April 2022

Scottish Battles. Flodden.

Hi folks, this is a fascinating part of Scottish History. Please enjoy and come back for more.

Earl of Surrey
Lord Thomas Howard
Baron Dacre
Sir Edward Stanley
Marmaduke Constable James IV †
Lord Home
Earl of Montrose †
Earl of Bothwell †
Earl of Lennox †
Earl of Argyll †
26,000 30,000–40,000
Casualties and losses
1,500[1] 5,000–17,000[2][3]
Location within Northern England
Date 9 September 1513
Location Near Branxton, Northumberland, England
Result English victory
War of the League of Cambrai
Anglo-Scottish Wars

Battle Of Ancrum Moor 1545 Part Three

or occasionally Branxton (Brainston Moor was military combat in the War of the League of Cambrai between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, resulting in an English victory. The battle was fought in Branxton in the county of Northumberland in northern England on 9 September 1513, between an invading Scots army under King James IV and an English army commanded by the Earl of Surrey. In terms of troop numbers, it was the largest battle fought between the two kingdoms. James IV was killed in the battle, becoming the last monarch from the British Isles to die in battle.

This conflict began when James IV, King of Scots declared war on England to honour the Auld Alliance with France by diverting Henry VIII’s English troops from their campaign against the French king Louis XII. Henry VIII had also opened old wounds by claiming to be the overlord of Scotland, which angered the Scots and their King. At this time, England was involved as a member of the “Catholic League” in the War of the League of Cambrai—defending Italy and the Pope from the French (see Italian Wars).

Pope Leo X, already a signatory to the anti-French Treaty of Mechlin, sent a letter to James threatening him with ecclesiastical censure for breaking his peace treaties with England on 28 June 1513, and subsequently, James was excommunicated by Cardinal Christopher Bainbridge. James also summoned sailors and sent the Scottish navy, including the Great Michael, to join the ships of Louis XII of France.
Henry was in France with Emperor Maximilian at the siege of Thérouanne. The Scottish Lyon King of Arms brought James IV’s letter of 26 July to him. James asked him to desist from attacking France in breach of their treaty. Henry’s exchange with Islay Herald or the Lyon King on 11 August at his tent at the siege was recorded. The Herald declared that Henry should abandon his efforts against the town and go home. Angered, Henry said that James had no right to summon him, and ought to be England’s ally, as James was married to his (Henry’s) sister, Margaret. He declared:

And now, for a conclusion, recommend me to your master and tell him if he is so hardy to invade my realm or cause to enter one foot of my ground I shall make him as weary of his part as ever was a man that began any such business. And one thing I ensure him by the faith that I have to the Crown of England and by the word of a King, there shall never King nor Prince make peace with me that ever his part shall be in it. Moreover, fellow, I care for nothing but for misentreating of my sister, that would God she were in England on a condition she cost the Schottes King, not a penny.

Henry also replied by letter on 12 August, writing that James was mistaken and that any of his attempts on England would be resisted. Using the pretext of revenge for the murder of Robert Kerr, a Warden of the Scottish East March who had been killed by John “The Bastard” Heron in 1508, James invaded England with an army of about 30,000 men. However, both sides had been making lengthy preparations for this conflict. Henry VIII had already organised an army and artillery in the north of England to counter the expected invasion. Some of the guns had been returned to use against the Scots by Margaret of Austria, Duchess of Savoy. A year earlier, Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, had been appointed Lieutenant-General of the army of the north and was issued with banners of the Cross of St George and the Red Dragon of Wales. Only a small number of the light horsemen of the Scottish border had been sent to France. A northern army was maintained with artillery and its expense account starts on 21 July 1513. The first captains were recruited in Lambeth. Many of these soldiers wore green and white Tudor colours. Surrey marched to Doncaster in July and then Pontefract, where he assembled more troops from northern England.

On 18 August, five cannon brought down from Edinburgh Castle to the Netherbow Port at St Mary’s Wynd for the invasion set off towards England dragged by borrowed oxen. On 19 August two ‘gross culverins’, four ‘culverins pickmoyance’ and six (mid-sized) ‘culverins moyane’ followed with the gunner Robert Borthwick and master carpenter John Drummond. The King himself set off that night with two hastily prepared standards of St Margaret and St Andrew.
Catherine of Aragon was Regent in England. On 27 August, she issued warrants for the property of all Scotsmen in England to be seized. On hearing of the invasion on 3 September, she ordered Thomas Lovell to raise an army in the Midland counties.

In keeping with his understanding of the medieval code of chivalry, King James sent a notice to the English, one month in advance, of his intent to invade. This gave the English time to gather an army and to retrieve the banner of Saint Cuthbert from Durham Cathedral, a banner which had been carried by the English in victories against the Scots in 1138 and 1346. After a muster on the Burgh Muir of Edinburgh, the Scottish host moved to Ellemford, to the north of Duns, and camped to wait for Angus and Home. The Scottish army then crossed the River Tweed near Coldstream. On 24 August, James IV held a council or parliament at Twiselhaugh and made a proclamation for the benefit of the heirs of anyone killed during this invasion. By 29 August Norham Castle was taken and partly demolished. The Scots moved south, capturing the castles of Etal and Ford.

A later Scottish chronicle writer, Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, tells the story that James wasted valuable time at Ford enjoying the company of Elizabeth, Lady Heron and her daughter. Edward Hall says that Lady Heron was a prisoner (in Scotland), and negotiated with James IV and the Earl of Surrey her own release and that Ford Castle would not be demolished for an exchange of prisoners. The English herald, Rouge Croix, came to Ford to appoint a place for battle on 4 September, with extra instructions that any Scottish heralds who were sent to Surrey were to be met where they could not view the English forces. Raphael Holinshed’s story is that a part of the Scottish army returned to Scotland, and the rest stayed at Ford waiting for Norham to surrender and debating their next move. James IV wanted to fight and considered moving to assault Berwick-upon-Tweed, but the Earl of Angus spoke against this and said that Scotland had done enough for France. James sent Angus home, and according to Holinshed, the Earl burst into tears and left, leaving his two sons, the Master of Angus and Glenbervie, with most of the Douglas kindred to fight.

The battle actually took place near the village of Branxton, in the county of Northumberland, rather than at Flodden—hence the alternative name is Battle of Branxton. The Scots had previously been stationed at Flodden Edge, to the south of Branxton. The Earl of Surrey, writing at Wooler Haugh on Wednesday 7 September, compared this position to a fortress in his challenge sent to James IV by Thomas Hawley, the Rouge Croix Pursuivant. He complained that James had sent his Islay Herald, agreeing that they would join in battle on Friday between 12.00 and 3.00 pm, and asked that James would face him on the plain at Milfield as appointed. Next, Surrey moved to block off the Scots’ route north, and so James was forced to move his army and artillery two miles to Branxton Hill. The Scottish artillery, as described by an English source, included five great curtals, two great culverins, four sakers, and six great serpentines. The King’s secretary, Patrick Paniter, was in charge of these cannon. When the armies were within three miles of each other, Surrey sent the Rouge Croix pursuivant to James, who answered that he would wait till noon. At 11 o’clock, Thomas, Lord Howard’s vanguard and artillery crossed the Twizel Bridge.(Pitscottie says the King would not allow the Scots artillery to fire on the vulnerable English during this manoeuvre.) The Scots army was in good order in five formations, after the Almain (German) manner. On Friday afternoon the Scots host descended without speaking any word to meet the English.

The English army had formed two “battles” each with two wings. Lord Howard combined his “vanguard” with the soldiers of his father’s “rearward” to meet the Scots.[30] According to the English report, the groups commanded by the Earls of Huntly and Crawford and Erroll, totalling 6,000 men, engaged Lord Howard and were repulsed and mostly slain.
Then James IV himself, leading a great force, came on to Surrey and Lord Darcy’s son who “bore all the brunt of the battle”. Lennox and Argyll’s commands were met by Sir Edward Stanley.
After the artillery fire ended, according to the English chronicler Edward Hall, “the battle was cruel, none spared other, and the King himself fought valiantly”.[32] James was killed within a spear length from Surrey, and his body taken to Berwick-upon-Tweed. Hall says the King was fatally wounded by an arrow and a bill. Meanwhile, Lord Howard’s brother, Edmund Howard, commanding men from Cheshire and Lancashire, fought the section of the Scottish army commanded by the Chamberlain of Scotland, Alexander, Lord Home, and Thomas, Lord Dacre’s force, who had been fighting Huntley, came to assist him.
The Earl of Surrey captured the Scottish guns, including a group of culverins made in Edinburgh by Robert Borthwick called the “seven sisters”, which were dragged to Etal Castle. The Bishop of Durham thought them the finest ever seen. The treasurer of the English army Sir Philip Tilney valued seventeen captured guns as “well worth 1700 marks”, and that ‘the value of the getyng of thaym from Scotland is to the Kingis grace of muche more valew’.[

Soon after the battle, the council of Scotland decided to send for help from Christian II of Denmark. The Scottish ambassador, Andrew Brounhill, was given instructions to explain “how this cais is hapnit.” Brounhill’s instructions blame James IV for moving down the hill to attack the English on the marshy ground from a favourable position and credits the victory to Scottish inexperience rather than English valour. The letter also mentions that the Scots placed their officers in the front line in medieval style, where they were vulnerable, contrasting this loss of the nobility with the English great men who took their stand with the reserves and at the rear. The English generals stayed behind the lines in the Renaissance style. The loss of so many Scottish officers meant there was no one to coordinate a retreat.
However, according to contemporary English reports, Thomas Howard marched on foot leading the English vanguard to the foot of the hill. Howard was moved to dismount and do this by taunts of cowardice sent by James IV’s heralds, apparently based on his role at sea and the death two years earlier of the Scottish naval officer Sir Andrew Barton. A version of Howard’s declaration to James IV that he would lead the vanguard and take no prisoners was included in later English chronicle accounts of the battle. Howard claims his presence in “proper person” at the front is his trial by combat for Barton’s death.

English bill, reputed to have been used at Flodden.

Flodden was essentially a victory of the bill used by the English over the pike used by the Scots. The pike was an effective weapon only in a battle of movement, especially to withstand a cavalry charge. The Scottish pikes were described by the author of the Trewe Encounter as “keen and sharp spears 5 yards long”. Although the pike had become a Swiss weapon of choice and represented modern warfare, the hilly terrain of Northumberland, the nature of the combat, and the slippery footing did not allow it to be employed to best effect. Bishop Ruthall reported to Thomas Wolsey, ‘the bills disappointed the Scots of their long spears, on which they relied.’ The infantrymen at Flodden, both Scots and English, had fought essentially like their ancestors, and Flodden has been described as the last great medieval battle in the British Isles. This was the last time that bill and pike would come together as equals in battle. Two years later, Francis, I of France defeated the Swiss pikemen at the Battle of Marignano, using a combination of heavy cavalry and artillery, ushering in a new era in the history of war. An official English diplomatic report issued by Brian Tuke noted the Scots’ iron spears and their initial “very good order after the German fashion”, but concluded that “the English halberdiers decided the whole affair so that in the battle the bows and ordnance were of little use.”

As a reward for his victory, Thomas Howard was subsequently restored to the title of Duke of Norfolk, lost by his father’s support for Richard III. The arms of the Dukes of Norfolk still carry an augmentation of honour awarded on account of their ancestor’s victory at Flodden, a modified version of the Royal coat of arms of Scotland with the lower half of the lion removed and an arrow through the lion’s mouth.
At Framlingham Castle, the Duke kept two silver-gilt cups engraved with the arms of James IV, which he bequeathed to Cardinal Wolsey in 1524. The Duke’s descendants presented the College of Arms with a sword, a dagger and a turquoise ring in 1681. The family tradition was either that these items belonged to James IV or were arms carried by Thomas Howard at Flodden. The sword blade is signed by the maker Maestre Domingo of Toledo. There is some doubt whether the weapons are of the correct period. The Earl of Arundel was painted by Philip Fruytiers, following Anthony van Dyck’s 1639 composition, with his ancestor’s sword, gauntlet and helm from Flodden. Thomas Lord Darcy retrieved a powder flask belonging to James IV and gave it to Henry VIII. A cross with rubies and sapphires with a gold chain worn by James and a hexagonal table-salt with the figure of St Andrews on the lid were given to Henry by James Stanley, Bishop of Ely.

Lord Dacre discovered the body of James IV on the battlefield. He later wrote that the Scots “love me worst of any Englishman living, by reason that I fande the body of the King of Scots.” The Chronicle writer John Stow gave a location for the King’s death; “Pipard’s Hill,” now unknown, which may have been the small hill on Branxton Ridge overlooking Branxton church. Dacre took the body to Berwick-upon-Tweed, where according to Hall’s Chronicle, it was viewed by the captured Scottish courtiers William Scott and John Forman who acknowledged it was the King’s. (Forman, the King’s sergeant-porter, had been captured by Richard Assheton of Middleton.) The body was then embalmed and taken to Newcastle upon Tyne.
From York, a city that James had promised to capture before Michaelmas, the body was brought to Sheen Priory near London. A payment of £12-9s-10d was made for the “sertying ledying and sawdryng of the ded course of the King of Scottes” and carrying it York and to Windsor.

James’s banner, sword and his cuisses, thigh-armour, were taken to the shrine of Saint Cuthbert at Durham Cathedral. Much of the armour of the Scottish casualties was sold on the field, and 350 suits of armour were taken to Nottingham Castle. A list of horses taken at the field runs to 24 pages.
Thomas Hawley, the Rouge Croix pursuivant, was first with news of the victory. He brought the “rent surcoat of the King of Scots stained with blood” to Catherine of Aragon at Woburn Abbey. She sent news of the victory to Henry VIII at Tournai with Hawley and then sent John Glyn on 16 September with James’s coat (and iron gauntlets) and a detailed account of the battle written by Lord Howard. Brian Tuke mentioned in his letter to Cardinal Bainbridge that the coat was lacerated and chequered with blood. Catherine suggested Henry should use the coat as his battle-banner and wrote she had thought to send him the body too, as Henry had sent her the Duke of Longueville, his prisoner from Thérouanne, but “Englishmen’s hearts would not suffer it.”

Soon after the battle, there were legends that James IV had survived; a Scottish merchant at Tournai in October claimed to have spoken with him, Lindsay of Pitscottie records two myths; “thair cam four great men upon hors, and every ane of thame had ane wisp upon thair spear headis, quhairby they might know one another and brought the king furth of the feild, upoun ane dun hackney,” and also that the king escaped from the field but was killed between Duns and Kelso.

Similarly, John Lesley adds that the body taken to England was “my lord Bonhard” and James was seen in Kelso after the battle and then went secretly on pilgrimage in far nations.

A legend arose that James had been warned against invading England by supernatural powers. While he was praying in St Michael’s Kirk at Linlithgow, a man strangely dressed in blue had approached his desk saying his mother had told him to say James should not to go to war or take the advice of women. Then before the King could reply, the man vanished. David Lindsay of the Mount and John Inglis could find no trace of him. The historian R. L. Mackie wondered if the incident really happened as a masquerade orchestrated by an anti-war party: Norman Macdougall doubts if there was a significant anti-war faction.[68] Three other portents of the disaster were described by Paolo Giovio in 1549 and repeated in John Polemon’s 1578 account of the battle. When James was in council at the camp at Flodden Edge, a hare ran out of his tent and escaped the weapons of his knights; it was found that mice had gnawed away the strings and buckle of the King’s helmet, and in the morning his tent was spreckled with a bloody dew.

The wife of James IV, Margaret Tudor, is said to have awaited news of her husband at Linlithgow Palace, where a room at the top of a tower is called ‘Queen’s Margaret’s bower’. Ten days after the Battle of Flodden, the Lords of Council met at Stirling on the 19 September and set up a General Council of the Realm “to sit upon the daily council for all matters occurring in the realm” of thirty-five lords including clergyman, lords of parliament, and two of the minor barons, the lairds of The Bass and Inverrugy. This committee was intended to rule in the name of Margaret Tudor and her son James V of Scotland.
The full Parliament of Scotland met at Stirling Castle on 21 October, where the 17-month-old King was crowned in the Chapel Royal. The General Council of Lords made special provisions for the heirs of those killed at Flodden, following a declaration made by James IV at Twiselhaugh, and protection for their widows and daughters.[70] Margaret Tudor remained guardian or ‘tutrix’ of the King but was not made Regent of Scotland.

The French soldier Antoine d’Arces arrived at Dumbarton Castle in November with a shipload of armaments which were transported to Stirling. The English already knew the details of this planned shipment from a paper found in a bag at Flodden field. Now that James IV was dead, Antoine d’Arces promoted the appointment of John Stewart, Duke of Albany, a grandson of James II of Scotland as Regent to rule Scotland instead of Margaret and her son. Albany, who lived in France, came to Scotland on 26 May 1515. By that date, Margaret had given birth to James’s posthumous son Alexander and married the Earl of Angus.
A later sixteenth-century Scottish attitude to the futility of the battle was given by Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, in the words, he attributed to Patrick Lord Lindsay at council before the engagement. Lord Lindsay advised the King to withdraw, comparing their situation to an honest merchant playing dice with a trickster, and wagering a gold rose-noble against a bent halfpenny. Their King was the gold piece, England the trickster, and Thomas Howard the halfpenny.

Surrey’s army lost 1,500 men killed in battle. There were various conflicting accounts of the Scottish loss. A contemporary account produced in French for the Royal Postmaster of England, in the immediate aftermath of the battle, states that about 10,000 Scots were killed, a claim repeated by Henry VIII on 16 September while he was still uncertain of the death of James IV. William Knight sent the news from Lille to Rome on 20 September, claiming 12,000 Scots had died, with fewer than 500 English casualties. Italian newsletters put the Scottish losses at 18,000 or 20,000 and the English at 5,000. Brian Tuke, the English Clerk of the Signet, sent a newsletter stating 10,000 Scots killed and 10,000 escaped the field. Tuke reckoned the total Scottish invasion force to have been 60,000 and the English army at 40,000. George Buchanan wrote in his History of Scotland (published in 1582) that, according to the lists that were compiled throughout the counties of Scotland, there were about 5,000 killed. A plaque on the monument to the 2nd Duke of Norfolk (as the Earl of Surrey became in 1514) at Thetford put the figure at 17,000. Edward Hall, thirty years after, wrote in his Chronicle that “12,000 at the least of the best gentlemen and flower of Scotland” were slain.
As the nineteenth-century antiquarian John Riddell supposed, nearly every noble family in Scotland would have lost a member at Flodden. The dead are remembered by the song (and pipe tune)

“Flowers of the Forest”:

A legend grew that while the artillery was being prepared in Edinburgh before the battle, a demon called Plotcock had read out the names of those who would be killed at the Mercat Cross on the Royal Mile. According to Pitscottie, a former Provost of Edinburgh, Richard Lawson, who lived nearby, threw a coin at the Cross to appeal against this summons and survived the battle.
Branxton Church was the site of some burials from the battle of Flodden.

After Flodden, many Scottish nobles are believed to have been brought to Yetholm for interment, as being the nearest consecrated ground in Scotland.

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Scottish Mysteries. (Wanderer).

‘Loch Lomond wanderer’ identified as man found in Cramond bog.

A man whose body was thrown in a mass grave in Cramond more than 1,400 years ago met his death after travelling across the country to what is believed to have been an important centre of power.

The man was one of nine adults and five children who died in the sixth century and whose bodies were dumped in the latrine at a former Roman baths at Cramond,. It was earlier believed the group may have been from one family.

Now it is believed he may have hailed from the Loch Lomond area, with the man travelling to Cramond, judged to have been an important political centre that attracted well-connected individuals, at a time of great turmoil across what became Scotland.

Further tests found violence was also at play at the time of death for some left in the grave, with a woman and child likely killed by blunt force injury to the head, possibly after being bashed by the butt end of a spear.

Professor Kate Britton of Aberdeen University, senior author of the study, said the research team had been surprised those buried in close proximity were born hundreds of miles apart in some cases.She said: “Tooth enamel, particularly from teeth which form between around three and six years of age, act like little time capsules containing chemical information about where a person grew up.The analysis of the burials from Cramond, along with other early medieval burial sites in Scotland, are revealing that it was not unusual to be buried far from where you had originally grown up.

The analysis of the burials from Cramond, along with other early medieval burial sites in Scotland, are revealing that it was not unusual to be buried far from where you had originally grown up.“Previous studies have suggested that those buried here were of high social status, even nobility. What we can say from our new analyses was that these were well-connected individuals, with lives that brought them across the country.”

The bodies were originally discovered in Cramond in 1975.

John Lawson, the City of Edinburgh Council archaeologist, co-author and lead archaeologist on the investigations at Cramond, said the results had emerged from a “fantastic collaboration” with Aberdeen and Edinburgh universities.

The study has been funded by Edinburgh City Council, the University of Aberdeen, the Leverhulme Trust and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

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Scotland and its History. Part 6.

Edinburgh has a fascinating history dating back thousands of years, with evidence of a settlement in the Cramond area from around 8500 BC.

The city’s name comes from ‘Eidyn’, the name for the region in Cumbric – the Brittonic language spoken in the Northern England and Lowland Scotland in the Middle Ages.

At this time a stronghold on Castle Roc k was called Din Eidyn, literally meaning ‘the hillfort of Eidyn’. As the Scots language evolved, the Din was replaced by ‘burh’, creating Edinburgh.

And there are plenty more clues to the Capital’s complex past in the names of the areas that make up the city, all of which come from a multitude of languages, backgrounds and people.

Here are 12 of them.

11. Cramond

Cramond was named by the Votadini people, who lived on the land following the end of the Roman occupation of Britain. They spoke the Cumbric language, with ‘Caer Amon’ meaning ‘fort on the river’, in reference to the Roman fortress that stood on the River Almond.

Photo: Unknown

12. Craiglockhart

Craiglockhart gets its name from the Loccard family, who owned the land back in the 13th century and are credited with building Craiglockhart Castle in the 1400s – by which time they’d changed their name to Lockhart. It literally means ‘rock of Lockhart’.

Photo: Unknown

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Scotland and its History. Part 5.

Edinburgh has a fascinating history dating back thousands of years, with evidence of a settlement in the Cramond area from around 8500 BC.

The city’s name comes from ‘Eidyn’, the name for the region in Cumbric – the Brittonic language spoken in the Northern England and Lowland Scotland in the Middle Ages.

At this time a stronghold on Castle Roc k was called Din Eidyn, literally meaning ‘the hillfort of Eidyn’. As the Scots language evolved, the Din was replaced by ‘burh’, creating Edinburgh.

And there are plenty more clues to the Capital’s complex past in the names of the areas that make up the city, all of which come from a multitude of languages, backgrounds and people.

Here are 12 of them.

9. Murrayfield

Murrayfield, including the stadium that is the home of Scottish rugby, gets its name from Archibald Murray. The Edinburgh lawyer bought the land from Nisbet of Dean in 1733, when the area was known as Nisbet’s Park, and two years later started building his family home which would become known as Murrayfield House. At that point much of the land was rural, but when residential developments arrived in the 19th century the name stuck.

10. Oxgangs

Oxgangs gets its name from an old Celtic unit of land measurement formerly used in eastern Scotland. There were eight oxgangs in a ploughgate, and four ploughgates in a dabhach.

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Scotland and its History. Part 4.

Edinburgh has a fascinating history dating back thousands of years, with evidence of a settlement in the Cramond area from around 8500 BC.

The city’s name comes from ‘Eidyn’, the name for the region in Cumbric – the Brittonic language spoken in the Northern England and Lowland Scotland in the Middle Ages.

At this time a stronghold on Castle Roc k was called Din Eidyn, literally meaning ‘the hillfort of Eidyn’. As the Scots language evolved, the Din was replaced by ‘burh’, creating Edinburgh.

And there are plenty more clues to the Capital’s complex past in the names of the areas that make up the city, all of which come from a multitude of languages, backgrounds and people.

Here are 12 of them.

7. Duddingston

Formerly known as Treverlen or Traverlin, the name of Duddingston arrived in the 14th century. It was originally Dodinestun, meaning ‘Dodin’s Estate’, named after Dodin de Berwic, an Anglo-Norman knight who feued the estate from Kelso Abbey, who were gifted the lands by King David I.

8. Little France

Now home to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Little France’s name comes from the time when Mary, Queen of Scots took up residence at nearby Craigmillar Castle in 1566. Her large French entourage joined her, giving the area its Gallic-themed moniker.

Photo: Gareth Easton

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Scotland and its History. Part 3.

Edinburgh has a fascinating history dating back thousands of years, with evidence of a settlement in the Cramond area from around 8500 BC.

The city’s name comes from ‘Eidyn’, the name for the region in Cumbric – the Brittonic language spoken in the Northern England and Lowland Scotland in the Middle Ages.

At this time a stronghold on Castle Roc k was called Din Eidyn, literally meaning ‘the hillfort of Eidyn’. As the Scots language evolved, the Din was replaced by ‘burh’, creating Edinburgh.

And there are plenty more clues to the Capital’s complex past in the names of the areas that make up the city, all of which come from a multitude of languages, backgrounds and people.

Here are 12 of them.

5. Sciennes

Sciennes is named after the Convent of St Catherine of Scienna, which was built in the area in the 16th century. The convent also gives its name to St Catherine’s Place, where it originally stood.

Photo: Unknown

6. Holyrood

Holyrood is named after Holyrood Abbey, also known as the Church of the Holy Rude – Scots for ‘Holy Cross’.

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Scotland and its History. Part 2.

Edinburgh has a fascinating history dating back thousands of years, with evidence of a settlement in the Cramond area from around 8500 BC.

The city’s name comes from ‘Eidyn’, the name for the region in Cumbric – the Brittonic language spoken in the Northern England and Lowland Scotland in the Middle Ages.

At this time a stronghold on Castle Rock was called Din Eidyn, literally meaning ‘the hillfort of Eidyn’. As the Scots language evolved, the Din was replaced by ‘burh’, creating Edinburgh.

And there are plenty more clues to the Capital’s complex past in the names of the areas that make up the city, all of which come from a multitude of languages, backgrounds and people.

Here are 12 of them.

3. Stockbridge.

The name Stockbridge comes from the Scots ‘stock brig’ which in turn comes from from the Anglic ‘stocc brycg’, meaning a timber bridge. It only became part of Edinburgh after a bridge spanning the Water of Leith connected it with the city. The current stone Stock Bridge was built in 1801.

Photo: Crauford Tait

4. Gogar

Historians are split on the etymology of Gogar, a name that is mentioned in documents dating back as far as 1233. Some believe it comes from ‘gowk’, the Scots word for the cuckoo, while others think it’s more likely to come from ‘coch’, the Brythonic term for red that leant its name to nearby Redheugh (which means ‘red ravine’).

Photo: Unknown

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Scotland and its History. Part 1.

Edinburgh has a fascinating history dating back thousands of years, with evidence of a settlement in the Cramond area from around 8500 BC.

The city’s name comes from ‘Eidyn’, the name for the region in Cumbric – the Brittonic language spoken in the Northern England and Lowland Scotland in the Middle Ages.

At this time a stronghold on Castle Roc k was called Din Eidyn, literally meaning ‘the hillfort of Eidyn’. As the Scots language evolved, the Din was replaced by ‘burh’, creating Edinburgh.

And there are plenty more clues to the Capital’s complex past in the names of the areas that make up the city, all of which come from a multitude of languages, backgrounds and people.

Here are 12 of them.

1. Portobello

Previously called Figgate Muir, Portobello got its name thanks to a seaman called George Hamilton who built a cottage on what is now the High Street in 1742. Hamilton had served under Admiral Edward Vernon when a British fleet of boats attacked and captured the Panamanian port of Porto Bello from the Spanish in 1739. He named the cottage Portobello Hut in honour of the victory and the name was used for the growing number of homes that began to spring up around it.

2. Corstorphine

A popular local legend, almost certainly apocryphal, says that a cross of gold was gifted to the local church by a Norman baron, leading to it being called after the ‘croix d’or fine’, which then became Corstorphine. The more likely etymology comes from the first record of the name, Crostorfin, in 1128 – meaning ‘Torfin’s crossing’. The identity of ‘Torphin’ has been lost in the mists of time, but it was a popular name in around 1000 AD, and the village provided an ideal crossing point over the small lochs and marshes that used to dot the land.

Photo: George Smith

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Scotland and its History. (Poltergeist)

Scotland’s Infamous Poltergeist, Bluidy Mackenzie

The Mackenzie Poltergeist is the most well-documented paranormal phenomenon in the world.

Hundreds of people have reported being attacked by ghosts at Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Scotland. The most sinister of these specters is Sir George MacKenzie, a 17th-century Scottish lawyer and legal writer. Sir George is also known as Bluidy Mackenzie, the Mackenzie Poltergeist, and the Persecutor of the Covenanters.


Greyfriars Kirkyard. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The covenanters supported a Presbyterian Church of Scotland free from the political and religious interference of the Stuart kings. In 1637 King Charles I introduced the Book of Common Prayer with the declaration that opposition to the new Episcopalian liturgy would be treason.

In protest, thousands of covenanters signed the National Covenant or Confession of Faith in Greyfriars Kirk in 1638 affirming, “before God and the whole world, that this only is the true Christian faith and religion, pleasing God, and bringing salvation to man.”


Another View of Greyfriars. Photo by Carlos Delgado.

The consequence was their continuous and escalating persecution by the government, culminating in the Battle of Bothwell Bridge in June 1679. (There’s no reliable record of the number of casualties on either side.)

In 1677 Sir George Mackenzie was appointed Lord Advocate (Scotland’s Chief Prosecutor) and tasked with enforcing the ongoing persecution of the covenanters. He took his job very seriously. Following the 1679 battle, Mackenzie imprisoned about 1200 covenanters in a three-acre field next to Greyfriars Kirkyard now known as Covenanters’ Prison.

It has also been called the first concentration camp. The prisoners were confined outdoors for upwards of four months while awaiting trial. Their food was rationed to 4 ounces of bread a day, causing many of them to die of malnutrition. Others were executed or succumbed to exposure, disease, and despair. (It’s only fair to mention that covenanters could be released if they swore an oath of loyalty to the king.)

By mid-November, about 250 prisoners remained in Greyfriars. The “fortunate” few were sent to Virginia as slaves. However, their ship sank in a storm, and only about 60 of them survived. Bluidy MacKenzie himself died in 1691, and his remains were entombed in the Black Mausoleum at Greyfriars Kirkyard, near Covenanter’s Prison.


Black Mausoleum. Photo by Kim Traynor.

It’s believed that MacKenzie assumed the form of the MacKenzie Poltergeist in 1999 after a vagrant vandalized the Black Mausoleum. Since then, there have been sightings of a white figure or an unidentified shape feared to be MacKenzie’s apparition, as well as unexplained knocking noises inside and underneath the mausoleum. Cemetery visitors have been cut, burned, and bruised by an unseen entity. One or two have even claimed to be possessed.

The area has been exorcised twice — unsuccessfully. According to the Scotsman, the Mackenzie Poltergeist is the “most well-documented paranormal phenomenon in the world.”

The Black Mausoleum is now inaccessible to the public except through guided tours.

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Scottish Architecture. Six Storey Gladstones Land.

The vernacular architecture of Scotland, as elsewhere, made use of local materials and methods. The homes of the poor were usually of very simple construction, and were built by groups of family and friends. Stone is plentiful throughout Scotland and was a common building material, employed in both mortared and dry stone construction. As in English vernacular architecture, where wood was available, crucks (pairs of curved timbers) were often used to support the roof. With a lack of long span structural timber, the crucks were sometimes raised and supported on the walls.  Walls were often built of stone, and could have gaps filled with turf, or plastered with clay. In some regions wattled walls filled in with turf were employed, sometimes on a stone base.Turf-filled walls were not long-lasting, and had to be rebuilt perhaps as often as every two or three years. In some regions, including the south-west and around Dundee, solid clay walls were used, or combinations of clay, turf and straw, rendered with clay or lime to make them weatherproof. Different regions used turfs, or thatch of broom, heather, straw or reeds for roofing.

Most of the early modern population, in both the Lowlands and Highlands, was housed in small hamlets and isolated dwellings. As the population expanded, some of these settlements were sub-divided to create new hamlets and more marginal land was settled, with sheilings (clusters of huts occupied while summer pasture was being used for grazing), becoming permanent settlements. The standard layout of a house throughout Scotland before agricultural improvement was a byre-dwelling or long house, with humans and livestock sharing a common roof, often separated by only a partition wall. Contemporaries noted that cottages in the Highlands and Islands tended to be cruder, with single rooms, slit windows and earthen floors, often shared by a large family. In contrast, many Lowland cottages had distinct rooms and chambers, were clad with plaster or paint and even had glazed windows.

Perhaps ten per cent of the population lived in one of many burghs that had grown up in the later Medieval period, mainly in the east and south of the country. A characteristic of Scottish burghs was a long main street of tall buildings, with vennels, wynds and alleys leading off it, many of which survive today. In towns, traditional thatched half-timbered houses were interspersed with the larger stone and slate-roofed town houses of merchants and the urban gentry.  Most wooden thatched houses have not survived, but stone houses of the period can be seen in Edinburgh at Lady Stair’s House, Acheson House and the six-storey Gladstone’s Land, an early example of the tendency to build upward in the increasingly crowded towns, producing horizontally divided tenements. Many burghs acquired tollbooths in this period, which acted as town halls, courts and prisons. They often had peels of bells or clock towers and the aspect of a fortress. The Old Tolbooth, Edinburgh was rebuilt on the orders of Mary Queen of Scots from 1561 and housed the parliament until the end of the 1630s. Other examples can be seen at Tain, Culross and Stonehaven, often showing influences from the Low Countries in their crow-stepped gables and steeples.

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My Poetry. Strange Times.

Sitting by the telephone
waiting for your call
not a sound from the playground
were normally a child would fall.
Deadly silence in the streets
except for a scared dog
his bark echoes for miles around
more eerie in the fog.
The stillness of the afternoon
unusually unaccustomed to the unsettled quiet
not even a tractor on the Country roads
or kids running riot!
No sound of a baby crying
can be heard from the opened window
just the whistling wind around the concrete
and the not so funny innuendo.
Will, we ever see the summer days
when everyone had a smile on their face?
will we ever get back to normality
for the sake of the Human race?
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Scotland and its History. (Inventions)

Dolly the Sheep.

Dolly was part of a series of experiments at The Roslin Institute that were trying to develop a better method for producing genetically modified livestock. If successful, this would mean fewer animals would need to be used in future experiments. Scientists at Roslin also wanted to learn more about how cells change during development and whether a specialised cell, such as a skin or brain cell, could be used to make a whole new animal.

These experiments were carried out at The Roslin Institute by a team led by Professor Sir Ian Wilmut. Because of the nature of the research, the team was made up of many different people, including scientists, embryologists, surgeons, vets and farm staff.

Dolly was cloned from a cell taken from the mammary gland of a six-year-old Finn Dorset sheep and an egg cell taken from a Scottish Blackface sheep. She was born to her Scottish Blackface surrogate mother on 5th July 1996. Dolly’s white face was one of the first signs that she was a clone because if she was genetically related to her surrogate mother, she would have had a black face.

Because Dolly’s DNA came from a mammary gland cell, she was named after the country singer Dolly Parton.

Learn more about cloning with our cloning FAQs.

Why was Dolly so important?

Dolly was important because she was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell. Her birth proved that specialised cells could be used to create an exact copy of the animal they came from. This knowledge changed what scientists thought was possible and opened up a lot of possibilities in biology and medicine, including the development of personalised stem cells known as iPS cells.

However, Dolly was not the first ever cloned mammal. That honour belongs to another sheep which was cloned from an embryo cell and born in 1984 in Cambridge, UK. Two other sheep, Megan and Morag, had also been cloned from embryonic cells grown in the lab at The Roslin Institute in 1995 and six other sheep, cloned from embryonic and foetal cells, were born at Roslin at the same time as Dolly. What made Dolly so special was that she had been made from an adult cell, which no-one at the time thought was possible.

Dolly’s life

Dolly was announced to the world on 22nd February 1997 to a frenzy of media attention. The Roslin team chose to make the announcement at this time to coincide with the publication of the scientific paper which describes the experiments that produced her. Dolly captured the public’s imagination – no small feat for a sheep – and sparked a public debate about the possible benefits and dangers of cloning.

Dolly meets the world’s media. Image copyright: Murdo Macleod

In the week following the announcement, The Roslin Institute received 3,000 phone calls from around the world.

When Dolly was one year old, analysis of her DNA showed that her telomeres were shorter than would be expected for a normal sheep of the same age. Telomeres are ‘caps’ on the ends of DNA molecules that protect the DNA from damage. As an animal or person ages, their telomeres become progressively shorter, exposing the DNA to more damage.

It’s thought that Dolly had shorter telomeres were because her DNA came from an adult sheep and the telomeres had not been fully renewed during her development. This could have meant that Dolly was ‘older’ than her actual age. However, extensive health screens on Dolly at the time did not find any conditions which could be directly related to premature or accelerated ageing.

Dolly and Bonnie

Dolly spent her life at The Roslin Institute and, apart from the occasional media appearance, led a normal life with the other sheep at the Institute. Over the years Dolly had a total of six lambs with a Welsh Mountain ram called David. Their first lamb, Bonnie, was born in April 1998, twins Sally and Rosie were born the following year and triplets Lucy, Darcy and Cotton the year after.

After Dolly gave birth to her last lambs in September 2000, it was discovered that she had become infected by a virus called Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV), which causes lung cancer in sheep. Other sheep at The Roslin Institute had also been infected with JSRV in the same outbreak.

In 2001, Dolly was diagnosed with arthritis after farm staff noticed her walking stiffly. This was successfully treated with anti-inflammatory medication, although the cause of the arthritis was never discovered.

Dolly continued to have a normal quality of life until February 2003, when she developed a cough. A CT scan showed tumours growing in her lungs and the decision was made to euthanise Dolly rather than risk her suffering. Dolly was put to sleep on 14th February 2003, at the age of six.

Where is Dolly now?

After her death The Roslin Institute donated Dolly’s body to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, where she has become one of the museum’s most popular exhibits. Dolly is back on display in the museum after an extensive gallery refurbishment, alongside an interactive exhibit on the ethics of creating transgenic animals featuring current research from The Roslin Institute.

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My Poetry. Constance Harding.

Constance Harding was a beautiful girl
her short life ended in disaster
she was a house maid in the early days
adored by the household and master.
They blamed it on a horrible accident
so were the findings of the court
she was barely eighteen and a half that day
cut down by the Lords bloody sport.
The lord of the Manor Sir Henry Folds
was a chip of the old block they said
his Father before him was a ruthless man
at an early age he too was dead.
Constance was in charge of the hunts catering
it was her task to feed all the guests
even although personally she loathed blood sports
or the hunting of animals, or tests.
She left the halls early to get to the lodge
the party was due in one hour
cooks prepared a banquet fit for a King
expertly cooked with fruit and flour.
The table prepared, the food was superb
Sir Henry nodded to Constance in awe
you could see he was keen on her from that day
no complaints or finding a flaw.
The feelings were not mutual, Constance was happy
with her fellow working in the stables
the guests had arrived, sat at their place
looking tiny amidst the long tables.
After the meal the guests slowly left
nodding approval for a very fine meal
some loading doggy bags being discreet
with food or anything they could steal!
Sir Henry beckoned Constance to join him for a while
as he sat adjacent the huge burning fire
his passion was kindled fuelled by bottles of wine
knowing what in his heart he desired.
Constance paced along the long-floored hall
so slow he thought she may have stopped
Sir Henry became impatient and gestured to Constance
tiredness made her head flopped.
She knew what was coming, it was a certainty she thought
but she always managed to escape
dawned in her uniform, her cheeks bright red
over her arm was her massive black cape.
Sir Henry offered her a glass of red wine
Constance refused with a smile
he began right away telling her how much he loved her
she had obviously known for a while!
not taking no for an answer Sir Henry was determined
he tried to force her with his charms
Constance pulled her head away
but he locked her in a grip in his arms.
No cried the girl I do not love you
tears fell down both of her cheeks
I have been telling you this for a while
for months for days and for weeks!
Sir Henry was intoxicated not just with the wine
his passion grew stronger by the second
while Constance fought of his raging advances
pointing to the door she nodded and beckoned.
Angry and hurt by a female’s rejection
he reached for a rifle on the shelf
if I cannot have you then no man will
at first, pointing the gun at himself!
still fuelled by rage with a sweating brow
he pointed the gun at the door
shouting profanities his rage was on fire
with feelings rejected and sore.
He shot at the door but missed by a mile
as Constance fell hard to the floor
the rage turned to tears as he looked down upon
her body lying limp at the door.
Constance died within seconds of the shot
Sir Henry took her body to the field
his status and respect would be tarnished by this
and his fate would probably be sealed.
The inquest declared a shooting accident
no witnesses to say otherwise
no dna or Police equipment available
so, the result was not a surprise.
At the funeral faces were ashen 
for a girl who was idolized and adored
Sir Henry stood at the back of the crowd
his status and position restored.
Constance died at a young age for sure
whilst Sir Henry lived to a ripe old age
haunted by a secret he had kept for years
for one night of passion and rage.

This poem is fictional and does not relate to anyone.
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Scotland and its History. (Flag)

The History of the Scottish Flag.

The flag of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: bratach na h-Alba; Scots: Banner o Scotland, also known as St Andrew’s Cross or the Saltire) consists of a white saltire defacing a blue field. The Saltire, rather than the Royal Standard of Scotland, is the correct flag for all private individuals and corporate bodies to fly. It is also, where possible, flown from Scottish Government buildings every day from 8:00 am until sunset, with certain exceptions

Use of the flag is first recorded with the illustration of a heraldic flag in Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount’s Register of Scottish Arms, c. 1542.It is possible that this is based on a precedent of the late 15th century, the use of a white saltire in the canton of a blue flag reputedly made by Queen Margaret, wife of James III (1451–1488).


 Saltire with sky blue field

The heraldic term for an X-shaped cross is a ‘saltire’, from the old French word saultoir or salteur (itself derived from the Latin saltatorium), a word for both a type of stile constructed from two cross pieces and a type of cross-shaped stirrup-cord. In heraldic language, the Scottish flag may be blazoned azure, a saltire argent. The tincture of the Saltire can appear as either silver (argent) or white. However, the term azure does not refer to a particular shade of blue.

Throughout the history of fabric production natural dyes have been used to apply a form of colour, with dyes from plants, including indigo from woad, having dozens of compounds whose proportions may vary according to soil type and climate; therefore giving rise to variations in shade. In the case of the Saltire, variations in shades of blue have resulted in the background of the flag ranging from sky blue to navy blue. When incorporated as part of the Union Flag during the 17th century, the dark blue applied to Union Flags destined for maritime use was possibly selected on the basis of the durability of darker dyes, with this dark blue shade eventually becoming standard on Union Flags both at sea and on land. Some flag manufacturers selected the same navy blue colour trend of the Union Flag for the Saltire itself, leading to a variety of shades of blue being depicted on the flag of Scotland.

These variations in shade eventually led to calls to standardise the colour of Scotland’s national flag, and in 2003 a committee of the Scottish Parliament met to examine a petition that the Scottish Executive adopt the Pantone 300 colour as a standard. (Note that this blue is of a lighter shade than the Pantone 280 of the Union Flag). Having taken advice from a number of sources, including the office of the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the committee recommended that the optimum shade of blue for the Saltire be Pantone 300. Recent versions of the Saltire have therefore largely converged on this official recommendation. (Pantone 300 is #005EB8 as hexadecimal web colours.)

The flag proportions are not fixed, but 3:5 is most commonly used, as with other flags of the countries of the United Kingdom. (Flag manufacturers themselves may adopt alternative ratios, including 1:2 or 2:3). Lord Lyon King of Arms states that 5:4 is suitable. The ratio of the width of the bars of the saltire in relation to the width of the field is specified in heraldry in relation to shield width rather than flag width. However, this ratio, though not rigid, is specified as one-third to one-fifth of the width of the field.


Model of the Great Michael

Arms of King James V (r. 1513–1542)

The tradition of Saint Andrew being the patron saint of Scotland develops in the 13th to 14th centuries. The 1320 Declaration of Arbroath cites Scotland’s conversion to Christianity by Andrew, “the first to be an Apostle”. Depiction of the saint being crucified on a decussate cross, an iconographic tradition that had become current by the late 12th century, is used on a seal of the Guardians of Scotland, dated 1286. Bishop William de Lamberton (r. 1297–1328) also used the crucified figure of the saint in his seal.

The saltire (decussate cross, diagonal cross) was used as a field sign in the medieval period without any connection to Saint Andrew. The connection between the field sign and the legendary mode of crucifixion of the saint may originate in Scotland, in the late 14th century. The Parliament of Scotland decreed in 1385 that every Scottish and French soldier (fighting against the English under Richard II) “shall have a sign before and behind, namely a white St. Andrew’s Cross”.

James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Douglas at the Battle of Otterburn (1388) reportedly used a pennon with a saltire at the hoist. Similarly, a white saltire was shown in the canton of the “Blue Blanket of the Trades of Edinburgh“, reputedly made by Queen Margaret, wife of James III (1451–1488). This is the flag of the Incorporated Trades of Edinburgh, and the focal point of the Riding of the Marches ceremony held in the city each year.

Use of the white “Sanct Androis cors” on blue as a naval flag is recorded for 1507, for the carrack Great Michael. As a heraldic flag, the white saltire in a blue field is first shown in a 1542, in the armorial of David Lyndsay. Here, the royal arms are supported by two unicorns, each holding the saltire banner.

Walter Bower in his Scotichronicon (1440s) supplies a legend according to which Saint Andrew appears to king Óengus II in 832, on the eve of a battle against the Angles. The saint advises the king to watch for the “sign of the Cross of Christ in the air”. The “Cross of Christ” in this legend is later turned into the Saint Andrew’s Cross or Saltire, in the account of George Buchanan (1506–1582), where “a miraculous white saltire appeared in the blue sky” during the battle.

The Scottish Government has ruled that the Saltire should, where possible, fly on all its buildings every day from 8am until sunset. An exception is made for United Kingdom “national days”, when on buildings where only one flagpole is present the Saltire shall be lowered and replaced with the Union Flag. Such flag days are standard throughout the United Kingdom, with the exception of Merchant Navy Day, (3 September), which is a specific flag day in Scotland during which the Red Ensign of the Merchant Navy may be flown on land in place of either the Saltire or Union Flag.

A further Scottish distinction from the UK flag days is that on Saint Andrew’s Day, (30 November), the Union Flag will only be flown where a building has more than one flagpole; the Saltire will not be lowered to make way for the Union Flag where a single flagpole is present.If there are two or more flagpoles present, the Saltire may be flown in addition to the Union Flag but not in a superior position. This distinction arose after Members of the Scottish Parliament complained that Scotland was the only country in the world where the potential existed for the citizens of a country to be unable to fly their national flag on their country’s national day. In recent years, embassies of the United Kingdom have also flown the Saltire to mark St Andrew’s Day. Many bodies of the Scottish Government use the flag as a design basis for their logo; for example, Safer Scotland’s emblem depicts a lighthouse shining beams in a saltire shape onto a blue sky.Other Scottish bodies, both private and public, have also used the saltire in similar ways.

Use by military institutions on land

Challenger 1 tank of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards flying a Saltire from the whip antenna.


Royal Navy Sea King Mk5 of HMS Gannet.

The seven British Army Infantry battalions of the Scottish Division, plus the Scots Guards and Royal Scots Dragoon Guards regiments, use the Saltire in a variety of forms. Combat and transport vehicles of these Army units may be adorned with a small, (130x80mm approx.), representation of the Saltire; such decals being displayed on the front and/or rear of the vehicle. (On tanks these may also be displayed on the vehicle turret). In Iraq, during both Operation Granby and the subsequent Operation Telic, the Saltire was seen to be flown from the communications whip antenna of vehicles belonging to these units. Funerals, conducted with full military honours, of casualties of these operations in Iraq, (plus those killed in operations in Afghanistan),[ have also been seen to include the Saltire; the flag being draped over the coffin of the deceased on such occasions.

In the battle for “hearts and minds” in Iraq, the Saltire was again used by the British Army as a means of distinguishing troops belonging to Scottish regiments from other coalition forces, in the hope of fostering better relations with the civilian population in the area south west of Baghdad. Leaflets were distributed to Iraqi civilians, by members of the Black Watch, depicting troops and vehicles set against a backdrop of the Saltire.

Immediately prior to, and following, the merger in March 2006 of Scotland’s historic infantry regiments to form a single Royal Regiment of Scotland, a multi-million-pound advertising campaign was launched in Scotland in an attempt to attract recruits to join the reorganised and simultaneously rebranded “Scottish Infantry”. The recruitment campaign employed the Saltire in the form of a logo; the words “Scottish Infantry. Forward As One.” being placed next to a stylised image of the Saltire. For the duration of the campaign, this logo was used in conjunction with the traditional Army recruiting logo; the words “Army. Be The Best.” being placed beneath a stylised representation of the Union Flag.[citation needed] Despite this multi-media campaign having had mixed results in terms of overall success, the Saltire continues to appear on a variety of Army recruiting media used in Scotland.

Other uses of the Saltire by the Army include the cap badge design of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, which consists of a (silver) Saltire, surmounted by a (gilt) lion rampant and ensigned with a representation of the Crown of Scotland. (This same design, save for the Crown, is used on both the Regimental flag and tactical recognition flash of the Royal Regiment of Scotland). The badge of the No. 679 (The Duke of Connaught’s) Squadron Army Air Corps bears a Saltire between two wreaths ensigned ‘Scottish Horse’; an honour they received in 1971 which originated through their links with the Royal Artillery.The Officer Training Corps units attached to universities in Edinburgh and Glasgow, plus the Tayforth University OTC, all feature the Saltire in their cap badge designs.

The Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy adorned three of their aircraft with the Saltire. Specifically, the Westland Sea King Mk5 aircraft of HMS Gannet, operating in the Search and Rescue (SAR) role from Royal Naval Air Station Prestwick, Ayrshire, displayed a Saltire decal on the nose of each aircraft. (The SAR function was transferred from the Royal Navy to Bristow Helicopters, acting on behalf of HM Coastguard, part of the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency, with effect from 1 January 2016.)

Although not represented in the form of a flag, the No. 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force uses the Saltire surmounted by a lion rampant as the device shown on the squadron crest.The station crest of the former RAF Leuchars, Fife, also showed the Saltire, in this case surmounted by a sword. The crest of the former RAF East Fortune, East Lothian, also showed a sword surmounting the Saltire, however unlike Leuchars this sword was shown inverted,and the station crest of the former RAF Turnhouse, Edinburgh, showed a Saltire surmounted by an eagle’s head. The East of Scotland Universities Air Squadron crest features a Saltire surmounted by an open book; the book itself being supported by red lions rampant.

General use

In Scotland, the Saltire can be flown at any time by any individual, company, local authority, hospital or school without obtaining express consent. Many local authorities in Scotland fly the Saltire from Council Buildings. However, in 2007 Angus Council approved a proposal to replace the Saltire on Council Buildings with a new Angus flag, based on the council’s coat of arms. This move led to public outcry across Scotland with more than 7,000 people signing a petition opposing the council’s move, leading to a compromise whereby the Angus flag would not replace but be flown alongside the Saltire on council buildings.

In the United Kingdom, owners of vehicles registered in Great Britain have the option of displaying the Saltire on the vehicle registration plate, in conjunction with the letters “SCO” or alternatively the word “Scotland”.[48] In 1999, the Royal Mail issued a series of pictorial stamps for Scotland, with the ‘2nd’ value stamp depicting the Flag of Scotland. In Northern Ireland, sections of the Protestant community routinely employ the Saltire as a means of demonstrating and celebrating their Ulster-Scots heritage.[50]

Use of the Saltire at sea as a Jack or courtesy flag has been observed, including as a Jack on the Scottish Government’s Marine Patrol Vessel (MPV) Jura.The ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne routinely flies the Saltire as a Jack on vessels which have a bow staff, including when such vessels are underway. This practice has also been observed on the Paddle Steamer Waverley when operating in and around the Firth of Clyde. The practice of maritime vessels adopting the Saltire, for use as a jack or courtesy flag, may lead to possible confusion in that the Saltire closely resembles the maritime signal flag M“MIKE”, which is used to indicate “My vessel is stopped; making no way.” For the benefit of Scottish seafarers wishing to display a Scottish flag other than the Saltire, thereby avoiding confusion and a possible fine, a campaign was launched in November 2007 seeking official recognition for the historic Scottish Red Ensign.Despite having last been used officially by the pre-Union Royal Scots Navy and merchant marine fleets in the 18th century, the flag continues to be produced by flag manufacturers and its unofficial use by private citizens on water has been observed.

In 2017 the Unicode Consortium approved emoji support for the Flag of Scotland following a proposal from Jeremy Burge of Emojipedia and Owen Williams of BBC Wales in 2016. This was added to major smartphone platforms alongside the flags of England and Wales in the same year. Prior to this update, The Telegraph reported that users had “been able to send emojis of the Union Flag, but not of the individual nations”.

Incorporation into the Union Flag

Scottish Union Flag depicted in the 1704 edition of The Present State of the Universe.

The Saltire is one of the key components of the Union Flag which, since its creation in 1606, has appeared in various forms following the Flag of Scotland and Flag of England first being merged to mark the Union of the Crowns.(The Union of the Crowns having occurred three years earlier, in 1603, when James VI, King of Scots, acceded to the thrones of both England and Ireland upon the death of Elizabeth I of England). The proclamation by King James, made on 12 April 1606, which led to the creation of the Union Flag states:

By the King: Whereas, some differences hath arisen between Our subjects of South and North Britaine travelling by Seas, about the bearing of their Flagges: For the avoiding of all contentions hereafter. We have, with the advice of our Council, ordered: That from henceforth all our Subjects of this Isle and Kingdome of Great Britaine, and all our members thereof, shall beare in their main-toppe the Red Crosse, commonly called St. George’s Crosse, and the White Crosse, commonly called St. Andrew’s Crosse, joyned together according to the forme made by our heralds, and sent by Us to our Admerall to be published to our Subjects: and in their fore-toppe our Subjects of South Britaine shall weare the Red Crosse onely as they were wont, and our Subjects of North Britaine in their fore-toppe the White Crosse onely as they were accustomed. – 1606.

— Proclamation of James VI, King of Scots: Orders in Council – 12 April 1606.

However, in objecting strongly to the form and pattern of Union Flag designed by the College of Arms and approved by King James, whereby the cross of Saint George surmounted that of Saint Andrew, (regarded in Scotland as a slight upon the Scottish nation), a great number of shipmasters and ship-owners in Scotland took up the matter with John Erskine, 19th Earl of Mar, and encouraged him to send a letter of complaint, dated 7 August 1606, to James VI, via the Privy Council of Scotland, stating:

Most sacred Soverayne. A greate nomber of the maisteris and awnaris of the schippis of this your Majesteis kingdome hes verie havelie compleint to your Majesteis Counsell that the form and patrone of the flaggis of schippis, send doun heir and commandit to be ressavit and used be the subjectis of boith kingdomes, is very prejudiciall to the fredome and dignitie of this Estate and will gif occasioun of reprotche to this natioun quhairevir the said flage sal happin to be worne beyond sea becaus, as your sacred majestie may persave, the Scottis Croce, callit Sanctandrois Croce is twyse divydit, and the Inglishe Croce, callit Sanct George, haldin haill and drawne through the Scottis Croce, whiche is thairby obscurit and no takin nor merk to be seen of the Scottis Armes. This will breid some heit and miscontentment betwix your Majesteis subjectis, and it is to be ferit that some inconvenientis sall fall out betwix thame, for oure seyfairing men cannot be inducit to ressave that flag as it is set doun. They haif drawne two new drauchtis and patronis as most indifferent for boith kingdomes which they present to the Counsell, and craved our approbatioun of the same; bot we haif reserved that to you Majesteis princelie determination.

— Letter from the Privy Council of Scotland to James VI, King of Scots – 7 August 1606.

Slezer’s Edinburgh Castle c.1693 showing the Scottish Union Flag being flown above the Royal apartments.

Despite the drawings described in this letter as showing drafts of the two new patterns, together with any royal response to the complaint which may have accompanied them, having been lost, (possibly in the 1834 Burning of Parliament), other evidence exists, at least on paper, of a Scottish variant whereby the Scottish cross appears uppermost. Whilst, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, this design is considered by most vexillologists to have been unofficial, there is reason to believe that such flags were employed during the 17th century for use on Scottish vessels at sea. This flag’s design is also described in the 1704 edition of The Present State of the Universe by John Beaumont, Junior, which contains as an appendix The Ensigns, Colours or Flags of the Ships at Sea: Belonging to The several Princes and States in the World.

On land, evidence suggesting use of this flag appears in the depiction of Edinburgh Castle by John Slezer, in his series of engravings entitled Theatrum Scotiae, c. 1693. Appearing in later editions of Theatrum Scotiae, the North East View of Edinburgh Castle engraving depicts the Scotch (to use the appropriate adjective of that period) version of the Union Flag flying from the Castle Clock Tower. A reduced view of this engraving, with the flag similarly detailed, also appears on the Plan of Edenburgh, Exactly Done.However, on the engraving entitled North Prospect of the City of Edenburgh the detail of the flag, when compared to the aforementioned engravings, appears indistinct and lacks any element resembling a saltire.(The reduced version of the North Prospect …, as shown on the Plan of Edenburgh, Exactly Done, does however display the undivided arm of a saltire and is thereby suggestive of the Scottish variant).

 “Scots union flag as said to be used by the Scots.”

On 17 April 1707, just two weeks prior to the Acts of Union coming into effect, Sir Henry St George, Garter King of Arms, presented several designs to Queen Anne and her Privy Council for consideration as the flag of the soon to be unified Kingdom of Great Britain. At the request of the Scots representatives, the designs for consideration included that version of Union Flag showing the Cross of Saint Andrew uppermost; identified as being the “Scots union flagg as said to be used by the Scots“.[79] However, Queen Anne and her Privy Council approved Sir Henry’s original effort, (pattern “one”), showing the Cross of Saint George uppermost.

From 1801, in order to symbolise the union of the Kingdom of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland a new design, which included the St Patrick’s Cross, was adopted for the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. A manuscript compiled from 1785 by William Fox, and in possession of the Flag Research Center, includes a full plate showing “the scoth [sic] union” flag with the addition of the cross of St. Patrick. This could imply that there was still some insistence on a Scottish variant after 1801.

Despite its unofficial and historic status the Scottish Union Flag continues to be produced by flag manufacturers, and its unofficial use by private citizens on land has been observed. In 2006 historian David R. Ross called for Scotland to once again adopt this design in order to “reflect separate national identities across the UK”, however the 1801 design of Union Flag remains the official flag of the entire United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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Infamous Scots. Owen Bonner.

Warning some of this material may upset or may be unsuitable for young children.

Bonner gained notoriety after holding two female co-workers hostage at knifepoint at the Marshall’s Chunky Chicken processing plant in Coatbridge in 1994.

He forced his hostages to pray during the five-hour siege as he declared himself “worse than the devil”.

Bonner slashed both women as he waited for his £10,000 ransom demand to be met and made a series of bizarre demands, saying he wanted TV cameras, a Michael Jackson album and outfit.

He had been released from Carstairs a year earlier and was returned to the State Hospital without limit of time after a jury at the High Court in Glasgow were ordered to find him insane.

In 1999, he gave his Carstairs nurses the slip on an escorted trip and briefly went on the run in Glasgow city centre.

And in 2015 he sparked a major alert after going on the run during a shopping trip to Glasgow while he was a patient at secure unit Rowanbank Clinic.

He is still in Carstairs..

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Scotland and its History. (Inventions)

Kaleidoscopes were invented in 1816 by David Brewster a Scottish inventor. Sir David Brewster was studying many aspects of physical Sciences including polarization optics and the properties of light. While looking at some objects at the end of 2 mirrors He noticed patterns and colors were recreated and reformed into Beautiful new arrangements. He named this new invention after the greek words meaning beautiful form watcher. kalos, the greek word for beautiful, eodos, the greek word = shape scopeo, the greek word = to look at.

In 1817 He patented his idea but is seems a incorrectly worded patent made it easy for others to copy without much in way of legal recourse. David Brewster actually did not see much in way of financial success from this invention as other inventors were aggressive in mass producing this new art form. Sir David Brewster was instrumental in many light and optical advances including a lens design for lighthouses and in 1849 He made advances in Stereoscope designs.

Kaleidoscopes became very popular during the Victorian age as a parlor diversion. Charles Bush was a very popular United States kaleidoscope maker during the 1870s for his parlor kaleidoscope. He patent his idea in 1873 and to this day collectors search for this particular kaleidoscope. These were made with a round base and a rarer 4 footed version.

Many of the baby boomers remember receiving a toy kaleidoscope as a kid. It was not until the late 1970s that a renaissance in Kaleidoscope artistry began. In 1980 a first exhibition of kaleidoscopes helped fuel the interest in kaleidoscopes as an art form. Today there are 100’s of great kaleidoscope artists and kaleidoscope makers.

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Scottish Battles. Kells.

The Battle of Kells was a battle between Edward Bruce and Roger Mortimer, 3rd Baron Mortimer.


After his victory at the Battle of Connor Bruce pursued the retreating English army back to Carrickfergus and laid siege to the castle, where they had taken refuge. Around 13 November Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray returned from Scotland with 500 experienced soldiers. Leaving a besieging party at Carrickfergus, Bruce travelled to Dundalk to meet Moray and together led the Scots into County Meath.

Through his marriage to Joan de Geneville, 2nd Baroness Geneville, Roger Mortimer, 3rd Baron Mortimer succeeded to the eastern part of the Lordship of Meath, centred on Trim and its stronghold of Trim Castle. In 1315 Roger resided in Ireland, establishing his lordship against his wife’s relatives, the de Lacys of Rathwire.


Mortimer organized his men on the north border of Meath, to try to keep the Scots away from his own lands. He stocked the castle at Kells, brought in cattle from outlying districts, and improved the town’s defences, so that it might serve as his base of operation.

Leaving a contingent to garrison Nobber, about ten miles northeast of Kells, Bruce went to Kells, possibly lured by a supposed offer of fealty from Lord O’Dempsey from Offaly. The two armies met outside Kells, where the Scots began to burn the town. After three hours of fighting, the de Lacy brothers withdrew, leaving Mortimer to fight a much larger force. With his army destroyed and Kells burning, Mortimer managed to escape with a few knights and ride to Dublin.

The Scots then burned Granard and marched for two months unopposed through the midlands, devastating the country.

Edward the Bruce and the story of Ireland's last Scottish high king | The  Irish Post
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Scotland and its history. (Hebrides)

History of the Outer Hebrides. Scotland.

The Hebrides were settled early on in the settlement of the British Isles, perhaps as early as the Mesolithic era, around 8500–8250 BC, after the climatic conditions improved enough to sustain human settlement. There are examples of structures possibly dating from up to 3000 BC, the finest example being the standing stones at Callanish, but some archaeologists date the site as Bronze Age. Little is known of the people who settled in the Hebrides but they were likely of the same Celtic stock that had settled in the rest of Scotland. Settlements at Northton, Harris, have both Beaker & Neolithic dwelling houses, the oldest in the Western Isles, attesting to the settlement.

Celtic Era

The earliest written mention of the Outer Hebrides was by the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus in 55 BC. He wrote that there was an island called Hyperborea (which means “Far to the North”) where a round temple stood from which the moon appeared only a little distance above the earth every 19 years, an apparent reference to the stone circle at Callanish. Pomponius Mela, a Roman-Spanish writer of the first century, refers to a group of seven islands to which he gave the name Haemodae (Hebrides???). Other ancient writers such as Pliny the Elder, the Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy, and Solinus (3 AD) all seem to mention the Hebrides, attesting to some contact of the peoples there with the Roman world.

Little is known of the history of the peoples of the Hebrides before the 6th century as they, like the rest of Scotland, were in the depths of what centuries later became known as the Dark Ages. The first written records of the islands come with the arrival of St. Columba in the 6th century. It was this Irish-Scottish saint who first brought Christianity to the islands, founding several churches.about:blankImageUpload an image file, pick one from your media library, or add one with a URL.UploadSelect ImageInsert from URL

Kingdom of the Isles

Main article: Kingdom of the Isles

The Kingdom of the Isles (also known as the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles) was a Norse kingdom that existed in the British Isles from 1079 until 1266.

The kingdom was formed by Godred Crovan when he seized the Isle of Man from other Vikings, probably from Dublin in 1079. In the first two attempts at capturing the island Godred was defeated; it was only with his third try that he was victorious near Ramsey. Previously, the islands had been taken between c.700–900 AD, during the Viking invasions of the British Isles. Up until the arrival of Godred the islands had been administered by the Norse Kingdoms of Dublin and Orkney. The later Kingdom of Mann was centred around the Isle of Man but also contained the Outer Hebrides, the Inner Hebrides forming the Kingdom of the Hebrides.

The Hebrides under Norse control

Known as Suðreyar or southern islands in Old Norse. Norse control of the Hebrides was formalised in 1098 when Edgar of Scotland recognised the claim of Magnus III of Norway. The Scottish acceptance of Magnus III as King of the Isles came after the Norwegian king had conquered the Orkney Islands, the Hebrides and the Isle of Man in a swift campaign earlier the same year, directed against the local Norwegian leaders of the various islands. By capturing the islands Magnus III subdued the Norsemen who had seized the islands centuries earlier and imposed a more direct royal control.

The Norwegian control of both the Inner and Outer Hebrides would see almost constant warfare until being ultimately resolved by the partitioning of the Western Isles in 1156. The Outer Hebrides would remain under the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles while the Inner Hebrides broke out under Somerled, the Norse-Celtic kinsman of both Lulach and the Manx royal house. Although the Inner Hebrides, from 1156 known as the Kingdom of the Hebrides, was still nominally under the sovereignty of Norway, the leaders were Scottish in language and Gaelic in culture rather than Norse.

Two years after his victory of 1156 Somerled went on to seize control over the Isle of Man itself and become the last King of the Isle of Man and the Isles to rule over all the islands that the kingdom had once included. After Somerled’s death in 1164 the rulers of Mann would no longer be in control of the Inner Hebrides.

Scottish Control


An illustration of Hákon, King of Norway, and Skule Bårdsson, from Flateyjarbók

In 1262 there was a Scottish raid on Skye, causing Haakon IV, King of Norway, to set sail for Scotland to settle the issue. Late in 1263 Haakon headed for Scotland with a large invasion force consisting of 200 ships and 15,000 men. The storms around the coast of Scotland took their toll on the Norwegian fleet, which at one point meant dragging forty ships overland to Loch Lomond. In the end a minor skirmish took place at the Battle of Largs where the Norwegians and their Manx allies under Magnus Olafsson of Mann and the Isles failed to achieve anything more than a minor tactical victory against the Scots led by Alexander Stewart. After the battle, bad weather forced the Norwegian-Manx fleet to sail back to the Orkney Islands. After arriving in Kirkwall, Haakon decided to winter in Bishop’s Palace before resuming his campaign the following summer. This failed to occur as the king was struck by illness and died in his palace in December that same year. The death of Haakon left the crown to his son Magnus the Lawmaker, who considered peace with the Scots more important than holding on to the Norwegian possessions off western Scotland and in the Irish Sea. The Treaty of Perth of 1266 left the Hebrides and the Isle of Man to Scotland for 4,000 marks and an annual payment of 100 marks. The treaty also included that Scotland confirmed Norwegian sovereignty over Shetland and Orkney. Still, Scottish rule over the Isle of Man was finally confirmed only after the Manx under Guðrøðr Magnússon were decisively defeated in the 1275 Battle of Ronaldsway.

History of Specific Islands


The Clan MacNeil has strong ties to the Isle of Barra and can trace its lineage back to the O’Neills of Ulster who came to Barra from Ireland around the year 1000. Kisimul Castle at Castlebay is the hereditary seat of the MacNeils. It is located on an island in the bay, so giving the village its name. Other places of interest on the island include a blackhouse museum, a ruined church and museum at Cille Bharra, a number of Iron Age brochs such as those at Dùn Chuidhir and An Dùn Bàn, and a whole range of other Iron Age and later structures which have recently been excavated and recorded.

Flannan Isles


The lighthouse on Eilean Mòr. The Chapel of St Flannan can be seen on the slope to the right of the lighthouse.

As the name implies, Eilean Taighe, in the Flannan Isles, hosts a ruined stone shelter. Eilean Mòr is home to the lighthouse and a ruined chapel dedicated to St Flannan, which the lighthouse keepers refer to as the ‘dog kennel’ because of its very small size. These ruined bothies were collectively described by the Ancient Monuments Commission as The Bothies of the Clan McPhail[1] or Bothain Chlann ‘ic Phaill.[2] It is not entirely clear which St. Flannan the chapel honours. It is likely that he was either the 7th century Abbot of Killaloe in County Clare or alternatively the half brother of the 8th century St Ronan who gave his name to the nearby island of North Rona. There was also a certain Flann, son of an Abbot of Iona called Maol-duine who died in 890, and who may have loaned his name to these isolated isles.

The archipelago is also known as ‘The Seven Hunters’, and in the Middle Ages they may also have been called the ‘Seven Haley (Holy) Isles’.[3] Martin Martin (1703) lists a number of unusual customs associated with regular pilgrimages to Eilean Mòr such as removing one’s hat and making a sunwise turn when reaching the plateau.[4] It is possible that the saint or his acolytes lived on Eilean Mòr and perhaps Eilean Taighe as well. However, it is unlikely that there were permanent residents on the islands once the Celtic Church fell into decline in the Hebrides (as a result of 9th century Viking invasions), until the construction of the lighthouse and its occupation very shortly before the dawn of the 20th century.

Great Bernera

“Tursachan”, the Callanish VIII megalithic monument on Great Bernera overlooks the bridge from Lewis

The main settlement on the island is Breaclete (Scottish Gaelic: Breacleit), home to a small museum. Bernera is also known for its Iron Age (or possibly Pictish) settlement at Bostadh, discovered in 1992 and now covered by sand to preserve it. A replica Iron Age house matching those now buried is sited nearby. The island was also the location of the Bernera Riot, where crofters resisted the Highland clearances.


Historical Sites

Callanish Stones

The Isle of Lewis has a variety of locations of historical and archaeological interest including:

  • Callanish Stones;
  • Dun Carloway Broch;
  • Iron Age houses near Bostadh (Great Bernera);
  • The Black House village at Garenin (Na Gearannan), near Carloway and the Black House at Arnol;
  • St. Columba’s church in Aignish;
  • Teampull Mholuaidh in Ness;
  • Clach an Truiseil monolith;
  • Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Monument, Arnish;
  • Lews Castle;
  • Butt of Lewis cliffs and Butt of Lewis Lighthouse;
  • Dùn Èistean.

There are also numerous ‘lesser’ stone circles and remains of brochs.

Historical Events

Two kings and two queens from the Lewis chessmen at the British Museum

  • The first evidence of human habitation of the islands is found in peat samples which indicate that about 8,000 years ago, much of the native woodland was torched to make way for grassland to allow deer to graze.
  • The earliest archaeological remains in Lewis date from about 5,000 years ago. At that time, people began to settle in permanent farms rather than following their herds. The small houses of these people have been found throughout the Western Isles, in particular, at Dail Mor in Lewis. The more striking great monuments of this period are the temples and communal burial cairns at places like Calanais.
  • About 500 BC, island society moved into the Iron Age. The buildings became larger and more prominent, resulting in the brochs which were circular dry-stone towers belonging to the local chieftains, the best example of which in Lewis is at Dun Charlabhagh.
  • 7th and 8th centuries AD: Christianity began to spread throughout the islands.
  • 9th century AD: The Vikings arrived, intermarrying with local families and abandoning their pagan beliefs. At this time, most buildings changed their forms from round to rectangular, following the Scandinavian style. At this time, Lewis was part of the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles and officially part of Norway. The Lewis chessmen, which were found on the island in 1831, date from the time of Viking rule. The people were called the Gall-Ghaidheil, the ‘Foreigner Gaels’, reflecting their mixed Scandinavian/Gaelic background and probably their bilingual speech.
  • 1263 – The Battle of Largs: While not taking place in Lewis, it had a significant effect on Scotland’s defeat of the Vikings, leading to Lewis, and the rest of the Islands, being ceded to Scotland in 1266.
  • Amie MacRuari, wife of John of Islay, built Borve Castle on Benbecula Island sometime between 1344 and 1363
  • 14th century: The Lordship of the Isles emerged as the most important power in northwestern Scotland. The Lords of the Isles were based on Islay, but controlled all of the Hebrides. They were descended from Somerled (Somhairle) Mac Gillibride, a Gall-Gaidheil lord who had held the Hebrides and West Coast two hundred years earlier.
  • 18th century: Following the 1745 rebellion, and Prince Charles Edward Stewart’s flight to France, the use of Gaelic was discouraged, rents were demanded in cash rather than kind, and the wearing of folk dress was made illegal. Emigration to the New World increasingly became an escape for those who could afford it during the latter half of the century.
  • 19th century: Clearances by landlords forced vast numbers of people off their lands, and increased again the flood of emigrants. Lewis was the site of numerous ‘land struggles’ which have recently been commemorated in modern cairn-style monuments in various villages.
  • 1914–1918: During the First World War, thousands of islanders served in the forces, many losing their lives.
  • 1919: The Isle of Lewis suffered a terrible blow with the sinking of the Iolaire on New Year’s Day at the close of the First World War. The Admiralty yacht “HMY Iolaire” sank within sight of Stornoway’s harbour, killing over 200 naval reservists from the island who were returning home.
  • 1939–1945: Again, Lewis contributed to the forces during the Second World War with most serving in the royal and Merchant Navy. Again, many lives were lost. Following the war, many more inhabitants emigrated to the Americas and mainland Scotland.
  • Medieval development of Stornoway was spurred on by the construction of the original castle in the High Middle Ages by the Nicolson (or MacNicol) family of Viking descent. Infighting between rival clans continued throughout the Late Middle Ages and resisted an attempt by James VI to colonise Lewis in 1597. The castle was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s forces in the mid 17th century, and the ownership of Lewis passed from the MacKenzies of Kintail through the Seaforth family and Sir James Matheson (and his descendants) to William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme.
  • Lord Leverhulme finally gifted the town’s parish to the Stornoway Trust, whose ownership remains to this day.

North Uist

Main article: North Uist

North Uist has many prehistoric structures, including the Barpa Langass chambered cairn, the Pobull Fhinn stone circle and the Fir Bhreige standing stones.


Main article: Scalpay, Outer Hebrides

Eilean Glas a tiny peninsula on Scalpay’s eastern shore is home to the first lighthouse to be built in the Outer Hebrides.

South Uist

Main article: South UistLooking west to Nicolson’s Leap. In the background are Beinn Mhór on the left, and Hecla on the right.

South Uist is home to the Kildonan Museum housing the 16th century Clanranald Stone and the ruins of the house where Flora MacDonald was born.

The SEARCH project (Sheffield Environmental and Archaeological Research Campaign in the Hebrides) on South Uist has been developing a long-term perspective on changes in settlement and house form from the Bronze Age to the 19th century. Organisation within Iron Age roundhouses appears to have been very different from 19th century blackhouses in which the dwelling was shared with stock. Stock sharing living space with people is often regarded as a traditional Hebridean arrangement reflecting Norse influence.

An excavation at Bornais on the Isle of South Uist revealed what is probably the largest Viking settlement in Scotland.

The archaeological site of Cladh Hallan on South Uist is the only site in the British Isles where prehistoric mummies have been found.

St Kilda

Main article: St Kilda, Scotland

St Kilda was continuously inhabited for two millennia or more, from the Bronze Age to the 20th century.  However, little is known of the early history, the first written record of which dates from the late 14th century. The islands were historically part of the domain of the MacLeods of Harris whose steward was responsible for the collection of rents in kind and other duties. The first report of a visit to the islands dates from 1549.

Macaulay (1764) reports the existence of five druidic altars including a large circle of stones fixed perpendicularly in the ground, by the Stallir House on Boreray. The schoolroom (on the right of the photo) was added to the side of the church in 1884.

Visiting ships in the 18th century brought cholera and smallpox and in 1727 the loss of life was so high that there were not enough men to man the boats and new families were brought in from Harris to replace them. By 1758 the population had risen to 88 and reached just under 100 by the end of the century. This figure remained fairly constant until 1851 when 36 islanders emigrated to Australia on board the Priscilla, a loss from which the island never fully recovered.The interior of the church at Oiseabhal, St Kilda

Tourism had a destabilising impact on St Kilda. During the 19th century steamers began to visit Hirta, enabling the islanders to earn money from the sale of tweeds and birds’ eggs but at the expense of their self-esteem as the tourists clearly regarded them as curiosities.

By the turn of the 20th century formal schooling had become a feature of the islands and in 1906 the church was extended to make a schoolhouse. All the children now learned English in addition to their native Gaelic. Improved midwifery skills reduced the problems of childhood tetanus. There had been some talk of an evacuation in 1875 but despite occasional food shortages and a ‘flu epidemic in 1913 the population was stable at 75 to 80 people, and there was no obvious sign that within a few years the millennia-old occupation of the island was to end.

World War One

Early in World War I the Royal Navy erected a signal station on Hirta and daily communications with the mainland were established for the first time in St Kilda’s history. In a belated response, a German submarine arrived in Village Bay on the morning of 15 May 1918 and after issuing a warning, started shelling the island. Seventy two shells in all were fired and the wireless station was destroyed. The manse, church, and jetty storehouse were also damaged.

As a result of this attack a Mark II QF gun was erected on a promontory overlooking Village Bay, but it was never fired in anger. Of greater long-term significance to the islanders was the introduction of regular contact with the outside world and the slow development of a money-based economy, both of which made life easier but less self-reliant. These were both factors in the evacuation of the island only a little more than a decade later.



Boreray, Stac Lee, and Stac an Armin (left) from the heights of Conachair

The advent of tourism and the presence of the military in World War One had enabled the islanders to understand that there were alternatives to the privations they had routinely suffered. Despite the provision of a small jetty in 1902 the islands remained at the mercy of the weather. The authorities were unable to do much to assist them, although reliable radios and other infrastructure denied to the civilian islanders were later to be provided for the military base at a cost of millions of pounds.

After World War One most of the young men left the island and the population fell from 73 in 1920 to 37 in 1928. After the death of four men from influenza in 1926, and a succession of crop failures in the 1920s, the last straw came with the death from appendicitis of a young woman, Mary Gillies, in January 1930. On 29 August 1930, the last 36 inhabitants were evacuated to Morvern on the Scottish mainland at their own request.

Later military events

In 1955 the British government decided to incorporate St Kilda into a missile tracking range based in Benbecula, where test firings and flights are carried out. Thus in 1957 St Kilda became permanently inhabited once again. A variety of new military buildings and masts have since been erected, including the island’s first licensed premises, the ‘Puff Inn’. The Ministry of Defence leases St Kilda from the National Trust for Scotland for a nominal fee. The main island of Hirta is still occupied all year round by a small number of civilians working in the military base there.

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Kings-Queens of Scotland. Alexander I

Alexander I (medieval Gaelic: Alaxandair mac Maíl Coluim; modern Gaelic: Alasdair mac Mhaol Chaluim; c. 1078 – 23 April 1124), posthumously nicknamed The Fierce, was the King of Scotland from 1107 to his death. He succeeded his brother, King Edgar, and his successor was his brother David. He was married to Sybilla of Normandy, an illegitimate daughter of Henry I of England.


Alexander was the fifth (some sources say fourth) son of Malcolm III and his wife Margaret of Wessex, grandniece of Edward the Confessor. Alexander was named after Pope Alexander II.

He was the younger brother of King Edgar, who was unmarried, and his brother’s heir presumptive by 1104 (and perhaps earlier). In that year, he was the senior layman present at the examination of the remains of Saint Cuthbert at Durham prior to their re-interment. He held lands in Scotland north of the Forth and in Lothian.

On the death of Edgar in 1107, Alexander succeeded to the Scottish crown but, in accordance with Edgar’s instructions, their brother David was granted an appanage in southern Scotland. Edgar’s will granted David the lands of the former kingdom of Strathclyde or Cumbria, and this was apparently agreed in advance by Edgar, Alexander, David and their brother-in-law Henry I of England. In 1113, perhaps at Henry’s instigation, and with the support of his Anglo-Norman allies, David demanded and received, additional lands in Lothian along the Upper Tweed and Teviot. David did not receive the title of king, but of “prince of the Cumbrians”, and his lands remained under Alexander’s final authority.

The dispute over Tweeddale and Teviotdale does not appear to have damaged relations between Alexander and David, although it was unpopular in some quarters. A Gaelic poem laments:

It’s bad what Malcolm’s son has done,
dividing us from Alexander;
he causes, like each king’s son before,
the plunder of stable Alba.

The dispute over the eastern marches does not appear to have caused lasting trouble between Alexander and Henry of England. In 1114, he joined Henry on campaign in Wales against Gruffudd ap Cynan of Gwynedd.Alexander’s marriage with Henry’s illegitimate daughter Sybilla of Normandy may have occurred as early as 1107, or as at late as 1114.

William of Malmesbury’s account attacks Sybilla, but the evidence argues that Alexander and Sybilla were a devoted but childless couple and Sybilla was of noteworthy piety. Sybilla died in unrecorded circumstances at Eilean nam Ban (Kenmore on Loch Tay) in July 1122 and was buried at Dunfermline Abbey. Alexander did not remarry and Walter Bower wrote that he planned an Augustinian Priory at the Eilean nam Ban dedicated to Sybilla’s memory, and he may have taken steps to have her venerated.

Alexander had at least one illegitimate child, Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair, who was later involved in a revolt against David I in the 1130s. He was imprisoned at Roxburgh for many years afterwards, perhaps until his death some time after 1157.


Alexander was, like his brothers Edgar and David, a notably pious king. He was responsible for foundations at Scone and Inchcolm, the latter founded in thanks for his survival of a tempest at sea nearby. His mother’s chaplain and hagiographer Thurgot was named Bishop of Saint Andrews (or Cell Rígmonaid) in 1107, presumably by Alexander’s order. The case of Thurgot’s would-be successor Eadmer shows that Alexander’s wishes were not always accepted by the religious community, perhaps because Eadmer had the backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ralph d’Escures, rather than Thurstan of York. Alexander also patronised Saint Andrews, granting lands intended for an Augustinian Priory, which may have been the same as that intended to honour his wife.

For all his religiosity, Alexander was not remembered as a man of peace. John of Fordun says of him:

Now the king was a lettered and godly man; very humble and amiable towards the clerics and regulars, but terrible beyond measure to the rest of his subjects; a man of large heart, exerting himself in all things beyond his strength.

He manifested the terrible aspect of his character in his reprisals in the Mormaerdom of Moray. Andrew of Wyntoun’s Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland says that Alexander was holding court at Invergowrie when he was attacked by “men of the Isles”. Walter Bower says the attackers were from Moray and Mearns. Alexander pursued them north, to “Stockford” in Ross (near Beauly) where he defeated them. This, says Wyntoun, is why he was named the “Fierce”. The dating of this is uncertain, as are his enemies’ identity. However, in 1116 the Annals of Ulster report: “Ladhmann son of Domnall, grandson of the king of Scotland, was killed by the men of Moray.” The king referred to is Alexander’s father, Malcolm III, and Domnall was Alexander’s half brother. The Mormaerdom or Kingdom of Moray was ruled by the family of Macbeth (Mac Bethad mac Findláich) and Lulach (Lulach mac Gille Coemgáin): not overmighty subjects, but a family who had ruled Alba within little more than a lifetime. Who the Mormaer or King was at this time is not known; it may have been Óengus of Moray or his father, whose name is not known. As for the Mearns, the only known Mormaer of Mearns, Máel Petair, had murdered Alexander’s half-brother Duncan II (Donnchad mac Maíl Coluim) in 1094.

Alexander died in April 1124 at his court at Stirling; his brother David, probably the acknowledged heir since the death of Sybilla, succeeded him.

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Scottish Architecture. Dunstaffnage Castle.

Dunstaffnage Castle (Scottish Gaelic: Caisteal Dhùn Stadhainis) is a partially ruined castle in Argyll and Bute, western Scotland. It lies 3 miles (5 km) NNE of Oban, situated on a platform of conglomerate rock on a promontory at the south-west of the entrance to Loch Etive, and is surrounded on three sides by the sea. The castle and the nearby chapel ruin have been a Historic Scotland property since 1958. Both are Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

The castle dates back to the 13th century, making it one of Scotland’s oldest stone castles, in a local group which includes Castle Sween and Castle Tioram. Guarding a strategic location, it was built by the MacDougall lords of Lorn, and has been held since the 15th century by the Clan Campbell. To this day there is a hereditary Captain of Dunstaffnage, although they no longer reside at the castle. Dunstaffnage is maintained by Historic Scotland, and is open to the public, although the 16th century gatehouse is retained as the private property of the Captain. The prefix dun in the name means “fort” in Gaelic, while the rest of the name derives from Norse stafr-nis, “headland of the staff”.

Before Dunstaffnage

Before the construction of the castle, Dunstaffnage may have been the location of a Dál Riatan stronghold, known as Dun Monaidh, as early as the 7th century. It was recorded, by John Monipennie in 1612, that the Stone of Destiny was kept here after being brought from Ireland, and before it was moved to Scone Palace in 843. However, Iona and Dunadd are considered more likely, given their known connections with Dál Riatan and Strathclyde kings. Hector Boece records that the stone was kept at “Evonium”, which has traditionally been identified with Dunstaffnage, although in 2010 the writer A. J. Morton identified Evonium with Irvine in Ayrshire.

The MacDougalls.

There was a castle here in the time of Somerled, Lord of the Isles. However, the castle became the seat of Duncan MacDougall, Lord of Lorn and grandson of Somerled in the second quarter of the 13th century. He had also travelled to Rome in 1237 and was the founder of nearby Ardchattan Priory. Duncan’s son Ewen MacDougall inherited his father’s title in the 1240s, and expanded the MacDougall influence, styling himself “King of the Isles” though that title belonged to the MacDonalds. It is probable that Ewen built the three round towers onto the castle, and constructed and enlarged the hall inside.

Following Alexander III’s repulse of the Norse influence in Argyll, the MacDougalls backed the Scottish monarchy, and Ewen’s son Alexander was made the first sheriff of Argyll in 1293. However, they supported the Balliol side during the Wars of Scottish Independence which broke out a few years later. Robert Bruce defeated the Clan MacDougall at the Battle of the Pass of Brander in 1308 or 1309, and after a brief siege, took control of Dunstaffnage Castle.

Royal fortress.

Now a Crown property, Dunstaffnage was controlled by a series of keepers. James I seized the castle in 1431, following the Battle of Inverlochy, as his enemies were hiding inside. In 1455 James Douglas, 9th Earl of Douglas stayed at Dunstaffnage, on his way to treat with John MacDonald, Lord of the Isles. This followed James II’s attack on Douglas power, and led to the signing of the Treaty of Westminster-Ardtornish. A later keeper, John Stewart of Lorn, was a rival of Alan MacDougall, and was stabbed by his supporters on his way to his marriage at Dunstaffnage Chapel in 1463, although he survived long enough to make his vows. Although MacDougall took the castle, he was ousted by James III, who granted Dunstaffnage to Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll in 1470.

The south facade of Dunstaffnage Castle

Clan Campbell.

The Earls of Argyll appointed Captains to oversee Dunstaffnage, and keep it in readiness, on their behalf. Changes were made to the buildings, particularly the gatehouse, which was rebuilt around this time. The Campbells were loyal allies of the royal house, and Dunstaffnage was used as a base for government expeditions against the MacDonald Lords of the Isles, among others, during the 15th and 16th centuries. James IV visited Dunstaffnage on two occasions.

Dunstaffnage saw action during the Civil War, holding out against Montrose’s army in 1644. The castle was burned by royalist troops, following the failure of Argyll’s Rising in 1685, against the Catholic James VII. During the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745, the castle was occupied by government troops. Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie to escape from Scotland, was briefly imprisoned here while en route to imprisonment in London.

According to W. Douglas Simpson the castle appears in Tobias Smollet’s Humphry Clinker, which although not naming Dunstaffnage, presents “a fair picture of life in the castle in the third quarter of the eighteenth century”.

Decline and restoration.

The Campbells continued to add to the castle, building a new house over the old west range in 1725. However, the rest of the castle was already decaying. In 1810 an accidental fire gutted the gatehouse, and the Captains ceased to live here, moving to Dunstaffnage House some 2 km to the south-east. Tenants lived in the 1725 house within the castle until 1888.

Restoration work was undertaken in 1903 by the Duke of Argyll, the castle’s owner. This was followed in 1912 by a court case, in which the Court of Session ruled that Angus Campbell, the 20th hereditary Captain, had right of residence notwithstanding the Duke of Argyll’s ownership. Works were delayed by World War I, and the planned total restoration was never completed. In 1958, the 21st Captain and the Duke agreed to hand the castle into state care, and it is now open to the public as a Historic Scotland property. 


Plans of Dunstaffnage Castle


Dunstaffnage is an irregular quadrangular structure of great strength, with rounded towers at three of the angles. It measures approximately 35 by 30 metres (115 by 98 ft), and has a circumference of about 120 metres (390 ft). The walls are of coursed rubble, with sandstone dressings, and stand up to 18 m (60 ft) high, including the conglomerate bedrock platform. The walls are up to 3 m (10 ft) thick, affording strong defence to this highly strategic location, guarding the entrance to Loch Etive and the Pass of Brander beyond, and today commanding a splendid view. The parapet walk, which once followed the whole of the walls, has been partially restored with new stone flags. The original parapet is now also gone. Arrow slits, later converted into gunloops, are the only openings. Brass cannon recovered from wrecked vessels of the Spanish Armada were once mounted on the walls.

Round towers.

Soon after the construction of the castle walls, three round towers were built on the north, east, and west towers. The north tower, or donjon, is the largest, comprising three or four storeys originally, and probably housed the lord’s private apartments. The west tower is almost internal, barely projecting beyond the rounded corner of the curtain wall, and could only be entered via the parapet walk. The basement level contains a pit prison which was accessed from above. The east tower was almost completely rebuilt in the late 15th century as a gatehouse. Each tower was probably once topped by a conical roof.

The gatehouse, with the remains of the north-east hall range to the left

The gatehouse.

The gatehouse was built by the Campbells in the late 15th century, replacing an earlier round tower in the east corner. It takes the form of a four-storey harled tower house, with the entrance passage running through half the vaulted basement, the other half forming guard rooms with arrow slits facing the gate. The present approach to the gate is by a stone stair, replacing an earlier drawbridge. The tower was remodelled in the 18th century to provide reception rooms and a private suite. The dormer windows at the top are capped by the pediments from the 1725 house (see below), and bear the date, the Campbell arms, and the initials AEC and DLC, for Aeneas Campbell, 11th Captain, and his wife Dame Lilias. The pediments were moved here during the 1903 restoration works.

Internal ranges.

The north-west range of 1725, with the gatehouse on the right, seen from the parapet walk

The east range was located between the north and east towers, although only foundations remain. This was the principal range of buildings and contained a large hall above vaulted cellars. The hall had double-lancet windows, decorated with carved patterns, which were later blocked up; their outlines can be seen in the east curtain wall.

A second range stood along the north-west wall, and would have been connected to the hall range by the donjon tower. The ground floor housed a kitchen. In 1725 the range was remodelled into a two-storey house, accessed via a stone stair, and topped with the dormer windows which now form part of the gatehouse. The well in front is original, although the large stone surround is of 19th century date.

East end of Dunstaffnage Chapel, showing the lancet windows and the Campbell burial aisle beyond

Dunstaffnage Chapel.

A ruined chapel lies around 150 metres (490 ft) to the south-west of the castle. This was also built by Duncan MacDougall of Lorn, as a private chapel, and features detailed stonework of outstanding quality. Experts believe that the chapel was built in the second quarter of the 13th century. The chapel is 20 by 6 metres (66 by 20 ft), and formerly had a timber roof. The lancet windows carry dog-tooth carving, and have fine wide-splayed arches internally. The chapel was already ruinous in 1740, when a burial aisle was built on to the east end, to serve as a resting place for the Campbells of Dunstaffnage.

Captain of Dunstaffnage.

Traditionally, an officer called the Hereditary Captain of Dunstaffnage is responsible for the castle and its defence. The office still exists, and to retain the title (now rather a sinecure without military significance), the incumbent is required to spend three nights a year in the castle. No other responsibilities or privileges now attach to the post.

Castle ghost.

A ghost, known as the “Ell-maid of Dunstaffnage”, is said to haunt the castle. A type of gruagach, the ghost’s appearances are said to be associated with events in the lives of the hereditary keepers.

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Infamous Scots. John Mchugh.

Contains sensitive information.

Callous McHugh was given a life sentence at the High Court in Ayr in May 1975 for killing the head waiter of the Towans Hotel, Prestwick.

He told police after his arrest: “I am perversed with evil. I just murdered him to murder him.”

He attacked 65-year-old head waiter John Stewart, hit him on the head with a bottle and strangled him.

McHugh, then 37, was jailed for life despite the court hearing evidence that he had spent time in a mental hospital after taking drugs.

In 1989, he escaped from Hartwood mental hospital after simply climbing through a window and walking away.

Although McHugh was recaptured within 24 hours, his escape sparked demands for a full inquiry into why he wasn’t being detained in the State Hospital at Carstairs.

He was recently moved to HMP Addiewell in West Lothian.

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Scotland and its History. (Royalty)

Collectors of royal memorabilia are getting the chance to buy 400-year-old strands of Mary Queen of Scots’ hair – for £399 per half-inch.

The 16th-century pieces come from a larger lock acquired from one of the UK’s leading historical hair collectors.

It is believed the hair shows Mary may not have been the radiant redhead portrayed in the movies and history books.

Daniel Wade, from ­Bristol-based Paul Fraser Collectibles, which is selling the hair, said: “It’s a step beyond Mary’s signature or an item of her clothing.”

A rival to her cousin Queen Elizabeth I for the claim of the English throne, Mary was supported by many English Catholics but was eventually imprisoned by her rival.

She was beheaded, aged 45, in 1587 for plotting to kill Queen Elizabeth.

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Scottish Mysteries. (Maille Breze)

The Maille Brézé, 1940.

On 30 April 1940 a French warship, the Maille Brézé, was anchored off Greenock. For some unknown reason, a torpedo tube on board malfunctioned, launching a torpedo on the ship’s deck. Fuel tanks were set ablaze but did not explode. The crew abandoned ship but many sailors were trapped in the mess hall. A local doctor made the tough decision to administer morphine to the trapped sailors through the ship’s portholes to make their certain deaths less painful. No one knows why the torpedo tube malfunctioned that day.

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Scottish Battles. Anglo-Scottish-Wars.

The Anglo-Scottish Wars comprise the various battles which continued to be fought between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland from the time of the Wars of Independence in the early 14th century through to the latter years of the 16th century.

Although the Wars of Independence, in which Scotland twice resisted attempted conquest by Plantagenet kings of England, formally ended in the treaties of 1328 and 1357 respectively, relations between the two countries remained uneasy. Incursions by English kings into Scotland continued under Richard II and Henry IV and informal cross-border conflict remained endemic. Formal flashpoints on the border included places remaining under English occupation, such as Roxburgh Castle or the port of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Roxburgh was recaptured by the Scots in 1460 under Mary of Guelders after the death of James II in the same campaign. Similarly, possession of Berwick changed hands a number of times, as one country attempted to take advantage of weakness or instability in the other, culminating in final capture for the English of the Scottish port by Richard, Duke of Gloucester in 1482.


England’s preoccupation with civil war during the Wars of the Roses may have been a component in the period of relative recovery for her northern neighbour during the course of the 15th century, and by the first decade of the 16th century, James IV of Scotland and Henry VII of England were making overtures for lasting peace. This broke down after the accession of the more overtly bellicose Henry VIII to the English throne and James IV’s catastrophically misjudged incursion into Northumbria in 1513 ending in the Battle of Flodden. Three decades later, after the death of James V in 1542, the so-called ‘rough wooing’ at the hands of invading English armies under the Earl of Hertford brought manifest depredations to Scotland. The last pitched battle between Scotland and England as independent states was the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in September 1547. Periods of fighting and conflict nevertheless continued.

France also played a key role throughout the period of the Anglo-Scottish Wars. Scots and English soldiers on French soil during the Hundred Years War (1337–1453) generally fought on opposing sides, with the Scots standing for the French against the English under the Auld Alliance. France in later periods, in turn, often intervened on Scottish soil for the Scots. This French involvement had increasingly complex political consequences for all sides by the later 16th century.

The Anglo-Scottish Wars can formally be said to have ended with the Union of the Crowns in 1603, wherein England and Scotland entered a personal union under James VI and I, who inherited both crowns. The bloody conflict between the two states nevertheless continued to arise in different and more complex guises throughout the course of the 17th century.

Border wars

English army at Berwick upon Tweed, 1482

During the mid-15th century, there were many conflicts on the border of England and Scotland, most notably the Battle of Sark in 1448. These battles were the result of England’s ongoing military campaigning in France and Scottish attempts to support the House of Valois.

Flodden campaign.

England under Henry VIII declared war on France in 1512 (as part of the larger conflict known as the War of the League of Cambrai). James IV of Scotland invaded England in fulfilment of his alliance with France (even though married to Henry’s sister Margaret). In 1513, after preliminary raids by borderers came to grief, James’s main army invaded England. His artillery quickly subdued English castles such as Norham and Wark. However, James issued a formal challenge for an open field battle to the English army under the Earl of Surrey and then fortified his position; this perceived lack of chivalry led Surrey to warn James that no quarter would be given or accepted. Surrey’s army manoeuvred around the Scottish army, which launched an attack to open a route north to Scotland. In the resulting disastrous Battle of Flodden, James IV was killed, along with many of his nobles and gentry, the “Flowers of the Forest”.


James V of Scotland was an infant barely a year old at his father’s death. Various factions among the Scottish nobles contended for power, and custody of the young king. While Henry VIII secretly encouraged some of them, English armies and some families of English and nominally Scottish Border Reivers repeatedly forayed and looted in southwest Scotland, to maintain pressure on the Scottish authorities.

Eventually, after the faction of the Earl of Angus gained control, peaceful relations were restored between England and Scotland. (Part of the reason for Henry’s mellowing was that the disorders he had provoked in Scotland threatened to spill south of the border.)

Solway Moss campaign.

When James V came of age and assumed control, he overthrew the Angus faction and renewed Scotland’s Auld Alliance with France. He married first Madeleine of Valois, a daughter of Francis I of France, and when she died a few months later of tuberculosis, he married Mary of Guise. The tension between England and Scotland increased once again; not least because Henry had already broken with the Roman Catholic Church and embarked upon the Dissolution of the Monasteries, whereas James held to Rome and gave authority to powerful prelates such as Cardinal David Beaton.

War broke out in 1541. Once again there were preliminary border skirmishes, but when James sent a large army into England, its leadership was weak and divided and it suffered a humbling defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss.

Rough Wooing.

James died shortly afterwards the defeat. Once again, Scotland’s monarch was an infant, this time Mary, Queen of Scots. Henry tried to pressure a divided Scotland into an alliance, and secure the marriage of Mary to his son Edward (the “Rough Wooing”). When Cardinal Beaton gained control of the government of Scotland and renewed the alliance with France, Henry reacted in 1544 by sending an army under the Earl of Hertford, Edward’s uncle, to systematically devastate and slaughter throughout southern Scotland, as a means of inducing a change of heart. Campaigning continued the next year, but some Scottish factions reconciled and won a victory at the Battle of Ancrum Moor, which temporarily halted English attacks.

Henry died in 1547. Hertford, now Protector and Duke of Somerset, renewed the attempt to enforce an alliance, and also to impose an Anglican church on Scotland. He won a great victory at the Battle of Pinkie, but Mary was smuggled to France to be betrothed to the Dauphin Francis. Fighting continued for some more years, but French troops assisted the Scots. Without lasting peace, Somerset’s regime could not stand the expense of the war. He was overthrown and eventually executed.

Reformation in Scotland.

Pinkie Cleugh was the last pitched battle between England and Scotland prior to the Union of the Crowns in 1603. Beaton was murdered in 1546, and within a few years, Scotland underwent a major religious reformation which was, unlike most European countries, remarkably peaceful and was never seriously threatened by counter-reformation, though neighbouring England was to undergo a counter-reformation under Queen Mary I. For a while, both countries were distracted by internal troubles. Eventually, Queen Elizabeth, I came to rule England and restore stability.

Scotland remained divided. The Catholic faction under the queen mother, Mary of Guise, held Leith and Edinburgh. Elizabeth was able to ensure victory for the Protestant faction by using her fleet to blockade the Catholics and prevent French aid from reaching them.

For the latter part of the 16th century, peace was ensured by the probability that James VI of Scotland, who was raised as a Protestant and was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, would become King of England on the death of Elizabeth. There was perennial trouble from Border Reivers, but Elizabeth was inclined to forgive even their depredations rather than pick a quarrel with her Protestant neighbour.

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Scottish Towns-Cities. St Andrews.

St Andrews (Latin: S. Andrea(s); Scots: Saunt Aundraes; Scottish Gaelic: Cill Rìmhinn) is a town on the east coast of Fife in Scotland, 10 miles (16 kilometres) southeast of Dundee and 30 miles (50 kilometres) northeast of Edinburgh. St Andrews had a recorded population of 16,800 as of 2011, making it Fife’s fourth largest settlement and 45th most populous settlement in Scotland.

The town is home to the University of St Andrews, the third oldest university in the English-speaking world and the oldest in Scotland. According to some rankings, it is ranked as the second best university in the United Kingdom, behind Cambridge. The University is an integral part of the burgh and during term time students make up approximately one third of the town’s population.[citation needed]

The town is named after Saint Andrew the Apostle. There has been an important church in St Andrews since at least AD 747, when it was mentioned in the Annals of Tigernach, and a bishopric since at least the 11th century.[citation needed] The settlement grew to the west of St Andrews cathedral with the southern side of the Scores to the north and the Kinness burn to the south. The burgh soon became the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland, a position which was held until the Scottish Reformation. The famous cathedral, the largest in Scotland, now lies in ruins. St Andrews Cathedral was once the largest building in Europe.

St Andrews is also known worldwide as the “home of golf”. This is in part because of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, founded in 1754, which until 2004 exercised legislative authority over the game worldwide (except in the United States and Mexico). It is also because the famous Old Course of St Andrews Links (acquired by the town in 1894) is the most frequent venue for The Open Championship, the oldest of golf’s four major championships. Visitors travel to St Andrews in great numbers for several courses ranked amongst the finest in the world, as well as for the sandy beaches.

The Martyrs Memorial, erected to the honour of Patrick Hamilton, George Wishart, and other martyrs of the Reformation epoch, stands at the west end of the Scores on a cliff overlooking the sea. The civil parish has a population of 18,421 (in 2011).

The town also contains numerous museums, a botanic garden and an aquarium.

Ruins St Andrews Castle Scotland

Name and etymology

The earliest recorded name of the area is Cennrígmonaid. This is Old Gaelic and composed of the elements cenn (head, peninsula), ríg (king) and monaid (moor). This became Cell Rígmonaid (cell meaning church) and was Scoticised to Kilrymont. The modern Gaelic spelling is Cill Rìmhinn. It is likely that the Gaelic name represents an adaptation of a Pictish form *Penrimond. The name St Andrews derives from the town’s claim to be the resting place of bones of the apostle Andrew. According to legend, St Regulus (or Rule) brought the relics to Kilrymont, where a shrine was established for their safekeeping and veneration while Kilrymont was renamed in honour of the saint. This is the origin of a third name for the town Kilrule.

In Memory of the Martyrs Patrick Hamilton, Henry Forrest, George Wishart And Walter Mill, Who in Support of the Protestant Faith Suffered Death By Fire at St Andrews, Between The Years MDXXVIII AND MDLVIII. The Righteous shall be in Everlasting Remembrance.
The first inhabitants who settled on the estuary fringes of the rivers Tay and Eden during the mesolithic (middle Stone Age) came from the plains in Northern Europe between 10,000 and 5,000 BCE. This was followed by the nomadic people who settled around the modern town around 4,500 BCE as farmers clearing the area of woodland and building monuments.

In the mid-eighth century a monastery was established by the Pictish king Oengus I, traditionally associated with the relics of Saint Andrew, a number of bones supposed to be the saint’s arm, kneecap, three fingers and a tooth believed to have been brought to the town by St Regulus. In AD 877, king Causantín mac Cináeda (Constantine I or II) built a new church for the Culdees at St Andrews and later the same year was captured and executed (or perhaps killed in battle) after defending against Viking raiders.

In AD 906, the town became the seat of the bishop of Alba, with the boundaries of the see being extended to include land between the River Forth and River Tweed. In 940 Constantine III abdicated and took the position of abbot of the monastery of St Andrews.

The establishment of the present town began around 1140 by Bishop Robert on an L-shaped vill, possibly on the site of the ruined St Andrews Castle. According to a charter of 1170, the new burgh was built to the west of the Cathedral precinct, along Castle Street and possibly as far as what is now known as North Street. This means that the lay-out may have led to the creation of two new streets (North Street and South Street) from the foundations of the new St Andrews Cathedral filling the area inside a two-sided triangle at its apex. The northern boundary of the burgh was the southern side of the Scores (the street between North Street and the sea) with the southern by the Kinness Burn and the western by the West Port. The burgh of St Andrews was first represented at the great council at Scone Palace in 1357.

St Andrews, in particular the large cathedral built in 1160, was the most important centre of pilgrimage in medieval Scotland and one of the most important in Europe. Pilgrims from all over Scotland came in large numbers hoping to be blessed, and in many cases to be cured, at the shrine of Saint Andrew. The presence of the pilgrims brought about increased trade and development. Recognised as the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland, the town now had vast economic and political influence within Europe as a cosmopolitan town. In 1559, the town fell into decay after the violent Scottish Reformation and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms losing the status of ecclesiastical capital of Scotland. Even the University of St Andrews was considering relocating to Perth around 1697 and 1698. Under the authorisation of the bishop of St Andrews, the town was made a burgh of barony in 1614. Royal Burgh was then granted as a charter by King James VI in 1620. In the 18th century, the town was still in decline, but despite this the town was becoming known for having links ‘well known to golfers’. By the 19th century, the town began to expand beyond the original medieval boundaries with streets of new houses and town villas being built. Today, St Andrews is served by education, golf and the tourist and conference industry.

Further information: History of local government in Scotland

St Andrews is represented by several tiers of elected government. The Royal Burgh of St Andrews Community Council, meeting on the first Monday of the month in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall, forms the lowest tier of governance whose statutory role is to communicate local opinion to local and central government. The current Chair is Mr Callum MacLeod. The Chair uses the honorary title of Provost of St Andrews on official and ceremonial occasions, this ancient title having been revived to mark the 400th Anniversary of the granting of Royal Burgh status to St Andrews in 1620 by King James VI & I.

Fife Council, the unitary local authority for St Andrews, based in Glenrothes is the executive, deliberative and legislative body responsible for local governance. The Scottish Parliament is responsible for devolved matters such as education, health and justice while reserved matters are dealt with by the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The first parliament to take place in the town was in 1304, when King Edward I came to be received by Bishop William de Lamberton as overlordship of Scotland. As many as 130 landowners turned up to witness the event ranging from Sir John of Combo to Sir William Murray of Fort. In the early days of the union of 1707, St Andrews elected one member of parliament along with Cupar, Perth, Dundee and Forfar. The first elected parliament was introduced on 17 November 1713 as St Andrews Burgh, which merged with Anstruther, the result of a reform bill in 1832. The act of reformation seats in 1855, would find one MP sitting for St Andrews Burgh (which would include Anstruther Easter, Anstruther Wester, Crail, Cupar, Kilrenny and Pittenweem). Prior to 1975 the town was governed by a council, provost and baillies. In 1975, St Andrews came under Fife Regional Council and North East Fife District Council. The latter was abolished when a single-tier authority was introduced in 1996 as Fife Council based in Glenrothes.

St Andrews forms part of the North East Fife constituency, electing one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom by the first past the post system. The constituency is represented by Wendy Chamberlain, MP of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. For the purposes of the Scottish Parliament, St Andrews forms part of the North East Fife constituency. The North East Fife Scottish Parliament (or Holyrood) constituency created in 1999 is one of nine within the Mid Scotland and Fife electoral region. Each constituency elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the first past the post system of election, and the region elects seven additional members to produce a form of proportional representation. The seat was won at the 2016 Scottish Parliament Election by Willie Rennie, for the Scottish Liberal Democrats.


St Andrews compared according to UK Census 2001
St Andrews Fife Scotland
Total population 14,209 349,429 5,062,011
Foreign born 11.60% 1.18% 1.10%
Over 75 years old 10.51% 7.46% 7.09%
Unemployed 1.94% 3.97% 4.0%
According to the 2001 census, St Andrews had a total population of 14,209. The population increased to around 16,680 in 2008 and 16,800 in 2012 The demographic make-up of the population is much in line with the rest of Scotland. The age group from 16 to 29 forms the largest portion of the population (37%). The median age of males and females living in St Andrews was 29 and 34 years respectively, compared to 37 and 39 years for those in the whole of Scotland.

The place of birth of the town’s residents was 87.78% United Kingdom (including 61.80% from Scotland), 0.63% Republic of Ireland, 4.18% from other European Union countries, and 7.42% from elsewhere in the world. The economic activity of residents aged 16–74 was 23.94% in full-time employment, 8.52% in part-time employment, 4.73% self-employed, 1.94% unemployed, 31.14% students with jobs, 9.08% students without jobs, 13.24% retired, 2.91% looking after home or family, 2.84% permanently sick or disabled, and 1.67% economically inactive for other reasons.


St Andrews, whose economy stands at £660 million, relies heavily on tourism and education. In 2016, one out of every five jobs in St Andrews is related to tourism.

St Andrews is often considered as an expensive destination. In 2016, St Andrews was reported to be home to the “Most Expensive Street in Scotland”, with average house prices in The Scores in excess of 2 million pounds.

Weather and climate

St Andrews has a temperate maritime climate, which is relatively mild despite its northerly latitude. Winters are not as cold as one might expect, considering that Moscow and Labrador lie on the same latitude. Daytime temperatures can fall below freezing and average around 4 °C (39 °F). However, the town is subject to strong winds. Night-time frosts are common; however, snowfall is more rare. The nearest official Met Office weather station for which data are available is at Leuchars, about 3 1⁄4 miles (5.2 kilometres) northwest of St Andrews town centre.

The absolute maximum temperature is 30.8 °C (87.4 °F), recorded in August 1990. In a typical year, the warmest day should reach 26.1 °C (79.0 °F) and a total of 2 days should record a temperature of 25.1 °C (77.2 °F) or above. The warmest calendar month (since 1960) was July 2006, with a mean temperature of 16.8 °C (62.2 °F) (mean maximum of 21.6 °C (70.9 °F), mean minimum of 11.9 °C (53.4 °F))

The absolute minimum temperature (since 1960) stands at −14.5 °C (5.9 °F) recorded during February 1972, although in an ‘average’ year, the coldest night should only fall to −8.3 °C (17.1 °F). Typically, just short of 60 nights a year will experience an air frost. The coldest calendar month (since 1960) was December 2010, with a mean temperature of −0.8 °C (30.6 °F) (mean maximum 1.9 °C (35.4 °F), mean minimum −3.5 °C (25.7 °F) )

Rainfall, at little more than 650 mm per year makes St Andrews one of the driest parts of Scotland, shielded from Atlantic weather systems by several mountain ranges. Over 1 mm of rain is recorded on just under 117 days of the year.

Sunshine, averaging in excess of 1,500 hours a year is amongst the highest for Scotland, and comparable to inland parts of Southern England. St Andrews is about the furthest north annual levels of above 1500 hours are encountered.


The St Andrews Railway provided a connection to the main Edinburgh to Aberdeen Line at Leuchars railway station. This service was ended in 1969. The St Andrews Rail Link project aims at realising a new high-speed twin-cord mainline rail link via Cupar to the south and west and via Leuchars to the north.

Nowadays, the only public transport to reach trains at Leuchars or to connect other towns in Fife is the Stagecoach bus station located near the town centre. Stagecoach’s Route 99 (and its alternate routes 99A, 99B, 99C, 99D) connects St Andrews to Dundee via Leuchars with buses up to every ten minutes. Moffat & Williamson operates Route 92 (and 92A, 92B, 92C) on a lesser frequency from Balmullo via Leuchars station to St Andrews before looping the town. There are also some local bus service that links the town centre to St Andrews Community Hospital in the south.

St Andrews Bus Station provides frequent bus services to most towns in Fife and the nearby city of Dundee via Leuchars, and less frequent services to further destinations like Edinburgh and Stirling. Travellers from Edinburgh Airport may take Route 747 to Halbeath Park & Ride then take X59/X24 to St Andrews. Otherwise, they have to travel to central Edinburgh for train or bus services.

Dundee Airport, about 15 miles north of the town, has flights that connects with London-City and Belfast-City provided by Loganair.

Roads A91, A915, A917, A918 and B939 traverse the town at different locations.


West Port

St Andrews was once bounded by several “ports” (the Lowland Scots word for a town gate). Two are still extant: So’gait port (South Street, now called West Port) and the Sea Yett (as The Pends terminates to the harbour). The West Port is one of few surviving town “Ports” in Scotland and is a scheduled monument. The towers were influenced by those seen at the base of the Netherbow Port in Edinburgh. The central archway which displays semi-octagonal “rownds” and “battling” is supported by corbelling and neatly moulded passageways. Side arches and relief panels were added to the port, during the reconstruction between 1843 and 1845.

The tower of Holy Trinity

The Category A listed Holy Trinity (also known as the Holy Trinity Parish Church or “town kirk”) is the most historic church in St Andrews. The church was initially built on land, close to the south-east gable of the cathedral, around 1144, and was dedicated in 1234 by Bishop David de Bernham. It then moved to a new site on the north side of South Street between 1410 and 1412 by bishop Warlock. Much of the architecture feature of the church was lost in the re-building by Robert Balfour between 1798 and 1800. The church was later restored to a (more elaborately decorated) approximation of its medieval appearance between 1907 and 1909 by MacGregor Chambers.

View of the cathedral grounds from the top of St Rule’s Tower.
To the east of the town centre, lie the ruins of St Andrews Cathedral. This was at one time Scotland’s largest building, originated in the priory of Canons Regular founded by Bishop Robert Kennedy. St Rule’s Church, to the south-east of the medieval cathedral is said to date from around 1120 and 1150, being the predecessor of the cathedral. The tall square tower, part of the church, was built to hold the relics of St Andrew and became known as the first cathedral in the town. After the death of Bishop Robert Kennedy, a new cathedral was begun in 1160 by Bishop Arnold (his successor) on a site adjacent to St Rule’s Church. Work on the cathedral was finally completed and consecrated in 1318 by Bishop William de Lamberton with Robert the Bruce (1306–29) present at the ceremony. The cathedral and associated buildings, including St Rule’s Church, are protected as a scheduled monument.

The ruins of St Andrews Castle

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The ruins of St Andrews Castle are situated on a cliff-top to the north of the town. The castle was first erected around 1200 as the residence, prison and fortress of the bishops of the diocese. Several reconstructions occurred in subsequent centuries, most notably due to damage incurred in the Wars of Scottish Independence.

St Andrews bandstand
The castle was occupied, besieged and stormed during The Rough Wooing and was severely damaged in the process.

The majority of the castle seen today dates to between 1549 and 1571. The work was commissioned by John Hamilton (archbishop of St Andrews) in a renaissance style which made the building a comfortable, palatial residence while still remaining well-fortified. After the Reformation, the castle passed to several owners, who could not maintain its structure and the building deteriorated into a ruin. The castle is now a scheduled monument administered by Historic Environment Scotland.

The apse of the Dominican friary, Blackfriars, can still be seen on South Street (between Madras College and Bell Street). Other defunct religious houses that existed in the medieval town, though less visible, have left traces, as for instance the leper hospital at St Nicholas farmhouse (The Steading) between Albany Park and the East Sands leisure centre.


Today, St Andrews is home to one secondary school, one private school and three primary schools. Canongate Primary School, which opened in 1972 is located off the Canongate, beside the St Andrews Botanic Garden. The school roll was recorded in February 2008 as 215. Lawhead Primary School, which opened in 1974 is on the western edge of the town. The school roll was recorded in September 2009 as 181. Greyfriars Primary School is a Roman Catholic school located in the southern part of the town.

Madras College is the sole secondary school in the town. The school which opened to pupils in 1833 was based on a Madras system – founded and endowed by Dr Andrew Bell (1755–1832), a native of the town. Prior to the opening, Bell was interested in the demand for a school which was able to teach both poor and privileged children on one site. The high reputation of the school meant that many children came from throughout Britain to be taught there, often lodging with masters or residents in the town. The school is now located on two campuses – Kilrymont and South Street (incorporating the original 1833 building). Pupils in S1-S3 are served by Kilrymont and S4-S6 by South Street.

Plans to build a replacement for Madras College on a single site have been ongoing since 2006. Originally, the school was in negotiations with the University of St Andrews for a joint new build at Lang Lands on land owned by the University. The plans, which were scrapped in August 2011, would have seen the school share the University’s playing fields. In October 2011, a scoring exercise drawn up by the council to decide the best location for the new Madras College was put before parents, staff and the local community to ask for their views. A £40-million redevelopment of the Kilrymont building proved to be most popular and was officially given the go-ahead in November 2011. This decision was met with controversy from parents, staff and the local community. Work on the new school to date has yet to start, following a decision from a group of senior councillors to analyse the other potential sites than push ahead with the controversial redevelopment. This means that the new school, which was expected to be open for August 2015, has now been delayed until at least 2017 but plans to build this new school has been confirmed and is slated to be opened by 2021/22. In August 2020, it was reported that the college will sell its Kilrymont site and built a replacement school at Langlands.

The University of St Andrews Classics Building, Swallowgate

The private school known as St Leonards School was initially established as the St Andrews School for girls company in 1877. The present name was taken in 1882 when a move to St Leonards House was made. The school is now spread across thirty acres between Pends Road and Kinnesburn. A private school for boys was also set up in 1933 as New Park. The operations of the school merged with the middle and junior sections of St Leonards to become St Leonards-New Park in 2005.

The University of St Andrews which is the third oldest English-speaking university and the oldest university in Scotland was founded between 1410 and 1413. A charter for the university was issued by Bishop Henry Wardlaw between 1411 and 1412 and this was followed by Avignon Pope Benedict XIII granting university status to award degrees to students in 1413. The school initially started out as a society for learned men in the fields of canon law, the arts and divinity. The chapel and college of St John the Evangelist became the first building to have ties with the university in 1415. The two original colleges to be associated with the university were St Salvator in 1450 by Bishop James Kennedy and St Leonard in 1512 by archbishop Alexander Stewart and prior James Hepburn.

Sport and recreation
Main articles: Old Course at St Andrews and Golf in Scotland

The Old Course and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club

St Andrews is known widely as the “home of golf”. According to the earliest surviving document from 1552, the “playing at golf” on the links adjacent to the “water of eden” was granted permission by Archbishop Hamilton. The most famous golf course in the town is the Old Course, purchased by the town council in 1894. The course which dates back to medieval times, is an Open Championship course – which was first staged in 1873. Famous winners at St Andrews have included: Old Tom Morris (1861, 1862, 1867 and 1874), Bobby Jones (1927 and 1930 British Amateur), Jack Nicklaus (1970 and 1978) and Tiger Woods (2000 and 2005). According to Jack Nicklaus, “if a golfer is going to be remembered, he must win at St Andrews”. There are seven golf courses in total – Old, New, Jubilee, Eden, Strathtyrum, Balgove and the Castle – surrounding the western approaches of the town. The seventh golf course (the Castle) was added in 2007 at Kinkell Braes, designed by David McLay Kidd.

Other leisure facilities in the town include a canoe club, a senior football club (St Andrews United), a rugby club (known as Madras Rugby Club), tennis club, university sports centre, and a links golf driving range. The East Sands Leisure Centre, which opened in 1988, sits on the outskirts of the town as the town’s swimming pool with gym facilities. The University of St Andrews have expressed plans to provide a new multimillion-pound leisure centre to replace East Sands.

West Sands Beach

West Sands, looking towards St Andrews
West Sands Beach in St Andrews, Scotland, served as the set for the opening scene in the movie Chariots of Fire. This scene was reenacted during the 2012 Olympics torch relay. The beach was also featured in the 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony

The 2-mile-long (3 km) beach is adjacent to the famous St Andrews Links golf course. Sand dunes on the beach, which have long protected the golf course, are themselves in danger of eroding away, and are the subject of a restoration project.

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Scotland and its History. (Stone)

An infamous Theft. The stone of Scone.

“I did it for Scotland”

Ian Hamilton


Criminal defense attorney Ian Hamilton masterminded the theft when he was a law student.

Sixty years later, Ian Hamilton would recall the most fateful night of his life as a cold one. On Christmas Eve of 1950, he and three other Scottish students set out from Glasgow, Scotland in two separate cars for the long trip south to London. The drive took about twenty hours: neither car had any heat, so it was the cold that lingered in Hamilton’s memory. For the rest of the world it was the daring act itself that made the strongest impression.  

Although Ian Hamilton was studying law at the University of Glasgow, on that night, he jeopardized his future career by carrying out one of the most famous thefts in the history of England. Joined by Kay Matheson, Alan Stuart, and Gavin Vernon, Hamilton broke into Westminster Abbey and stole a 336 pound piece of red sandstone:  The Stone of Scone.

Like any good burglar, Hamilton had scouted the Abbey some days before. These surveillance trips made the whole exploit possible.  Although Hamilton had spent a lot of time reading about the Abbey, it was only when he visited it that he realized one of the side doors was made, not of strong oak, but of much softer pine.  This door would allow the conspirators to enter the Abbey unseen and unheard after hours.

  During one of these visits to the Abbey Hamilton had stayed past closing time and been discovered by the custodian. Assuming that Hamilton was a drunk who had lost his way, the custodian simply let him out of the building, giving him a coin in charity.  Hamilton later claimed that taking the coin from the man was the only part of the whole adventure about which he felt guilty. After all, he hardly needed it:  he had obtained fifty pounds (which would be worth about a thousand pounds today) from Scottish National Party leader John MacCormick. Oddly, despite this fact, MacCormick was never implicated in any part of Hamilton’s actions.

Once the four conspirators arrived in London, in the early hours of Christmas Day, the real work began.  While Kay Matheson remained in one of the cars with the engine running so as to make a quick getaway, the three men pried open the pine door with a crowbar.  Entering the Abbey, they headed straight towards the heavy oak Coronation Chair.

That’s when their difficulties began.  

The Coronation Chair with the Stone of Destiny beneath it. Public Domain.

Commissioned by Edward I of England, the Coronation Chair was specifically built to hold the Stone of Scone. The Stone sits beneath the seat of the chair, in a small rectangular space closed off by a wooden grille.  Somehow, none of the thieves had considered how heavy the Stone is and how awkward it would be to remove it from this small space. Wrestling with the grille, the men broke one of its wooden slats:  in addition, they managed to break part of the oak chair itself.  As they finally pulled the Stone free of the chair, it fell to the floor, landing on one of the men and breaking two of his toes.  Worse still, the Stone itself split into two uneven pieces.  

The resourceful instigator, Ian Hamilton actually viewed this as a piece of luck since the smaller piece was easier to handle.  He lifted it up and hurried outside, placing it in the back seat of the Ford Anglia Kay Matheson waited in.   Just as he reentered the Abbey, he heard a policeman outside.  Hamilton raced back out, caught Kay in his arms and kissed her passionately.  When asked by the police what they were doing there, Ian and Kay pretended that they were a couple searching unsuccessfully for a Bed and Breakfast for the night. 

Once the policeman had moved off, Matheson drove away with the small piece of the Stone hidden beneath a blanket.  Hamilton meanwhile, returned to find that his co-conspirators had fled.  Undeterred, he removed his coat, and struggled to pull the Stone onto it.  He used the coat to drag the Stone out the door and then heaved it into the trunk of the second car.  At this point Vernon and Stuart reappeared and all three men drove away together.

The theft was discovered almost immediately and the nightwatchman of the Abbey called it in to the police.  The authorities set up roadblocks on all roads out of London and closed the borders with Scotland and Wales.  Having left the scene earlier, Matheson had a slight advantage in escaping.  Although she encountered roadblocks, she was able to get through them.  Certainly the fact that she was a woman traveling alone in the car must have helped:  it was clear that more than one person would have been needed to carry out the theft.  Evading the authorities, Matheson made it across the now closed border and drove directly to her family’s croft in Wester Ross.

The men would have been more conspicuous:  rather than try to make it through roadblocks and border closures, they chose to hide the portion of the Stone they had carried away.  They succeeded in driving into Kent where they buried the Stone in an empty field.  Later, returning to dig it up, they found that a group of Romany had settled into an encampment on the site.  The four conspirators did eventually recover this portion of the stone and transport it to Scotland. As soon as they crossed the border into Scotland, the three men doused the Stone in whiskey as part of a homecoming ritual.  Then they had the stone secretly repaired.

Replica of the Stone of Scone on display at Scone Palace.

The entire escapade made headlines across the world.  In the United States, a monument builder, E.B. Adams of Goldthwaite, Texas decided to carve a replica of the Stone of Scone.  He contacted the U.S. State Department and the English ambassador and got permission to make this gift to the English people.  Newspapers sent their reporters on wild goose chases in the hope that they would uncover the Stone’s hiding place.  In January, 1951, Joseph Flanegan of the United Press International news service traveled to the island of Iona in Scotland, sure that the Stone was there.  While his speculation made sense – many Scottish kings are buried on Iona and it holds a special place in Scottish history – he didn’t find the Stone.  Flanegan did, however, report that the inhabitants of the island all “smile, at the mention of the theft.”

Meanwhile, back in England, the theft was met with some puzzlement. In 1950 most Scots were perfectly happy with their status within the United Kingdom: fewer than one percent of Scots supported the Scottish National Party. Every other political party garnered more attention, support, and favor, including the Conservative party.  There was no nationalist movement in Scotland to speak of at that time. Despite this, the authorities were wary of stirring up nationalist sentiment: this made the search for the Stone awkward.

Luckily for them, aside from scouting out the Abbey, the conspirators had really not done a very good job.  Many years later, Hamilton, who did in the end, become a criminal lawyer, confessed: “I’ve defended a lot of daft people during 30 years as a criminal lawyer but I doubt very much if I’ve defended anyone who was as daft as we were then.”

Unfortunately for the four students, the police were professionals.  They visited libraries in Scotland, asking if anyone had shown a special interest in the Stone of Scone.  They hit pay dirt at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library.  In the course of doing all of his research there, Ian Hamilton had checked out every single book the library had on Westminster Abbey.  

Slowly, the police discovered the names of all the conspirators.  Kay Matheson’s family croft in Wester Ross was searched repeatedly for the Stone.  While none of the plotters cracked even when questioned by the police, they decided that they had accomplished their purpose: raising awareness of what they saw as Scotland’s subordinate status within the United Kingdom. After some planning, the four contacted two Arbroath town councilors, D.A. Gardner and F.W.A. Thornton, known to be favorable towards Scottish nationalism.  

Police carry the returned Stone on a wooden litter, from Arbroath Abbey, 1951.

Vernon, Stuart, and Hamilton arranged to meet the councilors at the ruins of the Abbey of Arbroath.  On April 11th, 1951, the two councilors stood at the entrance to the Abbey, waiting.  When the three students appeared, the councilors moved forward and helped them carry the heavy stone block in a wooden litter up the nave of the ruined Abbey.  There they placed it on the floor where the high altar once stood.  The students quickly left, and the councilors went directly to the police to report the presence of the Stone at Arbroath Abbey.

Meanwhile, the custodian of the Abbey, James Wishart, immediately locked the gates of the Abbey and stood guard over the Stone until the authorities arrived.   The Stone was promptly removed to safety in Forfar police headquarters where it was locked into a cell.  

Oddly, although Wishart, Gardner, and Thornton all testified that the men returning the Stone were reverent and bowed their heads as they placed the Stone, none of these witnesses could describe the men at all!  

By the end of the short three and a half months in which the Stone had been missing, everyone involved had achieved their aim:  the students raised the issue of Scotland’s independence in the minds, not only of their fellow Scots, but the whole world; the English authorities got their Stone back; and the Scots had the satisfaction of knowing that some of their own had finally gotten revenge for Edward I of England’s initial theft of the Stone of Scone.

While the Stone was returned to its place beneath the Coronation Chair, it no longer resides in England.  Queen Elizabeth II of England and the I of Scotland, as she is properly titled, used the coronation chair and sat above the Stone in 1953.  However, in 1996, the English authorities returned the Stone to Scotland on condition that they may ‘borrow’ it for any future coronation ceremonies.  The Stone of Scone is now displayed with other Scottish royal regalia in Edinburgh Castle.

Years after the infamous theft, Ian Hamilton said: “When I lifted the Stone in Westminster Abbey, I felt Scotland’s soul was in my hands.”

After the return of the Stone to Arbroath Abbey, the four conspirators never met again.

Read more about sacred stones in The King’s Stone: Rocks and Ritual

Victoria Lord received her B.A. from Yale University in Archaeology and in Religious Studies.  She received an M.A. in Medieval History from Columbia University.  She writes frequently about Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

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Famous Scots. Sir Walter Scott.

Sir Walter Scott in full Sir Walter Scott 1st Baronet, (born August 15, 1771  Edinburgh Scotland—died September 21, 1832, AbbotsfordRoxburgh, Scotland), Scottish novelist, poet, historian, and biographer who is often considered both the inventor and the greatest practitioner of the historical novel.

Scott’s father was a lawyer, and his mother was the daughter of a physician. From his earliest years, Scott was fond of listening to his elderly relatives’ accounts and stories of the Scottish Border, and he soon became a voracious reader of poetry, history, drama, and fairy tales and romances. He had a remarkably retentive memory and astonished visitors by his eager reciting of poetry. His explorations of the neighbouring countryside developed in him both a love of natural beauty and a deep appreciation of the historic struggles of his Scottish forebears.

Walter Scott

Scott was educated at the high school at Edinburgh and also for a time at the grammar school at Kelso. In 1786 he was apprenticed to his father as writer to the signet, a Scots equivalent of the English solicitor (attorney). His study and practice of law were somewhat desultory, for his immense youthful energy was diverted into social activities and into miscellaneous readings in Italian, Spanish, French, German, and Latin. After a very deeply felt early disappointment in love, he married, in December 1797, Charlotte Carpenter, of a French royalist family, with whom he lived happily until her death in 1826.

In the mid-1790s Scott became interested in German Romanticism, Gothic novels, and Scottish border ballads. His first published work, The Chase, and William and Helen (1796), was a translation of two ballads by the German Romantic balladeer G.A. Bürger. A poor translation of Goethe’s Götz von Berlichingen followed in 1799. Scott’s interest in border ballads finally bore fruit in his collection of them entitled Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, 3 vol. (1802–03). His attempts to “restore” the orally corrupted versions back to their original compositions sometimes resulted in powerful poems that show a sophisticated Romantic flavour. The work made Scott’s name known to a wide public, and he followed up his first success with a full-length narrative poem, The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805), which ran into many editions. The poem’s clear and vigorous storytelling, Scottish regionalist elements, honest pathos, and vivid evocations of landscape were repeated in further poetic romances, including Marmion (1808), The Lady of the Lake (1810), which was the most successful of these pieces, Rokeby (1813), and The Lord of the rings.

Scott led a highly active literary and social life during these years. In 1808 his 18-volume edition of the works of John Dryden appeared, followed by his 19-volume edition of Jonathan Swift (1814) and other works. But his finances now took the first of several disastrous turns that were to partly determine the course of his future career. His appointment as sheriff depute of the county of Selkirk in 1799 (a position he was to keep all his life) was a welcome supplement to his income, as was his appointment in 1806 as clerk to the Court of Session in Edinburgh. But he had also become a partner in a printing (and later publishing) firm owned by James Ballantyne and his irresponsible brother John. By 1813 this firm was hovering on the brink of financial disaster, and although Scott saved the company from bankruptcy, from that time onward everything he wrote was done partly in order to make money and pay off the lasting debts he had incurred. Another ruinous expenditure was the country house he was having built at Abbotsford, which he stocked with enormous quantities of antiquarian objects.

By 1813 Scott had begun to tire of narrative poetry, and the greater depth and verve of Lord Byron’s narrative poems threatened to oust him from his position as supreme purveyor of this kind of literary entertainment. In 1813 Scott rediscovered the unfinished manuscript of a novel he had started in 1805, and in the early summer of 1814 he wrote with extraordinary speed almost the whole of his novel, which he titled Waverley. It was one of the rare and happy cases in literary history when something original and powerful was immediately recognized and enjoyed by a large public. A story of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, it reinterpreted and presented with living force the manners and loyalties of a vanished Scottish Highland society. The book was published anonymously, as were all of the many novels he wrote down to 1827.

In Waverley and succeeding novels Scott’s particular literary gifts could be utilized to their fullest extent. First and foremost, he was a born storyteller who could place a large cast of vivid and varied characters in an exciting and turbulent historical setting. He was also a master of dialogue who felt equally at home with expressive Scottish regional speech and the polished courtesies of knights and aristocrats. His deep knowledge of Scottish history and society and his acute observation of its mores and attitudes enabled him to play the part of a social historian in insightful depictions of the whole range of Scottish society, from beggars and rustics to the middle classes and the professions and on up to the landowning nobility. The attention Scott gave to ordinary people was indeed a marked departure from previous historical novels’ concentration on royalty. His flair for picturesque incidents enabled him to describe with equal vigour both eccentric Highland personalities and the fierce political and religious conflicts that agitated Scotland during the 17th and 18th centuries. Finally, Scott was the master of a rich, ornate, seemingly effortless literary style that blended energy with decorum, lyric beauty with clarity of description.

Scott followed up Waverley with a whole series of historical novels set in Scotland that are now known as the “Waverley” novels. Guy Mannering (1815) and The Antiquary (1816) completed a sort of trilogy covering the period from the 1740s to just after 1800. The first of four series of novels published under the title Tales of My Landlord was composed of The Black Dwarf and the masterpiece Old Mortality (1816). These were followed by the masterpieces Rob Roy (1817) and The Heart of Midlothian (1818), and then by The Bride of Lammermoor and A Legend of Montrose (both 1819). It was only after writing these novels of Scottish history that Scott, driven by the state of his finances and the need to satisfy the public appetite for historical fiction that he himself had created, turned to themes from English history and elsewhere. He thus wrote Ivanhoe (1819), a novel set in 12th-century England and one that remains his most popular book. The Monastery and The Abbot followed in 1820, and The Pirate and The Fortunes of Nigel appeared in 1822. Two more masterpieces were Kenilworth (1821), set in Elizabethan England, and the highly successful Quentin Durward (1823), set in 15th-century France. The best of his later novels are Redgauntlet (1824) and The Talisman (1825), the latter being set in Palestine during the Crusades.

In dealing with the recent past of his native country, Scott was able to find a fictional form in which to express the deep ambiguities of his own feeling for Scotland. On the one hand he welcomed Scotland’s union with England and the commercial progress and modernization that it promised to bring, but on the other he bitterly regretted the loss of Scotland’s independence and the steady decline of its national consciousness and traditions. Novel after novel in the “Waverley” series makes clear that the older, heroic tradition of the Scottish Jacobite clans (supporters of the exiled Stuart king James II and his descendants) had no place in the modern world; the true heroes of Scott’s novels are thus not fighting knights-at-arms but the lawyers, farmers, merchants, and simple people who go about their business oblivious to the claims and emotional ties of a heroic past. Scott became a novelist by bringing his antiquarian and romantic feeling for Scotland’s past into relation with his sense that Scotland’s interests lay with a prudently commercial British future. He welcomed civilization, but he also longed for individual heroic action. It is this ambivalence that gives vigour, tension, and complexity of viewpoint to his best novels.

Scott’s immense earnings in those years contributed to his financial downfall. Eager to own an estate and to act the part of a bountiful laird, he anticipated his income and involved himself in exceedingly complicated and ultimately disastrous financial agreements with his publisher, Archibald Constable, and his agents, the Ballantynes. He and they met almost every new expense with bills discounted on work still to be done; these bills were basically just written promises to pay at a future date. This form of payment was an accepted practice, but the great financial collapse of 1825 caused the four men’s creditors to demand actual and immediate payment in cash. Constable was unable to meet his liabilities and went bankrupt, and he in turn dragged down the Ballantynes and Scott in his wake because their financial interests were inextricably intermingled. Scott assumed personal responsibility for both his and the Ballantynes’ liabilities and thus courageously dedicated himself for the rest of his life to paying off debts amounting to about £120,000.

Everyone paid tribute to the selfless honesty with which he set himself to work to pay all his huge debts. Unfortunately, though, the corollary was reckless haste in the production of all his later books and compulsive work whose strain shortened his life. After the notable re-creation of the end of the Jacobite era in Redgauntlet, he produced nothing equal to his best early work, though his rapidity and ease of writing remained largely unimpaired, as did his popularity. Scott’s creditors were not hard with him during this period, however, and he was generally revered as the grand old man of English letters. In 1827 Scott’s authorship of the “Waverley” novels was finally made public. In 1831 his health deteriorated sharply, and he tried a continental tour with a long stay at Naples to aid recovery. He was taken home and died in 1832.

Scott gathered the disparate strands of contemporary novel-writing techniques into his own hands and harnessed them to his deep interest in Scottish history and his knowledge of antiquarian lore. The technique of the omniscient narrator and the use of regional speech, localized settings, sophisticated character delineation, and romantic themes treated in a realistic manner were all combined by him into virtually a new literary form, the historical novel. His influence on other European and American novelists was immediate and profound, and though interest in some of his books declined somewhat in the 20th century, his reputation remains secure. Scott wrote articles on “Chivalry,” “Romance,” and “Drama” for Encyclopædia Britannica’s fourth edition (1801–09).

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Scottish Architecture. Holyrood Palace.

Holyrood Palace. Edinburgh.

Hello folks, Scotland has many landmarks, today we will look at Holyrood Palace, situated within minutes from Arthurs seat. If you ever visit Scotland this beautiful Palace is a must-see.
Perhaps one of the most famous monarchs to live at the Palace of Holyrood house, Mary, Queen of Scots’ chambers where she lived between 1561-1567 are not to be missed. When you climb the steps up to the north-west tower you enter a world of intrigue, tragedy and murder

Reached by a narrow, steep and winding staircase, this is the oldest section of the palace. Built almost 500 years ago, the battlements and fortified walls are typical of a time when kings and queens required protection against their enemies. A virtual tour is available using the computer located in the Great Gallery. Alternatively, explore the online trail all about the queen. 


Described as ‘the most famous room in Scotland’, the bedchamber is known for its original decorative oak ceiling, painted frieze and incredibly low doorway. While people were much smaller in the 1500s when this tower was built, Mary grew to be six feet tall.


Just off the bedchamber is the tiny Supper Room where Mary was dining on 9 March 1566 when she witnessed the murder of her private secretary, David Rizzio. Killed by her jealous husband, Lord Darnley, and a group of powerful Scottish lords, Rizzio was stabbed 56 times. It is claimed that the bloodstains from Rizzio’s body are still visible in the Outer Chamber where he was left for all to see. See if you can spot the marks on the floor when you visit.


In the Outer Chamber Mary received visitors. The devout Roman Catholic Queen enjoyed many a debate with John Knox, the headstrong Scottish Protestant cleric. The oak-panelled Oratory is where she said her prayers, the original ceiling is decorated with the cross of St Andrew encircled by a royal crown. Also on display is the spectacular Darnley Jewel, one of the finest treasures in the Royal Collection.


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Infamous Scots. Walter Norvil.

He was known as Glasgow’s original Godfather. The mastermind behind a string of violent armed robberies at post offices, banks and hospitals across the west of Scotland.

Walter Norval and his notorious XYY gang were prepared to shoot, threaten and intimidate anyone in their pursuit of riches.

Norval, who modelled himself on US mobster John Dillinger and even wore the pinstriped suits, made his name running local gangs before moving onto protection rackets and naturally graduating to armed robbery.

The XYY gang involved hundreds of foot soldiers who during the 70s pulled off dozens of armed robberies, often from hospitals and major works, but also from post offices across the country.

Scores of weapons and explosives were hidden in safe houses around Glasgow.

Eventually he was brought down by police and did 14 years inside and by then the underworld scene in Glasgow had changed.

Norval was critical. In his day, he said, gangsters were hard men who fought amongst themselves but the modern gangster paid someone else to do their dirty work.

After his death at 85 from pneumonia in August 2014, Norval’s coffin was carried in to the sounds of ‘My Daddy was a Bank Robber’ by The Clash.

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My Poetry. VE. DAY. 2020.

Today we celebrate the life
of men and women who fought
They had no choice to refuse
a miserable life they sought.
As the guns fired in anger
the bombs dropped with malice
they killed without compassion
every Tom Dick and Alice.
And as the hatred grew
for almost all human kind
The stronger got even stronger
whilst the fascists grew blind.
The men and women defeated
an evil without any doubt
So God bless every one of them
as we give you all a "shout".
Today we Celebrate VE Day, can you imagine what our lives would have been like under Hitler?
Perish the thought. Let us celebrate the Men and Women, (some still alive) who made sure we remained 
free. We will never forget what you done for us.
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