  • Shetland with its dramatic Viking past, equally dramatic coastlines and seascapes, prehistoric sites, abundant wild and bird life, and of course delightful Shetland ponies.
  • The Isle of Bute, home to Mount Stuart, unquestionably one of Scotland’s most stunning and unusual stately homes.
  • The Outer Hebrides where you’ll experience rich Gaelic Island culture, Harris Tweed making traditions, incredible coastlines, and the finest produce the Atlantic larder can offer.

Get Active

For families who like nothing better than to get active together, Scotland offers experiences to suit all tastes and abilities.

  • Join Perthshire-based Nae Limits on one of their exhilarating activities, from white water rafting and river tubing to gorge walking and canyoning.
  • Get a bird’s eye view of Scotland’s amazing forests at one of Go Ape’s zip wire centres across Scotland.
  • Go land yachting along the beach at St Andrews with Blown Away.
  • ‘Bag a Munro’ – a Scottish mountain with an elevation of more than 3,000 feet (914 metres). There are nearly 300 to choose from, each with stunning views as your reward for reaching the summit!
  • Play a round in the undisputed Home of Golf – there are 550+ to choose from!
  • Enjoy the unique experience of exploring Scotland on two feet or two wheels. From long-distance walking and cycling trails to forest paths, coastal walks, and purpose-built trails at no less than 25 world-class mountain biking centres, you’re sure to find options to suit your family’s needs.
  • If you’d rather spectate, the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships – the biggest cycling event ever – takes place in Glasgow and across Scotland on 3-13 August 2023.

The suggestions here are just a small taster of the regions, attractions and businesses that can help ensure you and your family have a truly memorable time in Scotland, whatever the make-up, age range and abilities of your group.

For more information and a wealth of ideas to inspire you in planning your trip see:

Main photo: Old Leckie Farm, Stirling, Stirlingshire. Photo: VisitScotland/Luigi Di.

The 2023 New Zealand Pipe Band Championships

The skirl of the pipes and drums was heard far and wide in Ōtautahi Christchurch as the 2023 New Zealand and South Pacific Pipe Band Championships returned to the South Island of New Zealand for the first time since 2020. ‘The Nationals’ had to be postponed in 2022 due to the pandemic – Auckland was to play host, so it was fitting New Zealand’s second largest city was the destination for the first championship back in two years. 

It is the largest pipe band competition in the Southern Hemisphere, with 50 pipe bands from across New Zealand and Australia competing over two days from Juvenile and Grade 4B through to the Grade 1 competition. Unique to New Zealand, the bands performed in a judged (but not part of the aggregate championship) Street March along some of the picturesque streets of Christchurch.   Judges came from far and wide across Australasia, with Ian Lyons, Harold Gillespie and Andrew Wormersley coming across from Melbourne to assist Greg Wilson, Stuart Easton, Liam Kernaghan, Ross Levy, and Ian Ferguson judging the music events.  

Drawing on the line

Day One saw competition in the Grade 4B, Grade 4A and Grade 3 March, Strathspey and Reel event, the Juvenile event, and the aforementioned Street March. St. Andrew’s College from Christchurch took the event with straight first places from the judges, besting current Australian champions Scotch College Pipe Band from Melbourne. The ILT City of Invercargill Highland Pipe Band – the defending Juvenile champions – had to settle for fourth this year. A total of eight bands competed in the Juvenile event, a sign of good things happening at the grassroots level across the South Pacific.  The Street March was the first opportunity to hear the Grade 2 and Grade 1 bands ‘strut their stuff’.

It was evident right from the get-go that all the bands had really raised their game this year. Inspiring stuff for a lot of the younger pipers and drummers who lined the streets to get their first taste of the best in the business. Auckland & District Pipe Band took out the Grade 1 Street March, with Melbourne-based Hawthorn Pipe Band winning the Grade 2 Street March with some dazzling hornpipes.   Day Two was a much busier affair, with the Grade 4B, Grade 4A and Grade 3 bands performing their melodies while the Grade 2 and Grade 1 bands played both their March, Strathspey and Reel and Medley events. In New Zealand, each band plays in both events for the championship, with Grade 2 and Grade 1 bands ‘drawing on the line’ their March, Strathspey and Reel.  

The top guns

Grade 4B was ultimately won by South Canterbury Pipe Band, with a ten point lead ahead of ILT City of Invercargill Highland Pipe Band. Grade 4A saw Scotch College Pipe Band from Melbourne edge out Hamilton Caledonian Society Pipe Band by one point, with St. Andrew’s College B Pipe Band finishing third. Grade 3 was taken out by the City of Tauranga Pipe Band with wins in both the March, Strathspey and Reel and Medley events.  Then it was time for the top guns. Grade 2 was five-strong and full of confidence, music and pizzazz. Hawthorn Pipe Band from Melbourne took straight firsts across all eight judges in the two events, with St. Andrew’s College A Pipe Band settling for second.

Hawthorn dazzled the crowds with their Medley in particular, which finished with Mark Saul’s classic The Stonecutter’s Phoenix.  Pushing 30 degrees celsius, Auckland & District Pipe Band began the March, Strathspey and Reel. All five Grade One bands were world-class, and presented a huge challenge for all the music judge to split out into different prizes. Manawatu Scottish Pipe Band took straight firsts from the four piping judges, but it wasn’t to be enough as the Canterbury Caledonian Society Pipe Band – hometown favourites – taking all the drumming and ensemble firsts, and winning both events, securing them the overall title. Manawatu was second, with Auckland & District Pipe Band third. All of the judges commented that it was the highest standard of Grade One performance in New Zealand ever. 

The event was livestreamed via Youtube thanks to Brassbanned – the same people who livestream major sporting events like the Australian Open. The livestream is available on Youtube, and Grade One and Two performances are split out for ease. 

For more information see:

The 45th annual Savannah Scottish Games

The Savannah Scottish Games will return at historic Bethesda Academy on Saturday, May 6th, 2023. Savannah and the surrounding area are home to a sizeable Celtic population and each year they look forward to the annual event. This year they will welcome back athletes, pipe bands, highland dancers, border collies, historic reenactors, Scottish vendors, Celtic musicians and more to the annual gathering.   The Savannah Scottish Games are a grand celebration of Highland heritage right here in the Southeast. With more than 3,000 people participating in the event each year, Savannah’s Scottish Games is both one of the largest and is the fourth oldest Games in the area as well. 

“My family and I have been a part of the Savannah Scottish Games since my grown sons were little,” said Murray Marshall, Chair of this year’s Games. “To see how much this particular event has grown and is now considered a tradition for so many others in the area is something we are all really proud of. We also have a large attendance from people outside of the area that come to spend this one day every year. And to top it off and be on the historic grounds of Bethesda, you can’t get any better than that.” Murray adds, “Outside of the dancing, athletics, and comradery, people get the chance to learn more about the different Highland clans, their own heritage, and possibly find their own roots.” The Games include something for the entire family to enjoy!

Highland Dancers

Highland dancing was originally an all-male event until the late 19th century when women started competing in Highland Dance. Savannah is proud to host the ScotDance Southeast Regional Championships, one of six regional competitions held throughout the United States each spring.  Ambitious new dancers called Pre-Premiers, develop self-discipline and confidence as they learn to tackle the physical demands of the dance. The tremendous strength, stamina, and technical precision accomplished dancers exhibit on stage are fascinating. The highest level, the Premier dancers, dances earlier in the morning, so come early to see these impressive dancers compete for a spot at the national competition at the 2023 ScotDance National Championships in Portland, Oregon.

Pipes and Drums

Whether this is your first time at the Games or you’re a seasoned Scotsman, the glorious sounds of the pipes and drums are an inspiration to behold. Stewart Marshall, Murray’s son, has been involved with the Games since childhood. He remembers many years of participating in the Games with his family and has been involved on the committee in some aspect for over ten years. Stewart is tasked with organizing Pipe and Drums at this year’s event. He states, “I encourage everyone to come and listen to the sounds of Scotland — the thrill in the bourdon of the bagpipes and the cadence of the drums from the talented pipers and drummers is something that sticks with you. Music has a way of taking you somewhere new and on this day it will take us to the highlands.” 

Some historians believed that bagpipes (often, just “the pipes”) were played in Scotland as early as 100 AD. By the year 1000, bagpipes were popular throughout Scotland. By 1500 AD, every clan chieftain worthy of the name had a piper in his retinue, the group of noblemen that typically accompanied a leader or King. The great modern pipes were developed in the Scottish Highlands. In addition to the Pipes and Drums,  there will be live Celtic music on the entertainment stage from Lachlann and North of Argyll. The full schedule can be found on the Savannah Scottish Games website.

Athletic Competition

The Scottish Games is historically a worldwide celebration of the legendary strength and endurance of the Highlander. Scottish heavy athletics owe their roots to the Highland warriors who would keep in shape between battles by competing using everyday implements. A stone, a blacksmith’s hammer, and a tree trunk, known as a caber, all became tools for building strength for battle. Athletic events are hosted throughout the day and provide visitors with close access to witness these kilted athletes compete in events such as the caber toss, sheaf toss, open stone put, Scottish hammer throw, and more. Fancy yourself a Highlander? Take your turn at the competition while you’re there. They encourage all beginners (novices) who want to learn “to throw” to be on the field at 7:30 a.m. on game day for a one-hour clinic. Don’t worry, no kilts are required.

Children Activities

There are dozens of athletic activities for children to enjoy throughout the day, including tug-of-war, sheaf toss, caber toss, haggis hurl, stone throw, welly toss, and sack race.  Grab a seat, hear the greatest of Scotland’s stories from Celtic storyteller Linda Bandilier, and dance and play games with the mythical fairy, Zephyr. Face painting, coloring crafts, and other arts activities will also be available.

Medieval European Activities

The Savannah branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is a practical history society, recreating the arts and skills of pre-17th century Europe. They dressed in the Middle Ages and Renaissance clothing and allowed visitors to witness tournaments, royal courts, feasts, and dancing. There’ll also be opportunities to learn and practice ancient arts and skills — calligraphy, cooking, armoring, metalworking, carpentry, and needlework. The SCA will host interactive demonstrations and displays of various medieval European activities throughout the day, including armored combat, dance, juggling, and other arts activities.

Clans and Genealogy

One of the most exciting aspects of this event is the opportunity to gather clues along the day of your Scottish ancestors and then search for their records.  Marshall points out, “The key to your family history is knowing how to find information about your name, immigrant ancestor, Scotland geography and history, available records, and where to find more information. We have plenty of maps and reading materials about researching Scottish, Irish, and more Celtic ancestors if you want to come into the genealogy tent.”  They will also be joined this year by various local genealogical and historical organizations familiar with researching family trees of ancestors born in America.

Border Collie Sheep Herding

The sheep herding is often hailed as one of the Games most beloved events. Windy Knolls Farm is home to Bill Coburn, his Border Collies, and a herd of Katahdin-Dorper sheep, and they will all be on-site to demonstrate their impressive sheep, geese, and duck herding skills. If you’ve yet to witness the talented canines, the Savannah Scottish Games is a perfect time.

And More

The Marketplace of the Savannah Scottish Games is centralized within the festival and provides the opportunity to purchase Scottish goods, cuisine and refreshments, and baked goods. “This year is expected to be our largest yet, even though it will be hard to beat last year,” adds Marshall. “The music, comradery, and commemoration of our Scottish heritage is celebrated through this historic event, and it’s something my family and so many others look forward to year after year.”

For additional information about the Savannah Scottish Games or to purchase your tickets, go to:

MAGGIE – A new musical set in post-war Scotland to premiere in Canada this month

By: Jessica Rose

You might not know the tough-as-nails protagonist of MAGGIE, the much-anticipated new musical premiering on stages in three Canadian provinces this year. However, you’ll undoubtedly know women just like her. A fiery, Scottish matriarch, she’s forced to rely on her strength, sense of humour, and grit to raise three boys in the wake of unthinkable loss.

Johnny Reid.

Set between 1954 and 1976, MAGGIE is a true story that opens on a row of tenement houses in the mining town of Lanark. Featuring music by award-winning Scottish Canadian recording artist Johnny Reid, with Matt Murray and Bob Foster, it’s directed by fellow Scot Mary Francis Moore – the artistic director of Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, Ontario where the musical will premiere this month.  A working-class mother, the real-life Maggie was Johnny Reid’s granny, but his tribute to her represents so much more. Maggie is an entire generation – not just women, and not just in Scotland – who learned that the promise of opportunity often went hand in hand with saying goodbye.

At the time, when thousands of young people were leaving Scotland to find work in Canada, Australia and beyond, Maggie refused to leave her homeland. “Ach, someone needs tae be here tae put the kettle on,” her character says in the show. “MAGGIE celebrates not only my Gran and her life but also an entire generation of women who fought through some tough times by keeping faith, hope, love, family, friendship and humour close to heart,” says Reid, who was born and raised in Lanark, before immigrating to Canada at the age of 17.

A celebration of friendship, community and the human spirit

Dharma Bizier (Maggie) and Will Lincoln (Tommy).

MAGGIE is produced in association with Michael Rubinoff, the originating producer of the smash Broadway hit Come from Away. First workshopped as part of Sheridan College’s Canadian Music Theatre Project, which also incubated Come from Away, it has been a six-year labour of love for all involved.

The show features an 18-member cast including Scottish Canadians Sweeney MacArthur, Adam Stevenson and Jay Davis and British expats Lawrence Libor, Nicola Dawn Brook and Jeremy Legat. Dharma Bizier, who plays the lead role of Maggie, recently opened Johnny Reid’s cross-Canada tour performing selections from the musical for fans across the country. Above all, MAGGIE is a celebration of friendship, community and the human spirit set against a powerful, rousing score. It pays tribute to generations of unsung women who made sacrifices to ensure a better future for their own. You can’t help but see your own mam or gran in Maggie’s story of resilience.

MAGGIE’s world premiere will open at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, Ontario, on April 19, running until May 6, 2023, before travelling to Prince Edward Island to headline the acclaimed Charlottetown Festival from June 21 to September 2. The show will then head to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia for a limited run at The Savoy Theatre from September 28 to October 8.

Join the celebration of music, laughter, and love at and hear the music of MAGGIE now on all digital platforms.

The Scots, and their Celtic music and culture: A Virginia perspective

By Captain Ross T McCrindle, Pipe Major, Virginia International Tattoo.

Even as descendants and supporters of Scotland and her traditions and culture, it’s still easy to underestimate the cultural impact a small country of 5 million people has made around the world.  But, in a timely reminder, the international cast of the upcoming 2023 Virginia International Tattoo speaks volumes of the spread of the Celtic arts, not only in traditional terms, but with real time relevance in the modern world.

We often think of the Great Highland Bagpipe as a distinctly Scottish instrument and its primary music is definitely so.  Hailing from Scotland, resplendent in their blue uniforms and representing the United Kingdom, we will see the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Air Force take the floor at Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.  

Because of the age of the instrument, there is huge uncertainty over the precise geographical origin of the bagpipes.  Much weight is given to the theory that the MacCrimmon family of hereditary pipers to the Clan MacLeod of Skye, original proponents of bagpipe music in Scotland, were immigrants from the Cremona area of Northern Italy.  Indeed, in the form of paternal surname common in 14th century Scotland, Mac Crimmon could easily translate to “son of Cremona”, but there are also strong indications that the highland bagpipes existed in Ireland at or around the same time.  Carrying the banner of Irish descendancy in the United States, the Virginia International Tattoo will present the Camden County Emerald Society Pipes and Drums this April. 

Scottish traditions

The Italian link aside, one might struggle to connect the Scottish martial traditions to continental Europe.  Thanks, at least in part, to the “Auld Alliance,” the bagpipes found another home in France and another branch of the music was borne to the Breton piping and drumming scene.  From the Marine Nationale (French Navy), amalgamating the sound of the unique instrument that is the Bombard with their Pipes and Drums, Bagad de Lann-Bihoué bring the sound of Brittany to the naval city of Norfolk.

As Scottish Banner readers will be acutely aware, the spread of Celtic traditions extended not just into Europe, but right around the globe.  Moving south of the equator, the Scots took their industrious and entrepreneurial spirit to the continent of Oceania.  It was in Perth, Western Australia, in 1897 that David Ross, originally of Invergordon, founded the Scotch College and the Virginia International Tattoo is delighted to welcome their students back with their Pipes and Drums for the 2023 tattoo season.

Where there is pipe music, there is also dancing.  Clan soldiers would dance over their swords to motivate themselves for battle, and dance again over the bloodied blades to celebrate their victory.  The tradition of Highland dancing is taught to pipers and drummers of the British Army to this day as a required skill in their basic musical courses, but our cultural journey around the world stays in the southern hemisphere for now.  Delighting audiences young, and less young, in Norfolk this April will be the dancers of The Highland Dance Company of New Zealand. 

The skirl of the pipes

Coming back to the USA, Celtic culture is not only a once-a-year deal in southern Virginia.  Hailing from the Hampton Roads area, Tidewater Pipes and Drums trace their history back to 1975 and have been providing the skirl of the pipes to local audiences ever since.  As our hometown pipe band, we welcome them once again to the 2023 tattoo.  Still in the United States, but slightly further afield, we are delighted to welcome back members of Andy’s tartan Army, all of whom have links to Carnegie Mellon university Pipe Band in the Pittsburgh area, yet another bastion of the Scottish arts!

For those who have experienced the Virginia International Tattoo, it takes no explanation that pride, patriotism, and a celebration of cultures from around the world are just a few of the important factors that lie at its heart.  The Pipes and Drums and the Celtic traditions of their music and dancing aren’t just part of the tattoo, but they are also its heartbeat.  They represent the cohesion of the cast, underlining our alliances and partnerships, and giving life to the notion that the celebration of our cultures is our purest and most valuable gift to each other.  For those who haven’t experienced the Virginia International Tattoo, why not? We’ve been doing this for 26 years!  Join us in Norfolk, Virginia, April 20th through April 23rd for a show like no other.


Nation celebrates 100 years of Flying Scotsman, world’s most famous steam locomotive

Friday 24 February 2023, marked 100 years since Flying Scotsman, the world’s most famous steam locomotive, set off on its first journey from the sheds at Doncaster Works. Now a national treasure, Flying Scotsman is a star attraction in the collection of the National Railway Museum (part of the Science Museum Group) in York, where it is a working museum exhibit. In a new poem released, The Making of Flying Scotsman, UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has paid homage to the celebrity engine, a feat of British design and engineering which has inspired a love of rail in generations of families and become synonymous with the golden age of rail travel. Commenting on the inspiration behind his new work, Simon Armitage said: “Flying Scotsman is a poem. I just had to write it down.” The Making of Flying Scotsman is now on display as part of Flying Scotsman: 100 Years, 100 Voices, a new exhibition at the National Railway Museum, which launched in February and showcases the legacy of the locomotive through the lives it has touched.

Flying Scotsman overhaul. Photo: Steve Morgan/Science Museum Group.

In its latest excursion, following a new lick of paint, Flying Scotsman to surprised travellers at Edinburgh Waverley station where it made a fleeting appearance. To mark the occasion, Simon Armitage read The Making of Flying Scotsman whilst dancers from the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society performed The Flying Scotsman, devised by Hugh Thurston in 1966. The event was rounded off with a performance from Celtic rock band, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. Also announced are a series of new Scottish events, including two main line excursions and a heritage railway visit.

Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, Flying Scotsman was the first locomotive of the newly formed LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) and originally numbered 1472. It was given its name in 1924 after the daily 10.00 London King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley rail service. The locomotive went on to operate in service until 1963 and later in preservation, which included tours of the USA, Canada and Australia, where it captured the hearts of millions. In 2004, a campaign spearheaded by the National Railway Museum to save the locomotive for the nation amassed the support of thousands, confirming its status as a national treasure. The appeal to keep the steam icon in Britain was supported by a £1.8 million grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the generosity of the public. Its restoration was also completed with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £275,000.

The most famous steam locomotive in the world

Engineers from Riley & Son prepare Flying Scotsman. Photo: Steve Morgan/Science Museum Group.

Those unable to see the locomotive on its centenary tour have the opportunity to experience Flying Scotsman through exhibitions including Flying Scotsman: 100 Years, 100 Voices, Flying Scotsman VR and with collectible memorabilia available from the Science Museum shop. Highlights include a Flying Scotsman centenary train set, a £2 coin from The Royal Mint, featuring Flying Scotsman in vivid colour—a rarity on £2 coins, with the last coloured £2 coin released over 20 years ago and a new children’s book by bestselling author Michael Morpurgo: Flying Scotsman and the Best Birthday Ever, which tells the story of a little girl called Iris who dreams of being a train driver when she grows up.

Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum, said: “Edinburgh Waverley is a fitting location to mark the centenary of the world’s most famous express passenger locomotive. It was here that Flying Scotsman completed its record-breaking, non-stop journey between London and Edinburgh in 1928 and Edinburgh is also the birthplace of Sir Nigel Gresley, Flying Scotsman’s designer. Today, Flying Scotsman is an undoubted star of the National Railway Museum’s collection and is recognised around the world as a triumph of British ingenuity and engineering. Flying Scotsman will now spend the rest of the year travelling across the country to give people the chance to see the engine for themselves and to take part in this special anniversary, from free static displays to rail tours to the Centenary Festival at Locomotion.”

Alex Hynes, Managing Director of Scotland’s Railway, continued: “Edinburgh Waverley was honoured to host a visit from Flying Scotsman on such a special occasion and our team has pulled out all the stops for this special occasion. The most famous steam locomotive in the world always draws a crowd. Visitors to Princes Street Gardens, just across the road from Waverley, will see a familiar Flying Scotsman theme when the world’s oldest Floral Clock blooms later this year too. Make sure to pop in to see it while on your way to the station.”

Flying Scotsman was built in Doncaster in February 1923, as an A1 class locomotive for the newly formed LNER and converted to an A3 class in 1947.  It was the first locomotive of the newly formed LNER (London and North Eastern Railway). Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and numbered 1472, the locomotive was not named Flying Scotsman until the following year when it was picked to attend the British Empire Exhibition in London and renumbered 4472. Today the locomotive is owned by the National Railway Museum in York and is operated and maintained by Riley & Son (E) Ltd, based in Heywood, Greater Manchester.

To find out more about Flying Scotsman and to hear more about centenary plans as they are announced, visit

Main photo: Flying Scotsman at Kings Cross Station, London. Photo: Olgun Kordal/Science Museum Group.

Roddy MacLeod MBE to perform at the 118th Maclean Highland Gathering

The Maclean Highland Gathering have been able to secure the services of world-renowned piper, Roddy MacLeod MBE as our International Guest Piper for the 118th Maclean Highland Gathering on Easter Weekend Friday 7 and Saturday 8 April 2023. Chief Peter Smith of the Lower Clarence Scottish Association said, “We are excited to have a piper of such high standing join us for our event. The Lower Clarence Scottish Association is dedicated to preserving and promoting the Scottish culture. Roddy MacLeod is considered one of the most accomplished pipers of his generation and it’s great that we can give our local community and the wider piping community, the opportunity to hear someone of this calibre play and to also adjudicate at our solo and pipe band competitions”.

Highly regarded teacher, recitalist and adjudicator

Roddy MacLeod MBE, Glasgow, Scotland is a highly regarded teacher, recitalist and adjudicator. Uniquely, he is a Grade 1 Championship winning Pipe Major and a five-time Glenfiddich World Solo Piping Champion and in 2012 he was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Awards Hall of Fame. He has won the Glenfiddich Piping Championship five times, winning the MSR three times and the piobaireachd event a record ten times, the Silver Chanter seven times, the Northern Meeting Clasp on two occasions, Bi-centenary medal (1988) and Former Winners MSR, the Senior Piobaireachd at the Argyllshire Gathering twice and the Former Winner MSR twice. At the Scottish Piping Society of London Championship, he has won the Bratach Gorm eight times, the Gillies Cup Open Piobaireachd nine times, the Former Winners London Medallion MSR five times and the Overall Championship eight times. He continues to be a dynamic and exceptionally successful competitor. He is internationally esteemed as a teacher, adjudicator and recitalist and, for more than 20 years, his warm, strong sounding 100 year-old Lawrie pipes have given immense pleasure to audiences around the world.

In addition to his solo piping, he developed his interest in pipe bands from a young age and played with the Red Hackle and British Caledonian Airways Pipe Bands, the last of which became the Scottish Power Pipe Band. In 1995, Roddy MacLeod became its Pipe Major and, over the next decade, led it to over 45 Grade 1 Championship prizes including the Cowal Championships and All Ireland Championships. Roddy will perform a recital on Saturday 8th April at the Maclean Civic Hall from 8.00 pm. Entry is free.

For more information on the Maclean Highland Gathering see:

New York City to showcase first ever Gaelic song contest with Tartan Week Mòd

A NYC Tartan Week Mòd will take place for the first time this spring as NYC Tartan Week, the largest annual Scottish cultural gathering in NYC, hosts its first ever Scottish Gaelic song contest in celebration of NYC Tartan Week’s 25th anniversary of National Tartan Day. The two-day event will be held in association with An Comunn Gàidhealach, who are responsible for the annual Royal National Mòd, and hosted by Mòd Gold Medallist and BBC Alba’s SpeakGaelic presenter, Joy Dunlop. It marks the first time a Mòd has taken place in New York City.

A beautiful way to celebrate our community and our history

Singers from across North America, Scotland, and beyond are being invited to compete in the historic event which will take place at The Tailor Public House on Thursday 13th April. The competition will see singers ages 16+ perform one of six prescribed Gaelic songs, or their own selected Gaelic song, before a panel of judges. The winner will be crowned NYC Tartan Week Mòd Champion 2023 with a cash prize sponsored by the New York Caledonian Club, and the winner will be invited to perform at the New York Caledonian Club NYC Tartan Week Pre-Parade Ceilidh. Wednesday 12th April will see the event kick off with a series of workshops in Gaelic language and culture including song, instrumental music, step dancing, and ceilidh dancing. The festivities will be captured by Mac TV for a documentary that will be aired later this year. It will follow Joy as she travels across the Atlantic to share the spirit, excitement and camaraderie of the Mòd and speak to Americans with ties to Scotland about the importance of celebrating the Gaelic language and their heritage.

Joy Dunlop.

The Royal National Mòd, which takes place annually in different Scottish locations each October, is the highlight of the Gaelic community calendar and the annual festival is the largest gathering of Scottish Gaelic song, music, and culture in the world. Choirs, groups, quartets, duets, soloists, thespians, and musicians compete at this week-long gathering, with winners of its singing and musical competitions going on to delight audiences around the world. Joy Dunlop said: “The tradition of the Mòd is one we’ve enjoyed in Scotland for over 100 years, and we are so proud to bring this event to NYC for the first time. It’s a beautiful way to celebrate our community and our history and keep this important part of our culture thriving on both sides of the Atlantic.”

A gathering of people

James Graham, Chief Executive Officer of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “The Royal National Mòd is the biggest celebration of Gaelic language so it felt only fitting that we partnered up with North America’s largest annual Scottish cultural gathering. It’s wonderful to see NYC Tartan Week bring its own mòd to life across the Atlantic for what will be a fantastic opportunity for Gaelic speakers across the pond to take part in a Gaelic singing competition. This pilot project has so much potential, and we look forward to continue growing this friendship in years to come.”

The Royal National Mòd is organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach (The Highland Association) which was founded in Oban in 1891 and had HM The Queen as its Patron.  The Gaelic word “mòd” means “a gathering of people” and this festival was first held in Oban in 1892, and it has grown to become Scotland’s premier Gaelic festival famous for celebrating our Gaelic linguistic and cultural heritage.  Following Royal assent and now known as The Royal National Mòd, it provides opportunities for people of all ages to perform across a range of competitive disciplines including Gaelic music and song, highland dancing, instrumental, drama, sport and literature.

To find out more, visit This year’s Royal National Mòd will take place in Paisley from 13th-21st October 2023. Entries are open now at

Ellis Island Exhibition to Trace the History of Tartan Day

The 22nd annual Tartan Day on Ellis Island program will celebrate “The Story of Tartan Day” In addition to the new exhibition, Ellis Island will celebrate Tartan Day with a whole host of performers. As part of National Tartan Day, an exhibition tracing the story of Tartan Day, from its inception in Nova Scotia in 1986 to Congressional proclamations, the day recognizes Scots’ manifold contributions in science, industry, sports, politics and the fine arts throughout America’s history.

The event is produced by the Learned Kindred of Currie through their educational foundation, the Clan Currie Society. Research/writer for the exhibition is Matt Potter and design has been led by Melana Currie of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada serves as the exhibition designer. To commemorate National Tartan Day in song and dance, Ellis Island will also play host to a company of pipers, drummers, Highland Dancers, storytellers and more during Tartan Day Weekend, April 5-7. Admission is to the exhibit is free. Visitors will need to purchase ferry tickets to the island from

The largest Tartan Day celebration in the world

The Ellis Island Tartan. Photo: Scottish Register of Tartans.

Tartan Day on Ellis Island is one of the principal Scottish heritage events in the United States. Playing host to literally thousands of domestic and international visitors each day, it is the largest Tartan Day celebration in the world. Ellis Island is a fitting place to observe Tartan Day. The island and its historic buildings represent America’s “Golden Door.” From 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island. Although many Scots arrived during the colonial period of our history – helping to build the new nation – an additional half-million Scots came through Ellis Island. It has been estimated that 40% of Americans today can trace at least one ancestor’s entry into the United States through Ellis Island. Describing the annual program, noted Scottish journalist and author Roddy Martine reported that of all the Tartan Day events held in the United States, the Ellis Island observance has, “stood out as a beacon of what USA Tartan Day is all about: the emigrant ancestors of ordinary Americans who over three centuries crossed the Atlantic Ocean to create the world’s greatest democracy.”

Tartan Day on Ellis Island is produced by the Clan Currie Society – the non-profit wing of the Learned Kindred of Currie – one of the preeminent Scottish heritage organizations in the United States. The Society began their successful collaboration with the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in 2002 in the coordination and sponsorship of their first Tartan Day celebration. As part of the celebrations for Tartan Day 2011, the Clan Currie Society commissioned a specially designed Ellis Island Tartan© to mark the 10th Anniversary of Tartan Day on Ellis Island. Each color in the tartan reflects upon the American immigrant experience. The blue represents the ocean that had to be crossed to reach the American shores. The copper-green is the color of the Statue of Liberty. The red depicts the bricks of the Ellis Island buildings where 12 million Americans took their first steps towards freedom. The gold is the “golden door” that is the United States of America and the dawn of a new life in America.

Past programs have included “A Celebration of Tartan,” “Scots of New York,” “Captain Kidd and the Hangman’s Noose,” “Scots of the American West,” and “The Jacobites and America.”

Tartan Day on Ellis Island takes place at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, April 6-24, 2023, 10:00am-4:00 pm. For details see: www.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

April – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 10)

A suit designed by Liquorice Black, 2017. Image courtesy of Cheddar Gorgeous/V&A Dundee.

The Banner Says…

The Cloth of a Nation

When it comes to symbols of Scotland you cannot go past the iconic ‘cloth of a nation’, tartan. Tartan is one of the most recognisable symbols of Scotland and is definitely something which connects people to the nation’s geography, history and heritage. Like the fabric itself, tartan is woven into Scottish identity. It is something that is loved by Scots and all those that wish they were. From heritage regalia, to homewares and high end fashion it is a cloth that never has and never will go out of fashion.

According to the Scottish Register of Tartans a tartan is described as follows: ‘A tartan is a design which is capable of being woven consisting of two or more alternating coloured stripes which combine vertically and horizontally to form a repeated chequered pattern.’

Highland Dress

But just how did tartan come to be and why? Researchers and historians believe tartan, or something similar to what we know of it today, has been woven by Scots for thousands of years. The earliest recorded piece of a tartan like fabric to be found in the UK was in Falkirk, dating back to the 3rd century. This ancient piece of cloth, known as the Falkirk Tartan, was found in a pot and held silver coins. It is considered one of the earliest examples of tartan material in existence and is today housed in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Those early renditions of tartan would not have been linked to Clans or families but would have used the basic colours available found locally and it became especially popular in the Scottish Highlands. By the 16th and 17th centuries weaving wools and dyes was much more common and it became part of Highland dress. On April 16th 1746 at Culloden Moor, just outside of Inverness and in less than an hour, Bonnie Prince Charlie lost the Battle of Culloden and King George II and the Hanoverian government used the opportunity to destroy the perceived military threat of the savage Jacobite Highland clans who supported the return of the Stuart dynasty. The government’s intention was to eliminate the culturally separate identity of the Highland people, and their way of life. The Royal Dress Act of 1746, which was introduced several months after the Battle of Culloden, restricted the wearing of Highland dress. The law would not be repealed until July 1st, 1782.

In this issue

Tartan has now for over 200 years been woven into the fabric of Scottish culture and symbolism. The stunning V&A Dundee this month will launch the much-anticipated exhibition Tartan on Dundee’s renewed waterfront. For Scottish Banner readers the great news is if you happen to be travelling to Scotland this year, or into early next year, you can take in this exhibition of one of the world’s most recognisable textiles and patterns, and the first exhibition in Scotland in 30 years to focus solely on tartan.

Scotland is a great country for taking in local statues. There is always one around with a story to tell. However, we may need to remind ourselves not all statues displayed are in fact a tribute to real people. Fictional characters also get to be remembered across the country from poetry, children’s books and cartoons. Making some of these loved works and characters, adored by generations of people, quite literally set in stone.

The first time I ever flew to Scotland I landed at Glasgow Prestwick Airport. As a young child it was all so exciting to be somewhere new and coming into land over the green Ayrshire countryside. Glasgow Prestwick has a huge history with Scottish aviation and whilst the airport today is not the gateway and transatlantic hub it once was, the Scottish aviators that used Prestwick made their mark on the industry at both home and beyond.

Tartan Day

For hundreds of years people have been able to freely wear tartan across Scotland and a tartan industry has flourished (said to be worth over £350 million a year). There are now thousands of registered tartans which cover everything from personal, company, clan, milestones and more. Tartans are available in a plethora of colours and styles from kilts to carpets. I suspect many Scottish Banner readers will own some tartan and likely in their family or Clan colours. Tartan is loved by both Scots and non-Scots, making it an international timeless fashion statement.

This month across North America Tartan Day will be celebrated on April 6th (in Australia and New Zealand International Tartan Day takes place on July 1st, which marks the anniversary of the repeal of the 1746 Act of Proscription that banned the wearing of tartan). The day started in Nova Scotia, Canada by a reader of the Scottish Banner and has grown into a huge continental celebration and is recognised by governments across Canada, the US and Scotland itself. I hope those who are attending the many events taking place have a wonderful time and proudly wear their tartan as it, like Scots themselves, will never go out of style.

Do you wear or have a favourite tartan? What does tartan mean to you? 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:

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.