Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

June – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 12)

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

The Banner Says…

The Common Ridings- Steeped in Scottish Tradition

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

Border badlands

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

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

Historic equestrian pageants

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Safe Oot, Safe In

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

May – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 11)

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

The Banner Says…

Equality in the pipe band movement

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

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

Females in the pipe band movement are here to thankfully stay

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

The Stone of Destiny

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

April – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 10)

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

The Banner Says…

The Cloth of a Nation

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

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

Highland Dress

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Tartan Day

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

March – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 09)

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

The Banner Says…

The Great Women of Scotland

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

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

Mary Sommerville

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

The Edinburgh Seven

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Scottish witches

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

February – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 08)

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

The Banner Says…

Saying ‘I Do’ to Scotland

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

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

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

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

Scottish wedding customs

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

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

The romance of Scotland

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

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

Scotland can be my Valentine anytime!

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

January – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 07)

Dunnottar Castle. Photo: VisitScotland/Luigi Di Pasquale.

The Banner Says…

Lighting up a New Year

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

The powerful symbol of fire

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

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

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

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

Up Helly Aa

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Robert Burns

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

December – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 06)

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

The Banner Says…

The cancellation of Christmas

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

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

Banning Christmas

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

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

November – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 05)

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

The Banner Says…

A Man of Destiny

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

The Stone of Destiny

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

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

Ian Hamilton

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

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

In this issue

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

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

Myths of the stone

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

October – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 04)

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

The Banner Says…

Celebrating 200 years of Scotland’s inland waterways

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

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

The Caledonian Canal

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

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

The Union Canal

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

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

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

The Falkirk Wheel

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

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

In this issue 

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

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

September – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 03)

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

The Banner Says…

The bond of dogs

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

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

Dandie Dinmont terrier

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

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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


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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

August – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 02)

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

The Banner Says…

Edinburgh-Flowering of the Human Spirit

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

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

A world leading festival city

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Edinburgh named best city to visit in the world

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

July – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 01)

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

The Banner Says…

Scotland rolls out the welcome mat for summer

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

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

An exciting summer of events

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Happy Birthday Scottish Banner!

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

June – 2022 (Vol. 45, Number 12)

The Buchanan and Lady Buchanan.

The Banner Says…

Scotland-Out of this World

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

SaxaVord UK Spaceport

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

Space Hub Sutherland

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

Scottish Space Strategy

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Lift off

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

May – 2022 (Vol. 45, Number 11)

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

The Banner Says…

Whisky’s Illicit History

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

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

Illegal whisky

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

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

In this issue

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

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

The dynamic Scotch industry

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

April – 2022 (Vol. 45, Number 10)

Duncansby Head in Caithness. Photo: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam

The Banner Says…

A Hope for Peace

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

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

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

Scotland reacts to Ukraine

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

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

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

In the issue

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

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

Scottish landmarks that are lighting up in support

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

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


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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

March – 2022 (Vol. 45, Number 09)

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

The Banner Says…

‘Hopping’ to stay on the Bonnie, Bonnie Banks

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

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


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

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

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

Wallaby Island

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

One of Loch Lomond’s most unique residents

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

February – 2022 (Vol. 45, Number 08)

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

The Banner Says…

For the Love of Scotland’s Great Outdoors

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

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

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

National Parks

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

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

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


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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Scotland’s great outdoor beauty

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

January – 2022 (Vol. 45, Number 07)

Proud Scot, photographer and mountain guide Tristan Cameron Harper.

The Banner Says…

Celebrating the Stories of Scotland

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

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

Scotland’s story heritage

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

December – 2021 (Vol. 45, Number 06)

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

The Banner Says…

Ringing in ‘The Bells’ with Scottish Tradition

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

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

Scottish customs

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Auld Lang Syne

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

November – 2021 (Vol. 45, Number 05)

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

The Banner Says…

Glasgow looking to make the world a Dear Green Place

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

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

Glas cau

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Net zero future

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

October – 2021 (Vol. 45, Number 04)

The incredible tartans of Scotland. Photo courtesy of ScotlandShop.

The Banner Says…

Samhain-The ancient traditions of the Celts

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

Ancient Celts

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

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

Ghostly apparitions

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Scottish traditions

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

September – 2021 (Vol. 45, Number 03)

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

The Banner Says…

The resilience of the international Scottish community

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

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

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

Online presentations

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Haste ye back

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

August – 2021 (Vol. 45, Number 02)

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

The Banner Says…

The lure of a Scottish castle

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

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

If these walls could talk

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

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Scotland’s inspirational castles

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

July – 2021 (Vol. 45, Number 01)

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

The Banner Says…

Here’s Tae Us!

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

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

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

The early days

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Celebrated all our love of Scotland

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

June  2021 (Vol. 44, Number 12)

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

The Banner Says…

The spirit of home

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

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

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

Visiting Scotland

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

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

Scottish connection

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

May 2021 (Vol. 44, Number 11)

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

The Banner Says…

The Water of Life

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

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

Each bottle of whisky produced tells a story

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

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

The dram of Scotland

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

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

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

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

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

#ScottishBanner, #TheBanner

Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

April 2021 (Vol. 44, Number 10)

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

The Banner Says…

A celebration of mythical Scotland

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

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

A powerful animal that never did exist

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

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

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

Finding a unicorn today

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

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

In this issue

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

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

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

National symbol for Scots

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

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

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

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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.


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