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
remembered.

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.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

February 2021 (Vol. 44, Number 08)

Gracing our front cover: Sweetheart Abbey, one of Scotland’s romantic locations. Photo: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam.

The Banner Says…

For the love of Scotland

This month as we approach Valentine’s Day our world is vastly different to just a year ago. So many have endured such hardship, grief and loss of connection.

The international Scottish community however continues to do incredible things at keeping our traditions alive with virtual events and plans are being made for gatherings to again begin once it is safe.

These all reflect our shared love of Scotland and the incredible culture that Scots have formed internationally. Whilst Covid-19 has played havoc on so much; it has not diminished peoples love of Scotland.

Traditionally, whether you are in a large city or regional area, the sights and sounds of Scotland can be found, bringing people together to enjoy a part of Scottish culture and tradition. Scotland is such an historic nation which draws so many to its shores.

People often ask me what it is I love so much about Scotland and are sometimes surprised to not get an instant well scripted answer of my favourite things about the country. For me it is more complex than a simple answer as it is such a layered response. It says something significant about a country when its enduring icons are woven in tartan, some of the most incredible landscapes, historic cities and towns, the sound of trad music and the pipes and drums, a whisky that is as complex as it is universally admired and, of course, the people. It confirms that Scotland is no ordinary place but, instead, a magical destination with a full and unique flavour, brimming with rich experiences.

The nearness of the past that permeates the whole Scottish experience

Wherever you travel in Scotland, from the cities to the remotest corners, the country’s unusually dramatic history lies waiting to be discovered just beneath the surface of the present. Dating back to 2000 BC, the standing stones at Callanish hint at early appreciation of astrology. Every New Year’s Day, the ball game of Ba’ rages through the streets of Kirkwall in the Orkneys as it has for countless centuries. And Cawdor Castle, where Macbeth carried out his bloody ambitions in the 11th century, remains one of the most romantic and best-preserved fortresses.

No visit to Edinburgh is complete without a stroll through the polished halls of Holyrood Palace, where Mary Queen of Scots witnessed the murder of her trusted secretary by her jealous husband Lord Darnley in 1556. Nearby, the Writer’s Museum displays the desk at which Robert Burns wrote his evocative poetry, and the pipe smoked by Walter Scott as he brought Ivanhoe to life. The Golf Museum at St. Andrews gives context to the game once outlawed in the 17th century because its popularity was causing soldiers to neglect archery practice. At another royal retreat, Balmoral, Queen Victoria grieved the loss of her husband Albert, walking the heathertinted Highlands in the company of her groom, Mr. Brown.

The nearness of the past that permeates the whole Scottish experience is perhaps best summarised by the Stone of Destiny. In 1292, the Scots’ coronation emblem was taken
from Scone Abbey by the invading Edward I of England and held in Westminster Abbey in London. After 700 years of effort, it was finally returned in 1996. Three years later, in 1999, the Scottish Parliament was re-established in Edinburgh, 292 years after it was abolished by Earl of Seafield on May 1, 1707. Now plans are under way to bring this historic artifact “home” to Perth, the original capital of Scotland.

In this issue

Keeping with the Valentine’s theme we look at just some of Scotland’s many romantic places, of course this list is very subjective, and many will have their favourite spot -why not share yours with us? This is what happens when you have a stunningly beautiful and varied countryside, ranging from craggy coasts to dramatic Highlands, from mirror-still lochs to softly meandering rivers and cities which merge the old and new worlds.

Robert the Bruce is certainly one of the most iconic figures in Scottish history and is today revered by many both in Scotland and across the world. The marriage to his young wife Elizabeth may have been one of convenience or arrangement and she endured a punishing life in support of her husband. Elizabeth was a loyal rebel Queen and played her own uniqu role in Scottish history.

Many Scottish castles now stand in solitude, often on hilltops that accentuate their apparent isolation. The freestanding tower is, after all, a recognisable icon of Scotland. Recent research, however, challenges this notion – with few exceptions, these towers were just one part of a bustling castle complex whose traces vanished over time. We look at the myth of the lonely tower as it has been thoroughly debunked, and what it means for how we talk about Scotland’s castles today.

The spirit of Scotland

The prospect of visiting Scotland just now to enjoy all its amazing sights and culture is not possible. But that does and will not stop all the lovers of Scotland appreciating this unique and forward-thinking ancient land. Scotland is brimming with a wealth of stories, history
and landscapes that, over time, have been woven together to create traditions and a spirit of Scotland.

This spirit is celebrated around the world and is in fact the reason the Scottish Banner was created, and still exists today. We would love to hear from our readers as to what they love about Scotland and her spirit. Perhaps that question for you brings with it an answer with as many layers as I have, and maybe that is what we all love so much about Scotland…

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

#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 2021 (Vol. 44, Number 07)

Gracing our front cover: A dawning of a new year at Covesea Lighthouse, Moray Coast Trail. Photo: VisitScotland.

The Banner Says…

That’s my Uncle!

For nearly twenty years I spent each January in Scotland. It may not have been the warmest month and I certainly missed out on the long evenings of light but it for me was always a special time to see the country.

I visited many parts of Scotland on its coldest and darkest days and loved it. The nation may have been quieter in terms of tourists and some attractions are not open but sharing Scotland with locals was always enjoyable. I do however have a memory of taking a cruise on Loch Ness and wondering if I would lose extremities to the cold coming off the beautiful waters.

John Cairney

Of course, part of being there in January was celebrating Burns Night. I have managed to attend several Burns Nights around the world and realise how lucky the Scottish community is to have this opportunity to celebrate not only Burns, but Scottish culture and tradition in the midst (for many) of winter. There are many great aspects people enjoy of a Burns Night from hearing poetry, music and connecting with friends. However, for me Burns Night and suppers will always bring back memories of family. The obvious for me is my Uncle, John Cairney, who has been so well known to audiences around both in Scotland and the world through his one man shows about Burns and has been considered one of the leading interpreters of the works of the Bard for many years.

Uncle John came often to Canada where he would perform to audiences at sell out nights hosted by our family. From a young age I helped at these events, it could be clearing plates or setting up chairs and at times, much to my great embarrassment, being dragged up on stage by my Uncle to hold the haggis as he recited an Address To A Haggis. When I was much younger I did blur the lines of Burns and my Uncle. I remember being asked by a lady at a Highland Games if I knew who Robert Burns was. I quite quickly and surely answered: “That’s my Uncle!”

Of course, Uncle John was not Robert Burns, he in fact is a celebrated actor who in addition to connecting many to the works of Burns appeared in feature films such as Cleopatra and Jason and the Argonauts. Uncle John also became an author of several books and has exhibited his artwork as a painter. For me though he remains my Uncle and someone I look forward to seeing, regardless of the month of visit, on my next trip to Scotland.

In this issue

This year many Burns Night’s are not going ahead sadly. However, this month we are still highlighting one of Scotland’s great sons. 1796 was a long time ago, however since the death of Robert Burns he has inspired many people across the globe. From writers to politicians and musicians- Robert Burns legacy has left a global footprint. That footprint was even left on
money, as Burns wrote a poem on a Bank of Scotland guinea note. Amazingly nearly 40 years after his death the skull of Robert Burns was taken from his crypt by phrenologists (those who believe the bumps on your head can explain your personality and character).

This month is Greyfriars Bobby Day. The story of the loyal dog has been woven into Edinburgh folklore for years and the Skye Terrier’s statue is one of the most popular in the city. The statue sits just outside Greyfriars Kirkyard, a place that has been called ‘the world’s most haunted graveyard’-surely that is saying something! The burial ground has quite an illustrious history and is well worth a visit, if you dare.

The pipe band movement has no doubt had a tough year. With band practices and competitions not possible for many. The fraternity of the pipe band movement is without question one of many members with bands all coming together in both competition and friendship. It is good to see new ways bands across the world are both innovating and looking forward to 2021.

45

As we ring in 2021, I hope the year ahead will be much kinder to the world. I also hope our events can get back on track for 2021 and most importantly we all keep safe. I will of course not be visiting Scotland this month and I look forward to the next time I can look out the airplane window to catch the first glimpses of either Glasgow or Edinburgh and know- I am back.

One thing that this year will bring (in July) is the 45th anniversary of the Scottish Banner, a huge milestone for sure and one that was never expected. So, thank you to our amazing readers, advertisers and supporters and I wish you and yours the very best for the year ahead.

How will celebrate Burns Night or what would you normally do for it? 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 2020 (Vol. 44, Number 06)

Gracing our front cover: Isle of Barra based Herring Girl Knitwear. Photo: Stephen Kearney/Little Day Productions.

The Banner Says…

For Auld Lang Syne

As the sunsets on 2020 I am sure many readers will be happy to see this year put to pasture. This year has seen so much physical connection lost between people, with many yearning for Auld Lang Syne.

Globally Scottish events have had to be cancelled everything from large Highland Games and Scottish festivals, Military Tattoo’s (not only in Edinburgh, but
around the world), concerts, pipe band events, Clan gatherings and so much more. In the first half of the
year I witnessed the cancellation of hundreds of events across the world and we spent many hours updating our website as each cancellation came in.

Though it may not be as apparent today, the Scottish Banner hosts the largest international Scottish events listing in the world and keeping this resource up to date was important for many members of the Scottish community.

I am seeing events slowly coming back on our website and I hope we can soon bring our events page back to each edition of the Banner as I know many miss it. I think many
of us will attend their first event with a sense of great happiness and our connection to Scotland, and each other, will only grow stronger. Things may well open at different stages in different regions but when it is safe to do so near you, make it one of your New Year
resolutions to attend a Scottish event or function, our community needs the support to bounce back.

I have heard from numerous people who had plans to travel to Scotland in 2020, all who have been forced to cancel their trips. I too was meant to be over this year and know so many had planned to visit family, friends, attend events and simply take in the country we all love so much. Scotland will of course wait for us and be there when it is safe to travel and be just as stunning as it was in 2020. As someone who travelled to Scotland annually without even thinking about it for many years, I know my next visit will be a special one and one I cherish.

In this issue

Herring Girls were the hard-working women who worked in Scotland’s fishing industry. These women worked long hours in physically demanding jobs. The women, who often worked away from home, learned a variety of unique sewing and knitting methods that
would be handed down through the generations. Now a company on the Isle of Barra is bringing this Hebridean tradition back to life and using these unique historical patterns and creating a business for the 21st century.

Four Scottish students created worldwide headlines and certainly a media storm on Christmas Day in 1950 when they broke into London’s Westminster Abbey and reclaimed
the Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny, from beneath the British Throne. The Stone of Destiny had been used in the coronations of the Scottish kings until the end
of the 13th century. One of the key figures from that historic day, Ian Hamilton, has been a long-time supporter of the Scottish Banner and we are lucky enough to call him a previous contributor to our pages.

One of Scotland’s worst tragedies was the Glen Cinema tragedy, which took place on 31 December 1929 in Paisley. Sadly, a smoking film canister caused a panic during a packed matinee screening of a children’s film where more than 600 kids were present. Tragically
the exit doors were blocked causing a crush where 71 children died, and more than 30 were injured.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

Across the world this Hogmanay people will again sing Robert Burns’ most famous poem Auld Lang Syne. The 1788 Scots poem is one of the poet’s greatest legacies and has helped millions of people start their new year with those famous lines of ‘Should auld acquaintance be forgot…’ The phrase ‘auld lang syne’ literally translates to ‘old long since’ or ‘days gone by’ and has been recorded in Scottish song dating as far back as the 1500s.

During World War 1 Auld Lang Syne also united enemies as troops on the frontlines during
Christmas would hold a ceasefire and sing songs with each other, including the Burns standard.

As we wave goodbye to another year, and very much look to start a new one with hope and reconnection, Auld Lang Syne this year feels more relevant than ever as it calls us to remember past great times and reminds us to keep old friendships in mind. Soon we
will be able to reunite with our family, friends and the wider Scottish community at events across the world.

So, no matter where you find yourself this Hogmanay, I hope you find time for some reflection, nostalgia and hope-just as Mr Burns would have wanted.

All of us involved with the Scottish Banner wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas
and Hogmanay and may 2021 be one of health and happiness.

And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Will you be getting back to Scotland or a Scottish event when things are safe? 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 2020 (Vol. 44, Number 05)

Gracing our front cover: Graham McTavish and Sam Heughan, from Men in Kilts and Clanlands. Photo: Starz.

The Banner Says…

Coming full, stone, circle

Over ten thousand years ago the earliest inhabitants of Scotland began erecting stone monuments which have left a shroud of mystery for historians to work out their cultural or spiritual importance.

Folklore and myth surround these large stone formations which can be found across Scotland, with claims of supernatural, sacred, and healing powers. Ancient stones scatter the Scottish landscape today from historic Cairn monuments, stone circles, Neolithic burial chambers and bronze age tombs.

On the Isle of Lewis sits the incredible Calanais Standing Stones. Known in Gaelic as ‘Fir Bhreig’ or ‘false men’, legend has it that they are the petrified souls of the distant past, while scientists now believe these stones were aligned to the sun and the moon.

The Ring of Brodgar in Orkney is Britain’s third largest stone circle. It is believed this was a site of ritual and religious ceremony dating back thousands of years. Others feel it is a shrine to the solstice and changing seasons and even for some a place for UFO’s to land from another universe.

Not far from Inverness and Culloden Moor sits the three circular Clava Cairns. This bronze-age stone built cemetery is believed to have been the burial site of a Pictish king.
Clava Cairns are believed to be up to 4,000 years old and is one of the oldest well-preserved burial sites in Scotland.

In this issue

Speaking of stones, it was in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book and TV series, that led character Claire to visit a prehistoric stone circle near Inverness, and fall through the
stones—and into the 18th century and so began an incredible journey not only for Claire but the Outlander franchise. We are delighted to have Graham McTavish, or as some may know as Dougal MacKenzie from the first two series of the show, speak to us about his new book Clanlands and soon to be released TV series Men in Kilts with Outlander’s Sam Heughan. Both Graham and Sam have a true love of Scotland and its incredible story and I can think of few others that can engage so many and keep Scotland on the mind of not just Scots but a worldwide audience.

The rural countryside of West Lothian was changed forever when the shale oil industry took hold from the late 1800s. Communities developed in the shadow of the oil works and began to thrive and still today have a story to tell. A new Shale Trail will educate visitors on Scotland’s oil shale story and create an opportunity for both locals and visitors to learn about Scotland’s shale heritage.

DNA science has been huge for those looking to find their ancestry. Researchers at the University of Strathclyde are now working on discovering the ancient MacDougall bloodline and looking for male MacDougall’s, or with names derived from MacDougall such as Dougal, Dougald, Dougall, MacDougald, MacDougall, McCoull, McDougal, McDougall and McDugle. Participants may just discover what their MacDougall medieval origins are.

The ritual of stones

You can often hear the saying ‘If these walls could talk’, well in Scotland you can also add stones to that phrase. Thousands of years of mythical stories and tales have been created and in many instances their existence still remains a mystery today. Perhaps it is the legends of these great stone monuments that is all we need to keep us fascinated. Folklore and legend have left a physical memorial in Scotland’s many stone spaces and leaves us with many questions of their importance.

Scotland’s connection with stones however does not always have to be with large relics. What got my mind on stones was the recent passing of an incredible lady I knew for nearly
my whole life. Agnes Maxwell was brought up in a Govan tenement by the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow. Later Agnes would settle in Canada and raise four incredible
daughters, who I grew up with. Agnes believed in the ancient Scottish ritual of stones in relation to loss and grief.

Stones can stand for pain you wish to relinquish, by releasing a stone you release the pain and begin the process of healing. Stones are also a symbol of hope and you can place a
stone in a special place in your home as a promise for the future.

I will now have a special stone at my house for an incredible Scottish lady who touched many, including me, thanks Aggie for all that you were!

Happy St Andrew’s Day

This year celebrations for just about everything are not how we once knew, and that will include St Andrew’s Day on November 30th. St Andrew was officially named the patron saint of Scotland in 1320 and traditional St Andrew’s Day functions take place across the globe (with the exception I hope of only 2020) with a celebration of Scottish food, music, and friendship.

Regardless of how you end up celebrating this year, I hope you find some way to enjoy it.

Have you visited any of Scotland’s ancient stone sites? 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 2020 (Vol. 44, Number 04)

Gracing our front cover: John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan chief of the Clan Buchanan.

The Banner Says…

A Scottish witch hunt

As nature bursts with colour across Scotland, and
North America, many this month are fortunate to
witness autumnal foliage as colours come alive into landscapes. Colours start changing in September and natures show can last through November, but October really is the month that the bursts of red,
yellow and orange takes hold.

October of course finishes with the excitement for many kids at Halloween. What that will look like
due to Covid-19 I am not sure as countries across the world grapple with social distancing. Scotland’s
First Minister has indicated she does not want to stop the joy of trick-or-treating for children, but that she also would be taking steps to keep kids and their families safe from coronavirus infections.

The streets may have a rise in the number of witch sightings this Halloween but did you know Scotland historically was one of Europe’s biggest prosecutors of witches? During nationwide witch hunts in Scotland during the 1600s it is estimated of up to 4,000 people
were tried and thousands of women were executed for being declared a witch. Scotland had a quarter of the population that England had, yet three times the amount of prosecutions, with Edinburgh being the ‘witch capital’ of not only Scotland, but the world.

Fate already decided

Visitors can pay their respects to the accused women at the Witches Well located on the Royal Mile where more than 300 women were burned at the stake between the 15th and
18th centuries. As with most witch trials, these women were denied a fair trial, often with confessions made by torture, and their fate had already been decided for them.

The consequences were horrible and varied from drowning, strangulation, to being burned at the stake. The Witches Well is a bronze plaque that was placed in 1894 and features witches’ heads entwined by a snake, there are also other locations around
the Scottish capital with a gruesome history, but the witch hunt also took place right across Scotland.

In Fife the Noth Berwick Witch Trials were a huge event and ran for two years and implicated nearly 100 local women, they were also said to have given Shakespeare
inspiration for Macbeth. Also, in the beautiful Fife town of Culross women were imprisoned and tortured and, if lucky, were brandedfor life with an S for sinner or had
their ears nailed to the town stocks.

In Aberdeen during the 1500s St. Mary’s Chapel at Kirk of Saint Nicholas was a witches’ prison where the accused were chained before being executed and burned. As a form of punishment, some unlucky accused were rolled down a hill in a spiked barrel and if still alive were set alight.

In Glasgow’s stately Pollok House, five locals known as the ‘witches of Pollok’ were accused of being companions with the devil and sent to be burned at the stake. The accuser was Janet Douglas, a mute servant who became ill and later regained the power of speech
and immediately accused five local people of consorting with the devil. Rumour has it that Ms Douglas later moved to America and was involved with the Salem witch trials of 1692.

Thankfully by the mid-17th century most places in Europe stopped prosecuting witches.
Interestingly however the last successful prosecution under the 16th Century Witchcraft Act in Britain was in the 1940s. After that, all the Witchcraft Acts were repealed so it was no longer a crime.

In this issue

We do certainly have some spooky content in this issue as a nod to Halloween, or the Celtic festival of Samhain. From the Gorbals Vampire in Glasgow, or the ghost of Craigmillar Castle, to the ancient  Celtic origins of Halloween. What we celebrate today may be different to our ancestors, but it certainly is fascinating to know the roots of
this custom.

Also, the great folklore of tales to do with brutal histories, ghostly encounters and for some Glasgow kids just making sure you can keep away from the ‘bogie man’.

Another creepy thing is mortsafes, which protected the dead from opportunistic body snatchers. In 18th century Scotland, there was a large demand for human cadavers for
medical students to use in their studies and grave robbing became big business.
Iron mortsafe’s would be fastened around a coffin to protect it from would be thieves and
would remain until the corpse had decomposed enough, and would no longer be sellable.

People power certainly, eventually, prevailed when the sky(e) high tolls were abolished at the Isle of Skye. The Skye bridge between the island and the mainland opened twenty-five years ago this month in October 1995. It took a great deal of local push back and nearly a decade to remove, until the Scottish Government bought the bridge for £27m and ancelled the toll, and is still today a free road for all.

The Clan Buchanan celebrated their first chief in nearly 350 years back in 2018. This month we speak to one of Scotland’s newest chiefs, The Buchanan, on the long road to proving his claim as head of Buchanan’s and how he is navigating being a modern chief in the 21st century.

Remembering Valerie Cairney

Thank you to all the wonderful readers and friends from around the world who have reached out in regard to the recent passing of Val Cairney, the founder, and four-decade editor and publisher of the Scottish Banner.

My mother certainly touched many people over the years and that has been apparent with the many kind messages, calls, emails, cards and letters that have been received.
It certainly has made a terrible time somewhat easier and myself and my family thank the many who have let us know how special Val was to them. We have dedicated our letters page this month to just some of the messages we have received from so many, from all parts of the Scottish community and the world.

Val would be thrilled to see she touched so many, and so am I, and I know she will not be forgotten.

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 2020 (Vol. 44, Number 03)

Gracing our front cover: The Scottish Banner founder, publisher and editor Valerie Cairney.

The Banner Says…

Remembering Valerie Cairney

It is with great sadness that I am writing some of the hardest lines of my life, as I slowly come to terms with the fact that the founder and four decade publisher and editor of the Scottish Banner, my mother, Valerie Cairney has sadly and unexpectedly passed away.

Valerie’s footprint

I know many readers have enjoyed her content over many years or met her at numerous Scottish events around the world. Though the Scottish Banner has morphed and changed over time in what we offer, our look and our writers, Valerie’s footprint is across each and every page still today.

Valerie’s love for this publication and its readers and supporters was infinite. When she, along with my father Jim, came up with the idea of a Scottish publication back in the 1970’s it really was a way for her to take on a job that suited her demands of being a mother to three children, and in many ways the Banner became her fourth offspring.

My mother would often say she would never have had the life she did if it was not for the Scottish Banner and she loved every minute of it.

She met so many people through her career from celebrities to royalty, but it really was the readers she loved to meet and hear from most. For my mother, the relationship with
the readers was so special and it was very much a two-way street, she loved them and so many loved her. Our readership became extended family to her and she got to know so
many incredible people and I have no doubt had she not been so busy with running the Banner she would have had a very busy life keeping up with all the special people she met along the way.

People’s positive feedback about our content made all those long hard hours of work so
worth it to her. Valerie especially loved attending Highland Games across the world and connecting with people and enjoying the spectacle of Scottish culture.

The Son

I cannot even begin to tell you how many people whether it has been in person, on the phone or by email have simply asked me “Are you the son?” I am of course so very proud
to be one of her boys and it just happens to be I was the one to follow her in her footsteps and take a leap of faith and join the Banner many years ago and make a life out of being
part of the amazing international Scottish community. Sometimes to my absolute embarrassment, at the time, she talked of me in her articles, those articles I now treasure and have read a few over recently with a big smile, one of the few smiles I have just now, but with each word her love and support came through.

It may be quite rare for a mother and son to work the way we did, but we did form an incredible partnership in both our professional and personal lives. We may have not
always seen a page the same way, we did however learn from each other and she always said whilst the Scottish Banner is very rewarding it is also a challenging job and if I ever
wanted out she understood.

There are few people who understand the challenges of running a business like the Scottish Banner like Val did, at each press time you may feel you can take a breather but in fact the next issue is only a few short weeks away from printing again, there can be a heavy travel schedule as you attend events (either across the country or the world), and of course all the hard work that is not always seen by others. To this day I have known few people that have worked as hard as my mother did for all those years to keep the Scottish Banner not only going, but going from strength to strength for so many decades.

I was of course honoured when she asked me to take over as editor, a job she said I was made for. For me it was all part of my bigger job and that was being her son.

Her legacy

Valerie really was the Scottish Banner, and it was her, her legacy is across each issue still produced today. Since my mother retired four years ago, I have felt simply as the conduit to her vision and passion which never went away.

We often discussed so much in each issue, ideas about future issues and our combined hope for the future of the business. I know she was so proud of what she achieved with the Banner and was probably just as surprised as the rest of us it carried her through her life.

My mother also made it very clear to me on numerous occasions how proud she was that the Banner continues still today. This publication is not just our family business, but it is her legacy to both the international Scottish community and to me. I know my mother will rest better knowing how many her work touched and connected across the world.

Valerie passed away in Florida just before this edition went to press. I can already hear her telling me to “get the issue out on time, the readers expect it”. She always wanted to know when each issue got off safely to press and as we call it “putting the issue to bed”, well now Val too has “gone to bed” and leaves her family not only with a great sense of loss, but one of pride and respect.

My mother broke many glass ceilings with the Scottish Banner and her other business ventures, and became an international entrepreneur, a passionate supporter of the global Scottish community and a friend to many. To me she was so much more, my business partner, my friend, my hero, my mentor and most importantly my mother, who can
never be replaced.

Now my family and I will come to terms with the finality of this surreal loss, made even more difficult in a Covid world, and remember one incredible lady who gave so much to
so many, and one I was simply not yet ready to say goodbye to.

Rest in peace Mum and thank you for everything you have done xoxo

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 2020 (Vol. 44, Number 02)

Gracing our front cover: The next generation celebrating the sound of Scotland at the New Zealand Pipe Band Championships. Photo: Susanna Buckton.

The Banner Says…

The Power of Pipe Bands

The world we live in today is a vastly different place than the one we all knew just a few short months ago.

In August, traditionally, pipe bands and their fans should be descending on Glasgow for some of the world’s top piping events such as the World Pipe Band Championships and Piping Live! This is of course in addition to all the missed pipe band concerts, competitions, practices and performances that should have also taken place these past few months across the world.

I am not part of a pipe band but as someone who knows people in bands and has watched the pipe
band community for decades, I know what an incredible fraternity it is. The spirit of the pipe band movement is clearly an incredibly special one. It is a global brotherhood and sisterhood that is quite unique.

Joining a pipe band is an instant in with a great network of people of varying backgrounds, ages and interests. It offers members some unique experiences such as attending a wide range of community and international events, be a part of joyous and solum occasions and for many includes life-long involvement and friendships.

Homage to the pipe band community

Across the worldwide Scottish community during the Covid-19 pandemic I have seen some great outside the box initiatives take place, and the pipe band community has certainly been at the forefront of this. Depending on where you live your restrictions may have been, or still be, extremely strict and whilst physical practices may have not been taking place, the music has never stopped.

Online practices, competitions and musical creations are taking place across the world and connecting players and pipe band fans with each other in a whole new way.

With this issue we hope to pay homage to the pipe band community and whilst we have never tried to be a piping publication, we are firmly a publication of pipe band fans and
supporters. It is the music that joins us all, whether you are playing a lament, or watching a band play your favourite piping tune, a shared love of pipe bands is created by both the
player and the audience.

In this issue

An example of the resilience of the pipe band movement can be found in this issue as a variety of piping organisations and leaders have shared with us how they are not only engaging with their members and colleagues, but finding ways to move through a ‘corona world’ and working towards when we can next all gather as before.

This month we also speak to Tyler Fry, a champion drummer who has made a career out of his love and clear passion for pipe bands. From a young age he was enthralled by pipe bands and joined his local band in Canada as soon as he could. Today Tyler has his own successful drumstick business, conducts workshops and livestream hosts at events across the world. Tyler is an example how joining a pipe band can change your life, open your world and create incredible opportunities.

On August 29, 1930, the last inhabitants of St Kilda, on the western edge of Scotland, were evacuated. Years of hardship and hunger had caused many to leave over many years and the remaining inhabitants requested to leave, ending over 4,000 years of human habitation.

The once powerful Roman Empire cast its net across Europe to conquer new lands and gain power. There is quite a bit of historical evidence of Roman occupation across Britain,
but how far did they make it into Scotland? In Roman times, there was no such country as Scotland, instead it was a wild region called Caledonia. The Romans may have left Caledonia, but they did leave behind some amazing historical evidence of their visit and today people can still literally step in the same spots the Romans once did.

Many things to many people

Pipe bands are of course a symbol of Scotland and Scottish culture, but they are truly a global cultural movement with bands across the world. Being part of a band prepares members for many aspects of life and quite simply for some becomes a lifestyle.

Pipe bands are also a constant part of the community for so many. We count on pipe bands at parades, services, celebrations and whether it be a lone busker or massed bands, the pipes and drums stir something inside so many people.

This is the power of pipe bands. The power to connect so many across the world in a unique celebration of music. The power of a local and global network of friendship. The power of a lifelong passion. The power of our heritage. The power of enjoyment.
The power of performance. The power of emotion. The power of collaboration.                  Pipe bands can be these and so many things to many people, and surely that is
their power.

Has being in a pipe band been important for you or do you have a love of 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

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 2020 (Vol. 44, Number 01)

Gracing our front cover: The love of the Highland Games. Photo courtesy of Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games.

The Banner Says…

For the love of the Games

Friendship, music, community, family, dance, clans,
entertainment, knowledge, pipe bands, culture, tartan these are just some of the words that come into my mind when I think of Highland Games.

I have been attending Highland Games across the world for many decades, and to say they are a part of my life would be an understatement. I have memories of travelling across many roads or flights to get to Scottish celebrations somewhere and have made a living out of attending or being associated with Highland Games across the globe.

I have friends and neighbours who are often amazed to hear I am off to places they may have never heard of to celebrate Scotland, and this happens across the year, and something that is replicated around the world.

A proud tradition

It is said the first Highland Games to happen occurred when King Malcolm III summoned
local men to race in Braemar in 1040 to find the quickest royal messengers. Today of course you can find Highland Games all across the world and whilst we are fortunate to have email to get our messages out quickly, the Games today are a proud tradition enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people a year.

Modern day Highland Games still can include sporting feats but also highlight pipe bands,
Scottish dance, music, Clans, genealogy and probably most importantly friendship.
Scotland must be quite unique in the amount of cultural celebrations taking place across
the world, celebrating the land of peoples heritage and forebearers.

These events are a great platform to not only celebrate all that is great about Scotland, but also a chance for competitions to take place and for many to connect with their ‘kith and kin’.

Honour and celebrate Highland Games

Sadly, due to Covid-19 large scale events cannot take place just now and this has been devastating to the Highland Games communities across the globe. For some going to a Highland Games each year was their only time to connect to their ancestry or was part of their family’s tradition. To not have Highland Games taking place certainly leaves a void for so many facets of the Scottish community.

Some Scottish events are showing incredible resilience by still running some type of program online or finding other ways to connect people as they plan a return in 2021.
So many people have worked countless hours, mainly voluntary, to work on their 2020 event, only to find it has had to be cancelled.

It is this work we want to highlight with this issue as we hear from a variety of Games from across the world and honour and celebrate what they do for our community.
The Highland Games will be back, and our love of them will continue.

In this issue

Regardless of Covid-19 life must carry on. The way many live or work has changed but we continue to function in a new way. This is of course true for those that look after Scotland’s historic and heritage properties. Inside and out these national treasures require dedicated staff to keep on maintaining these landmarks, so we can all go back to
them when it is safe to do so. Scotland is fortunate to have organisations such as the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland managing properties
across the country and safekeeping Scotland’s history and heritage.

Speaking of historic properties, I was fortunate to visit Culzean Castle under a blue sunny May sky a few years ago. This allowed me to not only enjoy inside the incredible hilltop castle, but also get around the amazing grounds that surrounds this stunning castle by the edge of the sea. It is certainly one of the treasures of Ayrshire, has featured on the back of a Royal Bank of Scotland five-pound note and is home to Clan Kennedy. The castle has
historical importance on both sides of the Atlantic and has been home to clan chiefs and US Presidents.

As Scottish summer is now coming into full swing the cobblestones and closes of the Royal Mile should be filled with tourists and locals enjoying the long Scottish days and preparing for the world to descend for the Edinburgh Festival season. This however is 2020 and nothing is as we knew it before with large events such as the Edinburgh Festival,
Tattoo and Fringe all cancelled. However, we will visit again, and we take you to some great places in Edinburgh’s actual fringe which you can add to your bucket list the next
time you land in the Scottish capital.

This month we also speak to Donald MacLaren of MacLaren. The MacLaren has been a Clan Chief for over 50 years and has an incredible knowledge of not just his clan but also Scotland’s clans and history. The MacLaren is the Convener of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs and outlines how not all Scottish families are clans, a notion some readers may not be familiar with.

Celebrating 44 years

This month is also our birthday! 44 years ago, the very first edition of the Scottish Banner rolled off the press. At that time there was nothing like it in the market, and this was long before the internet and social media was used for information. The fact a publication started by my parents all those years ago is still going in 2020, is quite an achievement.

Today’s media landscape you could not have even imagined back in the 1970s and readers across several countries was never considered then. So, thank you Val and Jim Cairney for having a vision and making the Scottish Banner a reality, one that went beyond what was expected and one I hope honours both of you with each page we print today.

Do you love the Highland Games?  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/June 2020 (Vol. 43, Number 11/12)

Gracing our front cover: Ewan MacLean from Team Broar celebrates Whisky Month. Photo courtesy of Lost Clock Productions.

The Banner Says…

Finding our ScotSpirit in challenging times

How so very much has changed since we released
the last edition of the Scottish Banner. Corona Virus
has spread across the globe and the impact to the Scottish community has been substantial worldwide with mass event cancellations. I am aware of the incredible hard work so many put in to run events such as Highland Games, Celtic festivals, concerts, Clan gatherings, just to name a few.

Scots are great at coming together at events, band practices, dance classes and more and currently this is not something that can happen. However, the
virus cannot stop people coming together in many other ways, with new virtual events popping up across the world in order to bring people together. Innovative communication ways have
been created by so many aspects of the Scottish community, all to keep people together, regardless the physical distance that may be taking place.

Our Scottish connection

It is this spirit we hope to celebrate in this issue, and I would love to hear from groups who have plans for more of this over the coming months. The virus may have thrown many of our plans in disarray, but it will not stop us from coming together and continuing to celebrate our love of Scotland. I am also very aware not all our readers are using social media or digital platforms to connect with the Scottish community, and may be feeling that bit more isolated from not only their own families but also their extended network of Scottish friends, or as some may feel extended family. Whilst some may be embracing technology more, I hope this issue helps in some small way to keep your connection to
Scotland alive, as now is not the time to visit Scotland or the various outlets we use to honour our Scottish connection.

As we navigate the incredible changes caused by Covid-19 and due to unprecedented Scottish/Celtic event cancellations this edition will be a May/June combined issue due
to a drastic decline in advertising. A few of the regular elements you will find in each issue are currently not running, such as our events page, and we are cutting some pages.
All of this is being done so the Scottish Banner comes through the other side of this. The next few months will be challenging but I do believe the Scottish Banner is needed
in the market now more than ever as people look for a distraction, some sense of normality and a way to importantly remain connected to Scotland for the many whose options have drastically changed.

Many readers receive each issue of the Scottish Banner kindly passed on by family or friends and that is always great to hear that so many get enjoyment from a single issue, however if those in a position to do so purchased their own copy this would greatly help us to keep producing our unique content.

In this issue

Another thing the virus cannot stop is the world’s love of whisky. May is Whisky Month in Scotland and though not all the celebrations that would normally occur are happening we are still celebrating the ‘water of life’ in this edition. We are so fortunate to speak with Charles MacLean, Scotland’s preeminent whisky expert. Charles has a vast knowledge and passion for not just whisky but Scotland itself. Regular readers will also know we featured his three world-record setting sons in our March edition and the chance to feature his oldest son, Ewan, on our cover could not be missed.

We know that now is not the time to plan travel to Scotland. I am sure many would have had plans to be hitting Scotland’s shores over the upcoming spring and summer months. Scotland will wait and be just as beautiful, historical and breathtaking when all this is over.
We have highlighted five bucket list places to visit when it is safe to do so. I know there are so many more and urge readers to send us some of the places they would recommend to
others to put on their bucket list for the next visit to Scotland.

One group who are currently welcome to visit Scotland are the ospreys at Loch Arkaig which have returned to the Caledonian pine forest to raise chicks. A sure sign that natural life and new life is continuing, as they call Scotland home for the summer. I have jumped
on the webcam and watched these magnificent birds nesting live in the glorious Scottish Highlands.

Whether it is watching osprey or perhaps learning some Scottish history, the pipes or delving into Scotland’s rich historic information and images, we have also compiled just some of the ways you can keep connected to Scotland just now without leaving your own home. Whilst it may not be the same as being there or attending the many Scottish events that have been put on hold for now, I hope it helps you enjoy your love of Scotland.

The power of Scottish culture

The world as we knew may be no longer what it was a couple of months ago, but the Scottish community has risen to the many challenges. One of the hardest of course has been the mass cancellation of events across the world, some of the world’s premier Scottish events have put the safety of participants and attendees first and made some tough choices, with many losing a great deal of money. When it is safe to do so, I hope all
of us support as much as possible these great cultural events and also the bands, dance groups and vendors who make a living out of being part of them.

This has to be the power of Scottish culture, the very celebration we all enjoy so much across the world in being Scots. The bands may not be playing, but the music lives on, the dancers may not be performing but the reels and jigs continue, and the Clans may not be gathering, but the historic links carry on.

Again, we welcome any news of what your Scottish group is doing to get through this challenging time. Share your initiative with us and help inspire others how they can remain connected with their Scottish connections and love of Scotland at:
www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us or email me.

I hope you and your families and friends are all safe and healthy, I look forward to when we can all physically gather together in ScotSpirit but know that regardless we are all finding ways to continue to celebrate our great culture.

In the meantime, for those lovers of whisky and perhaps a more timely sentiment than usual, raise a glass this month to good health- Slàinte mhath!

What innovative ways are you using to keep connected to your Scottish community? Do you have a bucket list place to visit in Scotland? Share with us the impact the Corona Virus is having on your Scottish connection, or 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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

April 2020 (Vol. 43, Number 10)

Robert the Bruce. Photo courtesy of Signature Entertainment.

The Banner Says…

Don’t be a Huntigowk and not wear tartan in April

The month of April is considered a month of change for many and depending on where you are reading this your nights are sure to be getting longer or shorter.

Huntigowk Day

The month of course begins with a few tricks up its sleeve and many people trying to catch others out on April Fool’s Day, in Scotland April Fool’s Day is traditionally called as Huntigowk Day.

In Scots Gowk means a foolish person or cuckoo. The unique thing about Scotland’s fool’s day is that unlike many other countries Scotland celebrates it for two days, on April 1st and April 2nd. On the first day people play pranks and tell lies to catch each other in an embarrassing situation.

According to tradition people need to stop playing pranks and hoaxes by midday. In olden times Hunt-the- Gowk Day was celebrated by sending a person to find the fool for the day.
Although this tradition is followed in some areas, it is slowly dying out. On the second day or Tailie Day paper tails are attached to people’s backs. A typical Huntigowk prank was handing someone a sealed envelope and asking them to deliver it to someone else.

The recipient would open the letter – and read: “Dinna laugh, dinna smile, Hunt the gowk another mile.” While the history of April Fool’s Day or All Fools’ Day is uncertain, we know the Romans celebrated a day of fun and games with the Festival of Hilaria while, in ancient civilisation, New Year was celebrated between March 25 and April 1st . Anyone who observed New Year’s Day on April 1 was called a fool or an April fish.

The day of its celebration was the first after the vernal equinox, or the first day of the year which was longer than the night (usually March 22). The winter with its gloom had died, and the first day of a better season was spent in rejoicings.

Tartan Day

Just a few days later across North America thousands of Scots will be celebrating Tartan Day on or around April 6th. Tartan Day honours Scottish heritage and the achievements that those of Scottish descent have had across North America and the world.

The movement to get Tartan Day going and recognised began in Nova Scotia, Canada at a meeting of the Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia in March, 1986. Members, Bill Crowell, and Jean MacKaracher-Watson, put forward the following motion to the Federation: “That we establish a day known as ‘Tartan Day’. This to be a day chosen to promote Scottish Heritage by the most visible means. The wearing of the Scottish attire, especially in places where the kilt is not ordinarily worn, i.e.: work, play or worship.” Quite fitting that this recognition came from Nova Scotia, which translates to ‘New Scotland’.

In the Southern Hemisphere International Tartan Day is celebrated on July 1st, the anniversary of the repeal of the 1747 Act of Proscription. The government passed the Act of Proscription in 1747 to punish the Jacobite rebels. The act banned tartan and Highland dress for nearly four decades until 1782.

In this issue

This month marks the 700th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath on April 6th. The Declaration is a letter written in 1320 by Scottish nobles and whole community of the kingdom of Scotland to the pope, asking him to recognise Scotland’s independence and acknowledge Robert the Bruce as the country’s lawful king. This is considered Scotland’s most significant historical document and no doubt the 700th anniversary celebrations will remind people on just what an important and fascinating document this is.

Speaking of Robert the Bruce, our US readers are quite fortunate to have the cinema release of the film, Robert the Bruce, taking place this month. We have caught
up with the film’s star, producer and writer Angus Macfadyen. The Glasgow born actor reprises his role as Robert the Bruce after first taking on this role in the internationally successful 1995 release, Braveheart.

The European Stone Stacking Championships takes place this month in Dunbar. The competition will find the best and brightest European stacking artists, with the winner invited to participate in the World Stone Stacking Championships held annually in Lllano, Texas.

Most of us know Edinburgh explodes with character and history, but did you know it once did of lava and is a volcanic city? In fact, dormant volcanoes fill the skyline and Edinburgh’s most iconic building, Edinburgh Castle, is on top of one.

Corona Virus (COVID-19)

As we go to press with this edition the global impact of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) is becoming clear. The international Scottish event community worldwide has been greatly affected by event postponements and cancellations due to restrictions related to the virus.

Once this issue is distributed no doubt more events will be making announcements
into the coming weeks. As the Scottish Banner hosts the world’s leading international Scottish events listing, we are updating our online events section daily (www.scottishbanner.com/events) as news reaches us.

We are asking readers and followers to check direct with events for details and organisers should contact us at [email protected] to share any changes (whether that be now or possibly down the track). We do have many organisations and publications who also use our listing and we are striving to keep our valuable community resource the most up to date listings available.

I am deeply aware of how this rapidly changing issue is now impacting current events, and has potential for those in the coming months, and our thoughts are with all organisers, attendees and participants at this unprecedented time.

Once deemed safe I urge all our readers and friends to support Scottish events and of course other Scottish cultural groups and retailers who will also be greatly impacted.
I look forward to when our community can get back to normal and celebrate our great culture, in the meantime the Scottish Banner stands ready in any way we can to assist and support Scottish events and the wider Scottish community both now and in the future.

What does the Declaration of Arbroath mean to you? Share with us the impact the Corona Virus is having on your Scottish connection, or 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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

March 2020 (Vol. 43, Number 09)

Team Broar-The Maclean Brothers. Photo courtesy of GRM.

The Banner Says…

Bagpipes-The world’s instrument

This month we can’t go past mentioning March 10th
and International Bagpipe Day. Anywhere across the
world the bagpipe is synonymous with Scotland.

Love them or hate them (who could?), bagpipes are
considered the national instrument of Scotland.

Global instrument

However, they truly are a global instrument with historians believing they can be traced back to Egypt and introduced into Scotland by Roman armies. Others have looked at the possibility of them originating in Ireland. The then powerful Emperor  of Rome from A.D. 54, Nero, was said to be quite a skilled piper. What is certain however is that ancient bagpipes have existed in various forms in a variety of places around the world for many years.

The pipe band movement flourishes across the world today with bands across Europe, Asia, North America, the South Pacific, Africa, South America and the Middle East. Interestingly, some Celtic regions have individual national versions adapted to suit their own unique sound. For example, the Scottish Highland pipes are the loudest, and most played in large pipe bands worldwide. However, in Ireland, the quieter uilleann pipes are
more popular, in French Brittany they favour the binou and in the Spanish Celtic regions of Asturias and Galicia, the local bagpipe is the gaita. It is thought that there are approximately 130 distinct varieties of bagpipes across the world.

Traditionally, bagpipes were made from the skin of a sheep or goat, turned inside out, with the pipes attached where the legs and neck would be.

Today you will find both synthetic and leather varieties available, with fans of each.

A weapon of war

Bagpipes were originally used on the battlefield. It is the only musical instrument in history that has ever deemed a ‘weapon of war’. The bagpipes have been banned twice in Scotland, once in 1560 and again in 1746. James Reid, a Scottish Jacobite piper, was hung by British authorities for having a bagpipe during the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

Incredibly there are stories of the brave pipers, who during WWI, climbed out of the trenches, unarmed, to play bagpipes for the Highland regiments going over the top and into battle. This remarkable feat earned the respect of German troops who dubbed them ‘Die Damen aus der Hölle’ or ‘Ladies From Hell’ due to the kilts worn and fighting spirit of the Scots.

More recently the then Mayor of London, and now Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, attempted to ban busking pipers in London as he felt the pipes were ‘annoying’. Though I am sure Londoners are still able to enjoy busking pipers across the city.

I was surprised to hear from a US reader recently who advised his local McDonald’s restaurant in Sacramento, California blasted bagpipe music to ward off homeless people from outside its restaurant, which led to many complaints by residents. Some readers however may just think that is the best thing to go on the menu!

In this issue

The sound of Scotland made its way recently across the Atlantic Ocean as three Scottish brothers rowed their way into the record books. Ewan, Jamie, and Lachlan Maclean
rowed across the Atlantic Ocean to help raise money for two Scottish charities. A set of pipes travelled with them as they faced a variety of challenges and whilst doing so became the first three brothers, the fastest and the youngest trio to row across the Atlantic Ocean. We are fortunate to catch up with the Jamie, who happens to be the piper of the trio, and perhaps we can add a fourth record for the only set of pipes to be rowed across the Atlantic as well?

Another mode of transportation altogether different is rail. 298 years ago, Scotland’s very first railway was taking shape. In 1722 transporting both coal and salt was an important business. The Wagonway track connected the coal pits in Tranent to salt pans in Cockenzie and harbour at Port Seton. The recent discovery of the remains of Scotland’s first railway
is considered as one of the most important Scottish archaeological discoveries lately.

We also examine the Highland/ Lowland divide: what it is, when in history it really got ingrained in people’s consciousness, what makes the Highlands the Highlands and the Lowlands the Lowlands, and what, historically, people of the Lowlands had to say about those in the Highlands and vice versa. We look at some cultural, geographical, and historical insights and bust some myths.

Celtic cousins

March is of course always a month we share in the celebrations taking place with our Celtic cousins. Wales, Cornwall and Ireland will mark celebrations this month. We have so many common connections with these places through language, music, food and literature we can easily slip into their celebrations, as they can slip into ours.

I have no doubt bagpipes will play at events for these national days. For many, a
St. Patrick’s Day parade would not be complete without the sound of bagpipes. Proving the global appeal of the pipes, and how it really is an instrument that connects us all.

Enjoy your March!

Do you enjoy the pipes? Do you have a bagpipe related story or are you celebrating one of the Celtic celebrations taking place in March?
Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

February 2020 (Vol. 43, Number 08)

Outlander returns with Caitriona Balfe (Claire Fraser), Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser). Photo courtesy of Starz.

The Banner Says…

Scotland’s leap of tradition

The month may be the shortest of the year, but this February does see an extra day as we are in a leap year. Leap Year Day, as it is known, will take place on Saturday February 29th. Just why do we have a
leap year you may wonder? Adding one additional day every four years keeps our calendar aligned correctly with the astronomical seasons. Our calendar year is defined as the time it takes for the Earth to orbit around the Sun once.

It takes the Earth about 365 days to do this, or more specifically, 365 ¼ days. Our normal calendar allows for just 365 days a year and without this extra day,
our calendar and the seasons would gradually get out of sync.

Leap Year Day tradition

In Scotland Leap Year Day has its very own unique traditions. February 29th is the day a woman could propose. The custom is believed to have originated in Ireland and came from a decree from the Scottish born Patron Saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick, and was brought over to Scotland by Irish monks. Apparently, St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women who had to wait too long for men to make proposals of marriage.

In 1288 the unmarried Queen Margaret of Scotland passed a law that allowed a woman to propose marriage (often wearing red) to their true love in a leap year, with the law also stating that any man who declined the proposal on this day would have to pay a fine.
Fines could include money, gloves or silk. Gloves were particularly popular as this was a way a woman could hide the embarrassment of not wearing an engagement/wedding ring.

Scottish farmers used to believe leap years are not good for crops or livestock, thanks to the old Scots proverb: “Leap year was ne’er a good sheep year.”

In Scotland, it also used to be considered unlucky for someone to be born on leap day, just as Friday 13th is considered an unlucky day by many. However, those Pisceans
born on February 29th have unique talents, including high levels of creativity and the ability to give sound advice.

In this issue

This month millions of people around the world will be leaping onto their couches as season five of the hit TV show Outlander hits our screens, bringing an end to ‘Droughtlander’. We have some great Outlander themed content in this issue.
And whether you are a fan of the show, the books or not at all (is that possible?), there is no denying what a huge cultural impact the series has had and continues to have on Scotland. The story of Scotland’s history is very on trend, for not just Scots but those who love history and drama. Scotland has that in spades and Outlander has done wonders for Scottish tourism and the film industry and awoken many Scots to learning more of their past story.
We are also fortunate to have a variety of Outlander themed recipes by Theresa Carle-Sanders, author of the Outlander Kitchen cookbooks feature in this edition.

One of the darkest moments of Scottish history took place over 300 years ago this month.
The Massacre of Glencoe took place on the 13th February 1692, as the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were slaughtered while they slept by Captain Robert Campbell and his men.
This tragic event took place mone of the most beautiful and dramatic places in Scotland and the massacre still is imprinted in the Scottish psyche and story.

One of Scotland’s great women of history surly must be Saint Margaret. In 1070 Margaret became Queen having married King Malcolm III. It was Margaret who initiated a ferry
crossing on the Firth of Forth and boats sailed the “Queen’s Ferry” from the 11th century until the 1960’s (this was not needed when the Forth Road Bridge opened in 1964) and
where North and South Queensferry take their names from. The oldest surviving building in Edinburgh is St Margaret’s Chapel, located within Edinburgh Castle. It was built around 1130 by David I who dedicated it to his mother, who certainly had an impact on Scottish history.

Valentine’s Day

This month also see romantics come out the woodwork on Valentine’s Day on February 14th. This literally was the case for Mary Queen of Scots as the French poet Pierre de Bocosel de Châtelard hid under the Queen’s bed at Rossend Castle in Fife to proclaim his love for her. Mary was not won over at all and had him executed for treason.

A Scottish tradition on Valentine’s Day was for young unwed men and women to write their name on pieces of paper, place them in a bonnet and each draw one of them. If one name was read out three times, it meant a marriage would take place. If you do not want to get that deep into commitment however, there is also National Flirting Week, taking place the week of February 9th!

Whilst you may not be writing names on paper or dawning a red outfit and asking your love to marry you (or be one who gets asked) on February 29th, whatever you get up to this month, enjoy the ‘extra day’ of February as you won’t have one again until Thursday, February 29, 2024.

Do you enjoy Outlander? Do you have a leap year or Valentine’s related story?
Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

January 2020 (Vol. 43, Number 07)

Celebrating Burns Night. Photo: VisitScotland

The Banner Says…

Robert Burns-The heaven taught ploughman

As the sun rises on a new decade, I hope the year (and decade) ahead will be good to you and filled with health, happiness and hopefully include celebrating your Scottish identity.

One way to celebrate your Scottish identity this month is honouring Scotland’s Bard, Robert Burns.
Robert Burns is Scotland’s most celebrated poet. Also known as Rabbie Burns, or The Bard, he was born in 1759, the son of a farmer. During his short lifetime, he penned hundreds of songs and poems, and the anniversary of his birth is celebrated on 25th January.

Everyone knows Burns as Scotland’s most famous and respected poet. Even people with no connection to Scotland or possibly not aware of his name are likely to know some of his
works. You don’t need to be a poetry or literary buff to be exposed to Robert Burns, either his works or his likeness.

An international icon


How many Hogmanay’s worldwide have started with the words of Robert Burns? Auld Lang Syne is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the top three most popular songs in the entire English language, the others being Happy Birthday and For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow. Auld Lang Syne has also been adapted by the Chinese and represents a song of friendship which is often played at graduations and gatherings.

Robert Burns has become an international icon – the Ayrshire ploughman who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the world’s best-known poets. In 2009 Burns was voted “The Greatest Scot” ever, polling ahead of Scottish cultural giants Sir William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. After Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus, Robert Burns has more statues dedicated to him around the world than any other non-religious figure.
I have seen them in Scotland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, England and the USA. A replica of Burns’ birthplace in Alloway can even be found in Atlanta, Georgia which was constructed by the Burns Club of Atlanta.

Robert also is the first person whose face has ever appeared on a bottle of drinks giant Coca-Cola. You may have also seen Robert’s face on stamps, shortbread tins, money, post cards, mugs and an edition of his works has even been blasted into space, so if there is life
beyond this Earth I hope they too enjoy Scotland’s most famous son.

Whilst Burns wrote in both English and Scots his works have been translated in numerous languages around the world including most European languages, Russian and Japanese.

In this issue


We certainly give a nod to Burns in this issue with some great content, tartan and recipes. Also make sure you have a look at our events page and hopefully you can find a Burns Supper taking place near you, or perhaps this issue will inspire you to host one of your own. You certainly do not need to pipe in a haggis to raise a glass, and awareness of the night, to your friends at your own home.

January heralds in a new year and decade and we have you covered on some great things to do this year. Scotland will be celebrating a new themed year, the Year of Coasts and
Waters 2020. The year is full of events and places to visit which will celebrate the remarkable coasts and waters of Scotland.

In Australia the sound of Scotland will be very much be heard across the country as the Year of Scotland Australia 2020 will see a diverse range of Scottish talent heading Downunder for an unprecedented program which goes across all regions. No country in
the world has had this opportunity before and I urge all our readers to find out what is taking place and support and enjoy the amazing year of entertainment coming.

Across the globe the bagpipes will continue to sound, we have a roundup of some of the contests taking place in Scotland and internationally. Of course, there is always a Highland Games or Scottish festivals taking place throughout 2020 to hear the sound of Scotland.

Whilst Robert Burns may be a Scottish icon, Scotland also has many iconic landmarks. Firmly established on the tourist trail are heavy weights Loch Ness, The Calanais Standing
Stones, Arthur’s Seat and Dunnottar Castle. David C Weinczok gives us some alternatives to try on your next Scottish visit, allowing you to try something new, with less people.

The legacy of Robert Burns

The legacy of Robert Burns is an incredible one. In his 37 short years he left the world with works that touched upon universal emotions that is still relevant hundreds of years later. Robert never forgot his roots and craved greater social equality. He was called a ‘heaven taught ploughman’ by an Edinburgh critic in the late 1700’s and has inspired people from every walk of life for many years.

As we begin the 2020’s, as Burn’s penned in Auld Lang Syne, all of us that contribute to the Scottish Banner hope you will ‘tak a cup o’ kindness’ and go forward into the new year with a sense of belonging and hope for the future.

Wishing all our readers, advertisers and friends the very best for the year ahead and of course a very Happy Burns Night!

Do you have a Robert Burns related story? How are you celebrating Burns Night?          Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

December 2019 (Vol. 43, Number 06)

Gracing our front cover: Edinburgh’s annual Christmas celebration. Photo: Snaps By Shirin/ Edinburgh Christmas.

The Banner Says…

A call to protect Scotland’s heritage

The call has literally been made recently across
mainly rural parts of Scotland to save the iconic red call box.

In fact, across Britain telephone bosses and community groups are looking at ways to save one of most recognisable cultural symbols of the country. The first red phone boxes were installed in 1921, but the red telephone box we have come to know (the Jubilee kiosks, commemorating the Silver Jubilee of the coronation of King George V) was
designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, following a competition in 1924.

However, as technology has leaped forward, with most of the Scottish public having mobile phones, the need for call boxes has seen a massive reduction creating a unique 21st century problem. Calls made from public telephones have fallen by around 90% in the past decade and the costs to maintain them continues to increase.

With BT (British Telecom) now closing call boxes across the country (650 have been removed this year so far), with the Highlands and Scottish Borders most impacted. There are today just over 31,000 BT payphones still in place across the UK, but in Scotland one in five call boxes will be closed, leaving just 3,300 active phones.

A significant part in Britain’s national heritage

It is the Scottish communities in rural areas that have the most concern, to lose what could for some be a lifeline. Not all communities have reliable mobile reception and rely on the trusted call boxes as a communication back up.

Also depending on what decade you were born, you may or not, be
surprised to read some older Scots do not use mobile phones and rely on telephones. This is a further hit for rural Scottish communities as some have also lost a variety of essential services such as post offices, banks and the Scottish invention of ATM’s.

BT however has said it will not remove any payphones on the Scottish islands or in areas where there was no mobile coverage.

Adopt a Kiosk

Understanding that the red telephone box plays a significant part in Britain’s national heritage and in many cases forms a focal point for communities across the country, BT is offering communities the opportunity to keep these kiosks. Since the Adopt a Kiosk programme was launched, more than 2,300 communities across the UK have seized the opportunity to do something wonderful with local phone boxes that had little or no usage. For just £1 communities can give their local red phone box a new lease of life as something completely different.

Adopted kiosks have been adapted to include a book exchange, art gallery, grocery shop, a bakery, a wildlife information centre, a coffee shop and even lifesaving defibrillators in some local boxes. BT will continue to provide electricity (if already in place) to power the light for adopted kiosks, free of charge to communities. In Scotland over 700 call boxes are available under the Adopt a Kiosk programme.

In this issue

Festive fun is certainly a thread in this issue as we look at how the Scottish capital will be celebrating both Christmas and Hogmanay. I have spent these holidays in Scotland before and have great memories of being at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay or going for a cool but lovely Christmas walk around Glasgow University with my family. Of course, Scotland really puts a show on for Hogmanay, like nowhere else.

Clearly Christmas would not be complete without reindeer. They surely must have one of the world’s most important transport jobs this month and we are lucky the team at Cairngorm Reindeer Herd took the time to speak to us about these majestic creatures who live in one of the most stunning areas of Scotland.

I was surprised to learn that the classic A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens in the 1843 was inspired from a visit he made to an Edinburgh grave. The main character of the classic book is the mean spirited man Ebenezer Scrooge who famously gets a visit from the ghosts of Christmas present, past and future. Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie was a wealthy vintner and meal man (a corn merchant), and as was customary in Scotland at the time, when he died his trade was etched on his gravestone for all to see. In 1841 Charles Dickens was visiting Edinburgh on a lecture tour and he strolled around Canongate Kirkyard. There he noticed an unusual inscription on a gravestone which said, “Here lies Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie, A Meal Man”. However, what Dickens read was “A Mean Man”, with that Scroggie eventually became immortalised as Scrooge to millions of people in A Christmas Carol.

For hundreds of years in Scotland during the 16 and 1700’s thousands of women were branded as witches and often burned at the stake, strangled or drowned. The suspected ‘witches’ were defined as witches by their neighbours, through a process of gossip and quarrelling. Witches were believed to be malicious and vengeful and have devil like powers. If someone suffered a misfortune after a quarrel, they might conclude that the other person had bewitched them in revenge. Unlike most criminal trials, witch trials permitted the torture of suspected women until a confession was extracted. In this issue we learn of Lilias Adie, who was Scotland’s only ‘witch’ to have a grave and how history is remembering her today.

Happy Christmas

As we all prepare for the festive season ahead, all of us that work on the Scottish Banner wish all our readers, writers, advertisers and friends the very best for the holidays. And whilst many will spend too much, and possibly eat even more, try and remember the simple joys of the season, spending time with friends and family and perhaps looking out for those who are alone or in need. What ever you do, and where ever you spend it,
I hope you find some of the magic of the holiday’s surrounds you.

Happy Christmas & Hogmanay!

Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

November 2019 (Vol. 43, Number 05)

Gracing our front cover: Jim Clark’s nephew Callum at the Jim Clark Museum in Duns. Photo: Tony March.

The Banner Says…

Celebrating St Andrew

As we enter the second last month of this decade it
appears to not be a quiet end to the year. Depending where you live things tend to either really heat up or cool down and as the festive season quickly approaches there is much to look forward to.

One event of course that is particular to Scots is St Andrews Day on November 30th with celebrations by the Scottish community taking place across the world.

Patron Saint

Perhaps I should correct myself as St Andrew is not simply just the patron Saint of Scotland, in fact he is the patron Saint of Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Italy’s Amalfi region, Barbados and more. Andrew is also the patron saint of singers, spinsters, maidens, fishmongers, fishermen, women wanting to be mothers, gout and sore throats. And whilst Andrew was not Scottish his connection with Scotland relates to the legend that some of his remains were kept at the site that is now the town of St Andrews.

Born around 6 B.C in a place near Galilee, Andrew was a fisherman by trade, brother to Peter and the first to sign up as an apostle – leading to him having a seat at the last supper. Legend has it that Andrew was crucified on the x-shaped cross – from which the design for Saltire sprang from – in the city of Patras, Greece, in 60 AD.
The strange shape of the cross was devised at St Andrew’s own request as he himself felt that he was not worthy to be killed upon the same style of crucifix as Jesus.
This of course would become the inspiration of the Saltire flag we see proudly flying today.

St Andrew has been celebrated in Scotland for over a thousand years, with records showing that feasts honouring him date as far back as the year 1000 AD. In 1320 AD, when Scotland gained its own independence through the signing of The Declaration of Arbroath, St Andrew officially became Scotland’s patron saint.

The town of St Andrews is named after him with many believing that some of his remains (rumoured to be a kneecap, arm and finger bone) are buried there after being brought in exile from Europe to protect them from forces looking to destroy any remnants of the original disciples.
There are hundreds of St Andrew’s Societies spread across the world with The St. Andrew’s Society of Charleston in the US state of South Carolina, founded in 1729, believed to be the oldest.

In this issue

The reach of Scotland’s history was highlighted recently at the Douglas Days Festival in Teba, Spain. The festival plays homage to the 700-year-old legend about the exploits of Sir James Douglas. The Scottish knight, also known as the Black Douglas, was tasked with taking the embalmed heart of King Robert the Bruce to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This historic event is marked by both Scots and Spaniards and the town is now linked to both nations.

This month as we reflect on the horrors of war and the sacrifice of so many on Remembrance Day, it was great to learn about a mild-mannered Scot whose story has again surfaced out of the tragedy of war. Company Sergeant Major James Hamilton Savage persuaded the Nazis to allow him to become a beekeeper whilst being kept behind bars in a PoW camp. This fascinating Scot faced some dark days but used sweet honey to fill his days and provide some nourishment for the prisoners, this must be one of many stories of survival and I am so glad we are able to share it.

Have you ever called yourself or someone a dunce? Well I was surprised to learn the word originated from the a hugely influential but little-known Scottish philosopher, John Duns Scotus, who lived in the late 13th to early 14th centuries. Duns Scotus was an ardent internationalist who lived in Scotland, England and on the continent. He developed a philosophical justification for Scots to abandon the cause of John Balliol based on the idea of a social contract between rulers and ruled, one of the earliest articulations of a philosophy that would go on to underpin the French and American Revolutions.

A nation proud of its heritage

Scotland has the reputation of being a nation that is proud of its heritage. Today, St Andrew’s Day is marked with a celebration of Scottish culture with traditional Scottish food, music and dance. In 2006 the Scottish Government declared November 30th a public holiday and it is also the day that marks the start if the winter festivals encompassing Saint Andrew’s Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night. Many customs and folk superstitions are also connected to St Andrew’s Day, perhaps the most unique being around midnight on 29 November, the night before St Andrew’s Day, when it was traditional for girls to pray to St Andrew for a husband. Or a girl wishing to marry
could throw a shoe at a door. If the toe of the shoe pointed in the direction of the exit,  then she would marry and leave her parents’ house within a year.

So regardless if you are looking for a husband or not, make sure you take part in celebrating St Andrew’s Day, it does not have to be at a gala event but a nod to Scotland in any way you see fit. Perhaps wear some tartan, raise a dram, listen to the pipes, try some Scottish food or attend a St Andrew’s Day function or ceilidh-just have some fun in celebrating our culture.
And whilst celebrations will no doubt be a part of this month, so too will be reflection. I will join millions of people across the world and stop on November 11th to observe the tradition of Remembrance Day on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”

How are you celebrating St Andrew’s Day? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

October 2019 (Vol. 43, Number 04)

Gracing our front cover: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The Banner Says…

The Land of Myths and Legends

Scotland is a land of myths and legends. The history and stories of the nation have inspired generations of people and when in Scotland you can often
expect the unexpected. Delve into Scotland’s past and find centuries of folklore and legend that sends
shivers up your spine, or leaving you wondering could it really be?

This month a few more things may go ‘bump in the night’ as the world celebrates Halloween and perhaps a few legends will again be told of this
ancient nation, which continues to fascinate people across the world.
Scotland is certainly a spooky place, but not just on Halloween. It is a land with a long bloody history set in remote forests, castles and glens is the ideal fodder for many gruesome tales of ghosts, ghouls, folklore and myths. Not to mention Scots famous knack for storytelling, allowing for these tales and legends to be carried down through generations.

Water beast

One of Scotland’s most famous mysteries is that of the Loch Ness Monster (or ‘Nessie’ as it has affectionately come to be known). This ‘water beast’ has been documented as like a large dinosaur type creature, which is reputed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. ‘Nessie’ has a long neck and one or more humps protruding from the water.

The first recorded sighting of the monster was nearly 1,500 years ago when a giant beast is said to have leaped out of the loch near Inverness and eaten a local farmer. Since then, the myth of the Loch Ness Monster has magnified and become a large part of Scotland’s story.

In 1934, a London doctor snapped a photograph that seemed to show a dinosaur looking creature emerging from the deep and cold water. Dozens of sightings have since been claimed, many of which have turned out to be hoaxes, while others make you wonder what that could be. In 2009, a newspaper reader claims to have spotted ‘Nessie’ whilst browsing Google Earth’s satellite photos of Loch Ness. The Loch Ness Monster is used in
Google searches about 200,000 times per month. Regardless of the truth, the suggestion of the monster’s existence makes Loch Ness one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions, with thousands visiting its shores each year with the hope of catching a rare glimpse of the famous monster.

Loch Ness is, in fact, the second deepest body of water in Scotland and contains more fresh water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined, which could make for
plenty of room for a giant monster.

In this issue

Scotland’s most famous mystery is without question Nessie. A team of researchers have recently collected e-DNA from the loch in order to ascertain if the monster ever did scientifically exist. Results have shown it may have been a giant eel, or was it? Myth or fact, Nessie is a monster money-maker for the Highland economy bringing in tens of millions of pounds to the area, with visitors from across the world drawn to the beauty of the area and of course the legend.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is also famous the world over, and very rightly so. This unique event draws crowds and performers from all over the globe, with massed pipes and drums, military bands, display teams, dancers and the haunting lament of the Lone Piper set against the magnificent backcloth of Edinburgh Castle. The Tattoo must be on many people’s bucket list, or if like me you have attended, it is an event you feel lucky to have experienced. Getting to Edinburgh for many Scottish Banner readers is not always easy so this month thousands of people will be able to attend the incredible Tattoo live as it marches into Sydney. Our Canadian readers will have the chance to get up close as well with its cinema release happening also this month. We are honoured to have Brigadier
David Allfrey from the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo take part in this edition.

This year is the 300th anniversary of Daniel Defoe’s book Robinson Crusoe. The tale of a shipwrecked sailor castaway on a tropical island has been an enduringly popular story ever since it was published in April 1719 and remains one of the most famous books in literary history. However, it was an adventurous Scot, Alexander Selkirk, that inspired Defoe who used the tales as the basis for his novel, in an instance of life being stranger than fiction.

Scotland’s fabric and story

I have sat at the edge of Loch Ness a few times and wondered what lies beneath those deep waters. I don’t think anyone would visit Loch Ness and not at least take a moment to see if anything is there, just in case. Has science confirmed through DNA findings that Nessie was not in fact an aquatic reptile left over from the Jurassic era? Perhaps, but I know the next time I get back to the loch I will again scan the waters horizon and look to see if the ‘water beast’ is there.
The legend to me is bigger than anything science can claim. It is part of Scotland’s fabric and story. It has fascinated millions of people from across the world and drawn many to come to Scotland, making Nessie a significant contributor to the tourism economy.
I can only assume that there will be future Nessie sightings, and I would not want it any other way!

Have you been to Loch Ness or are fascinated by a certain piece of Scottish legend?  Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

September 2019 (Vol. 43, Number 03)

Gracing our front cover: The 2019 World Pipe Band Championships. Photo: Glasgow Life.

The Banner Says…

Scotland-A land full of experiences

As we go to press with the September issue the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been named the UK’s top experience by leading travel media company, Lonely Planet, in a new ranked list of the 500 most memorable, beautiful, surprising and compelling experiences to be had across Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands.

The Fringe leads the diverse selection, which features a variety of experiences from across the UK and is one of three Scottish entries in the top 20 (the other two are at #17: Step into your own movie in Glencoe and at # 19: Catch your breath on Arthur’s Seat). A total of 67 Scottish entries made the overall top 500 ranking.

The greatest show of arts and culture on Earth

The UK’s four constituent countries and countless small islands comprise a powerhouse of history, culture and intrigue. Now for the first time, Lonely Planet’s community of travel
experts have chosen the best sights and experiences and ranked them in order of their brilliance in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist. Describing the Fringe, Lonely Planet’s travel experts said: “the Fringe floods the city with art and nowhere beats it for spectacle or scale… There is theatre, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, opera, music and spoken word, and whatever the time of day, an acrobat, trapeze artist, contortionist or
tried-and-tested bagpiping busker will be pleased to entertain you… Simply step through the looking glass and prepare to be dazzled by the greatest show of arts and culture on Earth.”

This is of course great news for the Fringe, Edinburgh and Scotland. I have been fortunate to attend Fringe events a couple of times in the past and marvelled at what a diverse and international event it has become. The Fringe is in fact the world’s largest arts festival and transforms Scotland’s capital every August with music, drama, dance and performance.

An event of this scale is sure to deserve such accolades, however it got me thinking what other places, events or experiences Scottish Banner readers think should be included in the 500 top experiences?

First-hand Scottish experiences

I can think of few demographics than our very own readers who will have first-hand Scottish experiences, as I know so many readers return to Scotland on a regular basis. These experiences go beyond famous events or attractions and could be simply meeting everyday people or perhaps discovering your families own story. Scotland is full of great experiences, places and events and whilst some may not be world famous, sometimes it is the everyday experience that stays with you forever.

I remember being in a pub in the Highlands and chatting to an elderly man who must have been late eighties, or more. He told me stories of what life was like for him growing
up in a poor family. He was decked out in Harris Tweed and looked quite dapper. However, he had struggled in his early years and seemed nearly glad of those struggles as he appreciated everything he had and that he had earned it. I remember leaving that pub thinking what an incredible man, not for being extraordinary but for being so very ordinary and personable. He oozed Highland charm and friendliness and made a stranger in his local pub feel like a lifelong friend or family member.

That was an experience I still think about, though I suppose that was a personal one rather than one for the masses, but it surely must be one of the many stories out there of a true Scottish experience many have.

In this issue

One of the events that oddly did not make the top 500 experiences in the UK is the World Pipe Band Championships which takes place each August in Glasgow. This is often considered the pinnacle of world pipe bands and I am not sure why it was not listed as it proves each year a hit with thousands of people across the world. We do have results
of this year’s event in this issue and congratulate all the bands who attended and took part in this great event. It is also fantastic to learn that so many participants (estimated 40%) are under 25 years of age, helping the future of the pipe band movement.

Lewis is the main island of the Outer Hebrides and rich in dramatic landscape, Gaelic culture, stunning coastlines, nature and history. Whether you are after some outdoor pursuits or looking to dig up some Neolithic history the island has much to offer the visitor.
As the windiest spot in the UK, visitors will be blown away by the richness and beauty of the island. The island is also famous for its observance of the Sabbath where most things close on a Sunday.

A radical act of conservation has recently taken place in Helensburgh, west of Glasgow, erecting a gigantic box around a significant work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The Hill House was Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s vision of a ‘home for the future’, influenced by traditional Scottish vernacular buildings. However, the Scottish weather has not been kind to the landmark building which now has a fantastic new structure built around it for the building to dry out, a task which may take up to 15 years to complete!

Scotland is full of experiences

Scotland is full of experiences from world class events to stunning scenery and history that you simply cannot make up. What memories have you come home with after a trip to
Scotland? We would love to hear reader experiences of tales, memories and adventures as I am sure we could easily write our very own 500 most memorable experiences pertaining just to Scotland.

The Fringe is no doubt a real celebration of Edinburgh and the diverse range of people that take part. Scotland is a celebration of her people, past and present, whose bloodlines connect across the Earth, and there must be stories in that.

Have you had an incredible Scottish experience?  Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

August 2019 (Vol. 43, Number 02)

Gracing our front cover: The Old Course, St Andrews.
Photo: VisitScotland.

The Banner Says…

What lies beneath:The lost settlements of Glencoe

On a windswept moor laden with wild grass and heather lies a part of Scotland’s past, which archaeologists from the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) hope to uncover. However, it is just not artefacts the team are looking to uncover, but remnants of entire villages and it is not just any windswept moor but Glencoe, one of Scotland’s most popular, dramatic and historic locations.

Clachans

Glencoe is without question a place of extreme beauty nestled in the Scottish Highlands, it is also a place of great tragedy where blood has soaked its soil. The Glencoe Massacre took place on February 13th, 1692 and still today holds people’s fascination. 38 men, women and children of the MacDonald Clan were murdered by a regiment of soldiers who had arrived in this incredible area of rugged beauty as friends. They stayed with the families for 12 days before being ordered to murder them all.

The small traditional settlements (also referred to as clachans) of Inverigan, Achnacon and Achtriochtan vanished during the Highland Clearances, where thousands of people were forcibly evicted from their homes in the 18th and 19th centuries by landlords who wanted to create large farms. These forced evacuations left behind a way of life and tradition which is long past and appears to have been literally sealed over by greedy landowners.

Archaeologists and a team of volunteers have recently discovered the remains of buildings and homes and pieces of working life, allowing them to peek into what life was like in rural Scotland over 300 years ago. The NTS hopes now raise funds in order to continue its intricate unravelling of the past and also to build some replica turf houses so 21st century visitors may get to a taste of what life once was like for those hardy Scots.

In this issue

Scotland is known worldwide as the ‘Home of Golf’. It has some of the world’s top courses and hosts some of the most prestigious golfing events. Golf is also a great source of tourism for Scotland and a recent study released stated that golf was worth over £300 million to the Scottish economy and was responsible for nearly 5000 jobs. I do not play golf but have been fortunate to stay at some of Scotland’s best golf locations and loved being amongst the beauty and tranquillity of Scotland’s courses (which can be found across the entire country).

Readers of the Scottish Banner no doubt either have been, plan to or simply wish they could travel to Scotland for a holiday. Tourism contributes around £6 billion to the Scottish economy and employs over 200,000 people so it is a vital industry. However, many visitors to Scotland are hitting the same places and missing out on so much on offer. Overtourism is a word being used around the world where there are too many visitors to a destination. You would think overtourism could only be good for the economy however let us spare a thought for those Edinburgh residents who will be sharing their city with the world this month. If like me, you have been to Edinburgh in August you will know it is a fun but busy place and you may be forgiven to think the over 2 million visitors who visit the city each year are in fact there just in August. Getting people to keep coming to Scotland but trying a new slice of Scottish pie surely must be something tourism groups are hoping to achieve.

A new Hebridean Whale Trail on Scotland’s spectacular west coast has been launched by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. Scotland’s west coast is one of Europe’s best places to catch sight of whales, dolphins and porpoises from land – and you may see bottlenose and common dolphins, harbour porpoise, minke whales and killer whales. The trail also takes in some fantastic beaches, lighthouses and historic sites and a perfect example of blending Scotland’s wildlife, scenery and history.

Other-worldly

Speaking about the Glencoe project Neil Oliver, historian and president of the National Trust for Scotland, said: “Never before has this type of work been carried out at Glencoe. We now need to raise £300,000 to bring this project to life. This will support our archaeological work and enable us to recreate two turf houses, using traditional methods and materials wherever possible. We need the public’s help to do that and as a charity, we rely on donations to help us share the stories of iconic places like Glencoe. With your support we can bring alive the sights, smells and sounds of the 17th century and help us to remember those who lost their lives in the troubled times that shaped Scotland’s history. This project will also help us celebrate the resilience of the Highlanders and their way of life, now and for generations to come.”

I remember my very first visit to Glencoe and noticing two things the windy cold and the quiet, it for me was somewhere very much “other-worldly”, a place of vastness and rugged beauty. I have not been back for many years and the fact that this dramatic landscape is revealing a part of its past is very exciting. Our Scottish ancestors continue to teach us about their story, however tragic, and we are all the richer for it.

To find out more about the project at Glencoe and to make a donation, visit www.nts.org.uk/campaigns/glencoe

Have you been to Glencoe?  Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

July 2019 (Vol. 43, Number 01)

Gracing our front cover: Knox Grammar School Pipe Band from Australia, part of Piping Inverness.

The Banner Says…

Bringing Scotland’s past to present

Scotland has always been a leader in preserving the past. From historic sites to vast genealogy networks of information, the past is never too far away. I was recently sent a fascinating film trailer of footage shot in the 1930’s, which shows a side of Scottish life few ever experienced. Filmed by an American who became spellbound by Scottish, and more specifically Gaelic culture, the film shows a life that does not exist anymore and creates an incredible historical document for all of us to enjoy.

Solas

The new film celebrating the footage collected by Margaret Fay Shaw recently premiered at an event in South Uist. Created by the National Trust for Scotland’s Canna House archivist, Fiona J Mackenzie, Solas (Gaelic for light) uses rediscovered film shot by the US-born folklorist who dedicated her life to documenting Gaelic song.

Folklorist Margaret Fay Shaw first came to Scotland as a teenager from Pennsylvania, in 1920. She was orphaned at an early age and her family decided to send her to St Bride’s School in Helensburgh, in an attempt to get Scotland-the home of her forefathers-to ‘sort her out’. It was in Helensburgh, at a school recital, that Margaret first heard Gaelic being sung by Victorian song collector, Marjory Kennedy Fraser, and she decided there and then to make Gaelic song her ‘life’s quest’, to find the ‘pristine version’.

Margaret spent six years living in the remote hamlet of North Glendale, South Lochboisdale, South Uist, between 1929- 35 and over the course of these years, she became one of the world’s first female photographers and cinematographers, documenting a disappearing way of Hebridean life.

Margaret Fay Shaw left the world a fascinating collection of images and invaluable film of a lifestyle which no longer exists. She not only took film and photos in the Outer Hebrides but also on the Isle of Canna, where she lived with her husband, fellow folklorist John Lorne Campbell, from 1938 when they bought the island, until her death at the age of 101 in 2004.

Historically important

This film collection was recently re-digitised by the National Trust for Scotland, who have cared for the island since 1981, to ensure its preservation for years to come. In the process of carrying out this work archivist Fiona J Mackenzie uncovered some previously unseen film, including footage of such historically important events as the first plane landing on the Cockle Strand on Barra, 1936.

Solas uses Margaret’s images, films and words to tell the story of her life and the people in that life. Using two broadcasts which Margaret made for the BBC in the 1950s and the words of her close friend and companion, Basque born Magda Sagarzazu, their own recorded voices tell how their lives were affected by the islands, the people, the animals, crofting, the birds, the songs and the sounds.

The film also uses samples from the sound archive recorded by John Lorne Campbell during the 1930s and 40s in the Hebrides, primarily Barra, South Uist, Eriskay and Canna. During the production of the film, musicians spent a week in Canna House, using the films to produce a suite of new music. This includes actual sounds from Canna House, such as, the front door, the Canna Steinway piano, John Lorne Campbell’s bugle, Margaret’s typewriter and the servant’s bells which all make an appearance in the music.

In this issue

Another film which is now being released in the UK is the new Robert the Bruce movie. The film takes place after Robert the Bruce was crowned King of Scotland following William Wallace’s torture and execution. Whilst not quite a sequel to Braveheart, this film picks up from that story and promises to take viewers on a brutal journey as Bruce leads his country to a hard-fought independence battle. The Scottish Banner was fortunate to be one of the few international publications to get some images and release details at time of press ahead of its Edinburgh International Film Festival world premiere. I, like many, look forward to seeing this release.

I remember growing up in Canada and on those crisp days going out on a school field trip to tap Maple trees for sap. Now a Scottish company in Perthshire is looking at what Canada has done for decades and using similar techniques to create a healthy Birch Water product. Birch water is the birch sap collected from birch tree and perfect for those of us who are moving away from sweet drinks to a healthier choice. Birch water contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and is packed with electrolytes, such as calcium, manganese and zinc, providing ideal hydration properties. Birch water also contains saponin, which is known for lowering cholesterol content. With with over 91,000 hectares of birch woodland in Scotland the potential is endless and untapped.

The Lewis Chessmen are the most important chess pieces in history. Found on Lewis in 1831, the Lewis chess pieces are regarded as one of the most well-known archaeological finds from Scotland. Believed to be Scandinavian in origin, the pieces have been preserved in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and the British Museum in London and believed to be 900 years old. Of the 93 pieces, 5 pieces have been thought lost with their whereabouts unknown for many years, but one was recently found in the Scottish capital. The piece purchased for £5 in 1964 goes to auction this month and adds another intriguing layer to Scotland’s incredible story.

Celebrating 43 years

This issue marks our 43rd year of producing the Scottish Banner. When my parents decided to start the Scottish Banner, they could never know the life the business would have and the travels it would take. It began out of humble beginnings above our then Scottish restaurant and pub and over 500 issues later we present you with the Scottish Banner of today.

The Banner simply would not be still be here if it wasn’t for the many thousands of loyal readers and advertisers who have supported us over the decades. There is no denying in 2019 this is not an easy business to be in, but the Scottish community is strong and vibrant and that has been a great part of our lifeline, so as you read this issue we thank you for helping us continue and keep telling the old and new stories of Scotland.

Have you got a story on how Scotland’s past is being told today? How has the Scottish Banner touched you over our 43 years?  Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

June 2019 (Vol. 42, Number 12)

Gracing our front cover: The city of Edinburgh, one of the cities ready to welcome visitors to Scotland this summer. Photo: VisitScotland.

The Banner Says…

Keeping Scottish history alive

Each month in the Scottish Banner we cannot let an issue go out without covering a piece on Scottish history. The story of Scotland is incredibly complex, amazing, brutal and layered. It really is a case that fact is stranger than fiction when it comes to the tales of Scotland’s story.

There are of course countless books covering all the drama and intrigue of Scotland’s past, as well as numerous films and television productions. The international hit show and best-selling book series, Outlander, certainly is helping Scotland’s tourism industry with both UK and international visits up across Scotland and at the various historic sites and locations associated with the hit show and books.

Scottish history survey

However, it was surprising to recently learn many Scottish school children are not learning about the incredible story of Scotland and their very own people. A survey recently commissioned by The Edinburgh Dungeon looking into Scots’ knowledge of their own history has revealed that half of 16–24 year old’s in Scotland don’t know William Wallace defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. As thousands of school pupils across Scotland recently sat their end of year exams, the survey showed one in six Scots aged 16-24 said they didn’t learn any Scottish history at school.

More than a third of respondents said they learned more about history from films, such as the recent Mary Queen of Scots movie, starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. The survey probed Scots’ awareness of key events and characters, with one of the questions asking respondents to match famous figures with historical facts. The report found three quarters of Scots could correctly match Mary to the fact that she was imprisoned for 19 years before being beheaded in 1587.

Despite Netflix’ blockbuster Outlaw King streaming into homes around the globe, with Chris Pine in the title role of Robert the Bruce, when it came to naming which battle he won, just over half of the young Scots (53%), aged 16-24 did not know that Robert the Bruce led the Scots to victory against the English at the Battle of Bannockburn.

The survey also looked at where Scots get their knowledge of Scottish history from and reveals three in five Scots of all ages are learning about it from television. Ironically, when asked who invented the television, only 14% knew it was Helensburgh-born engineer, John Logie Baird.

On being polled about more history being taught in Scottish schools, 82% of Scots agreed this should be the case, while four in five said it should be taught in a more engaging and interactive way.

In this issue

It is one of the most talked about television shows in the world. I may be one of the few on the planet who have yet to see Game of Thrones, a show where history is re-imagined as fantasy. We welcome back David C. Weinczok this month who draws on a vast array of characters, events, places, and themes from Scottish history that echo Game of Thrones at every dramatic turn.

The Edinburgh Playhouse is the UK’s largest theatre and celebrates its 90th birthday this year, bringing audiences the best in live entertainment in the heart of Edinburgh. The stories generated from this cultural landmark do not just come from the stage but also the building itself. The Playhouse has hosted many big names over the past nine decades from royalty to music and theatre legends. The building has been saved by a group of passionate locals who love it as much as some big names such as Billy Connolly and the resident ghost called Albert.

This month on June 21st the world celebrates Arctic Day, on what is generally the longest day of the year and when the arctic is bathed in 24- hour daylight throughout the Arctic Circle. There is now also a Scottish connection to this day as a campaign to get people to wear Antarctic and Arctic tartan ribbons to raise awareness that our polar regions are warming, and the ice is melting fast. Long-time readers may recall the Scottish Banner first highlighted the Antarctic tartan back in 2000 and this month we are pleased to again highlight this great tartan and this initiative of the world’s first Polar Awareness Day.

Scotland keeps enticing us to discover more

These are just some of the stories we have this month. As you work through this month’s edition you will see that Scotland’s history is very much making news today. The story of Scotland keeps enticing us to discover more and I can only hope that more Scottish school kids can have the opportunity to learn their own amazing history. And whilst it is great that Scotland is being featured on the big and small screen around the world, I hope Scottish kids learn their past in school accurately rather than through a dramatised version. I would have thought Scottish history would be one of the most interesting classes around, surely it must be just as exciting as any student’s video game or what they are reading on their phones??!

Someone once told me Scottish history was like doing a family tree, you often find something you were not expecting, and at times can learn something you are shocked by. There are few countries I can think of that can offer such an intriguing and dramatic past, let’s hope the story is never forgotten.

Do you think Scottish history should be more widely taught in Scotland or did you learn Scottish history in school?  Do you have any comments on this month’s editorial or edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

May 2019 (Vol. 42, Number 11)

Gracing our front cover: The 2019 Tartan Day Parade in New York. Photo: Jennifer Leonard.

The Banner Says…

The changing flow of whisky

Think Scotland for many non- Scots and images of tartan, bagpipes and whisky come to mind. Scotland is all these things, and so much more, but those traditional icons often stand out for many. This month whisky will be highlighted both in Scotland and across the world as May hosts Whisky Month in Scotland and World Whisky Day also takes place globally.

Sold in over 200 countries worldwide, whisky is one of Scotland’s most famous exports, with nearly forty bottles of whisky being exported from Scotland every second! Last year that equated to nearly 558 million bottles, with recent big increases in the Indian and Chinese markets. This is on top of the already robust markets of Europe and the United States. A whisky can be called Scotch whisky only after it has matured for a minimum of three years in oak casks in Scotland itself. Over the years I have been asked about being ‘Scotch’ and I must let the person know that it is in fact a drink, not Scots.

It’s believed whisky-making began in Scotland as wine making methods spread from monasteries in Europe during the 11th century. Whisky which translates in Gaelic ‘uisge beathe’ (or ‘water of life’) is a product steeped in tradition, but at the same time one which is innovating itself in today’s modern world.

Ancient craft

The ancient craft of creating oak casks has been part of Scotch whisky for centuries, but the industry has celebrated a new first with the recruitment of two female coopering apprentices. First-year coopering apprentices Angela Cochrane and Kirsty Olychick – recruited by leading Scotch distiller Diageo at its Cambus Cooperage in Clackmannanshire – are breaking down the gender barriers and blazing a pioneering trail in the once male dominated trade.

Diageo has invested significantly in its coopering operations in Scotland in recent years, opening the £10 million state-of-the art Cambus Cooperage in 2011. Drawing on generations of skill and knowledge, and combining it with the state-of-the-art engineering, the cooperage is now able to process more whisky casks than ever before, producing over 400,000 casks each year to be used to mature spirit from Diageo’s portfolio of single grain and single malt distilleries.

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes place this month in locations across Speyside, the spiritual home of Scotland’s whisky industry. One of the more unusual events is Secrets of Spynie on May 4 which combines walking and canoeing. During their guided journey by foot and by voyageur canoe, visitors will be able to learn about the 1,500-year history of the Laich of Moray where much of the barley used in local whisky is grown. Guides will also be sharing the story of Macbeth, the history of Spynie Canal and will visit Spynie Palace, which dates back to medieval times.

In this issue

Last month some prominent Scottish events took place around the world. We were thrilled to see Sir Billy Connolly take part in the New York Tartan Day events. It may be the Big Apple, but when the ‘Big Yin’ walks down the city streets in his kilt it was sure to make people stop and cheer. As our headline says, New York certainly had a tartan takeover.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the world’s top live events. Regular readers of the Scottish Banner will know of this event as we highlight the Tattoo on a regular basis with many readers having attended the Tattoo or most certainly have it on their bucket list. I was fortunate to sit down with Brigadier David Allfrey to hear about this great event and how it really is becoming an international viewing experience.

The Proclaimers are one of Scotland’s great music exports. They were certainly part of the soundtrack of my youth and over 30 years later they are still making great music and playing to audiences across the world. Craig Reid told me he was simply trying to get off the dole as he and twin brother Charlie formed the band back in the 80’s. Well they sure did that and made us all the richer for doing so.

Ron Dempsey

This month we say farewell to the longest contributor in Scottish Banner’s history Ron Dempsey. Many will know Ron from his What’s In A Name genealogy column. Ron has written for the Scottish Banner for over 30 years and provided much insight into people’s names and we hope has helped many people add that extra piece of information to their own family tree. Ron has always come up with a column when his mail bag is full, or empty, and his love of genealogy and helping others has come across in every column. To keep your content fresh and insightful for so long is no easy task, and I can think of few contributors who have been so loyal to the Scottish Banner and our readers.

I would like to thank Ron for his dedication and friendship to the Scottish Banner for all these years. I have known Ron since childhood and whilst the Banner will not be the same without him, I hope you will join me in wishing Ron all the very best for the future and if he has helped you or sparked your genealogy interest please share your story with us. Ron as you hang your keyboard up with us, I hope you can look back with pride on helping so many and most certainly helping the Scottish Banner grow to new heights one name at a time.

 

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

 

Gracing our front cover: Iona in the Inner Hebrides on the western coast of Scotland.

April 2019 (Vol. 42, Number 10)

The Banner Says…

Tartan-The Cloth of a Nation

This month North American Scots will be celebrating Tartan Day on April 6th. The day had its humble beginnings in Nova Scotia and today has grown to be recognised by official government bodies and includes celebrations across Canada and the USA.

The first Tartan Day was held on April 6th, 1986 at a meeting of the Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia, which symbolically took place on the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath (the most famous document in Scottish history, which declares Scotland’s independence, drafted in 1320).

Whilst Tartan Day is not being celebrated this month in places such as Australia and New Zealand, they celebrate on July 1st, regardless of where you are in the world tartan one of Scotland’s true icons.

Tartan culture

The diverse history in textile manufacturing is one of Scotland’s great economies. The industry is today so much more than just producing world class kilts in someone’s family Clan tartan. Large fashion houses have used tartan in their collections and the textile industry uses tartan on multiple products such as homewares and fabrics, thus creating an exciting ‘tartan culture’.

The industry continues to represent quality products that are made with tradition and tell a story of a nation, often mixing modern with historical threads, allowing it to reinvent itself. Go to any kilt maker or weavers and you will find a space awash with colour as there are literally thousands of tartans to choose from. Each year many new tartans are registered, and they of course are not all family linked. Tartans are created to mark special occasions, districts, anniversaries and more. Regular readers will know in each issue we feature unique tartans with our Tartan of the Month section, and the Scottish Banner even has our very own tartan marking 40 years of publishing!

Tartan’s overall contribution to Scotland’s GDP is equivalent to approximately £350m per annum, with an estimated 700,000 people employed in the industry making it a huge part of the Scottish economy.

In this issue

After a long dark winter, most people look forward to bringing in the light and warmth of summer. This month in Edinburgh hundreds of very loud people will be putting on an ancient Celtic display at the Beltane Fire Festival to roar in the beginning of summer. Fire, drums and acrobats will certainly be letting Mother Nature know they are ready to receive the season in an event which has become a highlight of Edinburgh’s cultural calendar.

A visit to a doctor today could easily be with a make or female and most would not even consider being seen by a man or a woman. Roll back to the 1860’s and things were quite different and a group of women who would become to known as The Edinburgh Seven opened up the possibility of women getting into the medical profession in the UK. Things were not easy for these women who suffered abuse and roadblocks to fulfilling their dreams, they however did fulfil those dreams and made not only Scotland, but the world know medicine was not a male only domain.

One Scottish writer is honouring her father, a father she barely got to know, with a production premiering in Scotland this month. Lost at Sea tells the story of what many fishing families and communities have struggled with and uses the Northeast language Scots language of Doric. What a tribute to a father forever lost at sea, but never forgotten.

Many who have passed are remembered with grave sites across Scotland, however one family has used incredible architecture to forever rest in peace. Two grand Victorian Monteath family mausoleums can be found in both Glasgow and the Scottish Borders. While some may find it morbid, I love going to a cemetery and reading about people and taking in how they are remembered. I have visited several Scottish cemeteries and soaked up the history of the place and those who came before. The Monteath cousins certainly have left Scotland with monuments for all to enjoy.

A fabric that continues to reinvent itself

Few fabrics I can think of speak to you like tartan and give the wearer a real sense of belonging and connection to Scotland. I have been to Scottish events in several countries around the world and you will always find many in tartan, it is a timeless product and carries a great legacy with it. You of course do not have to be Scottish to wear some tartan as it represents quality in manufacturing the world over.

It also a fabric that continues to reinvent itself, showcasing more than kilts, and something more than just Scots aspire to owning. It is one of ‘brand Scotland’ top ambassadors and is renowned for its premium quality, allowing Scotland to be a nation of top production.

Last year a design student from the Scottish Borders designed a tartan for the blind and vision impaired. Heriot-Watt student Anna Cuinu designed a knitted tartan fabric using stitch structures to translate colours and patterns from the traditional tartan fabric into a sensory one. This is a perfect example how the industry is moving along with a modern world and being of appeal to a broad spectrum of people.

In todays fast fashion world products with heritage, legacy and that last are becoming more and more rare. Tartan has been part of the fabric of the story Scotland for generations and long may that weave of quality continue.

Wishing those celebrating a fantastic Tartan Day this month, I know I will be wearing my kilt on April 6th!

Do you own tartan or have a special connection to the fabric?   Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

 

Gracing our front cover: Highland Inspiration-Claire Marie wearing Lorna Gillies designs. Photo: Darja Bilyk.

March 2019 (Vol. 42, Number 09)

The Banner Says…

Celtic Connections

This month many of our Celtic cousins will celebrate their varied identities with Wales celebrating St David’s Day and the Welsh culture on March 1st, Saint Piran’s Day is celebrated on 5th March as the national day of Cornwall and the widely known Irish Saint Patrick will be celebrated across the world on March 17th.

What do these celebrations have to do with Scots, who have their own day in November with St Andrew’s Day? Perhaps more than we realise, as Celts the link is deep and strong amongst us.

Wales

Both Scotland and Wales have two amazing, and mythical, national animals. The Welsh dragon is known the world over and proudly is shown on their flag, while Scots have the lesser known but just as unique unicorn which appears on Scotland’s Royal Coat of Arms. Scots hero Sir William Wallace may also have Welsh back ground as Wallace is said to translate to Welshman.

Who doesn’t love a wee dance? A twmpath is Wales’ own form of a ceilidh – the traditional Gaelic social gathering involving folk music and dance originating in Scotland and Ireland. The twmpath includes the familiar trad music instruments such as the accordion and fiddle.

Like Scotland Wales has its own language which they are working hard to preserve, and Welsh may have originated by early Welsh settlers to Scotland, who went on to develop Old Welsh.

Cornwall

Also preserving their own language heritage are the Cornish. The language is spoken by hundreds of people in Cornwall who are working to revive and promote the Cornish language, identity and culture.

Though at opposite ends of the country, Scotland and Cornwall are ‘linked’ by a rite of passage journey for many. The well-trodden 874 miles/1,407km journey from Land’s End to John o’Groats, the most south-westerly point of Cornwall to the north-eastern tip of mainland Scotland, has inspired many to travel the length of Britain by car, bike and even on foot.

Recently Cornwall was also given minority status – the same protections as the Welsh, Scottish and Irish – under European rules.

Ireland

At the closest point Scotland and the North Antrim Coast are just 12miles/19 km apart, and the migration of people between the two countries has been going on for centuries.

Today a visitor to both Scotland and Ireland will pick up numerous Celtic similarities between these two great nations. One would be the use of the Gaelic language in street signs, spoken word and music. Whilst the Irish Gaelic and Scots Gaelic languages are distinct, they remain part of the same dialect and individual words and phrases remain close enough for each to understand the other.

Both are great lands to try a dram as each blend their own ‘juice of the barley’, whether it is spelt whiskey or whisky. The aptly names ‘water of life’ flows as uisce beatha (Irish Gaelic) or uisge beatha (Scots Gaelic) and both nations produce world class products and are important to the local economy both as exports and for inbound tourism. Regardless of which you prefer both the Scots and Irish will raise a glass with the traditional sláinte, or cheers.

Both nations as well have seen their nationals spread across the world. The Irish and Scottish Diaspora today celebrate their land of ancestry with millions of people claiming ancestry to one, and often both.

In this issue

Scotland never seems to go out of fashion and that can also be said for the great fashion the nation produces. Tartan and tweed are so linked to Scotland and represent quality, history and fashion. This month Highland designer Lorna Gillies speaks to us about how she is using ancient cloth in a progressive way.

The ancient practice of medieval combat takes place at many Scottish and Celtic festivals around the world today. Scotland now has its very first female knight who has spent a great deal of time and effort learning the sport carrying literally the weight of armour and the nation on her shoulders.

Munro bagging is a past time that is uniquely Scottish. A Munro bagger is somebody who makes it their mission to conquer all of Scotland’s mountains which have an elevation of greater than 3000 feet (914 metres). There are 282 mountain ranges that classify as a Munro, so those who take up this challenge certainly deserve recognition. This month marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Sir Hugh Munro who started the craze and his name literally lives today in Scotland’s majestic mountains.

Special bond

It is great Scots have a strong bond with many nations around the world, especially where Scots settled. However, amongst the Celtic nations, Scotland certainly has a special bond with links between it and many neighbouring nations. There are of course seven Celtic nations and this bond runs across all of them.

Though we are clearly Scots in our heritage, I know my own family can trace back to the ‘Cathedral Town’ of Letterkenny in County Donegal, Ireland. Millions of Scots will also have connections and bloodlines with various Celtic nations, interwoven in their family history.

Celts share many cultural, historical and social identities, and whilst different to Scotland, those nations are without a doubt very much our Celtic cousins.

Do you share a connection with another Celtic nation Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

 

Gracing our front cover: Saoirse Ronan as Mary Queen of Scots. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

February 2019 (Vol. 42, Number 08)

The Banner Says…

Dunblane’s golden son

For many, and certainly for those in Scotland, the grip of winter is well and truly on. Those cold days and dark nights can get to you after a while, leaving many to wonder when will it end. I grew up around snow and ice and remember longing for sunshine and warmth and no month did that ring truer than February. It may be the shortest month of the year, but it often felt the worst for the winter chill.

Andy Murray

Of course, for those on the other side of the Equator things are very different. As we go to press the Australian Open is on with days forecast close to 40°C (or 104°F) making some crave a “driech” cool Scottish winter’s day. Speaking of the Australian Open many tennis fans around the world were left saddened and shocked that Scottish tennis superstar Andy Murray admitted his body is in pain every day, and he is even struggling to put on his socks and walk the dogs-never mind play elite tennis.

Murray has certainly done Scotland proud on the world stage with a career that has seen him being a US Open champion, double Wimbledon champion, double Olympic gold medallist, 11 Grand Slam finals, a former world number one just to name a few. Murray has done so much for the sport and today is Dunblane’s most famous son. A gold post box honouring the first of Murray’s two historic Olympic triumphs takes pride of place in the High Street of the town which sits just outside of Stirling.

The Dunblane native narrowly escaped the 1996 school shooting tragedy at Dunblane Primary School. Sixteen children were murdered along with their teacher on 13 March, 1996 when a gunman broke into the gymnasium and began shooting at a class of five- and six-year-olds. The young Murray, then eight, and his brother Jamie, two years older, were in the school at the time and were on their way to the gymnasium when shots rang out. No doubt Andy’s close call with evil has left him deeply affected, and thankfully the incident is still today the only mass shooting at a UK school.

In this issue

There certainly is something about Mary at the moment, with Mary Queen of Scots on the lips of many people around the world. A new international film release has certainly put the spotlight on one of the icons of Scottish history. It is another example of just how the story of Scotland needs no script as the history of this dynamic nation is so compelling and we feature just how this latest film is helping Scotland tell her story to the world.

Planning a trip to Scotland? I would imagine a castle, distillery or taking in the amazing outdoors are in order. What about going to prison? Some may be interested to learn that Scotland has its very own prison attraction. HM Convict Prison Peterhead once housed Scotland’s most hardened inmates and now tourists can visit their cells and here the stories of both the prisoners and guards on just what it was like to live one of the North East’ most infamous places.

Resting on the steep north shore of Loch Awe sits the incredible St Conan’s Kirk. This church was built by the love of son for his mother and used his unique and creative styles of design to create a building that would most likely never today be made. Walter Campbell used granite from nearby Cruachan and the wooden beams for the roof are believed to have been taken from old wooden battleships that had recently been broken up, creating an amazing piece of architecture. Now a grant is helping St Conan’s not only continue to be a place of worship but also for weddings and events so that even more people can take in one of Scotland’s most unique buildings.

Love of Scotland

This is also a month of love with St Valentine’s Day on February 14th. I hope on the 14th you honour someone or something you love. Your family, pet or simply your love of Scotland. A land that continues to tell its tale with pride.

Andy Murray has said he hopes his tennis success has helped his home town, a town he loves, recover from the school shooting ordeal that will forever be part of his life. I am sure his success has helped and more, as Dunblane and Scotland can forever be proud of Murray who has taken the tennis world by storm, yet never forgot where he is from. Whether Andy continues to play or not he will always be Dunblane’s golden son.

Is there something about Scotland you love Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

 

Gracing our front cover: Up Helly Aa Vikings. Photo: VisitScotland.

January 2019 (Vol. 42, Number 07)

The Banner Says…

Starting the year off Scottish style

With the holiday vibe in full swing many people are extra busy in the lead up to January. Some may even consider January a quiet month to get over all the holiday cheer, not the Scots!

The month begins of course in full festive flair throughout Scotland with Hogmanay celebrations taking place across the country, as the clock strikes twelve, millions of Scots around the world celebrate ringing in the bells and throwing a party called Hogmanay.

You would then assume January 1st may be a quiet day for many? Well in Scotland a couple of great traditions take place that certainly are unique ways to start the year off. In South Queensferry outside of Edinburgh, over a 1000 people, many in fancy dress, plunge their bodies in the icy Firth of Forth to start their year. This great cause is not only a spectacle to be seen but raises funds for charity while soaking away any cobwebs from 2018, or perhaps the night before…

The Kirkwall Ba’

For those seeing the New Year in Orkney, an altogether different tradition takes places on January 1st. The Kirkwall Ba’ (which is also held on Christmas) is one of Orkney’s favourite traditions, with origins thought to go back to when Norse Vikings settled in Orkney. On New Year’s Day a mass football game takes place up and down the streets of Kirkwall in a very rough and tumble event that even the Vikings would be still proud of.

The Ba’ has two teams the Uppies and the Doonies, your team is judged by where someone is from.

If you were born to the north of the Cathedral you were a Doonie, with Uppies being those born to the south, or you play on the side that your father or grandfather did before you. Uppies and Doonies came from the term “Up the Gates” and “Doon the Gates”, from the old Norse word-gata, meaning road. A scrum involving hundreds of men and boys then erupts across the town as each team crushes and competes each other, with games lasting up to five hours or more, with apparently few injuries.

Currently this is a male dominated event, however in 1946 after the Second World War, a Women’s Ba’s took place for the first and only time, so far.

Not for everyone but these are just two examples of how Scots start the year off. Overseas Scots are also beginning the year off right with Highland Games on New Year’s Day in both New Zealand and Australia, as peak summer allows pipes and drums, Scottish dancers and Clans to gather in celebration of our culture and the year that lies ahead. With Highland Games also taking place later in the month in Florida for all those snowbirds to enjoy.

Burns Night

You cannot mention Scottish celebration in January without Robert Burns. Scotland’s Bard is celebrated and revered across the globe and this month thousands of people will attend Burns Suppers which have been taking place since 1801. Burns started his life as a poor tenant farmer and his creative and powerful poetry made him one of Scotland’s most important cultural icons.

Today Robert Burns is thought to generate £200m every year to the Scottish economy and Burns Supper’s celebrate not just the man and his work but his values and belief in justice and equality. From Scotland to the world, Burns Suppers will celebrate this great literary figure from Africa to America. Our events page includes some of great events taking place and hopefully you can take part whether it be at an informal at home event to one of the great many dinners taking place though January into February.

In this issue

Another uniquely Scottish tradition taking place this month is Shetland’s biggest fire festival, Up Helly Aa. This event though modern, also takes a nod to the island’s rich links to Shetland’s Viking heritage. Each year a month after Christmas the streets of Lerwick see hundreds of torch-carrying “guizers” lead a procession to burn a Viking longboat and light up the winter sky. The festival incorporates Norse traditions and celebrate Shetland’s Viking heritage.

While this month many will celebrate Robert Burns, in this issue we also look at those who helped shape the man. The bard’s family would certainly be instrumental in making Robert who he was and in turn part of the legacy that he left on Scotland. Robert Burns was one of seven children and those lives would have been interwoven as we look at Robert’s humble beginnings.

With 2019 upon us there is a great deal happening for those planning a trip back to Scotland. We have included some highlights of events taking place in both the piping world and across the tourism industry. Perhaps if you had been thinking of going back to Scotland, this may just convince you?!

Experience some Scottish culture this year

As you can see there is much going on this month for Scots. The best wee country in the world certainly starts the year off with a bang and 2019 looks to be another great year of events and celebration. Whether it be back in Scotland or closer to home I hope you can experience some Scottish culture this year, there is something on every month and the more we celebrate our culture the stronger our events and identity to it becomes.

All of us at the Scottish Banner wish you and yours the very best for 2019.

Will you be visiting Scotland or attending some Scottish events closer to home in 2019?  Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

 

Gracing our front cover: Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations. Photo: Chris Watt/ Edinburgh Hogmanay.

December 2018 (Vol. 42, Number 06)

The Banner Says…

Look Back, Act Forward

Welcome to December which is always a very busy month for people with all the festive celebrations that come with Christmas and Hogmanay. For many it is a magical time of the year, with the infectious joy of excitement that comes from kids who simply cannot wait to wake up on Christmas morning to see what is under the tree.

I hope the joy of Christmas reaches your home on Christmas day, however we must not forget those who may not have lots to celebrate this holiday season. Some will have lost loved ones this year making the Christmas lights that bit duller, whilst others will be alone without others to share the holiday season with.

Reaching out to someone you know who doesn’t have another to share the season with or may have lost someone important this year, it may just be the best gift you can give. Not one of monetary value but one that truly evokes the true meaning of the season.

The 30th Anniversary of the Lockerbie Disaster

One group of people who have had their holiday season impacted for the last 30 years are the relatives and friends of those who perished both in the air and on the ground during the tragic Lockerbie Air Disaster. On December 21st, 1988 259 passengers and crew aboard Pan Am 103 left London Heathrow Airport bound for New York with plans for the upcoming Christmas to be with loved ones or start a new adventure, but those souls did not reach their destination.

Instead, a terrorist bomb caused the jumbo jet to explode in the sky above Lockerbie, killing all on board, plus a further 11 residents in the Scottish Borders town as large sections of the plane crashed to the ground. The sleepy town of Lockerbie was once home to Scotland’s largest lamb market but has forever been linked to the terrorist attack which this month will mark its 30th anniversary.

The entire town and its surrounding communities were deeply affected. As the aircraft imploded it fell onto the Scottish town from a great height, landing in several pieces and ripping roofs off homes and creating a large hole in the earth. Thousands of
emergency workers from Lockerbie, the surrounding communities, across Scotland and throughout the United Kingdom responded and the town would never be the same.

In Dryfesdale Cemetery, on the outskirts of Lockerbie, there is a memorial garden that is a fitting and touching tribute to the victims of the 1988 Lockerbie Air Disaster.

Cycle to Syracuse

Recently five men completed a 3,238 mile journey called the “Cycle to Syracuse — The Lockerbie Memorial Tour 2018” that began in Lockerbie in September, honouring those lives lost in the most remarkable way. On board Pan Am flight 103 were 35 Syracuse University students, the New York institution has since 1988 held an annual remembrance week to show support for all who suffered in the Lockerbie tragedy. The Cycle to Syracuse team chose to finish the journey that those people who boarded Pan Am 103 did not get the chance to complete and finished their journey at Syracuse University. On their cycle shirts the team had the very fitting slogan which “Look Back, Act Forward.”

With each pedal taken the legacy of the victims of Pan Am flight 103 and in the town of Lockerbie have not been forgotten, and their lives have been celebrated for what they were before December 21st, 1988.

In this issue

Hogmanay is Scotland’s holiday and this year the country will again awaken out of winter darkness to celebrate all the magic of this festive period. Scots make a bigger deal of Hogmanay than
they do of Christmas and a New Year brings hope of things to come, whilst also honouring tradition. It is today one of the top destinations in the world to ring in the bells and a further example of how Scotland does “Look Back, Act Forward”.

Scots have travelled the world over and added to the stories of many nations. As Scots settled, they brought with them their customs and religion. A part of that legacy is the diverse selection of Scottish churches or Kirk’s you can find around the world. Wander various cities or towns and a touch of Scotland can be found with a great story to tell, these buildings have not only added to the architectural wonder of destinations but have added to the social fabric of far flung Scottish outposts.

A further example of how far the reach of Scots has been is the story of a unique ship that is currently in Hawaii, with plans to bring her home to Scotland. The Falls of the Clyde turns 140 this month and is a rich part of Glasgow’s “Clydebuilt” engineering history. The ship is the last surviving iron-hulled, four masted full-rigged ship in the world, and a campaign is underway to repatriate the tall ship from Hawaii to Scotland and you are invited to help bring her home to be transformed and refitted for 21st century use.

A wonderful and peaceful holiday season

2018 has been a difficult year for the Scottish Banner as we have had to deal with both personal and business challenges. We however get a great deal of pleasure and pride from hearing from so many readers who tell us how much they continue to enjoy the Banner every month. I know many readers who pass on their paper to friends and family, who in turn pass on their copies to even more people, this is great way to introduce others to our publication.

However, for those who receive a copy from someone else on a regular basis, perhaps you can make a New Year’s resolution to get yourself a subscription with us? Each copy or subscription that is purchased really does help us put together the publication, if each reader who is able to do so, supported us in this way it would greatly help us continue to keep providing the content which so many enjoy each month.

From all of us at the Scottish Banner we thank all our readers, followers, friends and advertisers for their continued support of what we do, and wish each of you a wonderful and peaceful holiday season ahead and as 2018 comes to a close may you “Look Back, Act Forward”.

Do you have any comments about this month’s editorial?   Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

 

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

 

Gracing our front cover: Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe return in Season 4 of Outlander. Photo: Starz.

November 2018 (Vol. 42, Number 05)

The Banner Says…

The spell of Scotland – Big benefits for Scotland on the small screen

Welcome to November which is proving to be a big month for Scotland and Scottish history. This month millions of people across the world will be enthralled with the story of Scotland with two major television releases, Outlander and the Outlaw King.

Regular readers of the Scottish Banner will certainly be aware of both productions as we have featured each in past editions. We again have more coverage this month as both shows will no doubt be gaining exposure across the world.

Outlander

Outlander is a phenomenon that has been thirty years in the making as US author Diana Gabaldon penned the first novel, having been inspired by a kilt wearing character in the show Dr Who, never knowing a television show would be created. Her best-selling books are sold in the tens of millions and available across the world. Clearly those of Scottish background have been instantly drawn to the story of Claire and Jamie Fraser as the time-travelling drama is laced with Scottish history which Gabaldon has researched so well.

However, this is more than a hit show, as hosting productions such as Outlander not only generates significant income for Scotland, but also boosts the Scottish screen industry by creating an opportunity to train the next generation of directors, producers, craft and technical crew.

A team of twenty Scottish-based trainees were selected for an intensive skills development training programme on Season 4 of the award-winning TV production, fifteen of which were taking their first step into the Film and TV industry. Working alongside highly experienced crew members on location and in Wardpark Studios, Cumbernauld the trainees will develop skills in a variety of creative and technical roles.

The Outlander effect

The “Outlander effect” also has also had a positive sweeping impact across Scotland with tourism numbers increasing due to the show. Venues used have included Blackness Castle, doubling as the Fort William headquarters of Black Jack Randall, which has seen visitors rise by 182%. Doune Castle, doubling as Castle Leoch and home to Colum MacKenzie and his clan, saw numbers up an incredible 227%. Outlander tours have now begun across Scotland to cater for those who have a new-found interest in Scotland.

Why is this so important? The latest available figures show that spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity for the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP, representing about five per cent of total Scottish GDP. The tourism industry in Scotland supports more than 217,000 jobs accounting for around 8.5 per cent of employment in the country.

Outlander is also encouraging more people to live and work in the Highlands thanks to a huge boost in interest created by the hit sci-fi series, which has had a positive impact on both the local job market and the housing market.

Outlaw King

This month Scotland’s biggest budget feature film ever to be produced in Scotland by home-grown talent, will be released globally on subscription service Netflix. Outlaw King, tells story of Robert the Bruce, and is directed by one of Scotland’s foremost filmmakers, David Mackenzie and features a cast principally of Scottish and UK leading actors alongside leading actor Chris Pine. The production which is set and shot entirely in Scotland, has also employed a large number of Scottish based craft and technical talent and utilised over 45 different locations including Craigmillar Castle (Edinburgh), Linlithgow Palace, Berwick Bridge, Talisker (Skye), Glencoe, Doune Castle, Mugdock Country Park (Milngavie), Coral Beach (Skye) and the Quiraing (Skye).

Film trainee initiative

Outlaw King has also hosted Scotland’s biggest ever single film trainee initiative. 35 trainees have experienced working across the creative, technical and business areas of the production. Dedicated to nurturing the next generation of filmmakers, the programme reflects the aims of valuable similar initiatives taking place across Scotland working to develop a continuous flow of skilled and creatively ambitious craft and technical crew.

Both productions pull in some great star power, however arguably one of the biggest stars of the series and the biggest scene-stealer, is Scotland itself, with its stunning landscapes and historic buildings, towns and villages and of course it’s incredible and brutal history used as a story line.

In this issue

Alongside our Outlander and Outlaw King coverage we also must never forget 100 years ago this month. November 11th is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, which will recognise the significance of the end of the First World War, and the sacrifice made by so many men and women during the war. Scottish soldiers sat alongside those from many nations and today are still not forgotten. An example of remembering them is being shown by the small town of Wigtown, who are honouring hometown Victoria Cross recipient Sergeant Louis McGuffie.

For some it’s a regular pilgrimage and for other it sits at the top of their very own bucket list. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a show like no other. Steeped in tradition and musical excellence we hear from Tattoo on this year’s spectacular “The Sky’s the Limit”. Like the shows mentioned previously the Tattoo is also nurturing the next generation, with pipers and drummers from around the world invited to take part in The Pipers Trail.

St Andrews Day is on November 30th and celebrations will take place across the globe. As always you can find some listed on our events page and we wish all our readers a very Happy St Andrew’s Day!

Great Scottish themed and made drama

So, as you sink into your favourite chair or perhaps binge-watch some of the great Scottish themed and made drama that is hitting our screens this month, consider just what a positive impact it will have for Scotland. More people will fall in love with Scottish history, as well as the film locations and want to visit. Also the great benefits to a variety of industries in Scotland, which will help the Scottish economy today and into the future.

With the release of the upcoming blockbuster Mary Queen of Scots to next enthral audiences in the cinema, Scots are certainly lucky our story is so great that it continues to be told to a wider audience, who no doubt will join us in falling under the spell of Scotland.

Will you be watching Outlander or Outlaw King?  Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

 

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

 

Gracing our front cover: The next generation at the World pipe Band Championships. Photos: Glasgow Life.

October 2018 (Vol. 42, Number 04)

The Banner Says…

Supernatural Scotland

This is always a month where things go bump in the night just that much more, as millions of children and adults around the world plan and create the perfect costume or scary trick with Halloween finishing off the month each October.

Samhain

As the sugar rush of treats hits its peak many may not be thinking of Halloweens Celtic origins. Samhain is an ancient Celtic celebration based on the tradition of the Feast of Samhain, which marked the end of the Celtic year and the beginning of the new one, much like New Year’s Eve traditions we have today.

Samhain also marked the end of summer and the change of season (taking place between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice) ahead for Celts as nights draw in and cooler weather prevails, and dates back thousands of years.

Part of the Samhein celebration involved rituals to honour people’s deceased relatives and spirits that roam the land. Scotland is no doubt a hot spot for ghosts and spirits, proving it really is a must see destination, as even in the afterlife people visit! With so many historical sites, with such at times brutal and horrid pasts, there is no doubt Scotland is a land filled with spooky opportunity.

Most parts of the country will have a story to tell and while some laugh it off as folklore others leave with some unique tales to tell. I have had a few experiences in different parts of the country which I cannot explain, nor do I feel the need to, they become part of the Scottish experience for me.

Rosslyn Chapel

I remember being in Rosslyn Chapel, located in the village of Roslin outside of Edinburgh, admiring its incredible stone work and going into a lower chamber and getting the sense that someone was around me and a very strong rush of cold also came around me. This was in winter so I try to explain that to myself as a probable reason, but this was different than the cool air everywhere else…

Regardless this is an incredible place to visit just to take in the incredible stonework which is filled with mysterious Celtic symbolism and detail. There are of course numerous reports of “happenings” here with reported sightings of spirits such a lady in white within the chapel to a horse rider in black outside the chapel, it is the possible place of the Holy Grail, considered to be on a spiritual fault line and even had reports of aliens visiting by UFO spotters!

In this issue

The bagpipes are the sound of the Scotland and we have a roundup of this year’s World Pipe Band Championships as bands and piping fans descended on Glasgow for one of the pinnacle pipe band events in the world. Bands from all over the world attended including of course Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. These bands joined not only bands from across Scotland, Ireland and the UK but diverse nations such as France, Oman, Switzerland, and even Zimbabwe. Proving the bagpipe really is a global instrument.

The colours of a Scottish autumn are a sight to be seen. The nation begins a fiery dance of colour as tress change and skies soften. Crisp air and blankets of fallen tree leaves make it a great time to visit as the crowds drop away but the nation puts on a natural display the whole world is invited to enjoy.

The song Caledonia is known by millions of Scots the world over and this year is having its 40th anniversary. We have been lucky to again catch up with our friend Dougie Maclean on his musical journey from penning that as a young man in the late 1970’s to how that song and his musical overall talent has helped him create a creative family business in Perthshire.

One of the most haunted countries on Earth

For those who dare and are intrigued by spooky spots in Scotland we do give some a mention in this issue. There are of course hundreds of other places that have stories to tell, in fact you can’t go far without finding a haunted story in Scotland, and perhaps you have visited and experienced something yourself?

Edinburgh is considered not only one of Scotland’s most haunted spots but one of the most haunted cities in the world with tales around every corner and close. This Halloween marks the 190th anniversary also of the final killing in Edinburgh by the infamous William Burke and William Hare, two Irish labourers who murdered 16 people in the space of a year and sold their bodies for medical research. They preferred suffocation and this became known as “Burking”.

Their last victim, Marjory Campbell Docherty, was killed on October 31st, 1828 and William Burke was hung in the Lawnmarket district of Edinburgh the following January. William Hare was spared and fled to England after the gruesome events took place. Today Burke’s skeleton is still on display at Surgeon’s Hall in Edinburgh next to his death mask adding to the city’s spooky credentials.

From haunted moors to spooky castles Scotland is considered one of the most haunted countries on Earth, but that dark past only adds to its magical appeal. If you happen to be at Halloween event or have a visiting trick or treaters at your door you may want to think of our Celtic ancestors who celebrated this time of year and marked a new Celtic year ahead, a year filled with opportunity and celebration of those who walked before us, and perhaps are still walking amongst us today…

Have you had a spooky experience in Scotland?  Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

This month also marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month and includes our pink tartan cover, the Scottish Banner will be donating proceeds from this issue to help this great cause, and we thank our readers for their support.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

 

Gracing our front cover: members of The Society of John De Graeme at Callendar HousePhoto: Vass Media

September 2018 (Vol. 42, Number 03)

The Banner Says…

Many readers of the Scottish Banner no doubt take the chance to embrace our heritage by attending a Highland Games, whether it be near or far, to celebrate Scotland with like-minded friends old and new.

In any given month we list hundreds of Scottish events on our website, and in each edition, from around the world allowing us to have one of the most comprehensive international Scottish events listings available anywhere.

I have attended hundreds of Highland Games and Scottish/ Celtic events across the world and regardless of where I am, I always am checking the weather in the lead up to the big day. I am sure that is something that many a reader can relate to.

I was recently at a Highland Games which began with blue sunny skies and no wind, a perfect day for a Games. However as the day progressed the winds picked up and a dark clouds approached, as I scrambled to close down the Scottish Banner tent I wondered if I could get everything packed away safely.

All in it together

As one of my display items hurled across the field it hit someone’s legs, thankfully not causing any injury, he brought it over to me and said; “You are going to need some help here!” He and his friend jumped into action and helped me get everything away safely with not one minute to spare before the heavens opened as the wind whirled around us. I have witnessed this incredible act of community kindness before and am sure some readers have helped or been helped at events in the past.

On another occasion my van got bogged in the ground and I was helped by some of the heavy events men and women who pushed out my van like it was a shopping trolley. I was so thankful to them but they insisted it was no big deal and that “we were all in it together”. This sums up so many people that attend Scottish events around the world, happy to help each other and look out for one another.

So make sure you check our calendar of events and find a Scottish community event you can attend. You may just run into one of the many kind Scots I have, and find reason to join one of the many great Scottish organisations our community offers. The international Scottish community is very fortunate to have so much on offer year round, and so many great people running, participating and attending these events.

In this issue

Speaking of community groups, this month we speak to an re-enactment group in Scotland who are passionate about sharing the story of Scotland to the wider community. The Society of John De Graeme promote not only an important figure in Scottish history but the overall story of Scotland itself. These passionate volunteers spend many personal hours away from family and friends to engage with people and the Society’s Convener David Keith is a great example of Scots promoting their own history.

The story of Scotland has been told many times over in word with hundreds of books documenting Scotland’s struggles, humour and individuals. Readers of the Scottish Banner no doubt love a good page turner much like those who will be visiting the 20thWigtown Book Festival in Galloway this month. The Festival has not only become a major event for the region but also a fantastic platform for Scottish writers and has given the town of Wigtown a new lease of life. How amazing that books can have such a profound impact on a town and its people and that in itself is a story worth telling.

This month the eyes of the world will be on Dundee and the opening of the V&A Dundee (Victoria and Albert Museum), the only other V&A Museum anywhere in the world outside London. V&A Dundee will be Scotland’s first international centre of design and is part of a major revamp of the city. Scotland’s fourth largest city is now the capital of cool and is the UK’s only UNESCO designated City of Design. Dundee has been declared Scotland’s sunniest city and it will no doubt be in the spot light not only this month but for the foreseeable future.

The kindness of Scots

In last month’s editorial I spoke of the passing of my father Jim Cairney. Whilst our family is still working through the sadness of this, I have been so touched by the great many comments of support I have received from people around the world. Some know me or my Dad and some of us have never met but the compassion from the Scottish community has been incredible. Though I know my Dad would say “That’s what Scots do!”

It again affirms to me the kindness of Scots and the friendship that we have within the readership of the Scottish Banner.

To the two gents who helped pack up the Scottish Banner tent recently, thank you for your kindness that day, and no doubt it’s simply what you do…

Have you had an act of kindness from a fellow Scot you wish to honour or recognise?  Share your story with us by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

Gracing our front cover: Playing your heart out at Piping Live! Photo: Piping Live!

August 2018 (Vol. 42, Number 02)

The Banner Says…

The gift of Scotland

Most of us find a connection at some level with our ancestry, whether it be by birth or not, and that obviously holds true to those who read the Scottish Banner. I too was immersed in Scottish culture, heritage and tradition from a young age.

Our family has earned a living from celebrating Scotland with others through ventures such as Scottish cultural events, restaurants, pubs and of course this publication for more than 40 years.

Jim Cairney

As we go to press with this issue I have reflected on my ancestry a bit more than usual as our family mourns the loss of my Father, Jim Cairney. Jim was born in Glasgow in 1931 and grew up in the shadows of his beloved Celtic Park. Dad and his older brother, celebrated actor, author and artist John Cairney, started in humble beginnings with their childhood home later torn down, but those Glasgow beginnings would shape them for life.

As a professional footballer and athlete my Father’s talents took him beyond the city and country he loved so dear and across Britain, Canada and the USA.

Later in life Dad would go on to get into the pub and restaurant business and ran welcoming establishments with a uniquely Scottish theme and friendliness about them. Passing on the gift of Scotland to his three boys was important for my Father, who made sure we knew where he was from, and in turn where we are from.

So much Scottish influence

My Father was also instrumental in getting the Scottish Banner off the ground, he along with his wife Valerie had a unique idea back in the 1970’s to start a publication for the ex-pat Scottish community.

The very first Scottish Banner offices were above a successful Scottish pub and restaurant they ran and whilst Valerie took the paper to where it got to, Jim was there in the early days to see it being born and nurtured. It was only earlier this year that Dad commented how proud he was the Banner was still going, as I am sure their 1976 business plan did not quite take the publication to 2018!

Most times when I would talk to Dad about Glasgow it was with a real sense of pride in a city he loved so much. So much so I knew regardless of where he lived or what he did, he never left Glasgow, he simply brought it with him. Today for me Glasgow is one of my three “home cities” in the world, three locations that the minute I am there they are familiar, have meaning to me and wrap me in complete comfort.

As a child having so much Scottish influence around me was simply part of growing up, with both of my parents running unique Scottish businesses, it was only later I came to realise what a gift it was to be brought up with such a strong Scottish sense of family, community and culture.

It may not have always been fun to get up at the crack of dawn to help at a Highland Games or serve up food at a Burns Supper when you are so young but it certainly shaped me. Not every child gets to be part of their ancient culture year round and today I feel fortunate to carry on the legacy of my parents through the Scottish Banner.

In this issue

There is no country in the world that is more synonymous with the bagpipes than Scotland. They are of course a global instrument but Scotland will forever be the home of the bagpipes. This month the pipes and drums will be that much more on display with some major piping events and contests taking place. We get to speak to Roddy Macleod who is not only the Festival Director of Piping Live! and principal at The National Piping Centre in Glasgow, but a highly celebrated piper himself on the power of the pipes and why they are such a cultural asset to Scotland. We have also run with the pipe band theme this month with some additional piping features showing the power of the pipes reach.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is one of Glasgow’s great sons and the celebration around him in 2018 for the 150thanniversary of his birth shows the influence he has had to Glasgow with “Glasgow Style”. As mentioned in last month’s edition a tragic second fire has ripped through the Mackintosh masterpiece, the Glasgow School of Art. We have reached out to the School and have heard back that they have been inundated with offers of support and will liaise with the Scottish Banner in time as things settle to see if we or our readers can help support this landmark Glasgow building.

The eyes of the world have been on Britain’s Royal Family this year with weddings and births as the next generation shape a modern day monarchy. Braemar Highland Gathering welcomes Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the family each year making it one of the most popular and internationally reported Highland Games in the world.

Home to Glasgow

Soon I will be leaving my home to honour my Father at a service and say goodbye to the man who left me with the gift of his homeland. A culture thrust upon me but one I proudly celebrate and feel incredibly lucky to have inherited.

Dad will never be forgotten by his family as he is being mourned across three continents and while we grieve we can also look with love and pride on a Glasgow boy who made his unique mark on the world.

Next year Dad will go home to Glasgow to have his ashes spread as he wished and I can’t think of a more perfect place to honour the man who made me, celebrated me and gave me the gift of Scotland.

Share your story with us by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

Gracing our front cover: The drive through Glen Docherty, Wester Ross on the North Coast 500. Photo: Steve Carter.

July 2018 (Vol. 42, Number 01)

The Banner Says…

Celebrating 150 years of Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Last month the city of Glasgow celebrated the 150th birthday of one Scotland’s most influential art figures, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The nation, and city of Glasgow in particular, are now half way through a year of celebrations which honour and highlight the designer, architect and artist who epitomises “Glasgow style”.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh had a lifelong connection with Glasgow and visitors to the city will no doubt be familiar with masterpiece works across the city such as The Glasgow School of Art, The Willow Tea Rooms, Mackintosh House at The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, the villas Windyhill and The Hill House, Scotland Street School and the House for An Art Lover.

Born in Glasgow on 7 June 1868, Charles Rennie Mackintosh went on to be regarded as a leading figure in both the Scottish art world and also in European Art Nouveau. Mackintosh worked exclusively in Glasgow for decades and his genius has meant the city was left with a legacy of incredible work ranging from buildings and furniture to art drawings, glassworks and designs. Today Glasgow is home to the world’s pre-eminent collection of Mackintosh’s work and his cultural legacy is part of the fabric of the city’s identity.

The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Go Glasgow app

For those who are visiting Glasgow this year I encourage you to take in some of the works of Mackintosh whilst there. To honour and celebrate the man and his work, the City of Glasgow has installed an innovative network of Bluetooth beacons at all Mackintosh venues, such as the Scotland Street School Museum, Mackintosh at The Willow and many more.

Walking around the city, each beacon communicates with the Go Glasgow app to reveal the story of each building as you arrive or pass by. The app also provides practical information for each venue, Mackintosh news & events and a map of all the venues.

Mackintosh heritage

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is no doubt a hugely important part of the fabric of Glasgow. His works are celebrated across the world and he has influenced generations of artists and art lovers. ‘The Glasgow Style’ is part of the Mackintosh heritage left to Scotland. In 2018 as the city celebrates the incredible legacy and creative genius of one Glasgow’s greatest cultural icons we hope people can take in some of the 150th anniversary celebrations and connect with one of Glasgow’s most famous sons.

In this issue

Getting out onto the open road for many is the perfect way to see Scotland. A great and diverse number of road drives are now available in Scotland which allow visitors to take in stunning scenery, incredible history and unique places. Pulling over in charming towns or stopping at breathtaking vistas must be a highlight for many visitors and perhaps hitting the road will be on your next Scottish adventure?

Many may not consider Edinburgh to be a coastal city as they take in all that is historic sites across the Old and New Towns. However the city is surrounded by water and the Scottish capital is now looking at celebrating its water heritage. This summer a variety of projects are taking place to connect both locals and visitors to the nearly 30 km of shoreline that is on the doorstep of the city.

The ancient town of Kirkintilloch in Dunbartonshire dates back to Roman times when it was a fort on the Antonine Wall. Today the historic town is considered the ‘Canal Capital of Scotland’ and attracts a good number of water-borne tourists. However not all liquid was welcome as the town was dry for many years. Alcohol was prohibited from sale until 1967 however the town continued to have a rich cultural and industrial history which continues to be celebrated today.

Devastation at the Glasgow School of Art

As we go to press we have been shocked and saddened to learn that Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic A-listed building, the Glasgow School of Art, has suffered a second terrible fire.

The Glasgow School of Art was undergoing restoration work after an earlier fire devastated its library in 2014 and was due to reopen in early 2019. This fire appears to have caused even more devastating damage and as a cruel twist taken place on the 150th year of Mackintosh celebrations.

We have reached out to the School to see how the Scottish Banner and our readers can help and will keep you posted at this incredibly difficult time as the city mourns the destruction of one of its most famous buildings.

Celebrating 42 years

With this issue we also celebrate our 42nd anniversary. What started above a Scottish restaurant in rural Canada, the Scottish Banner has been received by Scots across the world every month since 1976.

We thank our readers and advertisers for their incredible support and for helping us create a special community amongst the Scottish Diaspora.

Have you been influenced by Charles Rennie Mackintosh?  Share your story with us by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

Gracing our front cover: Preparing the Red Arrow at The National Museum of Flight at East Fortune Airfield, East Lothian.

June 2018 (Vol. 41, Number 12)

The Banner Says…

Scotland riding a wave of history

Most readers of the Scottish Banner live in places where something is considered old if it is not much more than a 100 years. Our new lands are full of tales of trials and tribulations as our ancestors began new lives in far off lands. However many of us live in lands which are considered “New World” in terms of development and progress and whose story is still very much unfolding.

This may be why so many of us are drawn to the story of Scotland with its rich and dynamic past and tales that date back much beyond our own stories. The history of Scotland is fascinating and often more dramatic than anything Hollywood could ever wish to script. There are multiple tales of gruesome warfare, harrowing events and struggles of power and wealth.

I recently spoke to a woman who was amazed that the hit TV show and bestselling book Outlander used real Scottish historical events throughout the story line. She was shocked this could even be possible and then realised this is Scotland we are talking about and sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. The “Outlander Effect” has today drawn thousands of people a year to Scotland to learn more about this historic nation. The benefits that Scotland’s history has brought to this modern nation is immense with both the tourism and film industries riding the wave.

Return to the Ridings

Scotland’s story, whilst not always pleasant, is so varied and unique it draws people to learn more, whether they be Scots or not. Scotland today champions its history with events year round that celebrate its past. This month for example the Scottish Borders begin an annual celebration which dates back to the 13th century. The Return to the Ridings can be traced to when the border badlands were in constant upheaval during the long wars with England and because of the tribal custom of plunder and cattle thieving, known as reiving (the ancient word for robbing) that was commonplace amongst the major Borders families. These colourful celebrations begin this month and run through to August across 11 towns across the Scottish Borders region. If you happen to be visiting the area try and check out one of Europe’s most unique events.

Of course this is just one example of just how the story of Scotland is being preserved by Scots. Today historians, governments and academics are working hard to keep the story of a nation alive and available to both the wider community and the next generation using modern technology to ensure an accurate recorded story can be told.

In this issue

The medieval history of Scotland is being told by the passionate members of the Clanranald Trust for Scotland at the fortified village of DunCarron. What began as a dream to tell the story of Scotland to the wider community, simply scribbled on a beermat in a Edinburgh pub, has grown to a venue which is being used by international film and television productions, and whose members have learned ancient techniques to tell Scotland’s story.

In a world of online shopping and flat pack furniture it is fascinating to hear of Scottish craftsmen using a 7,000 year old tree from the last ice age to make furniture. The Stone Age oak was protected by Scottish weather and cocooned by ancient peat bog and must make it one of the most unique options for furniture in the world.

The Battle of Culloden is an historical and defining moment in Scottish history. Few visit Culloden Moor outside of Inverness without feeling moved by the tale of tragedy and bloodshed. Today a new battle is taking place with those trying to protect this sacred land with the forces of modern expansion and developers wanting the land to build housing estates. I love the Highlands however I would not chose to live on a war grave and wonder what cost this form of progress will really be.

The Antonine Wall was built around AD142 in the reign of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius. The Wall ran coast-to-coast across Scotland from the Clyde to the Firth of Forth. The Wall was the Roman Empire’s most northerly frontier and today is still revealing its secrets some 2000 years later.

Certainly a more modern look at Scottish social history would be our discussion with Edinburgh cabbie and photographer Ryan Wells. Ryan has taken his love of people and photography and combined them to create a unique glimpse at the lives of residents and visitors to Scotland’s ancient capital Edinburgh. I have never had a cabbie ask me for my photo and can only imagine the unique stories and connections that are made during these brief but fascinating interactions. Everyone has a story to tell and it is wonderful to see a project like this happen.

Historical Scotland

In high school I loved history and enjoyed learning about times past. However I did not realise history could be so exciting and impact todays current world. How you connect with the story of Scotland is up to you, we are thankful to hear from our readers that they learn so much about Scotland through our pages.

Scotland has so many tales to still tell and whether they are discovered by a popular TV show, delving into the treasure trove of research material available or simply visiting Scotland and learning about a local character along the way, there is much to discover. Scots are very proud of their story, bloods, guts and all. We are fortunate to have a connection to a country which has much to teach, tell and inspire us-historical Scotland!

Do you have a favourite piece of Scottish history?  Share your story with us by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

 

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

Gracing our front cover: Singer-songwriter KT Tunstall, Grand Marshal at the 20th New York Tartan Day Parade. Photo: Benjamin Chateauvert.

May 2018 (Vol. 41, Number 11)

The Banner Says…

Raise a dram and gather the Clan

May is upon us and in Scotland that means some of the nations most loved and famous icons come to life. May is Whisky Month and I cannot think of nation more associated with the ‘water of life’ than Scotland itself. This of course does not take away from places like Ireland, Japan or Australia also producing fine drops, but Scotland is known the world over for quality and excellence in dram.

Perhaps then it is no surprise that for a small country like Scotland, it still boasts over 100 distilleries (and growing!) across the country. Scotland’s whisky industry is worth £5bn a year to the UK economy and accounts for around 20% of all UK food and drink exports. Staggeringly whisky exports earned £139 every second in 2017.

In Scotland you don’t have to look hard to find whisky as the country has some 20 million casks maturing in warehouses. From the Lowlands to the Highland and islands there is a dram waiting for you, usually with a great tale behind it. I did wonder if I had to have my DNA checked as I have never liked whisky. I have visited several distilleries in Scotland and may have been one of the few not looking forward to the obligatory tasting at the end.

Just like a good single malt however I have aged and have found some drops I enjoy. I was fortunate enough to sit down with actor Sam Heughan (aka Jamie Fraser from the hit show Outlander) a couple of years ago and he asked me to join him for a dram, how could I say no?

Call it the ‘Outlander effect’ but since then I have found I too can enjoy ‘Scotland’s national drink’.

Highland Games

Another national icon that will take off this month with the full bloom of spring are Highland Games in Scotland. The Scottish community is very lucky to have these cultural assets take place across the globe, and throughout the year, and getting to experience them in Scotland itself is always special. Readers of the Scottish Banner will be well versed with these great celebrations of Scottish traditions. Pipe bands, heavy events, Scottish dancing, singers, Clans and societies, whisky tastings, Scottish dogs and more are on offer to remind us of where we came from and are a great tool to pass on our culture to the next generation.

This month Scotland again begins their Highland Games season, kicking the season off at Gourock Highland Games (always the first of the year). This year the Gourock Games has wisely chosen 16 year old Rhys McCole its Chieftain. Rhys a champion boxer and also a member of the SportScotland and Young Scot’s Young People’s Sports Panel and an Ambassador for Inverclyde for the Year of Young People 2018. This is a great way to connect younger people with their heritage and keep an event relevant.

Attending a Highland Games in Scotland itself can really be a great way to experience ‘Scotland in Scotland’ and a wonderful way add memories to your next visit. As with everything in Scotland the weather dictates much of the calendar and Highland Games run from this month through to September.

Of course across North America the Highland Games season is about to burst into many peoples calendars with northern regions getting ready to showcase Scotland from now through to the autumn. And while it may be cooling down in Australia this month’s events page is packed full of Scottish events taking place, including of course Highland Games. So do check out what is coming near you, or perhaps further away. Our events page each month lists many options for people and our web site houses one of the largest events listings for international Scots in the world, and is updated several times a month.

In this issue

As mentioned May is Whisky Month and we are lucky to hear from Drew McKenzie Smith from Lindores Abbey. Lindores Abbey is considered the ‘spiritual home of Scotch whisky’ with Scotland’s first whisky production recorded there in 1494 and last year Lindores Abbey reopened and has restarted its journey in whisky history.

Think St Andrews and you will no doubt think of golf, as you should. However look into the past and like so many parts of Scotland you will find a savage and gory history. This month marks the anniversary of a brutal siege at medieval St Andrews Castle. This involved the digging of siege mines which remain an utterly unique archaeological specimen to this day.

Anyone who had a radio plugged in the 1970’s will remember the Bay City Rollers. This month we speak to lead singer Les McKeown who must have had one of the most unique experiences growing up. At 18 Les and fellow band members donned tartan and became one of the biggest music bands in history. The Rollers topped charts around the world and sold millions of albums. To be part of the soundtrack of an entire generation whilst wearing as much tartan as possible would be hard for most of us today to comprehend. The Bay City Rollers are still today one of Scotland’s most successful bands ever and put Scottish music on the map.

Changes at the Scottish Banner

Our North American readers will be aware from this issue we will be going digital only in the North American market. This decision whilst not easy reflects the challenging market conditions we face and at the same time our small family run office has been impacted by a series of life

changing health issues. The Scottish Banner will of course continue to be distributed across Canada and the USA by digital subscription and we thank all our readers for their continuing support.

Do you have a favourite whisky or Highland Games? Share your story with us by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us