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

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

The Buchanan, John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan.

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

Clansfolk from around the world.

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

The world’s oldest clan society

Lucy Buchanan with the crown.

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

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

Did you know?

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

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

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

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

-Further information about the uniquely reconstructed ‘clan jewels’ are available at

Main photo: The Lady Buchanan with The Buchanan.

United States Consulate General asks public to help choose official tartan

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

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

Tartan aims to celebrate

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

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

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

The tartan poll can be accessed via the Consulate’s @USAinScotland Twitter page or by visiting

Billy Connolly art exhibition comes to Canberra and Sydney

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

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

Extraordinary self-awareness and humanity

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

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

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

Celebrating tales from Dundee and Angus

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

Unique stories, legends and hidden gems

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting history and folklore

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

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

For more information on Scotland’s Year of Stories, visit:

Armadale celebrates Celtic style

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

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

For information see:

Photos courtesy of the City of Armadale.

Scotland’s UNESCO Trail

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

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

The world’s first ever UNESCO trail

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

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

For more information, visit

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

The Clan Macpherson Museum re-opens

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

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

Reborn and reinvigorated

The Lord Lyon and Chief James Brodie Macpherson.

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

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

For further information about the Clan Macpherson Association, and the Museum contact your Branch Chairman at:, and visit

To order a copy of Ewen SL MacPherson’s highly recommended book, The Clan Macpherson: Trials, Triumphs & Treasures, contact the Museum Curator at [email protected]

Stuff The British Stole-Stoned

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Ian Hamilton (right) and his family.

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

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

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

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

New-look Tattoo to cinema audiences

Brisbane Boys’ College Pipe Band.

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

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

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

Reader Giveaway:

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

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

November – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 05)

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

The Banner Says…

A Man of Destiny

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

The Stone of Destiny

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

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

Ian Hamilton

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

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

In this issue

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

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

Myths of the stone

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

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

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

Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at:

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We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

A Hebridean Halloween

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

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

All Hallows Eve

Traditional Samhain costumes © Canna House Photographic Collection.

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

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

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

Main photo: © Canna House Photographic Collection.

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

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

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

Ground-breaking project

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

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

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

By: Ruth Schieferstein, Nikki Moran and Morvern French

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

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

A pact with the Devil

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

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

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

The Witchcraft Act in practice

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

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

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

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

A family of witches

© Robert Gordon University. 

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

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

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

Why would people confess to practising witchcraft?

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

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

Innocent until found a witch

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

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

Formal repeal of the Witchcraft Act

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

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

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

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

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

Tales of the Sma’ Glen

By: David C. Weinczok

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

The shadow of Rome

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

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

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

Two Stones, Two Stories

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

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

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

Lessons from the Sma’ Glen

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

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

Brisbane Boys’ College Pipe Band representing Australia in Scotland

By: Shona Woodruff

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

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


Band warm-up at the Castle ramparts.

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

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

Involvement in key championships

Practice at the Castle Esplanade.

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

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

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

A great sense of pride

Princess Anne chatting to members of the band.

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

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

‘And it’s a game of sweet surrender

When there’s nothing left to say

And there are moments to remember

Once these days are long away’

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

Nessie hunting 365 days a year thanks to new webcams

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

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

A stunning view of Loch Ness every day

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

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

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


•Highland cows

•Birds such as golden eagles, osprey and ptarmigan


•Different types of trees such as birch and cherry trees

•Northern Lights

•Cruise boats, kayaks, canal boats

To discover Loch Ness and Inverness for yourself, visit:

Scottish paper £20 and £50 notes withdrawn from circulation

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

Polymer notes

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

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

The Hebridean Baker

The Scottish Banner speaks to Coinneach MacLeod, The Hebridean Baker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the new book Hebridean Baker: My Scottish Island Kitchen

Shortbread Dips – makes a dozen

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

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


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

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

All images courtesy of Susie Lowe.

20th Scottish North American Community Conference

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

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

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

Celebrating our Scottishness

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

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

•Discussion of the World of Clan and Family Societies and

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

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

Panel discussions will include discussions on

•Highland Games – New Directions

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

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

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

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

Currie-“30 for 30” Anniversary Campaign

By: Robert Currie

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

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

30 incredible years

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

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

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

For more information about our history, society and our past three decades of accomplishments, please visit us at, or find us on social media, and to donate see:

Representing Canada at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

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

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

International performances

Drum corps.

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

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

Piper Ethan Caverly.

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

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

Unforgettable life-long experience

Bonding at the castle.

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

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

Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, greeting the band.

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

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

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

A King’s welcome found at museum

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

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

The George IV rosette

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

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

Visit of George IV

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

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

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

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

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

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

The very best Gaelic talent

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

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

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

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

A huge celebration of Gaelic language and culture

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

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

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

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

New digital archive protecting legacy of piping in Scotland goes live

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

The legacy of the piping in Scotland

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

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

Great value to the international piping community

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

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

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

Edinburgh reflects on momentous few days on world stage

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

Historic procession

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

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

Remembering Queen Elizabeth II and her love for Scotland

By: Nick Drainey

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

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

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

Elizabeth II spent a lot of time in Scotland

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

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

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

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

Her love for Scotland

Balmoral Castle.

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

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

The Queen in 2015. Photo:, via Wikimedia Commons.

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

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

King Charles

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

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

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

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

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

The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland celebrates 20 years

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

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

Represents Scotland at performances both at home and abroad

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

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

2022 Montréal Highland Games

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

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

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

Joie de vivre found in Montréal

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

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

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

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

Photos courtesy of Peter Matulina.

The Highland Gathering and Perth Kilt Run is back for 2022

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

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

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

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

Scottish delights

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

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

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

Further details are available at:

The real Bonnie Prince Charlie

By: Nick Drainey

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

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

That most pivotal character in Scottish history

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

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

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

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

The West Highland Museum.

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

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

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

Extraordinary family

Clementina by William Mosman

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

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

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

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

The Canberra Highland Gathering


After a two-year interval, the Canberra College of Piping & Drumming is delighted to once again be hosting our annual Canberra Highland Gathering.  The Gathering is to be held at the usual venue, Kambah Oval No. 3 in Kett St Kambah on Saturday 8 October. The oval is directly opposite the Canberra Burns Club.  The Gathering will start at 10am, opening massed bands at 10.30am, and then the closing massed bands and prize giving will commence at 4.30pm. 

In the evening the very popular Ceilidh Night will commence in the Canberra Burns Club at 7.30pm.  Entry to both the Gathering and the Ceilidh is free of charge. The Gathering will feature the usual variety of entertainment with heavy athletics, Highland dancing and pipe bands performing throughout the day. This year for the first time the Gathering will also feature 15–20-minute performances throughout the day by non-competition pipe bands.

So, in one area of the field there will be the usual ACT Pipe Band Championship, whilst in another area the non-competition bands will entertain us with their own selection of music. In addition to the performance entertainment, the Gathering will also feature a multitude of Scottish food and craft stalls, Clan tents, and a range of other food and market stalls. A day not to be missed!

The Canberra Highland Gathering takes place on October 8th and is presented by the the Canberra College of Piping and Drumming. For more details see:

82-year-old becomes Munro Bagger

An 82-year-old Scot has just completed a challenge he set for himself to climb all of Scotland’s 282 Munros (mountains 3,000 feet/914m or higher). The former teacher from Gairloch in the Highlands made the pledge when his wife had to go into care and took on the challenge as a way of coping with his wife’s condition.

Mr Gardner said ahead of his first climb: “My wife, Janet has Alzheimer’s Disease and Osteoporosis, and I would like to do something to benefit sufferers and carers everywhere. I was 80 in April 2020 and my challenge is to raise £50,000 for Alzheimer Scotland and the Royal Osteoporosis Society by climbing all 282 Munros in 1200 days.”

Gardner in fact completed the task hundreds of days ahead of schedule and walked over 3,200 kms or 2,000 miles and is now thought to be one of the oldest ‘Munro Baggers’, those who conquer Scotland’s Munros,  in history. One of his daughters has nominated him to Guinness World Records for the oldest person to climb all of Scotland’s Munros.

Gardner has so far raised over £80,000 for his causes and to donate see:

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

October – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 04)

Coinneach MacLeod, The Hebridean Baker and his Westie Seòras. Photo: Susie Lowe.

The Banner Says…

Celebrating 200 years of Scotland’s inland waterways

Today in our modern world of motorways, rail corridors and airports it is hard to even comprehend just how important the inland waterways were to Scotland during the Industrial Revolution.

This year Scotland is celebrating the 200th anniversary of two incredible canal waterways, both that of the Caledonian Canal (which celebrates 200 years this month) and the Union Canal.  Each of these waterways have played an important role in Scotland’s engineering and transport history.

The Caledonian Canal

The 60-mile/97 km Caledonian Canal, Scotland’s longest inland waterway, connects the Highland capital of Inverness with Fort William and opened on October 30th, 1822. To build this amazing feat of engineering Scotland’s first ever steam dredger was used, it was purpose built for the incredibly difficult terrain of the Scottish Highlands. The project was engineered by the famous Scottish civil engineer Thomas Telford. The incredible project which at the time had many sceptics cost £900,000, £425,000 over budget, and provided much needed work for thousands of locals during construction. This amount was a huge sum for those times and work began in 1804 and finished 12 years past schedule
in 1822.

The Caledonian Canal was created to assist ships safely getting to the north of Scotland and also from the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea without having to navigate the perilous Pentland Firth, a strait between the Orkney Islands and Caithness. Thus, creating a route for goods to travel fairly quickly from Fort William in the west to Inverness in the east, which goes through the great Lochs of Oich, Lochy, and Scotland’s most famous, Ness.

The Union Canal

Also opening in 1822 was the Union Canal, which runs from Falkirk to Edinburgh. The Union Canal took less time to develop at only four years and links with the key transport route the Forth & Clyde Canal and linking to Glasgow and much of central Scotland. This would have been the way to travel from Edinburgh to Glasgow for both freight and passengers.

The canal also played its role in the development of both Edinburgh and Glasgow. As Edinburgh created its very fashionable New Town it required fuel and items for building and the canal provided a link to Glasgow for supplies. The Scottish capital also sent horse manure off the manicured streets of Edinburgh, this was a time when horse and cart were the form of transport and sent to the central belt to be used as fertiliser on Scottish farms. The canal also greatly contributed to Glasgow’s huge role as a key city in Britain’s Industrial Revolution.

It was however the rise of rail travel for both people and goods that saw the decline of the canals by the 1840s and eventually an end to commercial traffic by the 1930s as the new era of rail took over.

The Falkirk Wheel

In Scotland today the canal waterways are still in use, however they are for pleasure boating and walkers and cyclists along the banks. Those waterways still weave through some spectacular Scottish landscape and are a unique way to see Scotland at a slower pace. In 2001, as part of the Millennium Link Project, the Forth & Clyde Canal was reopened as part of the £83.4m project, which became one of the largest canal restoration projects ever to take place in Britain.

This also led to one of Scotland’s most unique modern engineering feats, the Falkirk Wheel. Opening in 2022 the Falkirk Wheel connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal by lifting boats 115 feet and is the only rotating boat lift in the world. The Falkirk Wheel replaced the 11 lock gates used to connect the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal, as after the 1930s they were filled in with land built upon them, allowing Glasgow and Edinburgh to again be linked by canals. Today the Falkirk Wheel is one of Scotland’s top attractions and while it may not be connecting freight and passengers, like the canals once did, it has become a vital part of the waterway system and celebrates Scotland’s rich heritage.

In this issue 

We are delighted to have in this issue Coinneach MacLeod, or as many may know him as, The Hebridean Baker. Coinneach is passionate about Scotland, food and of course the Hebrides and shares that passion with millions of people around the world through his social media and cookbooks.

Lying in the heart of Perthshire is the very scenic Sma’ Glen, a relatively small part of Scotland but one that has a rich history. This picturesque location, found just outside of Crieff, holds many stories within its land from traces of a Roman fort, to the alleged grave of the Gaelic bard Ossian. For those who enjoyed the classic film Chariots of Fire, Sma’ Glen was also used as a filming location.

Queen Elizabeth II
As we go to press the UK is in a period of national mourning over the death of The Queen, who died at 96 in Scotland at Balmoral Castle, in Aberdeenshire. Queen Elizabeth loved the Highland estate which was purchased by the Royal Family in 1852 under Queen Victoria’s reign. Queen Elizabeth had not only a love for Scotland but also the pipe band movement worldwide. The Piper to the Sovereign, or Queen’s Piper, was a role created in 1843 and Queen Elizabeth had a piper with her throughout her life.

This issue features the great connection that Queen Elizabeth, the longest reigning monarch in British history, had to Scotland after her incredible seven-decade reign. It was only last year at the opening of Scottish Parliament The Queen said: “I have spoken before of my deep and abiding affection for this wonderful country. It is often said that it is the people that make a place and there are few places where this is truer than in Scotland.”

Have you been on any of Scotland’s canals or visited the Falkirk Wheel? 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.

Outlander prequel to go into production

US network STARZ has announced it is in development on the highly-anticipated prequel to its worldwide hit series Outlander that will be titled Outlander: Blood of My Blood. The writers’ room is underway on the prequel drama that will follow the love story of Jamie Fraser’s parents, Ellen MacKenzie and Brian Fraser. The series will be available across its international footprint on STARZ in Canada and STARZPLAY in Europe, Latin America and Brazil. Details if Foxtel in Australia or Neon/Skygo in New Zealand will pick up the release has yet to be finalised.

Outlander spans the genres of romance, science-fiction, history and adventure in one epic tale. It follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945, who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743 Scotland. When forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous young Scottish warrior, Claire’s heart is torn between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Worldwide success

Outlander is a riveting show that from season to season has captured the hearts of its fans around the world,” said Kathryn Busby, President, Original Programming at STARZ. “We are excited to peel back the layers of this vibrant world to bring our audience the origin of where it all began. Matthew, Maril and Ronald will continue to bring their excellent vision and creativity to this new iteration, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Matthew B. Roberts is writing Outlander: Blood of My Blood and will serve as showrunner and executive producer. He is also the showrunner and executive producer for Outlander which is currently in production on its seventh season. In addition to Roberts, Maril Davis will also executive produce the prequel along with Ronald D. Moore, who developed Outlander for television, with Outlander author Diana Gabaldon serving as a consulting producer.

The Outlander television series is inspired by Gabaldon’s international bestselling books, which have sold an estimated 50 million copies worldwide, with all nine of the books gracing the New York Times best-seller list. The Outlander television series has become a worldwide success with audiences, spanning the genres of history, science fiction, romance and adventure in one amazing tale.

ScotsFest to open Lyon College’s 150th anniversary celebration

Lyon College will kick off the celebration of its 150th anniversary with ScotsFest, the 42nd Arkansas Scottish Festival and Lyon College Homecoming, from Oct. 14 to Oct. 16 on the Batesville, Arkansas, campus. General admission to the festival is free, though some individual and alumni events require a registration fee. The Arkansas Scottish Festival began in 1979 as a small fair on the campus’ intramural field as a way to pay homage to the Scottish heritage of the college’s Presbyterian founders. It has grown into one of the premier festivals in Arkansas and one of the most prominent festivals in the United States for honoring Scottish heritage and traditions. This is the second year the festival will be combined with the Lyon College Homecoming.

Presented by Lyon College and lead partners White River Health and Experience Independence, ScotsFest will feature a variety of activities in celebration of Lyon College’s sesquicentennial, including special musical performances, alumni and friends gatherings, Highland dancing, sheepdog demonstrations, a dog show, children’s activities, a bonniest knees contest, and a feast and ceilidh.  “While every ScotsFest is a great festival, this year represents something special in the life of our community: an opportunity to come together, alumni and friends alike, from every corner of Arkansas and from across the country to celebrate 150 years of history and tradition at Lyon College,” said Dr. David Hutchison, Vice President for Advancement.

“The whole weekend is really a huge kick-off for 10 straight days of special events and activities that showcase our unique story as a pioneer college in the foothills of the Ozarks, our journey to a national liberal arts college today, and looking forward to what great things are in store not just for Lyon College, but for Arkansas.” Cindy Barber, Executive Director of Alumni Engagement, said, “There’s always an air of excitement on campus during ScotsFest, and we love seeing so many alumni and friends come home to Lyon. This year, you do not want to miss it.  We look forward to celebrating our Scottish heritage, homecoming, the sesquicentennial, and Lyon’s exciting future together with you.”

Something for everyone

John 3:16 Ministries provides outstanding support in helping to set up and take down the festival. ScotsFest begins Friday, Oct. 14, with open classes, a president’s reception, alumni awards celebration and social, and the Kilted Mile race/walk at 12th and Main Street in downtown Batesville at 6 p.m. Registration for the race/walk is available at “This year we will have several pipe bands from around the region and great opening ceremonies with all the favorites: Amazing Grace, Scotland the Brave and others,” said Jimmy Bell, Director of the Scottish Heritage Program. “Come see or enter yourself in the heavy athletics. You’ll have an opportunity to throw stones and weights for distance or height and throw some telephone poles.” Festival gates open at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, with a nod to history and re-enactments by MacLachlan’s Jacobite Highlanders and Colonel Munro’s 37th Regiment of Foot, followed by a Highland athletics competition, rocket demonstrations, pipe band exhibitions, Highland dancing, softball alumni game, Black Student Association reunion, homecoming tailgate, a British car show, Li’l Highlanders Fun Zone, Highland dancing, baseball alumni game and a Lyon volleyball game.

There will be a band and clan march-past followed by opening ceremonies at 12 p.m. with a mass pipe band concert in the Couch Garden. Afternoon activities include a dog show, homecoming pep rally and homecoming football game. A feast and ceilidh begin at 6 p.m., followed by a young alumni social.

“There is nothing more exciting than the colorful parade of clans, unless it’s the soul-stirring soundtrack provided by the pipe bands as the clans march past,” said Kenton Adler, Director of Advancement for Scottish Heritage. “And when the massed bands play together, it really can’t be beat.”

Sunday’s line-up includes a Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan worship service at 10 a.m. in the entertainment tent with tea and scones provided, as well as sheepdog demonstrations, Highland dancing and a bonniest knees contest. A Club 50 celebration for those who have been alumni for over 50 years is set for noon in the Maxfield Room of Edwards Common, with the class of 1972’s induction into Club 50. The festival closes at 2 p.m. “Lyon College welcomes everyone to come to this momentous occasion. ScotsFest is always one of the most, if not the most, diverse and entertaining events in Independence County. There is something for everyone of all ages. Forty-two years of practice made perfect,” said Pam Palermo, Director of Institutional Events. In conjunction with the sesquicentennial, Founders’ Week celebrations will continue with daily activities the following week and will culminate Oct. 22 with the inauguration of Dr. Melissa Taverner, Lyon College President. “Our 150th birthday is going to be a bash. We have a week full of events that will end with our 19th Presidential Inauguration and Sesquicentennial Black-Tie Gala,” Palermo said.

The full schedule of events at ScotsFest events planned for this year can be seen at:

Argyll adventure for Clans Campbell and Lamont

By: Rob Wilkinson

They came, they saw …and luckily they didn’t conquer anything or indeed each other!  Members of the Clan Campbell and Clan Lamont recently paid a visit to one of Scotland’s most historic churches but thankfully, given the gruesome and grisly history of rivalry between the two clans, not at the same time! Historic Kilmun, formerly St Munns Church on the bonny banks of Holy Loch, includes the Argyll Mausoleum which is the resting place for countless Clan Campbell chiefs, prominent Lamonts and Dukes of Argyll dating back hundreds of years. The venue has played a key role in Scottish history and is now owned by the community.

Clan Campbell USA members Twila Goodrick (California), Holly Chadwick (Las Vegas), Chase Campbell and Kevin Campbell (California).

Sited on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll just an hour or so from Glasgow, Historic Kilmun was one of the key destinations for recent visits from the North American Clan Campbell Association and Clan Lamont Society. In early July 2022 over 40 members of Clan Campbell, hailing from all over the USA and Canada, were shown around Historic Kilmun by tour guides in three groups after being piped into the venue by Dunoon-based bagpiper Duncan MacLeod. “It was a fantastic experience to visit a place that covers so much Scottish history,” exclaimed Cari Campbell from Bakersfield, California “and all of the tour group enjoyed every moment in a venue that’s played a big part in the heritage of the Campbells. Some of those in our party had visited Scotland before but for many it was their first trip here and, no doubt, the first of many! Destinations like Historic Kilmun help us to embrace our Scottish roots.” The party then headed on to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Nairn before concluding their trip at the Inveraray Highland Games.

Two clans that effectively dominate the history of Argyll

Past president of the Clan Lamont Society Mr John Lamont-Black and his wife Dr Simone Lamont-Black. Photo: Janice Hampson.

Just three weeks later around 60 members of the Clan Lamont Society from right across the globe descended on Historic Kilmun for tours and talks that covered their close ties to the area and, of course, their longstanding rivalry with the Campbells. Welcomed to the church museum venue by piper Catherine Paton of Strachur, the party included Lamonts from Europe, Australia, the US as well as from across Scotland and England. The Kirkin o the Tartan service was led by the Rev Tom Elsby and was followed with a stirring rendition of Scots Wha Hae on the water organ by renowned organist Philip Norris. Historic Kilmun’s Dinah McDonald welcomed the group to the church and spoke about the historic rivalries between the Campbells and Lamonts. Bob Reid, who has researched the history of the Lamont Clan, also gave a brief historical presentation of the Lamont’s close ties to Cowal. The tour party was then shown around by the enthusiastic guides and sat in the sun to eat soup, sandwiches and a wide selection of home-made cakes.

Historic Kilmun.

The immediate past president of the Clan Lamont Society John Lamont-Black commented: “Our heartfelt thanks from the Clan Lamont Society for the informative visit to Kilmun. Thank you for the time and enthusiasm shown by your group in sharing with us Historic Kilmun and the Campbell mausoleum. You gave us a vivid insight into the complex history of the two clans in Cowal”. Dinah MacDonald of Historic Kilmun exclaimed: “It was fantastic to welcome representatives of two clans that effectively dominate the history of Argyll and define this spectacular part of the world. We hope all went away with happy memories!”

Whilst the Lamonts and the Campbells might look back on bitter and violent feuds, it’s clear that contemporary generations are far more interested in learning from the past with Historic Kilmun providing a lesson or two!

Historic Kilmun is located in the village of Kilmun, Argyll, Scotland on the shores of the Holy Loch. For details see:

The Glengarry Highland Games make a triumphant return

The Glengarry Highland Games 73rd edition was in one word, “fabulous”. The Games Directors and Committee members wore huge smiles as the thousands of people made their return to the Games on July 29 and 30.The Games were back and in a big way with special memories made everywhere from families reconnecting after two years, to young highland dancers competing for the first time under the anxious eyes of parents, to athletes competing at the top of their form along with first time visitors in awe of the sights and sounds of the Games. The crowds sold out the souvenir booth by noon on Saturday as everyone rushed to don the famous Games t-shirt. Kilt sellers were doing a booming business while food vendors had line-ups throughout the day.

The competition and music venues were filled with enthusiastic audiences and the mounds surrounding the infield were jammed with people spread out watching the many events displayed before them. The numbers aren’t in for attendance yet, but the informal measure of how much parking was left indicates that Saturday was a near record crowd. The North American Pipe Band Championship™ was claimed by the 78th Fraser Highlanders of Toronto defeating the 78th  Highlanders (Halifax Citadel). Winners of the different competitions have been posted on our Games website where fans can check out how well their favourites did.

A well-deserved award

Rob Young (left), a heavy event professional from Alberta, congratulates, CSAF Director Rod MacLeod (centre) on his induction into the Canadian Scottish Athletic Federation Hall of Fame along with Tammy McSweyn (right), Director of Heavy Events at the Games.

There was a special event on Saturday afternoon on the infield before the Challenge Caber when a surprised Rod MacLeod, past Director of Heavy Events at the Games, was inducted into the Canadian Scottish Athletic Federation’s Hall of Fame. Rod has been an integral part of the Games and the heavy events community for over fifty years. According to Rod, it all started as a lark. At the end of the caber toss in the early Games, local fellows were invited to come onto the field and try their hand at tossing the caber. Rod and a friend took up the challenge and as Rod says, “The rest is history.” Rod soon became a strong competitor including a World Championship in the caber toss in 1973. In the 80s, Rod, along with other keen heavy event competitors joined up to form the famous club, the Cabers of Glengarry, who trained together and competed very successfully in heavy events across America.

The Club’s success led to a reputation for winning by the athletes from Glengarry. The Club was inducted into the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. Rod has now retired as Director of Heavy Events, but he is still very much involved as a co-chair of the events and can be found at every Games right in the thick of things. He also hasn’t lost his touch with the caber. When CTV was taping segments for their AM show, Rod demonstrated that he could still toss a 12 o’clock with the caber, not once, but three times. The Games are proud and thrilled that Rod has received this prestigious award. As they say, it couldn’t happen to a more deserving person. Rod is synonymous with heavy events at the Games and obviously with his induction into the Hall of Fame this feeling is widely shared. Congratulations, Rod, well done!

The North American Pipe Band Championship™ 2022

Massed bands at Glengarry Highland Games.

Grade 1

1 78th Fraser Highlanders

2 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel)

Grade 2

1 Peel Regional Police

2 MacMillan

3 Toronto Police

4 St. Andrew’s College Association

5 Ottawa Police Service

6 Rocky Mountain

Grade 3

1 Ottawa Highlanders

2 Guelph

3 MacMillan Birtles

4 Glengarry

Grade 4

1 Niagara Regional Police

2 Durham Regional Police

3 Mohawk Valley Frasers

4 Rob Roy

5 London & District

6 Kingston Police

Grade 5

1 Peel Regional Police

2 Ryan Russell Memorial

3 Durham Regional Police

4 Ottawa Caledonian

5 Smiths Falls Gordon

6 Pelham Regional

For more information and full result details see:

Discovery sheds new light on the Battle of Culloden

It’s one of the most iconic battles in Scotland’s history, and one which holds a particularly poignant place in national consciousness. Now, over 275 years later, the Battle of Culloden is still revealing its secrets.  Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has uncovered new evidence for the location of Culloden Parks, the designed landscape around Culloden House, which was an important element of the battlefield landscape of Culloden in 1746 thought to have been lost.

Culloden House played a key role in the conflict as a headquarters for Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite commanders in the days leading up to the battle.  The investigation by HES has not only discovered new evidence which shows that Culloden Parks was situated further to the west of the traditional battlefield site than previously thought, but also that a significant amount of the boundary walls of the Parks survive.

The final battle fought on the British mainland

John Finlayson’s map of the battle of Culloden and surrounding landscape. The Culloden Parks can be seen just to the north of the Jacobite army. (Maps reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)).

This finding has a significant bearing on current understanding of the battlefield landscape and the battle itself. The Jacobites used the southern end of Culloden Parks as their left flank when they deployed for the battle, meaning the Jacobite left flank must also have occupied a more westerly position than was previously believed. Culloden is one of the most important battles in the history of the British Isles. It was the final battle fought on the British mainland and a total and bloody defeat for the Jacobites, ending more than half a century of Jacobite conflict. The battlefield itself is one of the most visited tourist sites in the Highlands, and the site holds a particularly high significance and emotional connection to many within Scotland and to the ancestors of the Scottish diaspora.

In the 275 years since the battle, the landscape of Culloden has been significantly altered through agriculture, development, and changes in land use. Many elements of the landscape that were recorded in the 1740s were believed to have been lost to these changes, including Culloden Parks. While a number of elements have been identified or confirmed through historical and archaeological research over the last few decades, much of the battlefield has remained unclear. 

One of the most documented and studied conflicts in Scotland’s history

The surviving boundary wall of Culloden Parks.

The discovery of the location of Culloden Parks in the modern landscape was made by cross-referencing contemporary 18th century maps alongside much more precisely detailed modern mapping. HES also used modern technology in the form of airborne laser scanning, known as LIDAR, which records the landscape in 3D. This data can show subtle landscape features more prominently than is often seen on the ground, and in this case was able to show that the original channel of the Red Burn, another feature of the battlefield landscape, is also located further west than the currently understood positions of the armies would suggest. Finally, a field assessment was carried out to trace the physical evidence of the surviving walls on the ground.

Kevin Munro, Senior Designations Officer at HES who conducted the research, said: “The Battle of Culloden is one of the most documented and studied conflicts in Scotland’s history, so to unearth new information that will further enhance our understanding of this significant battle is very gratifying. As part of our role in maintaining the Inventory of Historic Battlefields, we routinely review and assess different sources of information that can continue to help shape our understanding of these significant pieces of Scotland’s historic environment. This clear evidence for the survival of Culloden Parks shows us that the story of the Battle of Culloden is still unfolding along with our understanding of the historic landscape. This research will further enhance our knowledge of the pivotal events that took place on 16 April 1746.”

HES will use this evidence to inform a future review of the inventory of Historic Battlefields and the record for the Battle of Culloden.

The full research report can be viewed at Archaeology Reports Online:

Main photo: Part of a historic map showing troop formations at the Battle of Culloden.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo makes a triumphant comeback

Performers from across the globe wowed audiences with sensational music, dance, costume, and spectacle as The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo made its highly anticipated return with this year’s Show, Voices. More than 900 performers graced Edinburgh Castle’s Esplanade to celebrate expression and share their creative voice, this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a celebration of expression, giving a stage to performers and acts from around the globe to share their voice. Voices drew inspiration from people across the globe who, despite physical separation, continue to connect and share their voices creatively through spoken word, song, music, and dance – languages common to all.

The Massed Pipes and Drums.

This year’s performance marked the inaugural Show from the Tattoo’s new Creative Director, Michael Braithwaite who alongside new creative production partners introduced a brand-new approach to the pre-show with street style drummers welcoming audiences onto the Esplanade. For the very first time there was staging on the Esplanade and soundscapes tying each spectacular performance together, with the Show opened with original composition and vocals from The Highland Divas.   

The Top Secret Drum Corps.

Audiences experienced stunning musical and cultural showcases from performers from Mexico, The United States, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, alongside homegrown talent from the UK at the centre of it all.  Musicians from the Army were reinforced by, the UK’s finest military musicians, the legendary musicianship of the Massed Pipes and Drums echoing across the Esplanade and the dazzling talent of the Tattoo Dancers and Tattoo Fiddlers. The Tattoo performers also gave an exhilarating performance of Shake that Bagpipe with never-before-seen at the Show, Electro Pipes, taking centre stage with a DJ and a high energy, colourful dance act. 

A celebration of the connections, cultures and languages

Banda Monument.

Buster Howes, Chief Executive of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, said: “Seeing the Castle Esplanade come alive with the colour, music, word-class talent and of course, for our audiences to once again join us, is exactly the come-back we wanted. We set out to ensure that the 2022 Tattoo was a welcome return and a celebration of the connections, cultures and languages that bring people together time after time on the Esplanade of Edinburgh’s 3,000-year-old fortress. I’m sure everyone will agree we have done just that. I’ve been blown away by the talents on display and I’m confident the audience were able to feel the electric atmosphere on the Esplanade.”

The New Zealand Army Band.

International performers this year included Tattoo favourites the New Zealand Army Band who returned with this year’s dynamic performance, marking their seventh appearance on the Castle Esplanade. Banda Monumental stormed the stage with over 100 performers bringing stunningly dramatic costume and the bright carnival atmosphere of Mexico to their show stopping performance. Swiss drumming sensation, The Top Secret Drum Corps again captivated audiences with their energetic precision drumming which has received global recognition since their first performance with the Tattoo in 2003.  While The United States Air Force Honor Guard, the official ceremonial unit of the Air Force, made their return to the Tattoo this year with its lively display of precision drill.

Playing a vital role in this year’s show were Tattoo newcomers and world-renowned performers The Highland Divas whose vocals were used throughout the show in soundscapes. Audiences were treated to a unique musical journey that showcased the best of the Divas awe inspiring voices. The United States Army Field Band also made their Tattoo debut bringing military mash-ups of traditional and contemporary hits to the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade for the very first time.  

The United States Air Force Honor Guard.

The full line up for 2022 also included: The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, British Army Band Colchester, British Army Band Sandhurst, The Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland Pipes and Drums, The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland Pipes and Drums, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland Pipes and Drums, Combined Scottish Universities Officers’ Training Corps Pipes and Drums, Royal Air Force Pipes and Drums, The Crossed Swords Pipes and Drums, Brisbane Boys College Pipes and Drums, Paris Port Dover Pipes and Drums, The Pipes and Drums of Christchurch City, and Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools Choir.

Photos: Corporal Nathan GM Tanuku, RLC
Copyright: UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022.

The Hororata Highland Games COVID come back!

Massed Bands. Photo: David Baird.

Bagpipes, kilts and whisky are set to return to the Hororata Domain this summer with the 11th Hororata Highland Games set to take place Saturday 5th November 2022. “After a year off the Clan Hororata is excited to welcome everyone back to our community as we celebrate all things Scottish, with a kiwi twist as always.

The Clan has not remained idle have spent their time dreaming up new attractions for this iconic festival,” said Hororata Community Trust’s Cindy Driscoll.  “This year we will host an international line up of heavy athletes coming from Australia, America and Europe, both men and women.  The Oceania Heavyweight Championship has not been run since 2019 due to COVD so we are really looking forward seeing the athletes battle it out for this again. In addition to our normal championships, we will also host the New Zealand Heavyweight Championship, normally held at Waipu Highland Games in January.”

A vibrant cultural festival

WInner of the Mens Heavy Championship Craig Mason. Photo: David Baird.

Hororata hosts New Zealand’s biggest one day highland dancing competition with near 100 dancers taking part. Pipe Bands will travel from all over the South Island to compete in the first competition to be held in 18 months.  The Hororata Highland Games is a community run festival with a focus on getting people off the sidelines and involved in the action. People of all ages can have a go at tossing a caber, Tug O’ War, new this year barrel rolling or for the more fleet footed the Kilted Mile and the musically minded try a tune on the bagpipes.  

Over 20 Scottish Clans gather in ‘St Andrews Square’ where people can connect with their Scottish roots, play traditional games and enjoy music from Wille MacArthur. Don’t miss the Haggis burgers and of course get your Hororata Whisky specially bottled for the day.  With over 100 stalls, 500 competitors, 230 volunteers and 10,000 visitors the Hororata Highland Games is a vibrant cultural festival with all the attractions and activities would expect as well as some unexpected!  It is recommended visitors pre-purchase their tickets to avoid missing out as sales will close when the event capacity is reached. 

For details visit: