Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

June 2024 (Vol. 47, Number 12)

The Banner Says…

A link to Dundee’s exploration past comes home

Gracing our front cover: Gracing our front cover: Dunfermline Abbey. Photo: VisitScotland.
It was 150 years ago (February 15, 1874) this year that a baby boy was born in County Kildare, Ireland. He was the second of ten children and at the age of 10 the young boy would move with his family to England. Ernest Shackleton would go on to join the merchant navy at just the age of 16 and a life of exploration and adventure was born.

Shackleton would go on to become a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of London, and in 1901 he was chosen to go on an expedition to Antarctica led by Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott. The iconic Dundee built Royal Research Ship (RRS) Discovery was made specifically for Antarctic research and launched in 1901. The wooden vessel was the UK’s first purpose-built Antarctic research ship, it was made for the ice and added to Dundee’s reputation for shipbuilding. RRS Discovery is now a popular attraction and permanently moored at Dundee’s Discovery Point alongside the incredible V&A Dundee.

The Boss

Its first venture to Antarctica carried both Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton would then be chosen by Scott to take part in a sledging trek towards the South Pole. This was still early days of Polar exploration and they had basic provisions, but they managed to get closer to the Pole than anyone before them. Sadly weather, illness and inhospitable terrain forced them back and not realise their goals. Shackleton would of course not give up on his dream to make it to the South Pole and would go on to undertake a further three expeditions to the region and during those he inherited the nickname ‘The Boss’ due to his leadership qualities.

In 1904 Shackleton moved to Scotland and became Secretary of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. Office life was not for him and left that role and turned to politics in Dundee but was unsuccessful with that. He also found employment at the Glasgow shipbuilders William Beardmore and Company. Mr Beardmore would go on to support one of Shakleton’s expeditions and have the Beardmore Glacier in Antarctica named in his honour.

Sir Ernest Shackleton

Sir Ernest Shackleton. Photo: © Dundee Heritage Trust.

Sir Ernest Shackleton, as he would become, was knighted by King Edward VII. In 1921 the Quest was the fourth and final ship to carry Shackleton to the Antarctic. On January 5th 1922 Shackleton suffered a massive heart attack and died at the age of 47. He never did make it to the South Pole, though he did get close and less than 100 miles from his target. What Shackleton did do was leave a huge legacy of exploration and human endurance. He was laid to rest in South Georgia and his grave headstone is made of Scottish granite.

In this issue

Dunfermline may be Scotland’s newest city, it was awarded city status as part of Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Civic Honours in 2022, that does not stop it from having an incredible history and with a medieval past. Some of Dunfermline’s historic sites are waiting for you to explore and is an easy day trip from Edinburgh.

Greyfriars Bobby must be Scotland’s most famous dog and likely one of the most known, and loved, dogs in history. Some fascinating new images have been released of this faithful companion and one of Edinburgh’s most visited statues and graves. The story of Bobby is just another reason why there is nothing quite like man’s best friend.

Robert McVitie was born in Scotland in 1809. He had a recipe for success with his baking business in Edinburgh. The family business would go on to be a global brand that many of us can now enjoy whether back in the UK or at home internationally with tens of millions of biscuits being sent, and enjoyed, worldwide.

The Hope Cross

As we go to press the RRS Sir David Attenborough is travelling off the Falkland Islands coast bound for the UK. The icebreaker is travelling over 7,000 miles from the southern Atlantic Ocean. On board is a special piece of cargo, the cross from Shackleton’s Hope Point memorial. The Hope Cross was constructed at Grytviken whaling station in South Georgia by crew members of the Quest as a monument to Sir Ernest Shackleton following his death. Measuring almost 3 metres/10 feet tall by 1 metre/3 feet wide and weighing approximately 30kg/65lbs the cross will soon be able to be seen by many more than the few who make it each year to South Georgia.

There can be no place more fitting for Shackleton’s Hope Point memorial to be displayed than at Dundee’s Discovery Point museum; home of the RRS Discovery, the very ship that first carried Shackleton to Antarctica in 1901. This will be the first time it has been in the UK and allow a wider audience to view this important piece of Antarctic heritage and pay its respects to a legendary Polar explorer whose stories are revered the world over. The Hope Cross is due to arrive in Dundee in August and with it a part of Shackleton’s pioneering legacy is returning to Scotland.

Have you visited RRS Discovery? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

May 2024 (Vol. 47, Number 11)

The Banner Says…

Watchers of the Monster

Gracing our front cover: A Celebration of Highland Dance in New York. Photo courtesy of Fling Together Collective.

Welcome to May where many will start to visit Scotland’s shores for the upcoming travel season. As the days get longer in Scotland and the weather improves many events start to kick off across the country. One event that is taking place this month is happening at what must be considered Scotland’s most mysterious place, Loch Ness.

For anyone who has visited the UK’s largest body of fresh water will know not only how beautiful it is but also famous. The legend of the Loch Ness Monster, or also lovingly known as Nessie, is known the world over and excites the imagination of many visitors to Scotland.

Sir Edward Mountain

This year marks the 90th anniversary of Sir Edward Mountain’s famous expedition with the ‘Watchers of the Monster’, an expedition in which 20 men with cameras and binoculars were placed around the cold dark waters of the loch for five weeks in 1934. This was the first organised surface watch of Loch Ness, and its very famous resident, with over twenty sightings recorded by Mountain’s team. Sir Edward was a business magnate and the founder of Eagle Star Insurance which became one of the largest insurance companies in the United Kingdom.

Later this month in honour of the anniversary of that expedition a search is again being planned (May 30-June 2nd) with the hopes that our advancing technology will further assist the organisers, Loch Ness Centre and Loch Ness Exploration, in finding some answers to the many questions many still have about the elusive monster.


Organisers are aware of many potential sightings and strange noises heard from the depths of Loch Ness, The Loch Ness Centre is planning an even bigger search as it continues its goal of uncovering the loch’s mysteries. Whether you are sitting by the edge of the loch looking or perhaps sitting at home across the world and viewing by webcam everyone is being invited to help look for Nessie. This includes scientists and universities, as well as pioneers of exploration NASA to provide equipment and expertise in the search. With new equipment from experts the Loch Ness Centre is hoping science can help uncover the mysteries of the loch and the unexplainable sightings since the Watchers of the Monster expedition 90 years ago.

For several decades there has been reported sightings of Nessie, with the most recent being in April 2024. Last year, one of the biggest searches of Loch Ness took place as we reported, with a hydrophone capturing loud underwater noises and several potential sightings.

Paul Nixon, General Manager of the Loch Ness Centre, said: “Last year we captured the world’s attention with one of the biggest ever searches for Nessie, with participants joining us from America, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and more. With unexplained noises heard, alongside possible sightings, this year we are determined to find out more about the elusive Loch Ness Monster. As well as asking for the help of budding monster hunters to help us on our quest, we are asking for the help of experts. We’re excited to make this search the biggest ever, as we look for new equipment to help us uncover the loch’s biggest mysteries.”

In this issue

Whilst Nessie may hide from the limelight tartan, tweed and Scottish design was proudly on show recently in Toronto for the Dressed to Kilt fashion event. This was the first time the ‘world’s most prestigious Scottish fashion show’ was presented outside the USA and celebrated both Scottish and Canadian designers. Tartan of course was the showstopper and as many readers of this publication will agree, is always in fashion.

With many celebrations taking place across North America last month for Tartan Day it was wonderful to see Highland Dance being recognised in New York City. With dancers from across the world taking part highlighting this skilled tradition of Scottish culture.

I have been fortunate to have visited Culzean Castle, the castle perched on the Ayrshire cliffside, a couple of times. Whether it has been strolling through the grounds or taking in the incredible interiors it really is something you should consider adding to your Scottish itinerary.

Water beast

The Loch Ness Centre, which was reopened last year following a renovation, is located at the old Drumnadrochit Hotel, where, 90 years ago, hotel manageress Mrs Aldie Mackay reported seeing a ‘water beast’ in Loch Ness – sparking our modern-day interest in the phenomenon.

Will the US space agency take up the offer to get involved with the search for one of this planet’s biggest mysteries? Time will tell but it does not take rocket science to know the legend of Loch Ness is bigger than any underwater monster might be and regardless of what they do or don’t discover the legend will live on.

Will you take part in the search for Nessie this month? Have you been to Loch Ness? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

April- 2024 (Vol. 47, Number 10)

The Banner Says…

Celebrating ‘The Mother of Tartan Day’

Gracing our front cover: Jonny Chainsaw amongst the Scottish woodlands. Photo: Don Beavis.

As many Scottish groups across North America get ready for Tartan Day this April 6th. I recently had the wonderful experience of speaking to an amazing person who not only championed this now continental celebration, but nurtured its birth. Jean MacKaracher Watson still lives in Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast, the place where the idea of Tartan Day was born in the 1980’s.

Celebration of Scottish culture

Today Tartan Day is an annual celebration of Scottish culture, heritage and recognises the incredible contributions Scottish immigrants have made to their new lands. Tartan Day events (big and small) across Canada and the US now take place and champion Scotland’s rich culture and the part Scottish ex-pats have had in growing new nations. Jean told me her and fellow Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia member Bill Crowell were talking about how to get more younger people to join the Federation and active in promoting Scottish culture in Nova Scotia (a province where Scots are the largest ethnic group with approximately 30% of residents being of Scottish descent). Jean said: “At that time everything was old school, and there was nothing for the young.”

A small spark can ignite a large flame

Jean saw that key Scottish dates on the calendar were events such as Burns Night or St Andrew’s Day, which all came from Scotland. Jean and Bill felt they needed their own dates to celebrate and reflect also more of the local Scottish community, so they decided to start a date for Tartan Day and a date for Scottish Canadians. They would choose April 6th, the date of the Scottish Declaration of Independence in 1320, also known as the Declaration of Arbroath, the historic letter to the Pope, asking him to recognise Scotland’s independence and Robert the Bruce as the nation’s king.

Jean would go on to work on Tartan Day all by herself for the next decade to get Tartan Day off the ground, she spent many tireless hours working to get the date recognised. Jean single handedly reached out to every provincial Legislative Assembly in Canada, as well as other Scottish-cultural societies across Canada, to help get such a date established. With the US soon following and the United States Senate declaring Tartan Day to be April 6th in 1998.

Remember Jean would have done all this before we had the internet and emails, she typed every letter and put on every stamp herself. I mentioned to Jean how incredible it is that from a small meeting in Nova Scotia in the 1980’s we now have a continental celebration recognised by state, provincial and national governments, Jean said “It’s absolutely incredible what has happened, and it really is amazing how a small spark can ignite a large flame.”

International Tartan Day

For our Australian and New Zealand readers International Tartan Day is held on July 1st. This date marks the 1782 anniversary of the repeal of the 1747 Act of Proscription that banned the wearing of tartan and the attempt to extinguish the Highland clan system. Having two Tartan Day’s around the world can certainly be confusing for many and perhaps an annual global day would create more traction, I would certainly be interested in hearing people’s opinion on this.

In this issue

From Scotland’s woodlands to the ice of an Alaskan winter Jonny Stableford, aka Jonny Chainsaw, has literally carved out a fascinating career creating sculptures in wood and ice. Jonny recently travelled from Falkirk to Alaska to take part in the World Ice Art Championships. Chainsaw carving is certainly an art, and we are happy to highlight this fascinating Scot’s work.

The Isle of Canna is the westernmost of the Small Isles archipelago, in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. This month we feature how one man traded up his life in London to open Café Canna. Gareth Cole has had to adapt to island life, good and bad, and this month opens his doors again to what has been dubbed ‘the most remote restaurant in Britain’.

The Mother of Tartan Day

This year Jean will be speaking at a Tartan Day function in Halifax, Nova Scotia and some 40 years later Jean is still promoting Tartan Day and Scottish culture. Jean has opened the door for all of us to take part and grow Tartan Day and as she told me, “There is just so much you can do with Tartan Day and that is a wonderful thing” and she is not wrong there. Jean added that it was in fact the Scottish Banner’s Valerie Cairney that gave her the very appropriate nickname ‘The Mother of Tartan Day’, a term which is often still used today.

Thank you, Jean, for all you have done over several decades, especially all those hours most will never know about that you have put in and for being so selfless and determined. Jean is
our feature letter in this issue, and you can read her comments on our Scotpourri page. Jean’s legacy to the Scottish community is clear and we are so very happy to honour that here this month.

Are you celebrating Tartan Day? What are your thoughts on two dates being used around the globe for Tartan Day?

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

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

March- 2024 (Vol. 47, Number 09)

The Banner Says…

Celebrating a Celtic mosaic

The welcoming commitee on Barra. Photo VisitScotland/Kenny Lam.

Scotland is a land of rugged landscapes, ancient castles, dramatic history and haunting bagpipe melodies and certainly has its very own unique and rich culture, but it also shares deep-rooted connections with other Celtic nations.

Celtic DNA

A letter we ran in the February edition caught my eye as our reader claimed to mostly be Scottish but also had a ‘Celtic DNA mosaic” and ‘a healthy dose of Irish, Welsh and English’ flowing through them. I am sure many of us do, and some may not be aware of how far reaching our Celtic bloodlines travel. I know our family blood is multi-generational Scottish but can also be traced back to the cathedral town of Letterkenny in north-west Ireland for example.

This month some of our Celtic family celebrate their unique, but linked, cultures. The Welsh will be celebrating the life of their patron saint, St David, and the Welsh culture on March 1st. Saint Piran’s Day is celebrated each year on 5th March in Cornwall and the Irish will be out in full force on March 17th in a sea of green celebration.

Part of tradition

Whilst there is no one ‘Celtic language’ there is an estimated two million speakers of the six Celtic languages in existence (Breton, Cornish, Irish, Manx, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh). Irish (Gaelic) speakers are by far the highest of that number, with an estimated over one million speakers. This is followed by Welsh and Breton speakers. Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) comes in fourth and is a language we highlight regularly in this publication, and the Highlands and islands remain strongholds of Gaelic culture in Scotland. Positively more than 1.5 million people have started learning Scottish Gaelic on Duolingo (a language learning app) since it launched four years ago. Finally Manx and Cornish round up the six Celtic languages still spoken today.

Storytelling is a big part of all Celtic cultures. What Celt doesn’t love to tell a tale, these parts of social history are passed down generation to generation and weave themselves into the story of the nation and part of tradition. Legends, folklore, mythology, facts and fiction all create enchanting tales of magic, heroes, and otherworldly creatures for Celts. Cornwall, Scotland and Wales all lay some claim to King Arthur for example. While the Irish, Scots and Manx all share the mythological Celtic ancestor, Cailleach, the veiled goddess of winter.

Of course, one place we all revel in storytelling is in Celtic music, the stories, humour and sense of place a melody can give is an integral part of any Celtic nations culture and melody.

In this issue

International Women’s Day takes place this month on March 8th, we are again highlighting another great Scottish female trailblazer. Pioneering Glasgow-born filmmaker Jenny Gilbertson created documentary films of a Shetland life that is no more. She also went on to make her mark on Canadian film. You can catch her work this month in Scotland or from home via a special livestream.

One of Orkney’s many historic sites is Hackness Martello Tower and Battery which was built to protect British convoys in the early 1800s. Fortunately the site never had hostile action happen, but it does offer a unique insight into what military life was like more than 200 years ago.

Dunoon Burgh Hall opened in 1874 to celebrate the conferring of Burgh status for the town and was built to provide the local community with a public hall, municipal offices, and the very first theatre in Argyll. Over the last 150 years this Category B-listed Scottish Baronial landmark has hosted numerous events and been a focus for community celebration and connection and we are fortunate to highlight yet another great Scottish historic building.

Celtic spirit

The link Scotland has with other Celtic nations, transcends borders, and is woven through a history, language, culture, and a shared sense of Celtic identity. Whether through folklore, music, landscapes, food or shared struggles, these bonds remind us that the Celtic spirit endures and we certainly all share some common ground with one another.

Scotland of course runs through the veins of most reading this, and the Scottish Banner itself, but that does not mean we don’t intertwine, celebrate, champion and appreciate the incredible Celtic cultures found across the Celtic nations. Celts travelled far and wide before borders were a thing, and perhaps many of us can link our bloodlines across Europe. Could you have more than just Scottish ancestry and your blood line links to Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Cornwall, Brittany or Galicia? Beyond that of course many may linto a variety of European and beyond ancestries.

Being a Celt is like being part of an even larger family, and that surely must be one of the great aspects of our shared Celtic spirit.

Do you have a variety of Celtic ancestry? Do you follow any Celtic traditions outside of Scottish? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

February – 2024 (Vol. 47, Number 08)

The Banner Says…

Scottish leap year traditions

Bestselling author Coinneach MacLeod, The Hebridean Baker.


This month may be the shortest one of the year, but we do get one extra day with 29 days on this leap year.

The first leap year in the modern sense in Britain was in 1752, when 11 days were ‘lost’ from the month of September with the adoption of the Gregorian calendar by Britain and the British colonies.

Marriage proposal

In Scotland, a strange custom developed on a leap year where women could ask a man for his hand in marriage. The woman was supposed to wear a red or scarlet coat on the day of the proposal. It is thought the idea originated in Ireland in the 5th century when St Brigid asked St Patrick to allow women to be able to propose to men, as some women felt they had to wait too long for a matrimony request.

The custom is believed to have been brought to Scotland by Irish monks. Whilst this may not seem strange today back in Scottish history it was actually illegal for a woman to propose, except every four years at leap year day. It was Queen Margaret of Scotland who passed a law in 1288 that any man who refuses a Leap Day proposal should be fined, with the penalty anything from £1 to a silk gown (so it might be bad luck for anyone rejecting their sweetheart on 29 February). So, no pressure for the chap that had the question popped to them!

Should you be a lady, and a traditionalist, and not have a suitable gentleman to ask for his hand in marriage this month, I am afraid your next opportunity will not be until 2028, or if you are very choosy perhaps you will need to wait to 2032 or 2036 which are also upcoming leap years.


Should a marriage proposal be excepted on February 29th Scots traditionally avoided getting married on that date as it brought bad luck to the marriage and often divorce. Scots also considered it to be unlucky to be born on a leap day. It was thought that “leapling” or a leap baby were more difficult to raise and often unwell. However according to astrologers, babies born on February 29 (Pisceans) will grow up to have unique talents, including a great deal of creativity and the ability to give sound advice.

Scottish farmers worry about their crops and livestock on a leap year. The Farmer’s Magazine of 1816 reported that in Scotland: ‘leap year never was a good sheep year’ and it is thought to bring bad luck to farmers, especially for sheep farmers.

In this issue

One person who will be glad it is a leap year to keep up with his busy schedule is Coinneach MacLeod, or as many know him as The Hebridean Baker. We are fortunate to again chat to Coinneach on his new book and love of the Hebridean food and culture. And for those in Toronto, Canada, they can actually see him on leap year day!

The Stone of Destiny, or Stone of Scone, was used for the coronation of Scottish kings for generations and is considered one of Scotland’s most ancient and historic objects. It is one which is surrounded by intrigue, controversy and division. The stone was removed from Westminster Abbey on Christmas day in 1950 by four students with several articles, books and a film about it being made. However, Tam Smith also played his role in the stones time in Scotland, and we are so happy to be sharing his story.

One of the most famous events in the recent history of the Western Isles was the wreck of the SS Politician on the 5th of February 1941. The ship was bound for the West Indies and
America and ran aground off Eriskay with thousands of bottles of whisky and became famous with the book and movie Whisky Galore.

Romantic places

Last year national tourism board VisitScotland conducted a survey of the country’s most romantic places people would most like to visit with their partner. At joint top spot was the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye (33%) with both locations filled with stunningly beautiful scenery, followed by Edinburgh (30%) which is filled with historic places and post card perfect locations.

Other contenders were the Lothians (28%) which includes East Lothian, Midlothian, and West Lothian which all blend fantastic scenery and picturesque towns. At joint fourth was Stirling and Loch Lomond & the Trossachs (26%) with the historic city of Stirling celebrating 900 years this year and the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond a favourite holiday spot for Scots for generations, and finally at joint fifth was Orkney and Shetland (23%) whose unique Viking traditions and dramatic coastlines is unparalleled.

Most Scottish Banner readers will have a strong link to Scotland and special connection to the welcoming people, rich music scene, unique culture, dramatic landscapes, historic buildings, romantic castles and its fascinating story. Perhaps you too will be looking to leap back to Scotland this leap year, just as I am, enjoy your month…

Do you follow any unique leap year traditions? Do you have a favourite romantic part of Scotland to visit? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

January – 2024 (Vol. 47, Number 07)

A Blackface sheep at the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere. Photo: GSA Biosphere.

The Banner Says…

A resolution for a good Ne’erday

It is a question we all get asked this time of the year, “what is your New Year resolution?” As we start a new year fresh with good intentions, and promise of improving ourselves, many of us certainly try and come up with some manageable improvements we would like to see for ourselves.

This global phenomenon of self reflection starts the year with the best of intentions but seems only some will follow through with the mental reset for all of 2024. I actually was not aware it was a woman with strong Scottish connections that started this unique way of wiping the slate clean and starting the year with new goals.

Though the very first known New Year’s resolutions in fact date back over 4,000 years ago to ancient Babylon. The Babylonians are said to have made a pledge to their gods during the 12-day January New Year festival called Akitu. If they fulfilled their pledge the gods would look favourably on them, their crops, animals and family.

Anne Halkett

However, it was not until 1671 that a New Year resolution was known to be written in Scotland. Anne Halkett was born in England in 1622 to parents from a prominent family of Scottish descent and would eventually herself move to Scotland in 1650. Anne was an educated woman, deeply religious, a talented writer, a mid-wife and part of Scotland’s elite. In January 1671 Anne wrote in her diary a series of religious based pledges which she titled ‘resolutions’. These were lists she made for herself to improve for the year approaching.

This personal pledge would go on to eventually evolve and become a New Year resolution for billions across the globe over hundreds of years. Anne herself would go on to live quite a life and wrote about much of 17th century Scotland and her works can be found at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. She was even involved in the dramatic rescue of James, Duke of York, who later became James II from Parliamentary captivity by disguising him as a female! Anne lived a long life, for those times, and was able to make many resolutions each New Year and died at age 76 in Dunfermline, Fife in 1699.

In this issue

Perhaps one of your New Year resolutions is to travel back to Scotland?! 2024 is looking to be quite a year for both visiting Scotland and for Scottish culture across the world. After a few terrible years for tourism and events we look ahead to 2024’s key happenings, destinations and anniversaries. I hope you get to enjoy some of Scottish culture throughout the year, regardless of if you are visiting Scotland or not.

One part of January tradition must be shortbread. January 6th is in fact National Shortbread Day and shortbread is an icon of Scottish cuisine. There will be many Burns Night celebrations taking place across the world this month (see our events page for one perhaps close to you) and no doubt shortbread will be a part of many of them. We are delighted to have Sir Jim Walker speak to the Scottish Banner this month from Walker’s Shortbread, this family business has an incredible 125 years of history-much to the delight of millions of people’s tastebuds across the world.

Another tradition which will be carried out across the world this Hogmanay and Burns Night is raising a glass to have a wee dram, or two. Whisky is another one of Scotland’s icons and this month we look at the history of Campbeltown, the small town on the Mull of Kintyre peninsula. Campbeltown is a major part of Scotland’s whisky history and has even been referred to as ‘Spiritsville’, ‘Whiskyopolis’ and even the quite prestigious title of ‘The Whisky Capital of the World.’ Though diminished this region still has a proud whisky industry with more distilleries in the works, and I will raise a glass to that!


I have not yet decided whether to honour Anne Halkett and make a resolution for the upcoming year yet, but I am certainly looking to keep my connection to Scotland growing stronger. As 2024 unfolds before us I wish all our readers, advertisers and friends a wonderful happy, healthy and safe year ahead. I also wish all those across the world attending Burns Night events this month a wonderful time celebrating Scotland’s bard Robert Burns.

Whether you make a resolution for the year ahead, or not, may it be a good one for all of us. Lang may your lum reek, as the Scots say traditionally at New Year, or to good health and long life or more literally ‘long may your chimney smoke’.

Do you make New Year resolutions? Do you have any favourite Scottish customs at the festive period?  Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

December – 2023 (Vol. 47, Number 06)

Winter magic at Glenmore Forest Park, Cairngorms National Park. Photo: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam.

The Banner Says…

Christmas traditions of Scotland’s isles

The month ahead is often busy for many with Christmas and Hogmanay events, and catching up with family, friends and colleagues. Most of us eat
a bit more than we should, enjoy a dram, or two, and hopefully also get some time to rest and reset for the year ahead. Children across the world also are filled with the excitement and magic that only Christmas can bring.


The Christmas we all know today, with excited children lining up to sit on Santa’s knee and put in their order for the big day, it may come as a surprise to many that in one part of Scotland a Christmas tradition was to frighten the children.

On the Hebridean island of Islay fear was put into any children, who behaved badly, that a creature would appear during the festive season to visit them. Parents would tell their kids terrifying tales of the Krampus, a goat-demon monster who took great joy in terrifying naughty youngsters.

Known on the island as the Crom Dubh na Nollaig (the dark crooked one of Christmas) this monster would howl down people’s chimneys in the night and beat kids with birch branches. The Scots somehow incorporated the Krampus legend from Europe where the name derives from the German word Krampen, which means to claw. Krampus is thought to date back to Pagan times as a ritual around the winter solstice period and was popular mainly in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. How the Alpine legend made its way to Islay is not known, but I would imagine that the children of Islay were quite well-behaved.


Both Orkney and Shetland share their love of Yule bread. This tasty tradition is linked to a Celtic druid belief that the sun stood still for the mid-winter period, so the Yule bread was made in a circle, which represented the sun. The bread included caraway seeds to represent Sìdhe, or the winter spirits, in Celtic folklore. It was often traditional for the baker of Yule bread to hide something in the loaf, like a trinket, and who ever finds it has good luck for the year ahead.

Shetland’s answer to Eggnog has to be Whipkull/Whipkül. With its origins in Scandinavia, Whipkull is a traditional drink made with cream, eggs, nutmegs and rum (however people have been known to substitute that for whisky or another preferred spirit). This drink, often accompanied with a nice piece of shortbread, has been known as a dessert to be consumed at the end of the Yule feast and even a breakfast drink on New Years Day-what a way to start the year!

In this issue

If you happen to find yourself in Scotland this holiday season you may be interested in our feature on Scotland as a winter destination. I have been to Scotland countless times over winter and can confirm there is much on offer for the visitor. Crowds are down and though not everything is open, much is, and the scenery is always on display regardless of those shorter and darker days.

The Albion Motor Car Company was founded in Glasgow in December 1899 and was an iconic business for Scotland. From its inception through to the late 20th century Albion Motors was a major employer of generations of local people, producing at first cars, then commercial vehicles at its Scotstoun site for over 65 years.

Thought to be Glasgow’s oldest building Provan Hall overlooks Auchinlea Park in Easterhouse. It was built in the 15th century as a hunting lodge for Glasgow Bishops. This hidden historic gem recently had a £3.5million restoration and I will be sure to add it to my list when next back in Glasgow.


For most of us once Christmas and Hogmanay are finished with, we feel we need a wee break as we roll into January after all the festivities. However, for one Scottish island the festivities are just beginning. The island of Foula lies 20 miles from the Shetland coast and has been also known as Ultima Thule, or ‘the edge of the world’.

Its population of approximately 35 residents follows the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar, which means they celebrate Old Christmas (or as it is known Yule) on January 6 and New Year’s Day on January 13. As the rest of the UK adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752 it does not appear that Foula is in any rush to catch up with their mainland cousins, and for me that is just another reason Scotland is just so amazing.

I wish you and your Clan a wonderful and safe holiday season. Merry Christmas, or to our Gaelic readers Nollaig Chridheil, and thank you to all our readers, advertisers and friends for their support during the year.

Have you enjoyed a Scottish island holiday tradition? Do you have any favourite Scottish customs at the festive period?  Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

November – 2023 (Vol. 47, Number 05)

Gracing our front cover: The Wallace Highlanders at the Lonach Highland Games. Image courtesy of The Lonach Highland & Friendly Society.

The Banner Says…

Flying high above Scotland’s islands

For many tourists a visit to Scotland’s diverse range of islands involves a leisurely and picturesque ride on a ferry of Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac).
However, for those that live on the nearly 800 majestic isles air services are a vital connection to mainland Scotland, and beyond. As we go to
press with this issue a scheme is being launched for islanders who will be able to access the lowest fares on the Scottish Government-supported air services serving Barra and Tiree.

The Residents Fare Card will cap fares for island residents and ensure they always have access to the cheapest tickets, even during peak periods. This lifeline to the mainland will allow those isolated residents to make medical appointments not available on the islands, visit family, travel for work or study and other key travel purposes.

Scotland boasts some quite unique island air services which stand out in the world of aviation today. Firstly would have to be the world’s shortest flight, which takes place in Scotland’s far north. The shortest scheduled passenger flight in the world is operated by Loganair between Westray and Papa Westray in Orkney. Whilst the flight is scheduled for just one and a half minutes, the 1.7-mile journey often lasts less than a minute. Loganair, Scotland’s regional airline that services Scotland’s Highlands and islands, flies the route which connects on to Orkney’s largest centre Kirkwall.

On the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides is one of the world’s most unique airports located on the northern part of the island. Barra Airport is located on Traigh Mhor beach where flights land at the world’s only beach with scheduled air services. Flights to Barra from Glasgow are not set to popular travel times, but rather flight schedules are always changing as they depend on the tidal flows. The runway washes away at high tide and reappears at low tide.

Lying between Shetland and Orkney lies the Fair Isle with a population of just 60 residents, making it one of Britain’s most remote inhabited islands. On the island is one of the UK’s smallest airports which is quite uniquely run by the National Trust for Scotland. Loganair is bringing back flights to the Fair Isle in 2024 to coincide with the reopening of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory, which sadly burned down in 2019. Looking ahead to travel to the islands of Scotland may soon look to take a greener approach as companies are looking to Scotland to lead the way for more environmentally friendly air travel using new technologies such as electric or hydrogen net-zero aircraft.

In this issue

I still can recall as a child my very first trip to Glasgow Prestwick Airport. Our family would have been coming from Canada to see our Scottish family and as the plane descended
over the Ayrshire countryside, I knew I was somewhere different. I vividly remember the large check in hall and the complete sense of excitement that I was travelling on a plane
brought. This month we hear about the key role Prestwick has played in Scottish aviation history and connecting Scotland with the world.

Each August in Scotland there are hundreds of events taking place, but for one region all roads lead to Lonach. The Lonach Highland Games are presented by the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society which was established in 1823. The Games had a big visitor this year and has a long history of Scottish tradition.

This year a project was launched to mark the centenary of the repopulation of the Minginish peninsula on the beautiful Isle of Skye. The area of Skye had been cleared out during the 1800s and in 1923 families were brought from across Harris, Lewis and other parts of Skye to repopulate the area. This would become the largest single repopulation undertaken in Scotland because of the ‘land for heroes’ initiative after the First World War.


Some readers may remember when last year I included my dog Fergus in these pages. Several people wrote in after seeing Fergus and told us about their pets and how rewarding life was with them. Sadly, I lost Fergus recently and his loving face is no longer under my desk as I write these editorials. Fergus in his very own unique way helped each month with the publication of the Scottish Banner, he reset me on deadlines when stress increased and helped me more times than I can remember to get through a day. The office, and my home, are now a much quieter place and I will miss him terribly.

Thank you, Fergus, for giving me over 12 years of incredible love, loyalty and family, it certainly was an honour to walk beside you every day, and for leaving me with so many
happy memories of a life very well lived which I will always treasure.

This month also see’s Scots around the world gather for St Andrews Day on (or around) November 30th. If you are celebrating, I hope you enjoy some great food, company and of course a wee dram.

Have you taken a flight to a Scottish island?  Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

October – 2023 (Vol. 47, Number 04)

Gracing our front cover: World Champion Drum Major Paula Braiden. Photo courtesy of The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, Northern Ireland Branch.

The Banner Says…

That’s my uncle
Remembering John Cairney

It has been a question I have been asked throughout my life, are you related to John Cairney and my reply has always proudly been “That’s my uncle”. John Cairney was the oldest of two boys growing up, quite happily, in the 1930s in an impoverished and now pulled-down tenement in the east end of Glasgow.

Robert Burns

Most may remember him for his association with Robert Burns, to this day many still consider John Cairney the leading exponent of Scotland’s bard. He wrote and toured shows about Burns, wrote books on him and was one of the world’s leading authorities of Burns. For me for some time I thought he was Robert Burns, I was of course much younger, but I did think for a time that was his job much like someone may be a doctor, chef or policeman.

Few would mention John Cairney without soon mentioning Burns. I have vivid memories of him calling me up on stage to hold a haggis whilst he performed to his audience, something that was so completely embarrassing for a 12-year-old. I did however always take note of how he used his voice to command a room, from great bellowing tones to the most soft and intimate tone which had people sat on the edge of their seats to hear each softly spoken word, he was a true genius in live performance.

I recall as a boy every time he flew in from Scotland to see us (which generally involved a performance by him both on stage or around dinner table), I was so excited, this is back in a time where you rarely received an overseas call as they were so expensive, and an international visitor was something to get excited about. I would always draw my uncle a welcome picture on my school paper, and I was always filled with excitement when he would tell me all the tales of his travels. From working on film sets in far flung places to finishing off a script for a show touring Scotland, it all sounded so exotic to me as a child, and I was fascinated by him.

For those who enjoy the Scottish Banner today might be also interested to know it was partly because of my uncle’s performances in Canada that the seed was planted to start the Banner, we had tickets to sell and had to tell people! This of course was in a time of no internet and 47 years later the Scottish Banner still is enjoyed by readers across the world, a small part of his great legacy.

That boy from Glasgow’s east

Uncle John had a multi decade career in the arts. His acting resume included films such as A Night to Remember, Cleopatra and Jason and the Argonauts, as well as starring in the BBC 1960s show This Man Craig. His live performances took place all over the world and he really was a true global citizen. Uncle John penned several books, mostly on Scottish topics and well worth a read. His creative flow also was expressed through his art, many would think he was a late bloomer with paint, but he actually loved art from a young age, but fate would lead him to Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s very first acting program and art would come back into his life at a later stage. However my uncle, that boy from Glasgow’s east, was so much more.

Firstly, for me, he was my uncle, whom I am half named after. Both my parents had just one sibling, both called John and I am lucky enough to be named after these two great men, as Sean is the Irish form of John. He was my father’s big brother and such a very proud Glaswegian, the city which he loved and like my father, carried with him wherever he was in the world. Uncle John was also passionate about his family, his craft, football and his spirituality. He was a true performer and anyone who even had dinner with him will know what I mean, my uncle had an incredible voice and language ability which he used to great skill.

A life well lived

My Uncle John passed away in his beloved Glasgow last month at the age of 93. I was very fortunate to see my Uncle John a couple of times in Glasgow earlier this year. I could and would never not see him if I was in town. A few months later and the final time I spoke to him he sounded really good and told me how he still enjoyed his days in Glasgow.

He was also a regular reader of the Scottish Banner and said what a wonderful publication it is and that I was doing a great job with it, this for me was the highest form of compliment, coming from a man who was the best wordsmith and mind our family has ever produced. He also told me his life was like a beautiful cake and he was at the stage of simply enjoying the icing of an incredible life, and a life very much well lived.

Uncle John leaves behind his beloved wife Alannah, five children, nine grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. Thank you, Uncle John, for leaving the world with an outstanding lifetime of work. And as you take your final curtain call and exit the stage, I will continue to give you a standing ovation not just because of the gift you left us all with, but because quite simply… that’s my uncle.

Do you have a favourite John Cairney performance or book? Did you ever see him live?  Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

September – 2023 (Vol. 47, Number 03)

Gracing our front cover: The 2023 World Pipe Band Championships. Image courtesy of Alan Harvey/ SNS Group and Glasgow Life.

The Banner Says…

Scotland’s connection to bridges

Looking at some of the dates in this edition’s This Month in Scottish History page, I could not help but notice some of Scotland’s premier bridges get a mention. We all know why bridges are built, to help link two places and very much serve a function.

A bridge is a key part of any nations infrastructure and assist in linking communities, improving travel times and building business. However, bridges are so much more than just being functional. A bridge can have a strong historical or cultural importance and become part of the scenic landscape of a place. Scotland has bridges of all shapes, sizes, ages and lengths found across the country.

The Forth Bridges

Perhaps Scotland’s most famous and iconic bridge would have to be the incredible Forth (Rail) Bridge. The oldest of Scotland’s Forth Bridges this incredible bridge opened in March 1890 and was at the time the longest single cantilever bridge span in the world. I have travelled across this marvel of Scottish engineering several times and have been fortunate to get some great aerial views on flights out of Edinburgh. The Forth Bridge took seven years to build and is made with red steel and around six million rivets. The bridge spans 8,094 feet or 2.5kms and was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2015. This bridge, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, must be my favourite bridges in the world that I can look at and never tire of seeing.

Today the Forth Bridge is kept in good company as it shares the Firth of Forth estuary with both the Forth Road Bridge and the Queensferry Crossing. The Forth Road Bridge opened 59 years ago this month, in 1964, and the bridge’s two main towers include a fitting St Andrew’s Cross design. This bridge was born due to an influx of cars on Scottish roads to link the Edinburgh region to the north of Scotland. The Forth Road Bridge is now only used by pedestrians, cyclists, emergency services and public transport.

Six years ago, this month, The Queen opened the latest and longest transport addition to the Forth bridges, The Queensferry Crossing. This bridge was planned for today’s volume of cars and replaced the Forth Road Bridge as the main road route between Edinburgh and Fife and can carry 24 million vehicles a year.

One bridge I have walked and driven across numerous times is Glasgow’s Clyde Arc, or as
affectionately known locally as the ‘Squinty Bridge’, which opened this month in 2006. This bridge spans the River Clyde connecting Finnieston in Glasgow’s West End with Pacific Quay and Govan on the south side of the city. The bridge looks fantastic day and night as it reflects the Clyde and compliments the many modern iconic buildings you now find in this part of Glasgow such as the Scottish Exhibitions Centre, The Hydro and the Glasgow Science Centre, whom all sit amongst one of my favourite Glasgow icons the Finnieston Crane.

In this issue

So much of the pipe band world recently descended on the streets of Glasgow for this year’s World Pipe Band Championships, and PipingLive! The dedication of these performers to not only consistently practice to such a high level but also represent their country on the world stage is something to admire. For many bands this also included a hefty flight and travel costs. We are delighted to feature a highlight of the World’s in this issue.

Think of wildlife in the Scottish Highlands and you may perhaps think of Highland coo’s, deer, birdlife or even an illustrious monster! However, at the Highland Wildlife Park you can also ge up close and personal with various native animals like the Scottish wildcat, as well as species from across the globe such as snow leopards, Amur tigers, Japanese macaques and Scotland’s only polar bears (which includes one baby). All amongst the incredibly stunning scenery of Cairngorm National Park, the UK’s largest National Park.

It was over 150 years ago the third Duke of Sutherland, who was a railway enthusiast, brought a railway to Brora in Sutherland. The Duke also built his very own railway station at Dunrobin Castle, near the village of Golspie. Dunrobin station remains in the ownership of the Sutherland Estate and is believed to be the only such station on the UK rail network to have been planned, paid for and opened by just one person.

Connects us all when in Scotland

Scotland of course has far too many bridges to mention in this article. From the very famous and picturesque Glenfinnan Viaduct where the Jacobite steam train runs from Glenfinnan to Fort William and Mallaig, and made famous by the Harry Potter franchise. To the controversial Skye Bridge, which links the Scottish mainland with the stunning Isle of Skye. This bridge which was once considered the most expensive road toll in Europe is now free for all to enjoy a drive ‘over the sea to Skye’. Right down to the small, but so photographed, Swilcan Bridge found on the 18th hole at the Home of Golf, St Andrews.

Perhaps you have a bridge that means something to you, a bridge whose engineering marvels you, or has simply helped you get around Scotland a little easier? We would love to hear readers comments on their favourite bridges that quite literally connects us all when in Scotland.

Do you have a favourite Scottish bridge?  Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

August – 2023 (Vol. 47, Number 02)

Celebrating Stories – The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2023. Photo: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The Banner Says…

The fascination of the Loch Ness Monster

I always remember my very first visit to Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands and taking in the stunning scenery of the area and visiting the ruins of Urquhart Castle on the bonnie banks of the loch (a Gaelic word for lake). I also spent an above average amount of time skimming the loch for anything unusual in the cold and dark waters below. Of course, I was seeing if I would become world famous by being that person who spotted ‘Nessie’, something so many fail in year in and year out.

Regardless of what you think is the true story of Nessie, our imagination and sense of ‘what if’ can take hold when you are looking out at the vast open water before you at Loch Ness.


If you have yet to visit Loch Ness you may be surprised just how big it is, in fact it is the largest body of fresh water in all of the UK (by volume). With a depth of 788 feet/240 metres and a length of about 23 miles/36 km it is a vast and stunning body of water. And though Loch Lomond is larger and Loch Morar deeper than Loch Ness, this infamous loch contains more water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined!

However, the reason why Loch Ness is the most famous of Scotland’s over 30,000 lochs is because of the mythical creature we all know as the Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie. Just recently the latest recording of a sighting of the monster was lodged for 2023. That now makes three claims of sightings to have taken place, in April, May and June from Scottish, American and French visitors. In 2022 six sightings were reported and you can read about each one and see any images to back up the claims at: www.lochnesssightings.com.

These recent sightings of course are not new, and the first reported dates go all the way back to 565AD when St Columba first saw the water beast and a legend was born. In our modern history nearly 1,200 sightings have been recorded and sightings really took off from the 1930s.

The legend

Not only has the legend of the Loch Ness monster fuelled our imaginations for generations, but it has also had a hugely positive impact to the local economy with estimates being the elusive monster brings in £41 million locally, with hotel nights, cruises, tours, tea towels, magnets and more.I even admit that before writing this article I did do my ‘research’ and scanned the waters, or should I say webcams, which you can watch at anytime at:
www.visitinvernesslochness.com/livestream, should you have any better luck at ‘Nessie hunting’ from your home and spot something which could be the monster please do get in touch!

Loch Ness Monster is still searched for on Google and other search engines on the internet hundreds of thousands of times a year from people all over the world. The allure is still there and maybe it is fuelled by our imaginations and the love of the story, but I cannot think of any other country in the world who has a creature that sparks so much interest, yet most have never seen and even more likely not even believing in.

To date no concrete evidence exists that Nessie is or was ever real, but that is ok as the legend is very much real.

In this issue

To locals it must feel like the world is descending on the streets of Edinburgh this month with all the Edinburgh festivals taking place. One of the premier events returning is The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, we have some details of the cast line up and some images whet your appetite and whether you are attending in person or perhaps waiting to see it later in the year on the big screen or at home I hope you enjoy one of the world’s greatest shows.

Should you happen to be in the Scottish capital over the next couple of months you may also wish to take a moment from the hustle and bustle and head to the Floral Clock. Located in West Princes Street Gardens and this year honouring the Flying Scotsman train it really is something to see, and smell, as you take in the world’s oldest Floral Clock.

This month we have the third instalment from David C. Weinczok’s favourite Scottish site series. This month David takes us far back in time to Scotland’s early history focusing on sites from the Roman through Viking Ages, often a time we do not hear about in history and the fact a visitor to Scotland can still connect with it is amazing.

Truly magic

Over generations stories have circulated across the world of a mythical creature roaming the deep waters in the Scottish Highlands. Scotland is good at folklore, and this surely must be up there with one of its most famous tales. The monster is known the world over and has garnered the fascination of millions of people.

There is of course a benefit to Scotland that the idea of Nessie continues, but it is the fascination of the story that is truly magic. When I next visit the Highland beauty spot, I know I will join many alongside me having a look, just in case… it is something that we can all take part in and enjoy and that in of itself is truly special.

Have you been to Loch Ness? Have you ever caught a glimpse of Nessie? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

July – 2023 (Vol. 47, Number 01)

Glenrothes Heritage by David Harding. Photo: Fife Council.

The Banner Says…

Hoping for the return of one of Glasgow’s most dear green places

Regular readers of the Scottish Banner may have noted we often acknowledge an anniversary of a historic occasion, place or building within our pages. Earlier this year when I learned it was the 125th anniversary of the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens in Glasgow I assumed we would likely cover it.

However, we haven’t as sadly the building has been closed since 2018, though the Palace has reopened the Winter Garden have not due to the cost of much needed repairs. I have visited the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens many times over the years and on a cold ‘driech’ day the glass roofed Gardens were an oasis in the midst of the city.

A palace of pleasure and imagination

The iconic building sits in the historic Glasgow Green, Scotland’s oldest park, in the east end o the city. The Palace was built in the style of the Italian Renaissance, in red sandstone and the Gardens in a steel framed Victorian glasshouse structure and called ‘a palace of pleasure and imagination’ at its opening in 1898. The idea for the People’s Palace began in the late 1800’s when Glasgow leaders felt it was important for a cultural asset to be made available for the citizens in the poorer east end. In the late 1800’s life was hard in Glasgow’s east end, and it was quite an overcrowded place with large families living in small spaces.

To have a multi storey museum with art, exhibitions and a diverse variety of flora nestled in the hard-edged east end of Glasgow was a huge thing. At the opening in 1898 Lord Rosebery proudly declared it was ‘open to the people for ever and ever’. Since the 1940’s the building has been a champion of Glasgow’s social history.

The museum is considered to be Glasgow’s only museum in the city for and about the heritage of Glaswegians. It tells a very important part of the story of Glasgow, a story of its working-class history and what Glasgow was built on. It is a building that represents ordinary people and champions social justice. The exhibitions in the Palace include unique insights how Glasgow was for our parents and grandparents such as how a family could live in a one-room Glasgow tenement family home of the 1930s, also photos and film from a Glasgow long gone, political history and just what it was like for the women who laboured (and socialised) at their local ‘steamie’ to do the laundry. Much of that (harder) life is long gone, but no doubt it has helped shape the Glasgow of today.

Dear Green Place

In recent years Glasgow has done an outstanding job in refurbing or opening new museums across the city, such as The Burrell Collection, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Riverside Museum which we have featured each in this publication. The Winter Gardens sadly has fallen into disarray and though it is four times larger than the Palace itself there is no timeline to reopen it.

It has been said that the glasshouse was designed in the inverted shape of Lord Nelson’s ship HMS Victory, however victory has not yet come for the Winter Gardens to reopen. The airy structure was bathed in natural light and featured palm trees and exotic plants and really was a great place to escape to. I hope the city leaders of the ‘Dear Green Place’ find a way to bring back this treasured civic asset and allow Glaswegians, especially those in the east end, and visitors alike to enjoy this green historic oasis. I will be sure we announce the Winter Gardens reopening when that transpires.

In this issue

One place that is having an anniversary as we go to press and is celebrating is the Fife town of Glenrothes. The town officially came to be in 1948 and sits in the heart of Fife. Planners were thinking coal when the town started but the town has reinvented itself with the electronics industry and has a diverse collection of art works across the region, including a fondness for hippos.

Scotland is littered with a variety of ancient sites. At times they can be right in front of us, and we do not always even know it. One person who does is David C. Weinczok, who highlights some of his favourite sites located around Scotland. Perhaps you have discovered a special site of interest, if so please share it with us.

The Cairngorm Railway is the UK’s highest railway (reaching over 1,065m above sea level) and was closed in 2018 due to safety concerns. Earlier this year Scotland’s only funicular railway once again welcomed passengers back on board for the roughly five-minute journey to the top of the Highlands. This will be sure to be popular with not only snowsports enthusiasts in winter, but to visitors throughout the year to take in this stunning location.

Happy Birthday tae us!

Another anniversary I cannot not mention is the Scottish Banner’s birthday! With this issue the Scottish Banner proudly turns 47. I appreciate all the support of our readers, followers, friends and advertisers in helping us get here. Without it reaching this anniversary would not have been possible, so thank you and I do hope you enjoy this edition.

Have you visited the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens in Glasgow? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

June – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 12)

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

The Banner Says…

The Common Ridings- Steeped in Scottish Tradition

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

Border badlands

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

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

Historic equestrian pageants

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Safe Oot, Safe In

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

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

Have you visited the Scottish Borders region? Do you have any favourite Scottish traditional events you like to attend? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

May – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 11)

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

The Banner Says…

Equality in the pipe band movement

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

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

Females in the pipe band movement are here to thankfully stay

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

The Stone of Destiny

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

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

Are you a female member of a pipe band, if so, what are your experiences? Do you think more women should be in pipe bands? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

April – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 10)

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

The Banner Says…

The Cloth of a Nation

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

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

Highland Dress

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Tartan Day

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

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

Do you wear or have a favourite tartan? What does tartan mean to you? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

March – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 09)

The Celtic sport of Shinty. Image courtesy of the Camanachd Association.

The Banner Says…

The Great Women of Scotland

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and takes place on March 8th.

This had me thinking of the many great Scottish women we have featured over the years for a wide variety of accomplishments and for breaking many glass ceilings along the way. Having grown up around a very strong woman and with many strong female role models in my family and life I have always felt that myself, and the wider world, is so very lucky to have the incredible contributions of women.

Mary Sommerville

Most in the Scottish Borders town of Jedburgh in 1780 would not have expected the wee girl named Mary would go on to become a world leading scientist, mathematician and astronomer. Mary Somerville would receive very little formal education, however became a self-taught scientist, at a time when it was not considered possible for a woman to comprehend never mind teach science. In fact, the gender-neutral term ‘scientist’ was coined in 1834 and it was used to specifically describe Mary herself (thus making her the world’s first scientist). Mary would go on to help find the planet Neptune and champion the rights of women in education, politics and society. In 1835 she was one of the first women to be elected to the Royal Astronomical Society and even has a crater on the moon named after her, as well as a variety of places here on earth.

The Edinburgh Seven

What some women did during their time has gone on to pave the way for generations of women to accomplish with much more ease and assurance. For example, seven pioneering women changed the world at the University of Edinburgh in 1869- Sophia Jex–Blake, Isabel Thorne, Edith Pechey, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Mary Anderson and Emily Bovell were the first women to study medicine at any UK university. They endured many roadblocks including riots against them and a medical board who said that ‘the poor intellectual ability and stamina of women would lower professional standards.’ Sadly, the women were not awarded degrees from Edinburgh, but five would go on to get medical degrees in Europe and the group fought to allow future women to qualify as doctors in the United Kingdom. It was not until 1894 that the University of Edinburgh allowed women to graduate and the first doctors graduated in 1896.

In 2019, the University of Edinburgh posthumously awarded all seven women the degrees they should have received all those years ago.

In this issue

Another pioneering woman which we feature in this issue is Dorothée Pullinger. Though born in France, Dorothée would grow up in Ayrshire, and became a prominent businesswoman and automaker. Her company Galloway Motors would begin production in the 1920s. The company produced a car, the Galloway, for Arrol-Johnston that was designed for women. Dorothée would become the first female Member of the Institution of Automobile Engineers and quite literally paved the road for women to enter the industry.

If you find yourself in the gentle countryside of the Scottish Borders perhaps you have noticed the beautiful Eildon Hills, located just outside Melrose. The Eildon Hills are an iconic part of the Scottish Borders landscape and if you have been lucky enough to make it to the top on a clear day, they offer commanding views of the surrounding districts. The Eildon Hills are also a reminder of the volcanic past of this stunning area and remain a focal point for visitors to enjoy to this day.

Shinty is considered to be Scotland’s most historic sport and is a team game played with sticks and a ball. The games spiritual home is certainly in the Highlands of Scotland and today is still a very important part of local Highland communities. The game is thought to pre-date Christianity and in Scotland was introduced by migrant Gaels from Ireland (bringing with them the game of hurling). Shinty was brought to North America by Scottish settlers and some have also suggested that it was shinty that would lead to the development of ice hockey in the continent. Regardless, this ancient Celtic game has a rich history in Scotland and is a key community sport for many.

Scottish witches

As we go to press with this edition it has been announced that Scotland’s longest serving First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will be stepping down. Regardless of what side of politics you sit on it is interesting a woman has served in the role the longest and it certainly seems she gained more international media coverage than her male predecessors ever did. Perhaps her spotlight on the world stage was due to some major events happening during her tenure such as Brexit, Covid, Scotland’s response to the Ukraine war and planning for a new referendum.

The First Minister also strongly supported the petition, which was launched on International Woman’s Day in 2020, demanding an official pardon for those (mainly women) accused of being witches under the then Witchcraft Act of 1563. This was at a time a woman could be called a witch for being different, single, poor, disabled or simply for being a woman.

These women were also not allowed to speak in a court and were convicted on hearsay, dislike or rumour and then publicly executed. Last year First Minister Nicola Sturgeon formally apologised for the persecution of those accused of witchcraft, saying it was an “injustice on a colossal scale.” This finally was a wrong formally acknowledged that was done to women across Scotland, in a time we thankfully will not see again.

Have you been shaped by a strong Scottish woman? Do you have a favourite woman from Scottish history? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

February – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 08)

The Maura Gin label by artist Hope Blamire. Image courtesy of the Isle of Cumbrae Distillers.

The Banner Says…

Saying ‘I Do’ to Scotland

If you are like me when I think of Scotland, I think of the incredible amount of natural beauty the country has to offer. It would be very fair to say it is quite a romantic place to visit with incredible vistas, coastlines, history and architecture.

Most cannot help but fall in love with the country, even those there on their own. This month the world will be selling just a few more roses when Valentine’s Day takes place mid-month. Scotland however has been helping lovers from around the world in its very own way for hundreds of years.

Location played a huge role in allowing the Scottish Borders town of Gretna Green to become Britain’s wedding capital, with its romantic history beginning nearly 300 years ago. In 1754, English Parliament passed a law banning people under the age of twenty-one to get married without permission of their parents.

However for those who ventured over the Scottish border, the law did not apply. In Scotland, a much more lenient age of sixteen was law and English couples found themselves flocking to the sleepy border town. To this day, and certainly around Valentine’s Day, many couples from across the globe travel to Gretna Green for wedding and vow renewal ceremonies.

Scottish wedding customs

Thousands of people have also enjoyed taking on some of the unique Scottish wedding customs that have developed over the years. Luckenbooth brooches originated in 16th century Edinburgh and were given by the groom to his bride as a token of both love and luck. The brooch features two hearts entwined together, with a crown on top. The brooches also were said to help ward off witches, and originally were sold in the luckenbooths, a row of tenements near St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile. Today you will still find these being sold across the world.

A favourite of children would have to be the wedding scramble. The father of the bride throws a handful of coins for children to collect just as the bride is climbing into the wedding car to make her way to the church. Children would then scramble to get as many coins as possible and create an atmosphere as the bride sets off, it was also thought doing this would bring financial stability to the newlyweds.

Traditionally a Scottish bride is always found to the left of the groom. This started back when the groom may need his right hand free to use his sword to fight off anyone who may have objected of their union, including in-laws!

Another tradition you will still find at weddings today is the quaich ceremony. A quaich (cuach in Gaelic means cup), or also referred to as a loving cup, is a Scottish traditional two handled cup and has been around in some form for centuries. Each person to marry takes a drink from the often silver or pewter quaich, with their favourite whisky or brandy. The sharing of the drink signifies both the union of two people and families.

In this issue

Think of a distillery in Scotland and of course most would instantly think of the “water of life’, or whisky. However, gin is one of the fastest growing spirits for Scotland and in fact Scotland now produces 70 percent of gin for the UK market. We get a chance to speak this month to one of five women who are behind the Isle of Cumbrae Distillers. Having grown up around many strong women in my life I have no doubt distillers like at Cumbrae will help lead the way to more women, of more ages, entering the drinks industry and I will very happily drink to that!

Eagle eyed travellers who have been on the Edinburgh to Glasgow train service will no doubt have spotted a unique spire as they pass through Linlithgow. The ‘crown of thorns’ spire which sits at the top of St Michael’s Church had local controversy when it was added to the 15th century church in the 1960s. Sadly overtime the modern addition, which has become a symbol for Linlithgow, has fallen victim to the Scottish weather and now needs repair. Perhaps you have caught the spire when in Linlithgow, or just passing on the train, and can help preserve this iconic piece for future generations.

One story that caught my eye this month was Scotland being named ‘Best Golf Destination in the World.’ I do admit I am not a golfer, much to my father’s disappointment, but I was slightly surprised that a country known the world over as the ‘Home of Golf’ has only won this for the first time. With nearly 600 courses across the country and a history of golf in Scotland going back to the 15th century, the industry is said to be worth nearly £300 million to the Scottish economy. Previous winners were Australia, Vietnam and Portugal, so glad to see Scotland being rightly recognised.

The romance of Scotland

Whether or not you are looking for a romantic break with that special someone, maybe getting married or looking to renew your vows, Scotland is certainly a place to consider as
celebrating your heritage and the quirky customs which come with it can be a special thing to do.

For me however it is simply the romance of Scotland itself that lures me each and every time, the majestic Highlands, Edinburgh’s winding streets, the dramatic coastlines and the incredible friendliness of the people.

Scotland can be my Valentine anytime!

Have you been married in Scotland? Do you practice any Scottish wedding traditions? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

January – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 07)

Dunnottar Castle. Photo: VisitScotland/Luigi Di Pasquale.

The Banner Says…

Lighting up a New Year

As we all look at a New Year upon us with this issue for many (and certainly for those in Scotland) this will be some of the darkest, and coldest, days of the year this month. Of course, our Australian and New Zealand readers will be trying to keep cool as they look to take in the height of summer.

The powerful symbol of fire

Scottish tradition has long incorporated the powerful symbol of fire during the dark winter nights and January is no exception to this. Hogmanay celebrations are still a huge part of Scottish culture and let’s face it the Scots know how to throw a party!

Hogmanay or New Year’s Eve, also known as Oidhche Challainn in Gaelic, is the biggest annual celebration in Scotland. The use of fire on this night is famous the world over today but has been part of Scottish tradition for centuries. People would light fires and candles for luck for the coming year ahead, if you lost your fire it was thought to be bad luck for the household in the coming year.

In many parts of Gaelic speaking Scotland children would often go from house to house on New Year’s Day and burn a sheep candle, which was sheep meat dipped in wax. Each house would offer fire for luck and protection and each member of the household would have the flame around their head, should that flame go out it was likely that person would have bad luck or worse death in the year ahead. While fire is still a focus, some may be surprised to know that not all of Scotland has celebrated the New Year on December 31st.

In Moray, the Burning of the Clavie has its origins in Pagan rituals and in fact acknowledges New Year on January 11th. The Burning of the Clavie is a Pictish celebration of the ancient Scots Hogmanay, which fell on January 11 before the Gregorian calendar was introduced in Britain in the 18th century. The event involves lighting a 100kg barrel of tar which is then carried around the town. The Clavie is then taken up Dorie Hill before being allowed to burn out and tumble down the hill. Locals then gather around the smoking remains as it is supposed to bring good luck for the year ahead. Other parts of Scotland that have had a different New Year include on January 12th on Berneray in the Outer Hebrides and Foula in the Shetland Isles who celebrate on January 13th.

Up Helly Aa

The largest fire festival in Europe happens to also take place this month in Lerwick on Shetland. Up Helly Aa is a fire festival in Shetland where 1,000 torch bearers, led by the Jarl Squad Viking, march through Lerwick and set fire to a Viking replica longship. This year amazingly will be the first that will allow females to take part as torchbearers since this iconic Norse event began in the early 1800s. The celebration of Shetland and Viking culture uses fire as a main focus of the events energy with a torchlight procession marching through the streets, culminating with fires burning throughout the night. The fires of tradition burn throughout winter in Scotland with Up Helly Aas traditionally taking place in various locations from January through to March.

In this issue

As we welcome in the New Year with this issue, we highlight some of the great things you can experience in Scotland in the year ahead. I am looking forward to my first visit to Scotland this month, after a few years absence. We also hear from our friends at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow on just some of the array of events taking place across the piping and drumming world in Scotland and the globe. Whether you play in a band or are just a fan of the sound of Scotland, there will be plenty of opportunities to hear the pipes and drums throughout 2023.

Stonehaven is a small and picturesque town, located just south of Aberdeen, on the Aberdeenshire coast. With a picture postcard harbour and the stunning and dramatic Dunnottar Castle located minutes from the town centre, it is a great spot to enjoy for a
day or longer. Stonehaven is one place I have only managed to visit once and it was for lunch, and it is on my list of not only places to return to, but for a longer period to take in its charm and beauty.

All of Scotland stopped for a moment late November as Scottish rugby legend Doddie Weir, who won sixty-one caps for Scotland, passed away at the age of 52. Weir was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in December 2016 and used his profile to raise money and highlight the need for better research and care. Though his rugby skills will forever be remembered it will be the determination and humanity he showed Scotland and the world throughout his illness which will define him forever, a statement from his family certainly summed up what the nation thought of Weir when they called him an “inspirational force of nature”.

Robert Burns

On the 25 January people across Scotland and the world will pay tribute to the life and cultural legacy of poet Robert Burns. Born in Ayrshire on January 25, 1759, Robert Burns is Scotland’s national bard and still today is one of Scotland’s most famous Scots. Burns would never have imagined his legacy would be so far reaching and long lasting, nor could he ever have contemplated a fame like he has achieved during his short lifetime, Burns died a poor man at just the age of 37. Perhaps you will attend a Burns Supper this year or simply raise a dram to one of Scotland’s greatest sons.

I hope you not only find a way to enjoy Burns Night, but I wish you and yours a safe, happy and healthy 2023 ahead.

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

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

December – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 06)

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

The Banner Says…

The cancellation of Christmas

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

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

Banning Christmas

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

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Do you practice any Scottish Christmas or Hogmanay traditions? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

November – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 05)

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

The Banner Says…

A Man of Destiny

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

The Stone of Destiny

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

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

Ian Hamilton

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

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

In this issue

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

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

Myths of the stone

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

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

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

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

#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.

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: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

September – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 03)

The next generation at the World Pipe Band Championships. Photo: Glasgow Life.

The Banner Says…

The bond of dogs

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the death of Scotland’s most famous dog, Greyfriars Bobby. For those unfamiliar with the story of Bobby, he was the loyal Edinburgh dog who stood vigil at his master’s grave, night watchman John Grey, in Greyfriars Kirkyard long after his death.

As news of his devotion spread around Edinburgh, Bobby was eventually adopted by the city and the lord provost, as ownerless dogs could be destroyed in the capital. The provost paid for Bobby’s dog licence and gave him a leather collar with a brass plaque inscribed, ‘Greyfriars Bobby From the Lord Provost 1867’.

Dandie Dinmont terrier

When Bobby did pass away in 1872, 14 years after his beloved master, he would be buried also at the city’s iconic Greyfriars Kirkyard. Bobby was so loved by the people of Edinburgh
that a statue was erected to him at Candlemaker Row. Today the statue is still one of the most popular in the city and books and films have been made about Bobby, not to mention he can be found on tea towels, magnets, mugs and more.

Perhaps the famous statue of Bobby may need to be revised as the history books have always referred to Bobby as a Skye Terrier, however new research has emerged that Bobby may in fact have been a Dandie Dinmont terrier. This fashionable breed at the time originated in the Scottish Borders and was popular across Scotland, especially in Edinburgh. Interestingly the Dandie Dinmont is the only dog to have its own official tartan. Duke Richard of Buccleuch, the Chief of Clan Scott approved for the Dandie Dinmont Terrier to wear the striking Sir Walter Scott Black and White Tartan. It was Sir Walter Scott’s book Guy Mannering, which featured a farmer named Dandie Dinmont and his terriers Mustard and Pepper, giving the breed its unique name.

Mary Queen of Scots lived a tragic and short life, but dogs were very much part of her time on earth. Mary had numerous dogs, including when she was in captivity, and they remained her trusted companions throughout her life. As Mary was executed, she apparently had a Skye terrier hidden in her dress. When she was beheaded, her dress began to move, and like Bobby, her dog refused to leave her limp body.

Going even further back in history, researchers a few years back uncovered dog skeletons in a Neolithic Cairn Chamber in Orkney. Thought to be 4,500 years old the discovery showed how important dogs were regarded to be placed in a burial chamber. Those early Orkney communities would have used dogs to work the farm, as protectors and of course friends.

In this issue

The sound of the pipes and drums has certainly been heard much more around the world recently with the return of Scottish events across the globe. Nowhere more so than at last month’s World Pipe Band Championships held in Glasgow. It was so great to see so many bands come together at this iconic event which, like so many others, has not been able to take place during the peak of the pandemic. Pipe bands are so important to Scottish culture across the world and regardless of your background an important part of the global music scene. Also back was the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, one of the greatest shows on earth and back with a bang. I know of several readers who were lucky enough to be attending these this year and I hope to be back myself for these incredible Scottish events soon.

An exciting exhibition of portraits depicting the Royal House of Stuart in exile is now on display at Fort William. The exhibition will feature paintings never displayed together in Scotland before, and some that have never been exhibited anywhere, and include four generations of the Royal House of Stuart. The paintings illustrate the deposed Royal Stuart dynasty, who motivated the Jacobite clans in their attempts to restore them to the throne of Scotland during the Jacobite rising in 1745.


They say that dogs are ‘man’s best friend’ and I certainly cannot dispute that fact. I have grown up around dogs and they have been part of my family life. I may have been ahead of the trend, but back in the 1970s I started my very own dog walking service. Walking local dogs for pocket money after school, I loved it, and my dog bond has never been broken.

Today under my desk in my office sits a doghouse for my dog Fergus. Fergus is an 11-year-old American Staffy (Staffordshire Terrier)-(Rhodesian) Ridgeback cross and brings my household insurmountable joy. Fergus no doubt has played his role in keeping me calm under stress and deadlines and played his very own part in helping me keep the Scottish Banner thriving. He is in fact named after the town of Fergus and the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games in Ontario, Canada, an event I have attended for over twenty years and grew up with. Since I was a child, I have said I will one day have a dog called Fergus.

Like so many do with their pets, I treasure my connection with Fergus and whether you are a dog, cat, bird, horse (or maybe even something more exotic) person, I hope you have had the opportunity to feel the joy of an animal connection. For me my tail has not stopped wagging since Fergus arrived, and for that I feel so very lucky.

Do you have/had a special pet in your family? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

August – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 02)

Torin McEwan experiencing the joy of the Aberdeen Highland Games. Photo: Amanda Ray Images www.amandarayimages.com

The Banner Says…

Edinburgh-Flowering of the Human Spirit

It would have been the late 1980’s when I first visited Edinburgh in August, and during the buzz of Edinburgh festival season. That summer I managed to make it to a couple of Fringe shows and also my first Edinburgh Military Tattoo (it was not titled ‘Royal’ until 2010).

Though I had been to Edinburgh before, never had I experienced the buzz and energy of August.

A world leading festival city

2022 is the 75th anniversary of Edinburgh’s evolution as a world leading festival city. The concept for the very first Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) began soon after World War Two finished and it was an Austrian, Sir Rudolf Bing, who had fled Nazi occupied Germany and thought that the UK should have an international cultural festival and Edinburgh was put forward. The first EIF took place in August 1947, and so too did the first Edinburgh Fringe which is today the world’s largest arts festival and also the Edinburgh International Film Festival (originally called the International Festival of Documentary Films), which is the oldest continually running film festival in the world.

The Fringe however has its roots as an unplanned festival with theatre companies and performers staging shows in Edinburgh at the same time and not part of the official EIF program, these would become known as “Fringe Adjuncts” or those on the fringe of the main festival. These fringe acts soon became sought after by audiences and its very own festival was born. By 1950 the first Edinburgh Military Tattoo also joined Edinburgh’s August program and during the 1980’s the Edinburgh International Book Festival was added to the calendar.

These events now host tens of thousands of performers, who put on thousands of shows across Edinburgh for a global audience who converge on the streets of Auld Reekie just as I first did all those years ago. For those who may not know Auld Reekie is the term Edinburgh is affectionately known as. Auld Reekie is Scots for ‘Old Smokey’, a nickname which was given back when smoke from open coal and peat fires filled the city air like a fog. Some may also know Edinburgh as the ‘Athens of the North’, a term which was used more as the New Town was developed and the various monuments which followed.

In this issue

For those lucky enough to be in Edinburgh this month we feature some of the incredible and open spaces the city has to offer around Holyrood. At the opposite end of the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle lies some beautiful and rugged spaces. I have gone ‘walkies’ with friends and their dogs in Holyrood Park and also made it to the top of Arthur’s Seat for some amazing views of the capital. Though the latter certainly requires some level of fitness. This month’s feature by David McVey reminds us that Edinburgh does in fact rest on the remains of an extinct volcano that erupted 350 million years ago!

2022 is Scotland’s Year of Stories and the activities are continuing throughout the year. Stories make up so much of Scotland’s history, folklore and tradition. From that in the printed form to passed down verbal tales that help make up how Scots see themselves. Scotland has a particularly rich heritage of stories and storytelling to spotlight and celebrate and we hear from VisitScotland who are managing this fantastic year of events. For those not visiting Scotland in 2022 remember many of the locations being highlighted will be there waiting for when you can next travel.

The Panama Canal is a 51 mile/82km waterway that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and is considered one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century. Some may be surprised, like me, that a Scottish vessel from Renfrew was a key part of its construction. This is just one other example of how ‘Clydebuilt’ went on to shape the world.

Edinburgh named best city to visit in the world

Just in time for the summer tourist season Edinburgh has also been ranked as the top city to visit in the world in a recent poll. The Scottish capital has topped a list of 53 cities based on interviews with more than 20,000 people about life in their hometowns by Time Out magazine. Edinburgh scored highly across the board, coming top for both the number of residents who thought the city was beautiful (95%) and those who deemed it walkable (93%), as well as 88% saying it is easiest to express who you are.

The very first Edinburgh International Festival was born as Europe healed after war and its aim then was to ‘provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit’. As Scotland’s capital welcomes the world to its cobbled streets this month and after the last couple of years of the pandemic across the world and as war is again on Europe’s door, its original purpose rings just as true as it did 75 years ago.

Have you been to Edinburgh for Festival season? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

July – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 01)

Scottish band Rura and members from PipingLive! celebrate the return of the Glasgow Piping Festival.

The Banner Says…

Scotland rolls out the welcome mat for summer

As we finish off the July issue the summer solstice is taking place across Scotland. Those long days allow visitors to Scotland to take in so much as some regions of the country can experience up to 19 hours of day light per day.

The summer solstice occurs each year when one of the Earth’s poles has its full tilt towards the sun, bringing the longest period of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere. Scotland has traditions dating back to the Stone Age during the summer solstice which included the use of fire to ward off evil spirits and bless crops and livestock.

An exciting summer of events

One thing that summer certainly brings to Scotland are events and after the last couple of years of cancellations and Covid protocols it is fantastic to see Scotland is again ready to welcome people from across the world for an exciting summer of events. The return of Highland Games and music festivals has already begun across Scotland and from next month major events such as the Edinburgh Festival’s, the World Pipe Band Championships and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo are all making a very welcome comeback.

In addition, 2022 is Scotland’s Year of Stories and events are taking place throughout the year celebrating the nations rich heritage of storytelling and the stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. Please check our events page for just some of the great events taking place this summer not only in Scotland but across the Scottish ex-pat world. For those who can’t get back to Scotland in 2022, next year will again be filled with some great events to take in on your visit.

Regardless of the time of year there is always something to enjoy in Scotland, just plan your wardrobe for all the weather Scotland can bring! Closer to home Scottish events are already back into full swing with Scottish community members filling their calendar each month with an array of outings which celebrate our common love of Scotland.

In this issue

Another major event returning this summer is Glasgow’s PipingLive! There is no sound that shouts Scotland more than the bagpipes. This month it is great to have Finlay MacDonald the Artistic Director of Glasgow’s International Piping Festival PipingLive! speak to us about the return of the world’s largest piping festival. Finlay and his team at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow promote, teach and celebrate pipes and drums year-round. PipingLive! is a celebration of global bagpipe sounds from across the world. Next month will be the place to be if you are into pipes and drums with both PipingLive! and the World Pipe Band Championships returning to Glasgow after the pandemic.

The City of Edinburgh has recently unveiled the city’s iconic Floral Clock. A sure sign of summer for the locals and visitors alike to enjoy and if you happen to be heading to the Scottish capital this summer and into early autumn, please do yourself a favour and check it out. The clock is the oldest floral clock in the world and is located in the heart of Edinburgh’s tourist scene. I have been to the clock in summer before and been amazed by the many thousands of plants used to create the annual spectacle with this year’s celebrating The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Rock art can be found around the world and often has been used by our ancestors to tell their story. Scotland happens to have thousands of these mysterious carvings dating back thousands of years. One of the areas which has those in abundance is Kilmartin Glen which has the greatest concentration of prehistoric carved stone surfaces to be found in Scotland.

Happy Birthday Scottish Banner!

This month also sees the Scottish Banner notch up another anniversary year and celebrate our 46th birthday. They say for dogs one year is like seven, well for small independent publications like ours one year must be at least a decade! As with so many businesses we have had some tough months recently and I did wonder how the Banner could continue
through those pandemic days when we lost so much revenue. I am so thankful to those who continued to buy their copy each and every month and our wonderful advertisers who stuck with us.

Whilst we are not yet back to ‘normal’ and of course I realise, like so many, that actually a new normal may be what we have for some time. The support of the readers and advertisers has meant we march into our 46th year with a sense of hope and gratitude for the support.

So please join me in celebrating another year, as it is an achievement, we have all contributed to and here’s to many more to come!

Are you attending any events in Scotland this year or planning on returning next year? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

June – 2022 (Vol. 45, Number 12)

The Buchanan and Lady Buchanan.

The Banner Says…

Scotland-Out of this World

As international borders and travel slowly starts to get back to a version of normal we have all been missing, many readers will be considering plans to get them from A to B, or perhaps more likely for some readers from A, or B, to Scotland.

SaxaVord UK Spaceport

A form of travel of a whole other kind has been creating excitement in Scotland itself recently. Shetland Islands Council has approved an application to build a £100m spaceport at the Lamba Ness peninsula in Unst. The Shetland location for the SaxaVord UK Spaceport will be the UK’s first vertical launch spaceport and will be used to launch small satellites into low-earth orbits and used by telecommunications, media, weather and defence organisations. The first launch is hoped to take place in the third quarter of this year with targets of up to 30 launches a year from Shetland, and the first orbital launch from UK soil.

Space Hub Sutherland

Blast off will also take place from the Scottish mainland as plans are also well underway for the £17.5m Space Hub Sutherland, which is also developing a vertical launch site on the A’ Mhoine peninsula, in Sutherland in the far north of the country. Space Hub Sutherland aims to become the world’s first carbon neutral spaceport and hopes to have up to 12 launches a year of small satellites.

Scottish Space Strategy

It is not only the far north which has galactic plans. Glasgow Prestwick is looking to become Europe’s leading space hub. The Ayrshire hub that many may have memories as a transatlantic passenger hub now wants by the end of 2023 to develop and operate horizontal space launch systems for small satellites, which would be the first in Europe to be able to do so.

These spaceports are part of the Scottish Governments Scottish Space Strategy project which is looking to place Scotland as a leader in commercial space development. The Scottish Government has ambitious plans to achieve a £4 billion share of the global space market for Scotland and create 20,000 jobs by 2030. It appears space employment is not as far away for some as the solar system is with a huge increase of 65% in the number of space related business now operating in Scotland since 2016, and twice as many people in the UK space sector work in Scotland rather than other regions.

In this issue

Returning back to earth, or at least the coast of Scotland, this month is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Stevenson. Though they were in fact related he is not to be confused with the famous writer Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, etc) Stevenson made a name for himself as one of Scotland’s great lighthouse engineers, designers and builders. Robert would go on to build Scotland’s tallest, most northernly and westerly lighthouses and also one of his most famous, and the oldest surviving rockbuilt lighthouse in Britain, Bell Rock. This month we hear from the last lighthouse keeper at Bell Rock.

Hundreds of years in the making and many years of methodical research will see one of Scotland’s largest Clans take a chief later this year. Clan Buchanan is now inviting clansfolk from across the globe to descend on Callander for the appointment of John Michael Baillie-
Hamilton Buchanan as Chief of Clan Buchanan, the first since 1681. We featured the new chief in our pages back in 2020 and look forward to hearing about the inauguration events taking place in October.

There is a reason Glasgow is called the ‘Dear Green Place’ as the city boasts over 90 parks and green spaces. Every time I visit the city, I make sure some of my time is spent in one of the many great green patches which dot the city. Pollok Country Park is the city’s largest and the only County Park to be found in Glasgow. Many will have visited the park as they visit the recently refurbished and reopened Burrel Collection museum and gallery. However, the leafy sanctuary also boasts some amazing gardens and includes the very stately and grand Pollock House.

Lift off

Whilst other locations across the UK are also looking to develop spaceports such as Cornwall and Newquay, parts of Scotland are being seen as favourable spots to launch small satellites missions and who knows if space tourism may one day follow. When people think of space perhaps Scotland does not come to mind, just yet, but with the potential of creating a multibillion-pound industry and tens of thousands of jobs the term “lift off” can’t come soon enough. Scotland’s space industry ambitions will have benefits across not only Scotland and the UK, but the world.

For me I plan to remain firmly grounded on earth and hope soon to lock in that ticket to Scotland, a place that for me remains out of this world.

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

May – 2022 (Vol. 45, Number 11)

Karen Gillan leads the 24th annual NYC Tartan Day Parade. Photo: Benjamin Chateauvert/GreenCastle Photography.

The Banner Says…

Whisky’s Illicit History

The month of May can be a wonderful one in Scotland, with the long evenings well and truly taking hold and at times better weather than peak summer. It is also a month where Scotland celebrates what is regarded by many as the ‘national drink’, whisky. Scotland is rightly famed for its incredible array of whisky distilleries, the highest concentration of which is found in the Highlands, drawing thousands of visitors each year to regions across the country.

With a history stretching back as far as the 11th century, Scottish/Scotch whisky is an important part of the identity, culture and economy of Scotland today. However, Scotland’s history with whisky production has not always been as we know it today. As ‘having a dram’ grew in popularity during
the 18th century, the government attempted to regulate the whisky market and grab their share of the free-flowing income that uisge beathe’ (or ‘water of life’) was providing farmers.

Illegal whisky

Historians have estimated up to 500,000 gallons of whisky was being produced a year by private unlicensed distillers. With industrialisation more and more people could afford to have a drink and farmers, especially in the Highlands and the North-East of the country, began producing whisky to help cover their farming and living costs and illegal whisky and whisky smuggling became part of the Scottish economic landscape. Many of the illegal drams were actually of higher quality as licensed distillers often had to use lower quality products as they had to pay tax. The government then tried to call time on the rife illegal whisky production, and the 1788 Excise Act banned the use of stills making less than 100 gallons (450 litres) at a time. Suddenly unlicensed private distillation in small stills, which had existed in Scotland for hundreds of years, was made to be illegal.

The tables turned for the government came when the 1823 Excise Act reduced duty by over 50% and ended the advantage of illicit distillers over their licensed competitors. The first illicit producer to get his licence was a Mr George Smith in 1824. Mr Smith became the founder of The Glenlivet Distillery, which today is one of the world’s most popular and bestselling single malt whiskies.

In this issue

It is so wonderful to see so many great Scottish and Celtic events taking place across the world. Our events page is again brimming with content, and it is wonderful to have the
vents in Scotland listed again from this month after a hiatus during the pandemic. We are fortunate to highlight the recent New York Tartan Day Parade and Week with our readers. This event is a prime example of how Scots are again reconnecting at events, celebrating our incredible culture, and sharing it with so many. Events across North America are certainly back on, and the summer is again looking a busy one. Australia also has got much taking place and crowds are returning after so much lockdown disruption. It is also great to see New Zealand slowly allowing gatherings to take place.

Scotland’s Slate Islands lie just south of Oban on the west coast of Scotland. These now quiet islands, and often overlooked by visitors, at one time were the centre of the world’s slate industry. Some may not realise that a slate roof at one time very likely came from these islands as tens of millions of roofing slates were quarried from the islands pits and shipped around the world. The main islands are Seil, Easdale, Luing, Lunga, Shuna, Torsa and Belnahua and these small islands for a time were known as ‘the islands that roofed the world”.

The dynamic Scotch industry

Like the drink itself, the story of whisky-making in Scotland is fascinating and complex. It’s believed whisky-making began in Scotland as winemaking methods spread from monasteries in Europe; with no access to grapes, monks used grain mash instead to produce an early form of the popular spirit. Those early and very illegal batches of whisky would sow the seed for an industry which is today worth billions of pounds to the economy and employs thousands of people.

In the 21st century whisky industry, heritage mixes with high tech and over 100 distilleries have been able to take centuries of accumulated distilling knowledge and expertise and merge it with cutting-edge design and green technology to produce quality spirits. And whilst illicit distilling is no longer taking place in Scotland it is certainly very much part of its history and ancient tradition and has helped form the dynamic Scotch industry that Scotland proudly has today. An industry that has made Scotch whisky the world’s most popular spirit, which is sold in over 200 markets worldwide, and who cannot say cheers to that?

Should you be raising a dram this month, perhaps on World Whisky Day on May 21st, wishing you and yours ‘do dheagh shlainte’ or ‘to your good health’ and enjoy your May.

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

April – 2022 (Vol. 45, Number 10)

Duncansby Head in Caithness. Photo: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam

The Banner Says…

A Hope for Peace

Scotland is a nation with a long, complicated, proud, and harrowing conflict past. With key historical battles such as Flodden, Bannockburn, and Culloden just some examples of the conflicts which have been engrained into Scotland’s story by blood and honour. This month is the 276th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden which took place on 16 April 1746 on Drumossie Moor, located just outside of Inverness, and which saw nearly 1,500 men killed within one hour.

Perhaps one of Scotland’s most famous and poignant battles, this was the final stand of the Jacobites and is still the last battle to take place on either Scottish, or British, soil. I have walked Culloden Moor on a misty November day and felt very moved by the ground in which I stepped on, Culloden is also said by some to still have the souls and ghosts of the dead wander the moor which they fought so hard to protect and the battle itself is forever engrained in the history and psyche of Scotland today.

By World War 1 Scots had made a reputation for themselves on the battlefields of Europe and Scottish soldiers played a significant role in the war effort. German military nicknamed the Scots as ‘Die Damen aus der Hölle’ or Ladies from Hell, as kilted pipers led troops to the German trenches and were considered staunch and brave warriors. The bagpipes today can still be referred to as an ‘instrument of war’.

Scotland reacts to Ukraine

As the world watches the terrible events in Ukraine and witnesses war once again in Europe, Scotland has joined many other nations in doing what it can in support of the Ukrainian people. The Scottish Government has pledged so far over £16 million to Scottish organisations and charities to assist Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn nation. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced thousands of displaced Ukrainians are now coming to Scotland and said: “Over three million people have now fled the war in Ukraine, the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. Scotland is ready to play its part to offer safety and sanctuary to those forced to leave their homes because of Russia’s brutal invasion, and it is heartening to see preparations for increased support, advice and information already being put in place. We are determined to do everything in our power to give them the warmest welcome possible when people start to arrive.”

Councillors in Edinburgh are preparing to grant the most prestigious honour it can bestow to the Ukrainian President and the Mayor of Edinburgh’s twin city, Kyiv. In recognition of heroically standing by their country and their citizens to lead the fight against the invasion of Ukraine, Edinburgh City Council Leaders are seeking support to confer the Freedom of the City jointly to President Volodymyr Zelensky and Mayor Vitali Klitschko. The Freedom of the City is a tradition that dates back over 560 years to 1459, with Her Majesty The Queen and Olympian Sir Chris Hoy the only living individuals with the Scottish Capital’s freemanship. It can only be ‘bestowed upon those who are held in the highest esteem’. Some may not be aware that Edinburgh and Kyiv were twinned together back in 1989, in an agreement between the two historic capitals which was signed in Kyiv and done two years before Ukraine would leave the Soviet Union.

In Inverness the Highland Council also last month granted the Freedom of the Highlands to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy. In addition along with Inverness, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and regions across Scotland are helping to raise money for those impacted by the war in Ukraine.

In the issue

Scottish scenery is known the world over for its beauty, drama and diversity. Whether you are up in the Highlands, seeing it from the water or discovering the lowlands it is simply magic. I am very much a ‘travel junkie’ and love not just visiting Scotland but the great and wider world. Tourism has so many benefits to so many countries, including Scotland where it brings in (pre-pandemic) billions of pounds and supported hundreds of thousands of jobs. This month we are fortunate to speak to the Chairman of VisitScotland, Lord Thurso, on the forward-thinking initiatives Scotland is producing to sustain tourism for those of us visiting not only today, but well into the future.

Another battle that has an anniversary this month is the lesser-known Battle of Littleferry. The battle took place on April 15, 1746, during the Jacobite Rising in Sutherland, and just two days before the infamous Battle of Culloden. This month will see a Dedication Ceremony for a new Memorial Stone and also a Battle Trail launched.

Scottish landmarks that are lighting up in support

Along the Australian eastern seaboard many people have recently been ravaged by the horrendous impacts of flooding. Entire communities, businesses and people’s homes have been destroyed. This month we highlight the impacts this has had on the Lismore City Pipe Band, located in what many consider one of the hardest hit places during the flood. I know what an incredible fraternity pipe bands have, and whether you are a fellow player or simply just like so many of us a fan of pipes and drums, please consider helping out a part of our community in need.

This month across North America Scots will be celebrating Tartan Day on April 6th, when the historic document the Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320. The idea was born in Nova Scotia on the Canadian east coast in the 1980’s by passionate Scots who belonged to grass roots community organisations, like many Scottish Banner readers may do today. In fact, those that began the initiative were Scottish Banner readers, so congratulations on their foresight as it is now a continent-wide event with international reach. Wishing all our North American readers and friends a great celebration this month.


For those that follow us on social media (if you do not and have a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account, please do!) you will notice our pages have highlighted the many Scottish landmarks that are lighting up in support of Ukraine in a sea of yellow and blue, such as The Kelpies, Eilean Donan Castle, Greyfriars Bobby, The Wallace Monument and Marischal College just to name a few. It is heart-warming to see so many of Scotland’s key cultural locations lighting up in support during a very dark time in world history. I dearly hope however those lights can be turned off very soon, along with the sadness of war.

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

March – 2022 (Vol. 45, Number 09)

The cast of Outlander Season 6. Photo courtesy of Starz.

The Banner Says…

‘Hopping’ to stay on the Bonnie, Bonnie Banks

Just outside Glasgow sits one of Scotland’s most beautiful attractions, and the largest lake by surface area in the UK (and the second largest lake by volume after Loch Ness), Loch Lomond.

We of course all know the song about ‘The bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond’ and it boasts 22 islands and 27 islets (very small islands).


I have been fortunate to travel to Loch Lomond a few times and take in the amazing natural beauty and history of the area. On my last visit a few years ago I was on a boat and the crew were telling us about some very unique and special local residents you may not expect to find on the loch, or in Scotland for that matter. The uninhabited island of Inchconnachan, has been home to a clan of red-necked wallabies. Associated with the vast Australian landscape a Wallaby is a marsupial or pouched animal that is a member of the kangaroo family.

The name Inchconnachan comes from the Gaelic form of Innis Chonachain, meaning ‘The Colquhoun’s Island’. Interestingly most of Loch Lomond’s islands include ‘Inch’, which originates from the Gaelic word ‘innis’ for island. The 42-hectare island was owned by the Colquhoun family for more than seven centuries.

But just how did wallabies end up on a Scottish island? Fiona Bryde Colquhoun, the Countess of Arran, brought in the wallabies from her Hertfordshire home at the end of the Second World War. Lady Arran was passionate about animals, nature and Scotland and the couple she brought to the island soon became a colony of about 60 who survived on the island’s dense oak, holly, and birch. Some also may be surprised to hear that the Countess of Arran later in life was the first person to average 100 mph in an offshore boat and became known as the ‘fastest granny on water’.

Wallaby Island

In 2020 Inchconnachan, or Wallaby Island as it is also known, went up for sale and must have been considered one of Scotland’s most unique property sales at the time. It sold for over £1.5 million, and the new owners now want to turn the island into an eco-holiday let island and clear out the wallaby population, who have now resided on the island for over 80 years. The new owners are keen for the animals to be relocated, however an online petition (www.change.org/p/scottish-government-save-the-wallabies-of-loch-lomond) to protects both the wallabies and their habitat has begun in protest, at time of press the target of 75,000 signatures was about to be reached.

People from around Scotland and the world have voiced their concerns. Whilst these animals might be more expected in the Australian outback, they have adapted to Scottish life and formed a multi-generational base and become part of the Scottish ecosystem and have economic benefits as they draw tourists to the region to see the unique animal in the wild.

Some wildlife experts fear the stress of relocation could be fatal to some of the wallabies and that they now play a part in the ecosystem. While others insist, they are not native to Scotland and should be culled. There is suggestion they pose a threat to native wildlife such as grouse and capercaillie and the island should be left to them and other native species like ospreys, otters, deer, and birds. The long-term goal for the island is to have any non-native species population be zero (or as close as possible) and this includes all species of both flora and fauna. The new owners are thankfully not supportive of culling the animals.

In this issue

Across the world this month fans of the Outlander television series can breathe a sigh of relief as the hit period drama returns. Outlander has been an incredible success for Scotland and generated much interest in Scottish history, tourism and helped create many jobs in the Scottish film and production industry. I remember being at Highland Games back in the 1990’s and seeing the author Diana Gabaldon at the same events promoting her books which she could never have known would translate to a global television phenomenon, just as her books have.

This month on March 8th is International Women’s Day and we likely could have filled up a few pages with some of the amazing Scots women who have blazed a trail for those who came behind them. We do however look at Bonnie Jean Cameron, she broke just a few glass ceilings as she took men to battle and was simply ‘too much woman’ for some. This year is the 250th anniversary of her death and we are so glad to highlight this dynamic Scot.

One of Loch Lomond’s most unique residents

Could one of Lady Arran Colquhoun legacies, the 80-year residency of wallabies, soon be over on Loch Lomond? Certainly one of Loch Lomond’s most unique residents could go elsewhere, and there are in fact wallabies living across the UK, but Clan Wallaby have made home on Inchconnachan. Their future lies in the hands of local government and the new owners, and it may no longer include those bonnie, bonnie banks.

What do you think should happen to the wallabies of Inchconnachan? Share your story with us! Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

February – 2022 (Vol. 45, Number 08)

Finlay Wilson-The Kilted Yogi. Photo courtesy of: Alastair Wilson/Hodder & Stoughton.

The Banner Says…

For the Love of Scotland’s Great Outdoors

For some, February is month of love. For most of us when we visit Scotland one of the things we love most to do is get out and see the incredible natural spaces.

There is nothing quite like being in the great outdoors, especially when in Scotland. All of us should have access to green spaces and be able to connect in some way with nature. In Scotland there is an abundance of rich and diverse spaces which locals and visitors alike can enjoy. From the majestic Highlands to the lowlands and islands, and even some great city parks, Scotland offers a great tapestry of nature that is easily accessible to all.

I am very much a city person overall and certainly love to take in Scotland’s urban playgrounds when I am visiting, but equally I love getting out of the city and hitting both the high and low roads of Scotland. For a relatively small country Scotland boasts some incredible natural assets which likely is the reason many visit the country for. These include the popular National Parks, National Nature Reserves and the UNESCO Global Geoparks and Biospheres.

National Parks

Currently Scotland has two National Parks, the Cairngorms National Park, which happens to be the largest in the UK, and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. The Scottish Government has pledged to create a third National Park for the country with contenders including Ben Nevis, Glen Affric, Argyll, Wester Ross, Harris, the Scottish Borders, and Galloway. A new National Park would champion, promote, and conserve some of Scotland’s most magnificent landscapes. A National Park would also have economic impacts as it would attract local and international visitors and help fragile rural economies to rebuild and thrive whilst helping Scotland tackle its biodiversity and climate change challenges.

Creating a new National Park would greatly assist Scotland’s ambitious commitment to protect at least 30% of its land for nature by 2030. A recent online poll found Galloway was top choice with more votes than all of Scotland’s other six possible park locations combined.

A statement from Galloway National Park Association said: “Galloway is the natural choice not just because of its fabulous countryside and coasts but because so many members of the public, businesses, voluntary organisations and others are so enthusiastic about the potential social, economic and environmental benefits.”


Many people across the UK are becoming more aware of the precious natural spaces around them and the incredible species that live there. Four in five adults in Britain support rewilding, according to new research and Scotland is looking to become Europe’s first ‘rewilding nation’. An opinion poll commissioned by the charity Rewilding Britain shows that 81% of Britons support rewilding, with 40% strongly supportive and just 5% of people opposed. Rewilding Britain defines rewilding as the large-scale restoration of nature to the point it can take care of itself – restoring habitats and natural processes, and where appropriate reintroducing missing species.

Charity Trees for Life plans to open the world’s first rewilding centre at Dundreggan in the Scottish Highlands this year. This is expected to welcome over 50,000 visitors annually – allowing people to explore the wild landscapes, discover Gaelic culture, and learn about the region’s unique wildlife including golden eagles, pine martens and red squirrels.

In this issue

One person who manages to get out into Scotland’s great outdoors is Finlay Wilson. Finlay is famous for doing Kilted Yoga in some of Scotland’s most scenic places, in a kilt. Finlay practices ancient yoga methods amongst some of Scotland’s ancient locations and now has students and followers from across the world who love both the practice of yoga and the nation of Scotland.

For ye’ll take the high road And
I’ll take the low road And I’ll be in
Scotland afore ye
For me and my true love
will never meet again
On the bonny banks of Loch Lomond.

These famous lyrics are known by Scots the world over and sung and numerous events instilling both longing and pride for Scotland. If like me, you may have never known who the ‘me and my true love’ actually referred to. A descendant and Scottish Banner reader tells us more about this incredible love song and its connection to one of Scotland’s most horrific battles.

Scotland’s great outdoor beauty

For those lucky enough to visit Scotland there is nothing like being amongst Scotland’s grea outdoor beauty. From rugged Highland landscapes with towering mountains to clear lochs and island coastlines. Sure, it just may rain, it may be cold and there may be midges, but that is Scotland. With the pandemic affecting so many people during the last couple of years many have turned to nature for solace, inspiration and to simply reset and people’s connection with the natural world has had a much needed reboot.

With habitats and species being eradicated rapidly worldwide, the United Nations has declared 2021- 2030 the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. The Scottish Government has committed itself to bold action to tackle the crisis facing biodiversity through its Edinburgh

As visitors to Scotland, we can also take part in more responsible tourism when next visiting, consider how sustainable you are travelling, leave just your footprints and respect the environment you are in. Scotland is a gift to the world, and we need for that gift to keep on giving for many years to come.

Where is your favourite place in Scotland to enjoy nature? Share your story with us! Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

January – 2022 (Vol. 45, Number 07)

Proud Scot, photographer and mountain guide Tristan Cameron Harper.

The Banner Says…

Celebrating the Stories of Scotland

Scots have long been known for telling a good story. Storytelling is one of Scotland’s oldest and most ancient artforms, telling a story was a way of handing down history, education, culture and of course entertainment. Scotland’s story has been woven by hundreds of years of stories, myths, legends and tales which became such an important part of human communication.

The tradition of oral history has evolved for many hundreds of years in Scotland, from the Highlands to the lowlands and islands, each with its own unique story and tradition and left as a gift to us today from our ancestors.

Scotland’s story heritage

If we go back in Scotland’s history, storytellers were often affiliated with the ‘elite classes’ of society and advisors to rulers and even clan chiefs. Scottish clan chiefs would have a Shennachie (stemming from the Irish word senchae for historian or storyteller), these individuals would assist the chief with clan history, genealogy and tradition and were an important part of keeping the clan story alive.

In Scotland different rulers would destroy anything from the previous ruling elite. Literature and historical material was burned and replaced with items by the new rulers nearly wiping out the previous history, but thankfully, some literature was kept and hidden by storytellers. Storytellers became very important individuals, as they told the history of their people and kept their story alive and passed on.

In more recent times Scotland’s stories have seen a renewed interest. Today in Edinburgh for example you will find the world’s first purpose built modern centre for live storytelling. I have visited The Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile a couple of times and been impressed with how this venue celebrates and promotes Scotland’s story heritage year-round for people of all walks of life, ages and backgrounds.

In this issue

Tristan Cameron Harper loves everything about Scotland, especially the incredible outdoors. Tristan’s passion for Scotland’s natural beauty has literally seen him climb to some amazing heights and also he has had some great opportunities in life such as being a professional hockey player, becoming Mr Scotland and quite a bit of TV and social media work. However, it is his love of Scotland that he now loves to share with others that seems to be his favourite place to be.

If you have spent any time in Scotland during winter, you will well know how the days can be short and darkness takes over quite early. Taking in some of Scotland’s historic sites under the cover of darkness can really be a new experience and allows visitors to see them in a whole new way. Sometimes historic landscapes can tell a different story in the dark and this month we look at this notion and realise night vision is something to behold.

The thistle is one of Scotland’s most recognisable symbols, as you may expect considering it is also the national flower of Scotland. While some may not realise there are several varieties of thistles and they have been used on Scottish money, in heraldry and in poetry and song just to name a few. For a small resilient flower, it has played a big part in the Scottish story and become a national icon.

Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022

As we look to start a new year January also happens to be the start of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, a whole year of events that tells the tales of the nation. Book festivals, musical journeys, favourite cartoon characters and fresh takes on our culture and heritage, will form part of a dazzling programme of events to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 in recognition of the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. Every nation has its stories to tell, and Scotland has a particularly rich heritage of stories and storytelling to showcase and celebrate.

Of course, many this month will be finding ways to celebrate one of Scotland’s most popular storytellers. Robert Burns poems, stories and songs will be celebrated across the world this month. Burns Night is a hugely important part of Scottish culture, celebrating the bard and his spirit of kindness, appreciation for the natural world and togetherness, especially during these difficult times.

Perhaps the pandemic has shown us that storytelling and celebrating Scotland’s rich oral history tradition has never been more important and that certainly is a story to be proud of.

Do you have a favourite Scottish story, tradition or tale?  Share your story with us! Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

December – 2021 (Vol. 45, Number 06)

Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle. Photo: Syco Entertainment/Nicky Johnston.

The Banner Says…

Ringing in ‘The Bells’ with Scottish Tradition

As we all look to put this year behind us and move on to what is hoped to be a better year ahead, Scots across the world will no doubt still find ways to celebrate this month’s Hogmanay celebrations. Growing up we always raised a glass to Scotland when the clock struck midnight in the UK, as we would be getting ready ourselves to see in ‘The Bells’. That tradition has stayed with me to this day and I always find myself, no matter where I am, thinking of Scotland when the clock there strikes midnight.

This year Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is back to celebrate the end of what has been a challenging year for many, with three days of revelry, albeit scaled down, including the new Party at the Bells on Princes Street, the popular Torchlight Procession and the return of the iconic Edinburgh Castle fireworks display.

Scottish customs

Regardless of where you are on Hogmanay you can of course include some Scottish customs in your celebrations. Maybe not the most popular one to do, but one I always do, is redding the house for the New Year. Having a spring clean during the day of December 31st and starting the year off in a fresh and clean house, it is also meant to bring you luck and who can ever have enough of that?

Another custom, which again may be hard especially after Christmas, is paying off any debts before a new year begins. Easier said than done I know but it was considered bad luck to see in a new year with a debt.

First Footing is also one of Scotland’s most famous Hogmanay traditions. This obviously dates back as it is just slightly not politically correct in today’s world but the first foot that should enter your home in a New Year should be a dark-haired male (this goes back in history when fair haired men were linked to invading Vikings and no one wanted them coming through the door) to bring your household good fortune for the year ahead. Sadly, blond and red head men and no women of any description were welcome as the first guest of the year as they may cause a household to have bad luck for an entire year.

In this issue

Since 2009 I have had a dream to highlight the incredible Susan Boyle within our pages. We are so honoured to have the Scottish singing sensation in this month’s edition. I remember the week the video of Susan went viral, we happened to be going to press and managed to include Susan in that edition just as her name was beginning to circulate across the globe. I have watched Susan’s famous audition video countless times, especially when I am having a tough day, when she went out on stage a blew everyone’s mind as she sang, I Dreamed A Dream from the global theatre hit Les Misérable. It never fails to put a smile on my face and brings my mood back up. I am so grateful to Scottish journalist Neil Drysdale for preparing this story exclusively for the Scottish Banner and to Susan for having that dream and sharing it with the world.

Scotland is known for its incredible Hogmanay celebrations with revellers drawn to firework displays and fire ceremonies. However, one of Scotland’s unique festive celebrations which takes place during both Christmas and New Year is The Kirkwall Ba’ in Orkney. The winding streets of Kirkwall are the stage for a huge game of street football, which can last for several hours, or even days! The origins of this Orcadian celebration dates back to Norse times and surely must be one of Scotland’s most unique holiday traditions.

In the Scottish Borders you will find the incredibly grand Marchmont House, whose interior is regarded as one of Scotland’s finest. Marchmont was built in 1750 and still today has some of its original interiors. Outside this palatial mansion however the grounds have quite literally gone to the birds, and other natural life, as gamekeeper, naturalist and gardener Shaun Adams has lovingly worked on making the outside just as unique as Marchmont’s interior. The 6,500-acre estate is now home to variety of birds, wildlife, plants and bees and what could be more grand than that?

Auld Lang Syne

Many people around the world may have no idea that a Scottish folk song penned by Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns is by sung millions of people each year as the clock strikes twelve at New Year. Written in the 1700s Auld Lang Syne literally translates to ‘old long since’, or a long time ago, and is about remembering the good old days. I am always amazed that a poem penned in 1788, in Scots, still today plays a part in New Year traditions across the globe. The song was eventually transported across the world by Scots heading to new lands and now is often the first song many people still hear when they bring in a new year.

As we go to press with this issue pandemic life is still offering up challenges to many people across the world. This year has seen our world go through a raft of lockdowns, cancelled events, missed connections with friends and family and a great deal of added stress and isolation for many. Let us hope with 2022 on our doorstep we can all look forward to more confidence and clarity in life with the return of events, travel and a new normal of life, but hopefully with a bit of Auld Lang Syne for us all.

The Scottish Banner wishes you and your family a safe, healthy and happy festive season ahead.

Do you have a favourite Scottish holiday tradition? Share your story with us! Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

November – 2021 (Vol. 45, Number 05)

Stephen Clarke and Rab Shields, The Kilted Coaches in Glencoe.

The Banner Says…

Glasgow looking to make the world a Dear Green Place

As we go to press with this issue many readers may notice Glasgow in the mainstream news overseas this month. The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties 26 (COP26) will take place in Scotland’s largest city from 31 October to 12 November. COP26 will see global environmental, and possibly life-changing, policy discussed in Scotland.

Glasgow will be the stage for one of the most important climate conferences in memory, and will bring together heads of state, climate experts and campaigners who will all be there to debate and negotiate global policies to tackle climate change under the Paris Agreement.

Glas cau

Over 30,000 people are expected to descend on the city which has for many years been dubbed the ‘Dear Green Place’, so it is quite fitting Glasgow was chosen to host such an important climate event. It is in fact thought green is built into the name of green hollow or as we know today Glasgow, a combination of the words glas meaning green and cau meaning hollow. Glasgow today has more green spaces per capita than any other city in Europe, and has over ninety parks and gardens.

These green spaces are a huge asset to the city, and I have certainly enjoyed walking in the city’s many green spaces whilst there. Glasgow was chosen as host city due to its event experience, commitment to sustainability and world-class facilities. The city has morphed from being an industrial workhorse littered with ship building sites and factories to a modern forward-thinking city of culture and arts, services industries and embracing new green technologies.

Glasgow is considered a European leader in public transport, its amount of green space, the number of green-rated commercial buildings and the city is working to reach its goal of achieving net zero carbon by 2030. Glasgow is also now looking to become a National Park City.

In this issue

While global leaders and policy makers meet in Glasgow this month to talk about the impact of climate change, one Scot has been doing something about it for months. Perthshire native Michael Yellowlees has been walking with his beautiful husky dog Luna across Canada to raise money for a Scottish tree-planting charity. Michael is walking to raise money so Scotland will be able to restore some of the wilderness that has been lost across the Caledonian Forest. It would be fantastic if any Scottish Banner readers get behind Michael and donate for not only a great cause but an incredible Scotsman doing an incredible thing.

The Kilted Coaches are Rab Shields and Stephen Clarke, two friends from Perth who are fitness gurus and show millions of people how to keep fit while proudly wearing their kilts. The down to earth duo not only promote healthy living of the body and mind, but also show off Scotland to millions of people through their social media platforms and it is great to have them both in this issue and across our cover this month.

Back in the late 1990’s a little bit of wizard magic was taking place in Edinburgh. Author JK Rowling was working on the first Harry Potter book and often using Edinburgh cafes as her office. This month marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the first film, which had seven more to follow. Scotland was not only used as film locations for the franchise but Edinburgh and Scotland no doubt brought huge inspiration for the characters and settings in what has become one of the world’s most successful film series.

Net zero future

Scotland’s green credentials are also likely to be under the spotlight this month and the Scottish Government has set a legally binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045, and whilst this will not be easy, it is five years ahead of the target date set for the rest of the UK and many other nations. Glasgow for years has had an impact on the world and let us hope this conference has positive international outcomes.

COP26 is the perfect opportunity to showcase Scotland as a global leader in sustainable development and to create opportunities to help shift and prepare Scotland’s economy for a net zero future.

Glasgow is the city of my family and one I love to be in. I hope it is also a place that creates not only words, but action so we all have a better planet to pass on to the next generation, because who does not want to live in a ‘dear green place’?

What are your hopes for COP26 Glasgow? Have you walked amongst Glasgow’s green spaces? Share your story with us! Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

October – 2021 (Vol. 45, Number 04)

The incredible tartans of Scotland. Photo courtesy of ScotlandShop.

The Banner Says…

Samhain-The ancient traditions of the Celts

October is the month of Halloween across the world and whilst most see it as an excuse for kids to trick or treat and for big and small kids to dress up it can actually trace its origins back to ancient Scotland.

Ancient Celts

Ancient Celts believed ghosts of the dead would walk amongst them on 31 October and the term Halloween or Hallowe’en was first used in 1745. Taking its name from All Hallows’ Eve, the night before the Christian festival of All Hallows or All Saints Day, it is possible to trace its origins back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which takes place on November 1st, which marked the end of summer and the harvest period with the beginning of the cooler winter and when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.

Halloween is still recognised today in Edinburgh at the ancient Samhuinn Fire Festival on top of Calton Hill on October 31st, as people witness the exciting standoff between the Summer and Winter Kings and the dying of the light and the coming of the dark. Edinburgh is of course also known as one of the world’s most haunted cities with some of the most known sites to include Greyfriars Kirkyard, Mary King’s Close, The Edinburgh Playhouse and even a headless drummer at Edinburgh Castle!

Ghostly apparitions

Of course, Edinburgh does not hold exclusive rights to ghostly sightings in Scotland. Did you know one of Scotland’s most scenic beaches is also meant to be haunted? Sandwood Bay in Kinlochbervie is a 1.5-mile beach filled with dunes, sandy coastline and stunning cliffs. Visitors to this beautiful bay may think they have the beach all to themselves, however they could be sharing the surroundings with ghostly apparitions better known as the ‘Dead Sailors of Sandwood Bay’.

Music fans may be spooked to learn that at Argyll’s Inveraray Castle a harpist has been playing tunes for nearly 400 years! The castle is home to the ‘Phantom Harpist’ who is believed to have been the harpist of a former Duke of Argyll. Other hauntings around the castle include a female ghost who is thought to have been killed by the Jacobites and a ghost ship which sails up Loch Fyne and disappears onto the land.

Scotland’s national instrument also has fans ‘on the other side’ as The Phantom Piper of Clanyard Bay can reportedly be heard playing the bagpipes on the coastline near Stranraer during the evenings. Legend has it a piper and his loyal dog entered a cave, the piper never returned, and his dog did manage to escape-but without any fur! Another piper is said to haunt Duntrune Castle near Crinan, the oldest continuously occupied castle on mainland Scotland.

In this issue

This month we caught up with Anna White who founded the Scottish retail business ScotlandShop in Duns in her beloved Scottish Borders. At the heart of their business is tartan, a fabric that shouts Scotland to all and one the nation can be so proud of and also one that goes beyond kilts, with so many items now available in your favourite tartan. Anna’s passion for Scottish products, culture and of course tartan is allowing her to take a leap of faith across the Atlantic and open a US chapter in Albany, New York.

For generations, Glaswegians have loved going down the Clyde coast aboard historic pleasure steamships. Many Glaswegians were doing ‘staycations’ well before they became a pandemic catchphrase. This month we go ‘doon the watter’ aboard some of the great steam paddlers and steam ships who sailed along the Clyde and were a highlight to thousands of people’s vacations and part of lifetime memories for many of summer in Scotland.

Scotland is full of castles, and many have a strong military history and are well known not just in Scotland but across the world. One that may not be as widely known is Dumbarton Castle, which is said to be the longest continually occupied fortification in all of Britain and is built on top of and into an extinct volcano. Unlike William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots I have not yet visited this fascinating site and have found it a pleasure to learn more about this often-missed historic Scottish site.

Scottish traditions

Scottish traditions and folklore stretch back many years and what the world celebrates today with Halloween can trace back to a harvest festival, marking the final harvest of the year and the beginning of the onset of winter. Many of what we know as Halloween traditions came from our Celtic ancestors who would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.

To keep evil spirits at bay, carved neeps, or turnips, with scary faces were placed outside folks houses. The Scots tradition of Guising involved children going door to door dressed up as a scary spirit so that they can venture out safely and ward off evil ghosts.

As Scots emigrated to new lands far and wide, they took these traditions with them which has evolved to the Halloween we know today. So, beyond all that sugar and the outrageous costumes there is in fact a spiritual tradition which dates back to Pagan times and which marks the change of seasons and the respect of our ancestors and that is something not to be scared of but instead very proud of.

Do you celebrate any ancient Scottish traditions? Share your story with us! Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

September – 2021 (Vol. 45, Number 03)

Natasha Connery and Samara Connery debut the Sir Sean Connery Tartan. Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images.

The Banner Says…

The resilience of the international Scottish community

As we enter the final quarter of 2021 most of us will look back on this year as a tough one filled with uncertainty, cancelled plans, and an eagerness to get back to ‘normal’. Most weeks we see additions, amendments or updates being done to our online events listings from across the globe.

The Scottish Banner hosts one of the world’s most diverse and largest international Scottish and Celtic events listings, I regularly get to see a snapshot of how different countries are navigating through the Covid pandemic simply through our events calendar.

From across North America, Australia/New Zealand and Scotland events have been cancelled as governments regulate both large, and small, scale gatherings. The impact has been huge, and it underlines just what a vibrant and active community international Scots have developed, regardless of how many miles they are from the shores of Caledonia.

Online presentations

Thankfully, it is not all doom and gloom as many events are coming back or at least being planned for next year. Scots across the globe are not giving up and the incredible culture which is celebrated each month in diverse locations is not going away. Some events are being creative by offering a digital edition, or for others a part digital and part in person event, whilst some are fortunate to go all in person, with perhaps some caps on numbers or additional safety measures being put in place. Different local rules will dictate how events can or cannot manage themselves in these trying times, but one thing that may just be a positive is the notion of having events being put online. Whilst this may not be everyone’s preferred choice it does open the door to people ‘attending’ an event from anywhere in the world.

Recently in Scotland events such as Glasgow’s PipingLive! and both the Edinburgh Book and Fringe Festival’s for example all had a mix of in-person and online events which anyone could take part in, and yes in case you were wondering the content remained online for a period so people in various time zones could be accommodated. I think we will see more of this as events look to get back to some normal but perhaps at the same time continue and expand with online presentations to a global audience. I know this is also already being done with online Highland Games having already been produced out of Australia, Canada, Scotland and the USA, not to mention whisky events, Clan meetings, Gaelic classes and pipe band practices just to name a few.

Most Scottish Banner readers live a fair distance from Scotland and whilst going back is eagerly awaited few can go multiple times a year, or even annually, perhaps we will soon be able to attend an event in Edinburgh or Inverness from the comfort of our home, as often as we like.

In this issue

This year the world lost one of its icons with the passing of Edinburgh native and fiercely proud Scot Sir Sean Connery. Whilst his legacy will live on in so many classic films and he continues to be voted the ‘best Bond ever’, his family have recently honoured him with his very own tartan which made its worldwide debut at New York’s Dressed to Kilt fashion event. It is a fitting tribute for one of Scotland’s great sons and I will always remember the time I was paged to the podium at an airport, waiting for a flight to Glasgow, and paged as Sean Connery. It certainly caused a few others in the departure lounge to be “shaken, not stirred”…

Can you imagine travelling with an 800-year-old guidebook? That is exactly what David C. Weinczok did as he travelled to Orkney with the Orkneyinga Saga in hand. This medieval chronicle takes the reader across Orkney at a time when the islands were still very much a part of the Viking world. The pages really take the reader back to a brutal time with battles, mythology, history and legend.

An example of just how innovative events are thinking outside the box is highlighted in this issue with the recent digital presentation of the Montreal Highland Games. The Games program blended pre-recorded segments of music, dance and storytelling with onsite interviews and live action. A highlight however was without doubt that Canadian champion Highland Heavy athlete Jason Baines beat the Guinness World Record for the number of cabers tossed in one hour. Jason incredibly beat the previous record of 122 caber tosses in one hour to establish a phenomenal new record of 161 tosses, a feat you can now watch online. Congratulations Jason and to the entire Montreal Highland Games committee!

Haste ye back

As we go to press with this issue there are already numerous event committees planning that next great Scottish event for you to enjoy. Some people will still have to wait several months before considering which one to go to, whilst others have some great events happening this month. As a community group the Scots are spoiled for choice with great events across the globe that appeal to all ages and interests.

When it is safe to do so I urge all our readers to travel near and far (or online) and enjoy and support these great events and reconnect with our shared love of Scotland. If you can do so now then haste ye back and go for those of us that currently cannot and let those events, their performers, vendors and community groups know how important they are to keeping us connected, grounded and proud to have Scotland in our veins.

Will you be attending any Scottish events in person or online? Share your story with us! Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

August – 2021 (Vol. 45, Number 02)

Gracing our cover: Hafthór Júlíus Björnsson at the Scottish Highland Gathering in California. Photo: Ellen Finch via Wikimedia Commons.

The Banner Says…

The lure of a Scottish castle

Whilst reviewing this issue prior to press I cannot help but notice we have some great castle themed content. I can remember on some of my earliest visits to Scotland being so incredibly fascinated and drawn to castles.

The impressive structures were so remote to what I grew up around and were seeped in history, folklore and, as I learned, brutality.

If these walls could talk

The saying “If these walls could talk” certainly comes to mind when you think of the times in which castles across Scotland have stood, and what thick walls they have…Throughout history castles have been used as fortresses and homes for powerful families. Some served as prisons or as military strongholds against foreign invaders, and those who were much closer to home.

My first visit to Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness may have been a bit too focused on seeing ‘the monster’ on the loch, but later visits I realised just how important this medieval stronghold was and the iconic ruins we see today still have a story to tell. In fact, every Scottish castle is full of stories, intrigue and spine-tingling hair-raising history. It is estimated that at one time Scotland had over 3,000 castles dotted across its landscape, that is close to one for every 100 square miles.

Scotland’s oldest castle dates back to the 1100s, Castle Sween takes its name from Suibhne (Sven) ‘the Red’, a chieftain of Irish descent and ancestor of the MacSweens. For those really wanting their castle fix look no further than Aberdeenshire’s Castle Trail. Aberdeenshire is known as ‘Scotland’s Castle Country’. With an incredible count of over 300 castles, stately mansions and ruins scattered across the landscape, there are more castles per acre here than anywhere else in the UK. Amongst the famed castles are Balmoral Castle which was purchased by Prince Albert in 1852 as a gift for Queen Victoria, it has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family ever since.

The last castle in Scotland I visited was also the most visited paid for attraction in the country. Edinburgh Castle majestically sits on top of an extinct volcano and overlooks Scotland’s capital. Edinburgh Castle is one of the oldest fortified places in Europe and as you enter the castle walls the motto above the main entrance ‘Nemo Me Impune Lacesssit’ is Latin for ‘No-one attacks me with impunity’, or ‘no one can harm me unpunished’ sets the tone for what this castle was made for. It was the Latin motto of the Stuart dynasty and appeared on some Scottish coins of the 16th century and more recently on one-pound coins. Edinburgh Castle joins a long list of castles across the country that also have reputed ghostly residents. With a long and bloody history there are spooky tales here as well as Stirling, Glamis, Cawdor and Fyvie castles to name just a few.

In this issue

Keeping with our castle theme this month we look at Scotland’s Castle Corridor, the area of coastal Argyll comprising the Sound of Mull, Firth of Lorn, and Loch Linnhe. The area boasts some magnificent castles to see, and David C Weinczok illustrates the historical interconnectivity of waterways and how those waterways connected Scotland to an international network.

It was recently Holyrood Week for the Royal Family in Scotland, also known as Royal Week. Led by Her Majesty The Queen, she and other members of the family visited a variety of locations across Scotland. The Queen officially reopened the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders’ Museum during a visit to Stirling Castle, it was during this visit The Queen was also presented with the keys to Stirling Castle. The 95-year-old monarch was also accompanied by her grandson Prince William to the AG Barr factory in Cumbernauld to officially open a new processing facility at the factory making the famed drink Irn-Bru. The Earl of Strathearn, as Prince William is known is Scotland, commented that he could “taste the girders”, a reference to the company’s slogan ‘Made in Scotland from Girders’, as he sampled some of the drink.

Scottish heavy events feature at Highland Games across the globe. The cheer of the crowd often pinpoints on the field where spectators are witnessing true feats of strength, whether it is lifting, throwing or pulling. With origins dating back 1,000 years when King Malcolm III got the local men to run up a hill in Braemar looking for the fastest man to deliver his messages. Today both men and women compete at a variety of events as they impress crowds with their strength, ability and sporting prowess. I will always be grateful to the group of athletes who once pushed out my van bogged in at a Highland Games, like it was a toy car.

Scotland’s inspirational castles

There is something romantic about visiting a Scottish castle, so much so they are in fact today popular wedding venues. Steeped in history and often set in incredible environments castles are a big pull for international visitors. Shows such as Outlander have also added to the popularity of planning a trip to Scotland as fans include visits to places such as Doune Castle, which was used as Castle Leoch, the seat of Clan Mackenzie. The ‘Outlander effect’, has also seen a huge boost in visitor numbers to Aberdour Castle, Blackness Castle and Midhope Castle to name just a few.

Craigievar Castle in Aberdeenshire is said to be the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella Castle. This iconic pink tower remains amongst the best preserved and most loved in Scotland and really does look like it is out of a fairytale.

Sitting on the coast of Cruden Bay is Slains Castle, which was originally built in 1597 by the Earl of Erroll. Bram Stoker visited and it is believed the castle is the inspiration for the setting of the tale in Count Dracula. Castles were once fortifications to keep people out, now they welcome people in to learn about the incredible story of Scotland, and how lucky are we to have them.

Do you have a favourite Scottish castle? Share your story with us! Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

July – 2021 (Vol. 45, Number 01)

Gracing our cover: Happy birthday tae us! Edinburgh Castle. Photo: VisitScotland.

The Banner Says…

Here’s Tae Us!

When I see the cover of this edition it takes me a few moments to process it. As the Scottish Banner enters its 45th year of publishing I cannot quite believe it.

I have gone from growing up and seeing the Banner on our dining room table each month and it always being around me as a child, to making my living being a part of this family business and now being responsible for making sure each issue gets out on time.

For so many years I would hear my mother Valerie speak of press time and I never fully appreciated all the various things that must happen to get this publication out to readers. Working with our writers, advertisers, printers, layout production and distributors, to turn around a monthly publication for thousands of people to I hope not only enjoy but feel a part of, can be quite a task.

The early days

For many years I was simply too young to have interest or care about what it took to create each issue of the Scottish Banner. I am still likely unable to fully grasp how those early issues even came together. I remember being a child and driving to the printers with my mother with large flats of the pages to be printed and figured somehow it all just happened.

Some may well remember the days before computers, yes they did not always exist, and I cannot help but wonder today how did we get to press each month? Newspaper publishing was vastly different in the 1970s and 80s, and I would often be in the office of the Banner and see cardboard page flats resting on large stands which were reviewed by standing as the tables were so high, this along with rolls of chemically treated typesetting paper and photos which were hot waxed onto the flats and then cut with sharp knives to create columns and make each page come to life. Just writing this I can nearly again smell the warm wax rolling across the front cover…

In our modern world of email and instant everything, as with any business, there are still many challenges in running the Scottish Banner, but I do not quite know just how I would have coped with our 1970s business model. To be reaching 45 years of publishing in the current conditions of the last 18 months is down to our incredible readers and advertisers, I thank everyone who has helped us stay viable as we have lost so much of our revenue from both events and advertising.

In this issue

The term Clydebuilt always stood for quality and referred to the once thriving shipbuilding industry on the River Clyde. The Ship Yard Trust is planning to create an attraction telling the story of the Clyde’s iconic shipbuilding heritage. The plans are out for public consultation, and they are also looking for stories and memories of working in the yards as apparently the records were all incinerated. Perhaps you or someone in your family has a tale to share and add to the heritage and identity of Glasgow?

Not a day goes by where negative news is not heard on the radio, in print, on TV or across social media. This has of course been heightened with the pandemic as all our lives have taken a turn we did not see coming. It is therefore refreshing to read some positive news in this issue about some of the optimistic things that are taking place in Scotland this year. Our columnist David C Weinczok is opposite to nearly all our readers as a new immigrant to Scotland rather than from, giving a unique perspective and reminding us that some things in the world are heading in the right direction.

For when we can next visit Scotland again there is now another unique way to hit the high road. The Kintyre 66 (K66) is a new driving route to join the popular North East 250 (NE250), the South West Coastal 300 (SWC300) and of course the North Coast 500 (NC500). The K66 highlights 6 areas in Kintyre: Southend & Machrihanish, Campbeltown, East Kintyre, West Kintyre, Gigha and Tarbert. It may be a cliché but driving along listening to Sir Paul McCartney’s Mull of Kintyre is optional, but likely will be what I will do when I get to drive it.

Celebrated all our love of Scotland

The dream of the Scottish Banner came from my parents, Valerie and Jim Cairney, who understood what it was like to miss home and wanted to both have a business but also find a way to connect and relate to others like them abroad. At that time, they ran a successful Scottish restaurant called The Highlander Steakhouse and it was above this restaurant that the Scottish Banner was born. It gave my mother the opportunity to work more regular hours, with three young boys, than a restaurant could offer.

The legacy they created they could never have known then, and is one I thank them for today. For many years the Scottish Banner was the link to home for many, it has played its part in promoting Scottish events and businesses, connected people from across the world, told Scotland’s story and inspired countless thousands of people to visit, and with the over 500 editions created has celebrated all our common love of Scotland, regardless of where we now live.

And whilst I may not be surrounded by hot wax and typesetting paper in our office but
rather computers and social media posts, the vision of the Scottish Banner remains the same and thank you for being part of our incredible journey..

How have you enjoyed the Scottish Banner over the years? Share your story with us! Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

June  2021 (Vol. 44, Number 12)

Gracing our cover: A Robert the Bruce reenactor. Photo courtesy of: VisitScotland.

The Banner Says…

The spirit of home

Throughout the last year and a half, I have heard from so many readers across the world on how they were just about to visit or were planning a trip to Scotland, and then the pandemic hit.

Millions of people across the globe have had their travel plans thrown into chaos and this has had a devastating impact on the international tourism industry, including of course across Scotland. I too was meant to be in Scotland in 2020 and my plans though in the wings, will happen when it is both practical and safe to do so.

Some have missed births, deaths, marriages, milestones, events and perhaps even their last chance to ever visit Scotland again. I do hope readers of the Scottish Banner have been able to keep their passion and love of Scotland strong by reading our pages, whilst I realise it is not like being there, reading about this incredible country can allow you to dream until you can next book that trip to bonnie Scotland.

Visiting Scotland

Visiting Scotland, and of course anywhere, really can also have such a positive impact to your own wellbeing, this is the benefit of the spirit of travel. I have been an avid traveller my whole life and perhaps it was instilled in me by my parents who made sure we got back to Scotland as a family and also travelled to places near and far for Highland Games and a variety of Scottish events. A quiet life at home was never going to be on the cards for us. During my high school days, a trip was allowed to Scotland by myself with just friends, we landed on a summers morning in Glasgow and that was where the travel bug took hold.

We spent weeks navigating the country, meeting so many people and creating memories of a lifetime. Recently Scotland’s national tourism agency VisitScotland released a paper on the emotional benefits of a holiday in Scotland, which included how it fosters resilience, alleviates stress, increases creativity, boosts confidence and encourages empathy.

Whilst most readers of the Scottish Banner will of course not be venturing far this year as vaccinations still take place globally a small step forward is taking place with Scotland slowly opening up to a largely domestic visitor this summer. This month traditionally would see the summer tourist season beginning to kick in with international tourists coming for those incredible long Highland evenings, the array of events and festivals and of course the
incredible Scottish scenery bursting with summer life.

The value of ourism to Scotland’s economy is estimated at £1.4 billion per year, creating 39,000 jobs and about 5% of total Scottish GDP. This is an industry that will need our support once borders open and we all just may find some personal benefits from taking a well-deserved vacation when able.

In this issue

Robert the Bruce is without doubt one of Scotland’s most famous historical characters. Numerous films, books and historical studies have focused on the man who became to be known as the Outlaw King. June is the anniversary of not only his death (June 7, 1329) but also his most famous battle, The Battle of Bannockburn on 23 and 24 June 1314. This month we look at his life and the legacy he has left for not only Scotland, but Scots around the world.

Another notable Scot who may not be quite as recognizable at Robert the Bruce is David Douglas. David was a botanist and born on June 25, 1799 at Scone, near Perth. He died in Hawaii in 1834, on his final expedition, with causes of his passing still unknown. Douglas was passionate about plants and trees and identified hundreds of plants during his lifetime, including his namesake the Douglas fir tree (being just one of over 80 plant species that bear his name).

Robert Fergusson was born in Edinburgh in 1750 and went on to be one of Scotland’s most prolific poets. Fergusson, who often wrote in Scots, inspired Scotland’s most famous poet Robert Burns. Sadly, Fergusson died in 1774 at just aged 24 and is buried in Edinburgh’s Canongate Kirkyard. In 1787, Robert Burns erected a monument at his grave, commemorating Fergusson as ‘Scotia’s Poet’.

Scottish connection

Many people I speak to often tell me a visit to Scotland is not a once only event and they return for several visits. Many speak of an instant connection or feeling they get as soon as they land on Scottish soil. For a small country there is also a great deal of variety and you can return time and time again and still have new experiences.

Previous qualitative research carried out by VisitScotland found that visitors to Scotland imagine that a holiday there would be an intense experience with the potential to profoundly move them emotionally. They found visitors expected to feel an emotional connection with Scotland and re-centred in their own lives and de-stressing and escapism are viewed as some of the key benefits of a Scottish holiday.

For me it really is a place I am connected within my being, and while I do not live there, it is the land of my ancestors and is always familiar, it is in my psyche and runs through my blood. Like so many, I likely can’t get back to Scotland until at least 2022, but when I do return, I know I will be home.

Perhaps you have been moved whilst visiting Scotland or have a profound emotional connection to Scotland, its people, culture and history? We would love to hear from our readers as to what it is that has captivated them about Scotland. Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

May 2021 (Vol. 44, Number 11)

Gracing our cover: The ancient art of coopering at The Speyside Cooperage. Photo: VisitScotland/North East 250/Damian Shields.

The Banner Says…

The Water of Life

It is said Mark Twain once made the famous comment “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whisky is barely enough.”

May in Scotland is traditionally Whisky Month, with events taking place across the five whisky regions (Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown) of the country. This year of course things may not be back to normal with the slow and measured opening of Scotland, however virtual events will ensure whisky aficionados are certain to still find ways to celebrate Uisge beatha, the Scottish Gaelic term for water of life. As we hit mid-month a global celebration also takes place with World Whisky Day on May 15th.

Each bottle of whisky produced tells a story

Each bottle of whisky made in Scotland certainly tells a story of the local region in which it was produced. From smokey and peaty Islay malts to the light bodied varieties from the Lowland’s. With over 130 distilleries to be discovered across Scotland you can be just about anywhere and find some liquid gold being produced.

This year alone Scotland is expected to open new distilleries in Loch Lomond, John O’Groats and Falkirk to name a few, with work being planned on future locations such as Edinburgh, Speyside, Islay and the Scottish Borders.

Some may also be surprised to learn of the reported health benefits which come with consuming whisky, at moderation of course! Whisky is said to help with some surprising ailments so raising a dram just may be good for you. Whisky can lower your risk of heart
disease, promote weight loss, help fight cancer, reduce blood clots, aid digestion and of course help with a common cold by having a Hot Toddy.

In this issue

To help celebrate Whisky Month we have featured just some of the great distilleries you can visit when it is safe to next travel to Scotland. Apart from sampling a dram many distilleries also tell a great story and have strong historical links to the local community. Scotland’s distilleries come in all shapes and sizes, from large ones with modern displays and interactive exhibits explaining the process, to small ones which have preserved their distilling techniques and secrets since the 18th century.

The town of Paisley can be missed from people’s itineraries when visiting Scotland. It however is the largest town in Scotland and is only a short trip by train or car from Glasgow and has much to boast about. Paisley’s growth in the early 19th century was mainly through textile production and the name Paisley was given to the Kashmiri pattern of curving shapes found on silk and cotton fabric. Paisley Museum is being transformed into a world-class destination which will retell the town’s story to the world and is looking for the world to share their paisley history with them.

The most significant battle to take place within Glasgow was fought in the southside of the city on May 13, 1568 and was the Battle of Langside. The Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots was overwhelmingly defeated by Protestant forces after which she fled to England where she was incarcerated by her royal rival and distant cousin Elizabeth I and eventually executed.

The dram of Scotland

The first recorded evidence of whisky production in Scotland dates back to 1494 when monks made Aqua Vitae, as whisky was then known, in Fife. It is suspected however the tradition of whisky making pre-dates this, but one thing that is certain is that whisky production is very much a part of Scotland’s culture, industry and psyche.

As whisky began to be known across the country Scottish farmers would distil their surplus grain at the end of the harvest season to make the ever-popular drink. This led to the government imposing a whisky tax in 1644, which caused many a distiller to go underground and an illicit distilling and whisky smuggling boom was born. For well over 100 years canny Scots mixed farming and distilling with great skill, creating a network of stills and distribution to evade customs.

Today whisky is one of Scotland’s top exports with hundreds of countries around the world wanting and consuming the dram of Scotland. It is now an industry that is worth over billion’s to Scotland and has fans across the globe.

I hope you are able to sit back and enjoy your May and if that involves having a wee dram, here is to your good health! Cheers/Slàinte Mhath!

Have you visited one of Scotland’s great distilleries? Do you have a favourite dram? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

April 2021 (Vol. 44, Number 10)

Gracing our cover: Culloden’s 275th Commemoration. Photo: The National Trust for Scotland.

The Banner Says…

A celebration of mythical Scotland

Scotland is a country rich with fascinating stories of
myths, folklore and legends, sometimes just believing a story may be true is half the fun and also strengthens someone’s connection to the land.

Legends are abundant in Scotland from the world famous Loch Ness Monster who became an international superstar for many, the mythical water horse the kelpie which is said to have travelled Scotland’s lochs and rivers, or legend has it that the Irish giant Finn McCool built the Giant’s Causeway between County Antrim and Scotland, so that he could cross the ocean without getting his feet wet and landed at Staffa in the Inner Hebrides.

A powerful animal that never did exist

Whilst these tales do not make up Scotland’s actual history, they weave a part of its story, and no doubt has been discussed, argued, believed, and unbelieved over the decades. However, one mythological facet of Scotland’s story that is very much still not only part of today’s society but can also be seen across the land is Scotland’s national animal-the unicorn.

Whilst England may have the lion, Canada the beaver, Australia the kangaroo, New Zealand the kiwi or the USA the eagle, Scotland has a powerful animal that never did exist but at the same time is across its history and visible at locations across the country.

Unicorns were first used on a Scottish coat of arms in the 12th century by William I (William the Lion) and are thought to represent strength, purity, innocence, power, chivalry and even magical powers. Since then, several monarchs of Scotland used the unicorn in their coat of arms as it represented their power, the unicorn was also found on coins and royal seals, including that of Mary Queen of Scots. Over time, this led to the unicorn becoming officially recognised as Scotland’s national animal.

Finding a unicorn today

Today the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom still consists of the lion of England on the left and the unicorn of Scotland on the right, whilst The Royal Coat of Arms for Scotland
has them the other way round. Adding to the mystic on both versions of the coat of arms shows the unicorn wrapped in chains, some say as it needs to be chained due to its power and danger, while others say it is a symbol of Scotland being oppressed.

Have you ever seen a unicorn? Unlikely just has those in the 12th century never really saw one, but clearly revered them and held them in incredibly high regard. You can however see over 100 unicorns in different locations across Scotland today. A variety of the nation’s historical sites have remnants of unicorns literally carved into their amazing stories. Just some of the incredible sites you can have a unicorn visit include Stirling Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh Castle, St Giles’ Cathedral and the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, St Andrews University, Linlithgow Palace, on one of the world’s oldest ships the HMS Unicorn in Dundee, and not to forget at the several mercat cross, or market cross, squares where community markets and events took place across Scotland.

In this issue

On 16 April 1746, the final Jacobite Rising came to a brutal head in one of the most harrowing battles in British history. The last pitched battle on British soil lasted less than an hour, but it has continued to hold significance in Scottish history. Culloden took place 275 years ago this month and we look back on this event and how it changed Scotland. I have stood on the battleground as winds swept across my back and thought about what being part of that day would have been like, it is both an eerie and spiritual place and one that should be visited and

Anyone lucky enough to visit Scotland’s islands will well know of the extraordinary beauty and tranquility they hold. From Iona to Orkney to Skye, the isles of Scotland each hold their own unique appeal and tradition. However, as islands, especially during the summer, can be bursting with transient tourists they continue to struggle to keep long term residents on their shores as property prices skyrocket and employment opportunities fall. Whether you are a visitor or a born and bred islander there is real sense of being a castaway amongst paradise.

It is not just unicorns that tell a story across Scotland. Carved in historical sites across the country are scenes of Scotland’s past. From castles to cathedrals hidden meanings can be found at a variety of historic sites and each wall really can tell a tale of the past. Uncovering the meanings of Scotland’s architecture can be fascinating to learn and reminds us all to look closely at these historic sites as there are hidden tales to be told.

National symbol for Scots

April 9th happens to be National Unicorn Day across the globe, which celebrates the mythological animal. However, in Scotland the unicorn is more than that, it has been an important national symbol for Scots for hundreds of years. You will find the unicorn in statues, stonework, flags and tapestries across Caledonia.

The fact Scotland has a powerful mythical unicorn as its national animal, is a great source of pride for many Scots. Today that mythical horned creature continues to be a symbol of resilience, independence and strength and I know on my next visit to Scotland I will certainly be looking out for a unicorn on my travels with admiration and respect.

Have you found any unicorn symbols in your Scottish travels? Have you visited Culloden Moor? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

March 2021 (Vol. 44, Number 09)

Gracing our front cover: Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam and Graham. Photo courtesy of Starz.

The Banner Says…

Celebrating the women of Scotland

Scotland’s history is incredible and it is no wonder the story of Scotland is a film producer’s dream, all the gore, twists and dramatic locations. Many Scots of course have left their mark and became notable in Scottish history, and we of course hear of William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Robert Burns, to name a few but what about the incredible contribution of women?

This month, on March 8th, is International Women’s Day- a celebration of women’s achievement and I certainly have been brought up around strong women and grew up with many who I have no doubt have shaped who I am today.

Some may immediately think of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was beheaded for treason, as a female Scottish icon. There is no doubt that the life of Mary, Queen of Scots would
rival any modern epic, but some may struggle to remember many more. That of course could be explained by women’s standing in history and their achievements never being recorded or potential allowed to be fulfilled.

Elsie Inglis

Elsie Inglis was born in 1864, and studied in both Paris and Edinburgh, she went on to study medicine and become a qualified surgeon. Whilst working at hospitals in Scotland, Elsie was shocked to discover how poor the care provided to poorer female patients was. Elsie would go on to set up a hospital in Edinburgh just for women, often not accepting payment. Elsie went on join the women’s suffrage campaign in 1900, and campaigned for women’s rights across Scotland. In 1914 Elsie offered to take an all-female medical unit to the front lines, she was told it was ridiculous, however she dispatched the first of 14 all-women medical units to Serbia, to assist the war effort.

Her Scottish Women’s Hospitals went on to recruit more than 1,500 women to treat thousands of soldiers across both Western and Eastern Europe. Elsie sadly died at just aged 53 and thousands of people lined the streets of Edinburgh for her funeral. Elsie is still a hero in Serbia, with streets and buildings named after her and she appears on the Clydesdale Bank £50 note.

The Edinburgh Seven

Sophia Jex-Blake, Isabel Thorne, Edith Pechey, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Mary Anderson and Emily Bovell have come to be known as the Edinburgh Seven. They were the first group of matriculated undergraduate female students at any British university. The women began studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1869 and although they were ultimately
prevented from graduating with a medical degree, they campaigned to ensure that women and men were taught the same, tested the same and if successful, awarded the same degrees.

Their fight gained national attention and put the rights of women to a full and equal university education on the national political agenda. Legislation was eventually passed, seven years later, to enable women to enter both the medical profession and universities (UK Medical Act 1876). The University of Edinburgh allowed women to graduate in 1894 and the first doctors graduated in 1896.

Madge Easton Anderson

Born in Glasgow in 1896, Madge Easton Anderson became a female pioneer for her generation, becoming the first woman to work professionally as a lawyer in the UK when she qualified in 1920. Not only was Madge the first female solicitor in Scotland, but she went on to become the first woman to qualify to practise law in both England and Scotland and a partner in the first known law firm to be led entirely by women. Madge was just one of only a handful of women in her university classes, and the only female lawyer in the UK at one point, she paved the way for a profession which is, today, 51% female.

Maggie McIver

Another Glasgow woman who certainly made her mark was Maggie McIver “the Barras Queen”. Her rags to riches tale read’s like something out of a fictional novel. Born in Ayrshire in 1879, Maggie began life as a barrow girl selling fruits and fish. She and her husband had such success renting barrows to other hawkers that they went on to open the Barras Market in 1920, over a 100 years later it is still the place to go in Glasgow for a bargain. Maggie then went on to open the Barrowland Ballroom on Christmas Eve 1934.

As legend has it, the usual place she booked for the hawkers annual Christmas dance was booked so they decided to build their own ballroom. Maggie was a multi-millionaire by the time she died in 1958 and the Barrowland Ballroom is still today known as one of the best live music venues in the UK.

Flora MacDonald

The famous Scottish melody the Skye Boat Song, owes its origins to the daring mission of mercy undertaken by Flora MacDonald, a young Highland woman who risked her life out of compassion for a fugitive Prince who had staked everything on a bid to win a kingdom and lost. Flora MacDonald is famously known for helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from Scotland after the defeat of the Jacobite’s in the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Bonnie Prince Charlie (Prince Charles Edward Stuart) led the second Jacobite Uprising of 1745 to overthrow King George II.

Flora was visiting her brother in South Uist when she met Bonnie Prince Charlie, then fleeing from the Redcoats following his April defeat at Culloden. The part that Flora played in the escape ‘over the sea to Skye’ is immortalised in the Skye Boat Song, published in 1884, and a song more recently made famous in the opening of the hit TV show Outlander.

In this issue

Speaking of Outlander, this month we celebrate the launch of the new TV show Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam and Graham. At a time when people cannot travel internationally this show is a great escape to Scotland, from your very own armchair. Whilst readers of the Scottish Banner will no doubt have seen many of these topics covered in our pages over the decades, it is so wonderful to see Scotland again playing a starring role for millions to enjoy.

It is 100 years ago this month that Haddingtonshire became East Lothian. The region offers over 40 miles of stunning coastline, history, golf courses, rolling hills and historic properties and is the home of Scotland’s Saltire flag (having originated in a battle fought in East Lothian). This region has much to offer and make it a stop on your next visit to Scotland.

The contribution of Scottish women

The contribution of Scottish women has often been overlooked but does not lesson the great impact they have made across Scotland, and the world. Today Scotland’s leader is of course First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is also the Leader of the Scottish National Party and the first woman to hold either position. Scotland has moved on and Scottish women are continuing to make their mark in a variety of professions and across society. I have mentioned but just a few of the incredible women who have made a difference to Scotland and paved a path for women across the world today. And it is with no doubt that our world is a better place due to them…

Have you been inspired by a great Scottish woman (famous or not)? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. 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.

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