Scottish places of interest.

Places to visit in Scotland. with much beauty and wealth.

Scottish Places of Interest (zoo)

The wildest visitor attraction in Scotland. Edinburgh Zoo is home to over 1,000 rare animals from around the world and home to the UK’s only giant pandas and koalas.

Home to over 1,000 rare and endangered animals, including the UK’s only giant pandas. RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is packed with fun and un-zoo-sual things to do.

Why not watch our famous penguin parade and visit the world’s only Knighted penguin, Sir Nils Olav. Or spend your day learning about brilliant birds, mischievous meerkats, super strong sun bears and more with daily keeper talks!

Get closer than ever to monkeys, lemurs, wallabies and pelicans in our walkthrough habitats or at our daily animal-handling sessions. Watch a Sumatran tiger walk right over your head in Tiger Tracks, our amazing glass viewing tunnel. And if you prefer smaller critters, you’ll enjoy Wee Beasties where you can find reptiles, amphibians and insects.

It’s more fun at the zoo this summer so prepare for an adventurous day out exploring 82 acres of beautiful parkland full of incredible animals and experiences.​​​​​​  Please note that pre-booking is essential this summer for all visits to comply with Scottish Government guidelines.

Edinburgh Zoo is unlike any other visitor attraction in Scotland. As part of RZSS, one of Scotland’s leading conservation charities, the Park acts as a gateway to our wider work, both here in Scotland and in over 20 countries around the world.

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Scottish Places of Interest.(Holm)

The Holm of Papa

or Holm of PapayHolm of Papa Westray and known locally as the Papay Holm,) is a very small uninhabited island in the Orkney Islands. It is around 21 hectares (52 acres) in size. It can be visited from its neighbouring island Papa Westray, or Papay, an island less than a hundred metres west of the Holm.

The main sight on the small island is the Southcairn, a 20 metre long chambered cairn dating from approx. 3000 BC on whose stones one can find ancient carvings. The long, stalled cairn, built of local stone, was once a communal burial place for the bones of an ancient community. It is protected by a modern roof and entered by a trapdoor from above. It is possible that the inhabitants of the Knap of Howar buried their dead here. There are three ancient chambered cairns on the holm. Visitors can arrange privately for small boat access through the Co-op shop on Papa Westray. The cairn is readily visible from the larger island.

“Eyebrow motif” carvings found in the southernmost chambered cairn bear a resemblance to the “eyes” of the Orkney Venus found at Links of Noltland on Westray.

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Scottish Places of Interest.(stone circles)

Stone Circles

Callanish Stones
copyright Historic Scotland

The great ceremonial stone circles are the most enigmatic of all the Neolithic farmers’ creations. They were built between 3000 – 2000 BC by a wide variety of Neolithic communities. Today only the stones remain, but in their time they were part of a wider landscape of ritual sites built of timber and stone, and set in prominent positions in the heart of vibrant farming communities.
Those communities seem to have had a shared interest in the movements of the sun and moon, which may have had a religious significance to them, but used their stone circles in differing ways across time.

How were they built?
The stone circles were built with locally available stone, quarried from natural rock outcrops like the Orkney flagstones. Natural cracks in the outcrops were exploited and wooden wedges used to split the stones. It needed complex and ordered societies to move the stones to the site of the circles. A five-metre-long stone weighs about five metric tons, requiring about a hundred people to move it or less if they used ropes, levers, rollers and ramps to move it into position.

Why were they built?
It’s possible the stones were erected to commemorate the dead or to highlight the prestige of the organiser. Whatever they were for, they show a commitment to long-term planning. It would have taken a great deal of time and effort to construct these monuments and may have taken several generations to complete them.

A circle, built of timber or stone, sometimes with surrounding earthwork ditches, seems to involve ideas on defining special, ritual spaces and of excluding some people from the ceremonies within.

How do they differ?
The earliest of stone circles date to around 3,000 BC: like the Stones of Stenness on Orkney, where twelve stones were built inside a massive earthwork, probably by the same people who built the nearby tomb at Maes Howe. The tomb’s passageway points towards the rising midwinter sun, showing these people had a religious interest in the sun’s movements, but that is not reflected in the stones themselves, which have no significant alignment.

Later stone circles, like at Callanish on Lewis (2,900-2,600 BC), do have significant alignments. Set in a landscape of Neolithic fields and houses, its central ring of stones is built around a small chambered cairn and has four avenues of standing stones leading off roughly to the points of the compass. The northern avenue points to a burial cairn, and from the southern avenue the moon can be seen to skim along the top of the hills every 18.6 years. A thousand years later a similar interest in the heavens can be found at Balnuaran of Clava near Inverness (2,000-1,700 BC), where a chambered cairn enclosed in the stone circle is orientated to the mid-winter sun.The Aberdeenshire stone circles, such as Easter Aquhorithies, have a massive horizontal stone between two vertical stones which dramatise the setting of the moon and sun. Archaeologists have discovered that the cremated remains of the dead were placed within the circle. All these stone circles reveal the diversity of uses and the differing interests of the communities who built them.

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Scottish Places of Interest.(Skara Brae)

Skara Brae – Neolithic

Skara Brae

One of the most remarkable discoveries in modern archaeology: in 1850 a violent storm ravaged the Bay of Skaill in the Orkney Isles to the north-east of mainland Scotland, revealing the Neolithic village of Skara Brae buried beneath the sand dunes. It is the best preserved Neolithic village in northern Europe and it offers us a unique window into the lives of the farmers who lived there between 3,100 and 2,450 BC.

Skara Brae’s remarkable survival through the ages is thanks to the design of the original builders who buried the stone-slab walls up to roof level in clay soil and waste material in order to provide insulation and protection from the elements.

Such a tightly knit and communal village life was unusual in these early farming communities, individual farmsteads being preferred, but Skara Brae seems to have been a very close community with little room for non-conformists. Every house has the same layout for roughly a family-sized living space.

Skara Brae
copyright Historic Scotland

Upon entry to any of the houses, one has to crouch through a small doorway which would have been blocked by a slab of stone and possibly barred as well. This shows that security was important to the dwellers, but that privacy for the family unit was also very important. The layout of Skara Brae, whilst being very much geared towards a community settlement, makes this type of privacy possible.

Inside, each house has a large floor space with a central hearth where no doubt the fire was always burning. Since the main source of timber on Orkney was driftwood from the forests of North America, most of the furniture was made of stone and has survived well leaving many clues to these people’s lifestyles. Opposite the doors, large, stone dressers are still intact, where objects of importance could be displayed, but secret spaces have also been found under the stone dresser for those objects the families were less keen to display. On either side of the living space were stone beds, which would have been filled with bracken and heather, and covered with animal skins.

The villagers were farmers, raising large cattle and sheep and growing a little barley. Their diet contained many foods which would be regarded as luxuries today. Venison from deer imported to Orkney. Meat and eggs from seabirds like the Great Auk. Oysters, crabs, cockles and mussels, as well as giant cod and saithe from the sea. Strangely, no fishing equipment was discovered when the village was excavated, but water-tight tanks in the floor of each house were probably designed to hold limpets for fish bait.

Just outside the complex of houses, a workshop stands on its own where chert – a local flint substitute – was made into stone tools. Also, volcanic pumice, washed up on Orkney’s beaches from Iceland, was used to shape bone tools. In good years, they lived well with some leisure time; and they made works of art like bone necklaces and the mysterious stone balls carved from hard volcanic rock.

Very few other signs of settlement from the late Neolithic Age remain to us, probably due to their timber construction, but the inhabitants of Orkney, being dependent on stone for construction, have left us a valuable door into their world.

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Scottish Places of Interest.(Art Gallery)

Aberdeen Art Gallery

is the main visual arts exhibition space in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland. It was founded in 1884 in a building designed by Alexander Marshall Mackenzie, with a sculpture court added in 1905. In 1900, it received the art collection of Alexander Macdonald, a local granite merchant. The gallery is noted for its fine collection of modern Scottish and international art, including works by Ken CurrieGilbert & GeorgeIvor AbrahamsBridget Riley and Bruce McLean.


Following a competition, the winning design by Alexander Marshall Mackenzie and James Matthews began construction in 1883 and was opened in 1885. There were further additions, again by Mackenzie, in 1901 and 1905, including the addition of a sculpture court.

In April 2020, the gallery made 50 artworks available digitally via the Smartify app.

In October 2020, Aberdeen Art Gallery was named one of the five winners of the 2020 ArtFund Museum of the Year Award. ArtFund increased the prize money to £200,000 and changed the format of the award to five winners in response to the challenges faced by the museum sector during the Coronavirus Pandemic.


The Fine Arts collection of the Aberdeen Art Gallery has grown steadily since its foundation in 1885, highlighted with works by such artists as Monet and Renoir as well as more modern artists like John Bulloch SouterIan Hamilton Finlay, and James McBey.

The permanent collection includes 18th-century works by Henry RaeburnWilliam HogarthAllan Ramsay and Joshua Reynolds, and 20th-century works by Paul Nash and Francis Bacon, the Post-Impressionists and the Scottish Colourists, as well as applied arts and crafts.

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Scottish Places of Interest.(Glenfinnan)

The Glenfinnan Viaduct is a railway viaduct on the West Highland Line in GlenfinnanInverness-shireScotland, built from 1897 to 1901. Located at the top of Loch Shiel in the West Scottish Highlands, the viaduct overlooks the Glenfinnan Monument and the waters of Loch Shiel.


Thirteen of the viaduct’s twenty-one arches
View from a train on the viaduct

The West Highland Railway was built to Fort William by Lucas & Aird, but there were delays with the West Highland Railway Mallaig Extension (Guarantee) bill for the Mallaig Extension Railway in the House of Commons as the Tory and Liberal parties fought over the issue of subsidies for public transport. This Act did pass in 1896, by which time Lucas & Aird (and their workers) had moved south. New contractors were needed and Robert McAlpine & Sons were taken on with Simpson & Wilson as engineers. Robert McAlpine & Sons was headed by Robert McAlpine, nicknamed “Concrete Bob” for his innovative use of mass concrete. Concrete was used due to the difficulty of working the hard schist in the area. McAlpine’s son Robert, then aged 28, took charge of construction, with his younger son Malcolm appointed as assistant.

Construction of the extension from Fort William to Mallaig began in January 1897, and the line opened on 1 April 1901.The Glenfinnan Viaduct, however, was complete enough by October 1898 to be used to transport materials across the valley. It was built at a cost of £18,904.

A long-established legend attached to the Glenfinnan Viaduct was that a horse had fallen into one of the piers during construction in 1898 or 1899. In 1987, Professor Roland Paxton failed to find evidence of a horse at Glenfinnan using a fisheye camera inserted into boreholes in the only two piers large enough to accommodate a horse. In 1997, on the basis of local hearsay, he investigated the Loch nan Uamh Viaduct by the same method but found the piers to be full of rubble. Using scanning technology in 2001, the remains of the horse and cart were found at Loch nan Uamh, within the large central pylon.


The viaduct is built from mass concrete, and has 21 semicircular spans of 50 feet (15 m). It is the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland at 416 yards (380 m), and crosses the River Finnan at a height of 100 feet (30 m). The West Highland Line it carries is single track, and the viaduct is 18 feet (5.5 m) wide between the parapets. The viaduct is built on a curve of 792 feet (241 m).

The concrete used in the Glenfinnan Viaduct is mass concrete, which unlike reinforced concrete does not contain any metal reinforcement. It is formed by pouring concrete, typically using fine aggregate, into formwork, resulting in a material very strong in compression but weak in tension.


The West Highland Line connects Fort William and Mallaig, and was a crucial artery for the local fishing industry and the highlands economy in general, which suffered enormously after the Highland Clearances of the 1800s.

The line is used by passenger trains operated by ScotRail between Glasgow Queen Street and Mallaig, with Class 153 and Class 156 diesel multiple units. In the summer, West Coast Railways operates The Jacobite steam train along the line. It is a popular tourist event in the area, and the viaduct is one of the major attractions of the line. The Royal Scotsman also operates on the line.


The viaduct is commemorated on this Bank of Scotland £10 note

Glenfinnan Viaduct has been used as a location in several films and television series, including Ring of Bright WaterCharlotte GrayMonarch of the GlenStone of DestinyThe Crown, and four of the Harry Potter films. After its appearance in Harry PotterBritish Transport Police had to warn fans not to walk on the viaduct after a handful of near misses with trains had occurred. It is also featured in the 2018 videogame Forza Horizon 4.

The Glenfinnan Viaduct features on some Scottish banknotes. The 2007 series of notes issued by the Bank of Scotland depicts different bridges in Scotland as examples of Scottish engineering, and the £10 note features the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

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Scottish Places of Interest.(Mary King’s Close)

Mary King’s Close is a historic close located under the Edinburgh City Chambers building on the Royal Mile, in the historic Old Town area of EdinburghScotland. It took its name from one Mary King, a merchant burgess who resided on the Close in the 17th century. The close was partially demolished and buried due to the building of the Royal Exchange in the 18th century, and later closed to the public for many years. The area became shrouded in myths and urban legends; tales of hauntings and murders abounded.

The close is currently operated as a tourist attraction by Continuum Attractions.


Mary King’s Close has had a reputation for hauntings since at least the 17th century, with several paranormal investigations taking place. It has been pointed out that this particular Close ran the nearest of any to the old Nor Loch, a stagnant and highly polluted marsh; biogas escaping into the close and creating eerie lights may have been the cause for these rumours of spirit hauntings. It is also said that the gas escaping into the closes was known to cause hallucinations.

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Scottish places of Interest.(Gruinard Bay)

Gruinard Bay.

Gruinard Bay is a large remote coastal embayment, located 12 miles north of Poolewe, in northwestern Ross and Cromarty, and is in the former parish of Lochbroom, in the west coast of Scotland.


Gruinard Bay has a number of settlements, mainly located on the eastern shore of the bay. On the southeast corner, the small hamlet of Little Gruinard is located, where the similar named river leaves land. On the south coast, the small townships of Sand, First Coast and Second Coast are situated along the A832 road. On the western coast, the former fishing village of Laide, in the nook where the coast turns north, overlooks Gruinard Island to the northeast. Further up the west coast, the villages of Achgarve, the main village of Mellon Udrigle and the smaller crofting township of Opinan have a commanding view of the bay and Gruinard island.


Gruinard Bay is formed from the boundary of Loch Broom to the northeast, encompasses the opening of Little Loch Broom to the east with Static Point further south, and on the west side by the Rubha Mòr peninsula, and Loch Ewe on the southwestern boundary. The bay measures 5.5 miles along its western shore, and 4.5 miles on its eastern shore, forming a L shape.

The bay overlooks the infamous Gruinard Island, which is 0.68 miles (1 km) offshore, at the eastern side of the bay. The Summer Isles are visible to the northeast.

Three fast flowing rivers flow into the Bay. Little Gruinard river, occasionally called River Little Gruinard, flows 4 miles from the Fionn Loch to enter Bay at the settlement of Little Gruinard, and Camas Gaineamhaich beach. River Gruinard river, flows a similar distance from the two lochs, the larger to the east, Loch Sealga and the smaller Loch Ghiubhsachain to the west, into the bay at the western side of Camas Gaineamhaich beach. The smaller stream of Inverianvie river, flows from the small loch, Loch à Mhadaidh Mòr and enters the bay between the two other rivers.

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Scottish Places of Interest.(orkney)

The Orkney Islands drift just off the north coast of Scotland, and their miles of rocky coastline are teeming with wildlife, home to puffin and sea colonies, giant Arctic seabirds and dolphins. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed islands are also famous for their fascinating array of Neolithic monuments, stone circles and tombs, including the Standing Stones of Stennes, four giant megaliths that may be the oldest henge site in the British Isles, believed to be part of an original ring of 12 that date from the third millennium BC. Orkney’s most famous landmark, the Old Man of Hoy, is an imposing 450-foot sea stack on the island of Hoy carved from layer upon layer of Old Red Sandstone. Its shaping can be traced back through the centuries through maps and paintings – in 1750, it was depicted as a headland, but just 70 years later the stormy seas had carved the rock into a stack and arch, with the two legs giving it the name of Old Man.

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Scottish places of Interest.(pulpit)

Sometimes referred to as the “Devil’s Pulpit,” Finnich Glen is a breathtaking natural gorge with a very interesting history. The 70-feet-deep gorge located near Craighat Wood can be found under the small stone bridge that you’ll cross before entering the picturesque village of Croftamie. It’s said to have been used for Druid rituals and secret meetings by clandestine Covenanters. It’s easy to see why they were drawn to this stunning deep crevice, with its towering cliffs and hidden alleyways. The brilliant green moss covering the walls provides an otherworldly backdrop, while the water flowing through the red sandstone sometimes resembles a river of blood. If you’re a fan of the show “Outlander,” this may look familiar to you as it was this spot that was said to possess truth-telling powers in the series.

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Scottish Places of Interest.(1938)

One of Scotland’s most visited attractions, the free Riverside Museum in Glasgow gathers together the history of transportation by land and water in an eye-catching new venue. During the course of a visit, you’ll see trams, locomotives, buses, horse-drawn carriages, and vintage cars, along with ships and other models.

A highlight is the authentic reconstruction of 1938 Glasgow streets, with shops you can enter, and platforms leading up to all the locomotives on display. In all, more than 20 interactive displays and 90 large touch screens add images, recollections, and films that bring added meaning to the collections.

Outside on the River Clyde, you can board the S. S. Glenlee, a tall ship built in 1896. It has the distinction of being the only Clyde-built ship still sailing in Britain.

Address: 100 Pointhouse Place, Glasgow

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Scottish Places of Interest. Glencoe.

Glencoe or Glencoe Village (GaelicA’ Chàrnaich) is the main settlement in Glen Coe in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands. It lies at the north-west end of the glen, on the southern bank of the River Coe where it enters Loch Leven (a salt-water loch off Loch Linnhe).

The village falls within the Ross, Skye and Lochaber part of the Highland council area for local government purposes. It is part of the registration county of Argyll and the lieutenancy area of Inverness for ceremonial functions.

The use of the term ‘Glencoe Village’ is a modern one, to differentiate the settlement from the glen itself.


Glencoe from the west.

The village is on the site of the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692, in which 38 members of the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by forces acting on behalf of the government of King William III following the Glorious Revolution. Treachery was involved, since the Clan had fed the soldiers and given them shelter for nearly two weeks before they turned on their hosts. The glen is sometimes poetically referred to as “The Weeping Glen”, in reference to this incident, although the Glencoe name was already in place well before the time of the massacre, as the Gaelic Gleann Comhann, the Comhann element of which may predate the Gaelic language, its meaning being uncertain.

The village occupies an area of the glen known as Carnoch. Native Gaelic speakers who belong to the area always refer to the village itself as A’ Chàrnaich, meaning “the place of cairns”. Even today there is Upper Carnoch and Lower Carnoch. There was formerly a small hospital at the southern end of the village just over an arched stone bridge. This has since been converted into an upmarket guest house, and the nearest hospital is now the Belford in Fort William, some 26 kilometres (16 mi) away.

Culture and community

Within Carnoch there is a small village shop, a Scottish Episcopal Church, Glencoe Folk Museum, Post Office, Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team centre, an outdoor centre, a number of bed and breakfast establishments, and a small primary school. The small Museum was started after a resident discovered “a cache of 200-year-old swords and pistols hidden there from the British Redcoats after the disastrous battle of Culloden”.

Several eating establishments are around including the Glencoe Hotel, Glencoe Cafe and The Clachaig Inn. Glencoe is also a popular location for self-catering holidays; with many chalets, cottages and lodges available for weekly and short break rental. Also located in the village, but along the A82, is the Glencoe Visitor Centre, run by the National Trust for Scotland. This modern (constructed in 2002) visitor centre houses a coffee shop, store, and information centre. Nearby memorials sites are the Celtic cross at the Massacre of Glencoe Memorial, and plaque at Henderson Stone (Clach Eanruig).

The village is surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery and is popular with serious hill-walkers, rock and ice climbers. Travel writer Rick Steves describes the area as exhibiting “the wild, powerful and stark beauty of the Highlands … dramatic valley, where the cliffsides seem to weep with running streams when it rains”. The area has been seen in numerous films, including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as the home of Hagrid, and the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall.

In Ian Fleming‘s original novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service James Bond tells Sir Hilary Bray, a genealogist with the Royal College of Arms, his father was from the Highlands, near Glencoe and in Fleming’s other novel You Only Live Twice M‘s obituary for Bond also mentions his father, Andrew Bond, was from Glencoe.

Well known residents include Hamish MacInnes, mountaineer and inventor of the MacInnes Stretcher.

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Scottish Places of Interest. Cairngorms.

The Cairngorms is the UK’s largest national park (twice the size of the Lake District), reaching from Aviemore in the North to the Angus Glens in the south. It’s also home to five out of six of the highest peaks in Scotland. How greedy.

The landscape in the Cairngorms is diverse; with mountainous horizons, pristine rivers, heather flushed moors, deep forests and wetlands. The climate here, as it’s up to 1200 metres above sea level in places, is arctic-alpine. This means, obviously, it gets cold and the lowest temperature ever recorded was -27.2 °C. It also means the Cairngorms is home to artic wildlife species such as snow buntings.

Remember to dress up warm!

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Scottish places of Interest. W.D

Scottish Whisky Distilleries.

Dear friends,

Scotland is well known for a lot of things but the main thing is Whisky, enjoyed Worldwide by millions of people, but did you know how it is made? In Scotland, there are many Distilleries which offer Tours, so next time you visit Scotland, why not take a tour and enjoy our Famous Brand.

Scottish Whisky regions

The Single Malt Whiskies of Scotland were traditionally grouped into four different main regions, Highlands, Campbeltown, Lowlands and Islay. This was not based on the specification but it had something to do with earlier regulations and excise. Later on, two more (sub) groups were added, the Islands and Speyside. It’s hard to imagine Campbeltown as a separate region but at one time the town had more than 20 distilleries!

So the six distinct whisky regions in Scotland, each with their own characteristics, are The Highlands, Islands, Lowland, Islay, Campbeltown and Speyside.

There is a selection of Malt Whisky Distilleries by region. This list gives an overview of the most interesting and/or popular distilleries and the possibilities for a guided tour. Please always check the opening times of a distillery yourself before planning a visit. You are not the first one to be disappointed in the summer, silent season or any other time for that matter.

Scottish Distilleries

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Scottish Places of Interest. C.A


Growing up in the Seventies in Edinburgh was cool, apart from the flared trousers, which meant you actually swept the streets as you walked, and the wedged shoes which made you seven feet tall, well fashion tends to come and go just like History that’s why it is named History LOL, a thing in the past, a memory. There was so much to do, so many places to visit, we spent a lot of time at the beach, in fact, most or all of the summer. The beach was called Cramond, not a beach you would associate with sunny climes, golden sands, heat LOL no it was more like a shore than a beach, although further along Cramond there were stretches of sand and Golden at that leading to one of the many small islands in the Firth of Forth.

The one we visited a lot during summer holidays was an Island aptly named Cramond Island, this was an ideal place to play, the trick was to walk over once the tide went out but you had to make sure you got back before the tide came on or else you were stranded, being kids we never knew the tide times but thankfully we always got back in time.
The walk was wonderful, however, there were huge areas where the sand would just sink and I mean deeply sink, not quicksand but similar, so we avoided that area, but it wasn’t always easy.
So what has all this got to do with History I hear you ask,? Well, we are getting to that. Cramond Island was famous more during World War 2 than any other period in its history.

Before that there was evidence of life on the Island around 8500 BC it was believed the first early Scottish settlers settled on the Island, it is not the biggest of Islands it covers a couple of acres.
On the Island are remains of an ancient Roman Fort dug deep, this was a fortress for the Romans which would protect all areas in the Firth of Forth from invading armies, yes the Romans knew what they were doing LOL.

But more recently the Island was used for fortification against German invasion, Guns were placed in shelters which still stand today, and were used when German planes flew over the Firth of Forth, mainly their target was Leith Docks were the Military ships were based.
There was a farmhouse on the island right up until the early 1960s the Island even had sheep on it, but when I visited in the Seventies all that remained were the shelters, bunkers, and storerooms used in


The following picture is a better view from the Island and indicates how large it is, but to young boys in an adventure, it was HUGE…
I recommend if you ever visit Scotland to spend half a day visiting these great Islands, there is a tour of the Islands so do not worry LOL you won’t have to do what I did in the early years and walk over


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Scottish Places of Interest. Kelvingrove.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a museum and art gallery in Glasgow, Scotland. It reopened in 2006 after a three-year refurbishment and since then has been one of Scotland’s most popular visitor attractions. The museum has 22 galleries, housing a range of exhibits, including Renaissance art, taxidermy, and artifacts from ancient Egypt.


Rear elevation looking westwards from Argyle Street, Glasgow.

The gallery is located on Argyle Street, in the West End of the city, on the banks of the River Kelvin (opposite the architecturally similar Kelvin Hall, which was built in matching style in the 1920s, after the previous hall had been destroyed by fire). It is adjacent to Kelvingrove Park and is situated near the main campus of the University of Glasgow on Gilmorehill.

Original museum

The original Kelvingrove Museum opened in the latter half of the 19th century. It was housed in an enlarged 18th-century mansion called Kelvingrove House, to the east of the current site, that was originally the home of Lord Provost Patrick Colquhoun.

Creation (1888–1901)

The Centre Hall, looking towards the Pipe Organ flanked by original electroliers, with Dippy the Diplodocus on tour January–May 2019.

The construction of Kelvingrove was partly financed by the proceeds of the 1888 International Exhibition held in Kelvingrove Park. The gallery was designed by Sir John W. Simpson and E.J. Milner Allen, and opened in 1901 as the Palace of Fine Arts for the Glasgow International Exhibition held in that year. It is built in a Spanish Baroque style, follows the Glaswegian tradition of using Locharbriggs red sandstone, and includes an entire program of architectural sculpture by George FramptonWilliam ShirreffsFrancis Derwent Wood and other sculptors.

The centrepiece of the Centre Hall is a concert pipe organ constructed and installed by Lewis & Co. The organ was originally commissioned as part of the Glasgow International Exhibition, held in Kelvingrove Park in 1901. The organ was installed in the concert hall of the exhibition, which was capable of seating 3,000 people. The Centre Hall of the then newly completed Art Gallery and Museum was intended from the beginning to be a space in which to hold concerts. When the 1901 exhibition ended, a Councillor urged the Glasgow Corporation (now Glasgow Council) to purchase the organ, stating that without it, “the art gallery would be a body without a soul”. Purchase price and installation costs were met from the surplus exhibition proceeds, and the organ was installed in the Centre Hall by Lewis and Co. The present case front in walnut with non-functional display pipes was commissioned at this time from John W. Simpson. Simpson was the senior partner of Simpson & Milner Allen, architects of the gallery building.

There is an urban myth in Glasgow that the building was accidentally built back-to-front, and the architect jumped from one of the towers in despair upon realising his mistake. In reality, the grand entrance was always intended to face into Kelvingrove Park.

Refurbishment (2003–06)

West Court; animals on display below a preserved Spitfire Mark 21 which served from 1947–1949 with 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

General view of one of the halls.

Kelvingrove was reopened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 11 July 2006 after a three-year closure for major refurbishment and restoration. The work, which cost around £35 million, was one third funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and one third by public donations to the appeal, and included a new restaurant and a large basement extension to its display space to accommodate the 8,000 exhibits now on display. A new layout and wayfinding scheme was introduced to make the building more visitor-friendly, which was designed and executed by London-based museum design company, Event Communications. Immediately after its 2003–06 refurbishment, the museum was the most popular free-to-enter visitor attraction in Scotland, recording 2.23 million visitors in 2007. These numbers made it the most visited museum in the United Kingdom outside London that year. From 2006 to 2009 the museum had 5 million visitors.


The museum’s collections came mainly from the original Kelvingrove Museum and the McLellan Galleries. It has one of the finest collections of arms and armour in the world and a vast natural history collection. The art collection includes many outstanding European artworks, including works by the Old Masters (Vecellio’s Madonna and Child with Saint Jerome and Saint DorothyRembrandt van RijnGerard de Lairesse, and Jozef Israëls), French Impressionists (such as Claude MonetPierre-Auguste RenoirCamille PissarroVincent van Gogh and Mary Cassatt), Dutch RenaissanceScottish Colourists and exponents of the Glasgow School.

The museum houses Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvador Dalí. The copyright of this painting was bought by the curator at the time after a meeting with Dalí himself. For a period between 1993 and 2006, the painting was moved to the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art.

The museum also contains a large gift of the decorative arts from Anne Hull Grundy, an art collector and philanthropist, covering the history of European jewellery in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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Scottish Places of Interest. Stirling.

The historic town of Stirling is one of the best places in Scotland to serve as a base from which to explore the country. Situated almost half way between Glasgow and Edinburgh, it makes for a great day trip and boasts plenty of rewarding things to see and do.

Topping the list is stunning Stirling Castle, famous for once having been a royal palace (Mary Queen of Scots spent her childhood here), as well as its role in the centuries-long struggle between Scotland and England. A visit to this mini-Edinburgh Castle includes a chance to explore the well-preserved medieval structure’s grand halls and rooms, either on your own or as part of a guided tour.

On the outskirts of town is the Bannockburn Heritage Centre, which offers a fascinating retelling of the Battle of Bannockburn. It was here that Scottish king Robert the Bruce sent the English army packing, and the site commemorates this historic victory with excellent displays and interactive exhibits.

If you can squeeze a little more into your Stirling itinerary, include a visit to the neighboring village of Bridge of Allan, home to the Wallace Monument. This amazing tower dominates the skyline here, offering a little history about the legendary William Wallace, as well as amazing views over Stirling and the surrounding countryside.

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Scottish Places of Interest. RBGE.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a scientific centre for the study of plants, their diversity and conservation, as well as a popular tourist attraction. Founded in 1670 as a physic garden to grow medicinal plants, today it occupies four sites across Scotland—Edinburgh, Dawyck, Logan and Benmore—each with its own specialist collection. The RBGE’s living collection consists of more than 13,302 plant species (34,422 accessions), whilst the herbarium contains in excess of 3 million preserved specimens.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is an executive non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government. The Edinburgh site is the main garden and the headquarters of the public body, which is led by Regius Keeper Simon Milne.


The Edinburgh botanic garden was founded in 1670 at St. Anne’s Yard, near Holyrood Palace, by Dr. Robert Sibbald and Dr. Andrew Balfour. It is the second oldest botanic garden in the UK after Oxford’s. The plant collection used as the basis of the garden was the private collection of Sir Patrick Murray, 2nd Lord Elibank, moved from his home at Livingston Peel in 1672 following his death in September 1671. The original site was “obtained of John Brown, gardener of the North Yardes in the Holyrood Abby, an inclosure of some 40 foot of measure every way. By what we procured from Levingstone and other gardens, we made a collection of eight or nine hundred plants yr.”This site proved too small, and in 1676 grounds belonging to Trinity Hospital were leased by Balfour from the City Council: this second garden was sited just to the east of the Nor Loch, down from the High Street. John Ainslie’s 1804 map shows it as the “Old Physick Garden” to the east of the North Bridge. The site was subsequently occupied by tracks of the North British Railway, and a plaque at platform 11 of the Waverley railway station marks its location.

In 1763, the garden’s collections were moved away from the city’s pollution to a larger (five acre) “Physick Garden” on the west side of Leith Walk, covering the area now called Bellevue, all under the control of Prof John Hope. This site is shown in Ainslie’s 1804 map. The site is today known as Hopetoun Crescent Gardens and is one of the collection of New Town Gardens.

Some time prior to Hope’s death (1786) he was brought Turkish rhubarb seeds by Bruce of Kinnaird and this was the first rhubarb grown in Great Britain. As this proved successful over 3000 plants were grown as rhubarb was previously an expensive import (used as a medicine).

A cottage from the garden’s original site remained on Leith Walk for over one hundred years. In 2008, the building was moved brick by brick to a site within the current gardens. The project was completed in 2016. The garden was a popular destination for botanists and supplied plants to other gardens such as Kew. Hope erected a monument to Carl Linnaeus on the site in 1778.

In the early 1820s under the direction of the Curator, William McNab, the garden moved west to its present location (adjacent to Inverleith Row), and the Leith Walk site was built over between Hopetoun Crescent and Haddington Place. The Temperate Palm House, which remains the tallest in Scotland, was built in 1858.

In 1877, the city acquired Inverleith House from the estate of Cosmo Innes and added it to the existing gardens, opening the remodelled grounds to the public in 1881.

The botanic garden at Benmore became the first Regional Garden of the RBGE in 1929. It was followed by the gardens at Logan and Dawyck in 1969 and 1978.

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Scottish places of Interest. I.H.

This list of Inner Hebrides summarises a chain of islands and skerries located off the west coast of mainland Scotland. There are 36 inhabited islands in this archipelago, of which Islay, Mull and Skye are the largest and most populous.

The islands of Scotland’s west coast are known collectively as the Hebrides; the Inner Hebrides are separated from the Outer Hebrides by The Minch to the north and the Sea of the Hebrides to the south. The Inner Hebrides that lie respectively north and south of Ardnamurchan are administered by two separate local authorities as part of larger territories. The northern Inner Hebrides, including Skye, the Small Isles and the Summer Isles, are part of the Highland unitary council region. The southern group, including Islay, Jura, the Slate Islands and Gigha are part of the Argyll and Bute council region.

In the past, the Hebrides as a whole were a strong Scottish Gaelic-speaking area, and in 1921 more than 50% of the populations of most of these islands, including Skye, Mull and Islay, were proficient in the language. However, although the Outer Hebrides have retained many Gaelic speakers, in the 2001 census only Skye (31%) and Tiree (48%) had more than 25% of the resident population able to speak Gaelic; Mull, Jura, Gigha and Coll each recorded figures of less than 15%.

The modern economy centres on tourism, crofting, farming, fishing, and whisky distilling. The archipelago is exposed to wind and tide. There are numerous lighthouses as an aid to navigation.

There are various descriptions of the scope of the Hebrides. The Collins Encyclopedia of Scotland describes the Inner Hebrides as lying “east of The Minch”, which would include any and all offshore islands. There are various islands that lie in the sea lochs, such as Eilean Bàn and Eilean Donan, that might not ordinarily be described as “Hebridean”, but no formal definition exists and for simplicity they are included in this list rather than elsewhere.


Various Gaelic names are used repeatedly. The suffix ay or aigh or aidh is generally from the Norse øy meaning “island”. Eilean (plural: eileanan) also means “island”. Beag and mòr (also bheag and mhòr) mean “little” and “big” and are often found together. Sgeir is “skerry” and often refers to a rock or rocks that lie submerged at high tide. Dubh is “black”, dearg is “red” and glas means “grey” or “green”. Orasaigh is from the Norse Örfirirsey meaning “tidal” or “ebb island”.

Inhabited islands.

The Clachan Bridge, Seil, also known as the “Bridge Over the Atlantic

Eilean Donan castle.

The Bullough mausoleum with the Rùm Cullin in the distance.

A restored traditional house on Tiree.

Bowmore, Islay with its distinctive round church.

Tobermory harbour, Mull.

The inhabited islands of the Inner Hebrides had a population of 18,257 in 2001, and 18,948 at the time of the 2011 census. The highest peaks of the islands have names deriving from both Gaelic and Old Norse, indicating the historical importance of these two cultures. The archaeological record for the period of Viking domination during the Early Historic period is, however, limited.

In the Outer Hebrides all of the inhabited islands are now connected to at least one other island by a land transport route, but only four Inner Hebridean islands are connected by road, all to the mainland. The Clachan Bridge from Argyll to Seil was designed by Thomas Telford and dates from 1792. Skye has been connected to Kyle of Lochalsh by the Skye Bridge since 1995. Danna is also connected to the Tayvallich peninsula in Argyll by a stone causeway; and tiny Eilean Donan, dominated by its castle, has had a connection to the mainland perhaps from as early as the 13th century. The arched bridge in use today was constructed in the early 20th century.

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Scottish places of Interest. Skye.

The Isle of Skye, or simply Skye (/skaɪ/; Scottish Gaelic: An t-Eilean Sgitheanach or Eilean a’ Cheò; Scots: Isle o Skye), is the largest and northernmost of the major islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The island’s peninsulas radiate from a mountainous hub dominated by the Cuillin, the rocky slopes of which provide some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the country.  Although Sgitheanach has been suggested to describe a winged shape, no definitive agreement exists as to the name’s origins.

The island has been occupied since the Mesolithic period, and over its history has been occupied at various times by Celtic tribes including the Picts and the Gaels, Scandinavian Vikings, and most notably the powerful integrated Norse-Gaels clans of MacLeod and MacDonald. The island was considered to be under Norwegian suzerainty until the 1266 Treaty of Perth, which transferred control over to Scotland. The 18th-century Jacobite risings led to the breaking-up of the clan system and later clearances that replaced entire communities with sheep farms, some of which involved forced emigrations to distant lands. Resident numbers declined from over 20,000 in the early 19th century to just under 9,000 by the closing decade of the 20th century. Skye’s population increased by 4% between 1991 and 2001. About a third of the residents were Gaelic speakers in 2001, and although their numbers are in decline, this aspect of island culture remains important.

The main industries are tourism, agriculture, fishing, and forestry. Skye is part of the Highland Council local government area. The island’s largest settlement is Portree, which is also its capital, known for its picturesque harbour. Links to various nearby islands by ferry are available, and since 1995, to the mainland by a road bridge. The climate is mild, wet, and windy. The abundant wildlife includes the golden eagle, red deer, and Atlantic salmon. The local flora is dominated by heather moor, and nationally important invertebrate populations live on the surrounding sea bed. Skye has provided the locations for various novels and feature films, and is celebrated in poetry and song.


Main article: Etymology of Skye

The first written references to the island are Roman sources such as the Ravenna Cosmography, which refers to Scitis and Scetis, which can be found on a map by Ptolemy. One possible derivation comes from skitis, an early Celtic word for “winged”, which may describe how the island’s peninsulas radiate out from a mountainous centre. Subsequent Gaelic-, Norse- and English-speaking peoples have influenced the history of Skye; the relationships between their names for the island are not straightforward. Various etymologies have been proposed, such as the “winged isle” or “the notched isle”, but no definitive solution has been found to date; the place name may be from an earlier, non-Gaelic language.

In the Norse sagas, Skye is called Skíð, for example in the Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar and a skaldic poem in the Heimskringla from around 1230 contains a line that translates as “the hunger battle-birds were filled in Skye with blood of foemen killed”. The island was also referred to by the Norse as Skuy (misty isle), Skýey or Skuyö (isle of cloud). The traditional Gaelic name is An t-Eilean Sgitheanach (the island of Skye), An t-Eilean Sgiathanach being a more recent and less common spelling. In 1549, Donald Munro, High Dean of the Isles, wrote of “Sky”: “This Ile is callit Ellan Skiannach in Irish, that is to say in Inglish the wyngit Ile, be reason it has mony wyngis and pointis lyand furth fra it, throw the dividing of thir foirsaid Lochis.” but the meaning of this Gaelic name is unclear

Eilean a’ Cheò, which means “island of the mist” (a translation of the Norse name), is a poetic Gaelic name for the island.


Further information: Geology of the Isle of Skye

Skye and the surrounding islands

Bla Bheinn from Loch Slapin.

Waterfall on the River Rha between Staffin and Uig.

The vertical west face of the Bastier Tooth (a top next to Am Basteir) in the Cuillin, with Sgùrr nan Gillean in the background.

At 1,656 km2 (639 sq mi), Skye is the second-largest island in Scotland after Lewis and Harris. The coastline of Skye is a series of peninsulas and bays radiating out from a centre dominated by the Cuillin hills (Gaelic: An Cuiltheann). Malcolm Slesser suggested that its shape “sticks out of the west coast of northern Scotland like a lobster’s claw ready to snap at the fish bone of Harris and Lewis” and W. H. Murray, commenting on its irregular coastline, stated, “Skye is 60 miles [100 km] long, but what might be its breadth is beyond the ingenuity of man to state”. Martin Martin, a native of the island, reported on it at length in a 1703 publication. His geological observations included a note that:

There are marcasites black and white, resembling silver ore, near the village Sartle: there are likewise in the same place several stones, which in bigness, shape, &c., resemble nutmegs, and many rivulets here afford variegated stones of all colours. The Applesglen near Loch-Fallart has agate growing in it of different sizes and colours; some are green on the outside, some are of a pale sky colour, and they all strike fire as well as flint: I have one of them by me, which for shape and bigness is proper for a sword handle. Stones of a purple colour flow down the rivulets here after great rains.

— Martin Martin, A Description of The Western Islands of Scotland.

The Black Cuillin, which are mainly composed of basalt and gabbro, include 12 Munros and provide some of the most dramatic and challenging mountain terrain in Scotland. The ascent of Sgùrr a’ Ghreadaidh is one of the longest rock climbs in Britain and the Inaccessible Pinnacle is the only peak in Scotland that requires technical climbing skills to reach the summit. Nearby Sgùrr Alasdair, meanwhile, is the tallest mountain on any Scottish island. These hills make demands of the hill walker that exceed any others found in Scotland and a full traverse of the Cuillin ridge may take 15–20 hours. The Red Hills (Gaelic: Am Binnean Dearg) to the east are also known as the Red Cuillin. They are mainly composed of granite that has weathered into more rounded hills with many long scree slopes on their flanks. The highest point of these hills is Glamaig, one of only two Corbetts on Skye.

The northern peninsula of Trotternish is underlain by basalt, which provides relatively rich soils and a variety of unusual rock features. The Kilt Rock is named after the columnar structure of the 105-metre (344 ft) cliffs, said to resemble the pleats in a kilt. The Quiraing is a spectacular series of rock pinnacles on the eastern side of the main spine of the peninsula and further south is the rock pillar of the Old Man of Storr. The view of the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr is one of the most iconic in all of Scotland, and is frequently used on calendars and tourism guides and brochures.

Beyond Loch Snizort to the west of Trotternish is the Waternish peninsula, which ends in Ardmore Point’s double rock arch. Duirinish peninsula is separated from Waternish by Loch Dunvegan, which contains the island of Isay. It is ringed by sea cliffs that reach 296 metres (971 feet) on the west at Waterstein Head and on the northwest at Biod an Athair where, a metre from the summit trig pillar, the cliffs drop 1,029 feet (314 metres) to the ocean. Oolitic loam provides good arable land in the main valley. Lochs Bracadale and Harport and the island of Wiay lie between Duirinish and Minginish, which includes the narrower defiles of Talisker and Glen Brittle and whose beaches are formed from black basaltic sands. Strathaird is a relatively small peninsula close to the Cuillin hills with only a few crofting communities, the island of Soay lies offshore. The bedrock of Sleat in the south is Torridonian sandstone, which produces poor soils and boggy ground, although its lower elevations and relatively sheltered eastern shores enable a lush growth of hedgerows and crops. The islands of Raasay, Rona, Scalpay and Pabay all lie to the north and east between Skye and the mainland.

Towns and villages

Portree, Skye’s largest settlement.

Portree in the north at the base of Trotternish is the largest settlement (estimated population 2,264 in 2011) and is the main service centre on the island. A December 2018 report recommended the village as “Skye’s best home base” for visitors”, since it has “a few hotels, hostels and bed-and-breakfasts in town, while more B&Bs line the roads into and out of town”. The village also has “banks, churches, cafes and restaurants, a cinema at the Aros Centre, a swimming pool and library … fuel filling stations and supermarkets”.

Broadford, the location of the island’s only airstrip, is on the east side of the island and Dunvegan in the north-west is well known for its castle and the nearby Three Chimneys restaurant. The 18th-century Stein Inn on the Waternish coast is the oldest pub on Skye. Kyleakin is linked to Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland by the Skye Bridge, which spans the narrows of Loch Alsh. Uig, the port for ferries to the Outer Hebrides, is on the west of the Trotternish peninsula and Edinbane is between Dunvegan and Portree. Much of the rest of the population lives in crofting townships scattered around the coastline.

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Scottish Places of Interest. (Loch Ness).

Loch Ness (/ˌlɒx ˈnɛs/; Scottish Gaelic: Loch Nis [l̪ˠɔx ˈniʃ]) is a large freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 37 kilometres (23 miles) southwest of Inverness. It takes its name from the River Ness, which flows from the northern end. Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the cryptozoological Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as “Nessie” (Scottish Gaelic: Niseag). It is one of a series of interconnected, murky bodies of water in Scotland; its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil. The southern end connects to Loch Oich by the River Oich and a section of the Caledonian Canal. The northern end connects to Loch Dochfour via the River Ness, which then ultimately leads to the North Sea via the Moray Firth.

Loch Ness is the second-largest Scottish loch by surface area after Loch Lomond at 56 km2 (22 sq mi), but due to its great depth it is the largest by volume in the British Isles. Its deepest point is 230 metres (126 fathoms; 755 feet), making it the second deepest loch in Scotland after Loch Morar. It contains more water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, and is the largest body of water in the Great Glen, which runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the south. Its surface is 16 metres (52 feet) above sea level. It contains a single, artificial island named Cherry Island (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Muireach) at the southwestern end. There are nine villages around the loch, as well as Urquhart Castle; the village of Drumnadrochit contains a “Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition”.

Map of Loch Ness

Loch Ness is an elongated freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands southwest of Inverness, extending for approximately 37 kilometres (23 miles) and flowing from southwest to northeast. At 56 km2 (22 sq mi), it is the second-largest Scottish loch by surface area after Loch Lomond, but due to its great depth it is the largest by volume in the British Isles. Its deepest point is 230 metres (126 fathoms; 755 feet), making it the second deepest loch in Scotland after Loch Morar. A 2016 survey claimed to have discovered a crevice extending to a depth of 271 m (889 ft), but further research determined this to be a sonar anomaly. Its surface is 16 metres (52 feet) above sea level. It contains more water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, and is the largest body of water in the Great Glen, which runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the south. Loch Ness lies along the Great Glen Fault, which forms a line of weakness in the rocks which has been excavated by glacial erosion, forming the Great Glen and the basins of Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness.

Loch Ness has one small island, Cherry Island (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Muireach, meaning Murdoch’s Island), at the southwestern end of the loch. It is an artificial island, known as a crannog, and was likely constructed during the Iron Age. The island was originally 160 feet (49 m) by 168 feet (51 m) across, but is now smaller as the water level was raised during the construction of the Caledonian Canal in the early nineteenth century. There was formerly a second, natural island nearby named Dog Island (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Nan Con), but it was submerged when the water level rose. A castle stood on Cherry Island during the 15th century; this was constructed of stone and oak wood and was likely used as a fortified refuge. It has been suggested that Eilean Muireach may have been a hunting lodge, with Eilean Nan Con the home for the hunting dogs.

The loch is one of a series of interconnected, murky bodies of water in Scotland; its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil. The southern end is fed by the River Oich, which runs from Loch Oich. The northern end flows out through the Bona Narrows into Loch Dochfour; the Bathymetrical survey of the Scottish fresh-water lochs considered Loch Dochfour to be distinct from Loch Ness proper, but capable of being regarded as forming part of Loch Ness. Dochgarroch weir at the downstream end of Loch Dochfour delineates the start of the River Ness, which connects to the nearby and ultimately leads through Inverness to the North Sea via the Moray Firth. Loch Ness forms part of the Caledonian Canal, which comprises 60 miles (100 kilometres) of waterways connecting the east coast of Scotland at Inverness with the west coast at Corpachthe near Fort William. Only one-third of the entire length is man-made, the rest being formed by Loch Dochfour, Loch Ness, Loch Oich, and Loch Lochy, with the man-made canals running parallel with rivers such as the River Oich.

Villages and places.

Places on Loch Ness

WesternAbriachanDrumnadrochitUrquhart CastleInvermoriston
SouthernFort Augustus

At Drumnadrochit is the “Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition” which examines the natural history and legend of Loch Ness. Boat cruises operate from various locations on the loch shore, giving visitors the chance to look for the “monster”.

Urquhart Castle is located on the western shore, 2 kilometres (1


14 miles) east of Drumnadrochit.

Lighthouses are located at the northern and southern ends at Lochend (Bona Lighthouse) and Fort Augustus. There is an RNLI lifeboat station on the northern shore near Drumnadrochit, which has been operational since 2008 and was the first non-coastal RNLI station. It is staffed by a volunteer crew and equipped with an inshore lifeboat (ILB).



Loch Ness takes its name from the River Ness which flows from the loch’s northern end. The river’s name probably derives from an old Celtic word meaning “roaring one”. William Mackay in his 1893 book Urquhart and Glenmoriston: Olden times in a highland parish recounts two Scottish legends that have been reported as the source of the name. In the first, a spring in a valley had been enchanted by Daly the Druid for purity, with the admonition that the well opening must be covered by a stone whenever not in use, or else “desolation will overtake the land”. One day a woman left the well uncovered when rushing to save her baby from a fire, and it overflowed and filled the vale, forming the loch. The inhabitants cried out “Tha loch ‘nis ann, tha loch ‘nis ann!” (“There’s a loch now, there’s a loch now!”), and so it was named “Loch Nis”. A second legend, named “The Tales of the Sons of Uisneach” by Mackay and now considered part of the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, recounts the Irish woman Deirdre or Dearduil, “the most beautiful woman of her age”, who was courted by the king of Ulster, Conachar MacNessa; she fell in love instead with his cousin Noais, son of Uisneach. They fled to Scotland and were married on the banks of the loch, but Noais was slain by MacNessa, and the Loch Naois, River Naois, and Iverness were named after him. Mackay claims that while these legends are not the “true” origin of the name, that many places in the district have names associated with “The Tales of the Sons of Uisneach”, and that the same tales have Conachar MacNessa’s mother as the river goddess Ness. He argued instead that the etymology of the Celtic “Ness” derived from earlier words for “river”.

Loch Ness Monster.

Main article: Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness is known as the home of the Loch Ness Monster (also known as “Nessie”), a cryptid, reputedly a large unknown animal. It is similar to other supposed lake monsters in Scotland and elsewhere, though its description varies from one account to the next. Popular interest and belief in the animal’s existence have varied since it was first brought to the world’s attention in 1933.

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Scottish Places of Interest. St Andrews.

St. Andrews is well-known as one of the world’s top golf destination. Golfers from around the globe make the pilgrimage to St. Andrews’ seven classic links courses, drawn by the prestige of playing the world’s oldest golf course – the par-72 Old Course – and the chance to play where so many golf greats have teed off before them.

It’s also one of the most dramatic courses, its spectacular scenery including a stretch of rugged coastline and the attractive old Clubhouse of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. Founded in 1754, it’s the world’s oldest golf club, and its popularity as a golf mecca means you should try to reserve your tee time at least six months in advance to avoid disappointment.

Be sure to also visit the nearby British Golf Museum. This modern facility is something of a shrine to the greats who’ve played the St. Andrews’ courses, as well as detailing the history of the sport over the centuries.

Ruins St Andrews Castle Scotland
The ruins of St. Andrews Castle

Fortunately for the rest of us, there are plenty of other fun things to do in St. Andrews, too. St. Andrews is also famous as a university town. Be sure to spend time exploring the many fine old buildings associated with the University of St. Andrews.

One of the top free things to do in St. Andrews is to simply wander the university grounds, admiring the well-preserved medieval architecture; and if time permits, be sure to check out on-site attractions such as its natural history museum and art galleries. The ruins of St. Andrews Castle and the town’s old cathedral are also worth exploring.

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Scottish Places of Interest. Highlands.

The Scottish Highlands.

The whole of Scotland was covered by ice sheets during the Pleistocene ice ages and the landscape is much affected by glaciation. From a geological perspective, the country has three main sub-divisions.

The Highlands and Islands lie to the north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, which runs from Arran to Stonehaven. This part of Scotland largely comprises ancient rocks from the Cambrian and Precambrian, which were uplifted during the later Caledonian orogeny. It is interspersed with igneous intrusions of a more recent age, remnants of which formed mountain massifs such as the Cairngorms and Skye Cuillins.

The Scottish Highlands, located in the north west of Scotland


A significant exception to the above are the fossil-bearing beds of Old Red Sandstones found principally along the Moray Firth coast. The Highlands are generally mountainous and the highest elevations in the British Isles are found here. Scotland has over 790 islands divided into four main groups: Shetland, Orkney, and the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides. There are numerous bodies of freshwater including Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. Some parts of the coastline consist of machair, a low-lying dune pasture land.

The Central Lowlands is a rift valley mainly comprising Paleozoic formations. Many of these sediments have economic significance for it is here that the coal and iron bearing rocks that fuelled Scotland’s industrial revolution are found. This area has also experienced intense volcanism, Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh being the remnant of a once much larger volcano. This area is relatively low-lying, although even here hills such as the Ochils and Campsie Fells are rarely far from view.

The Southern Uplands are a range of hills almost 200 kilometres (124 mi) long, interspersed with broad valleys. They lie south of a second fault line (the Southern Uplands fault) that runs from Girvan to Dunbar. The geological foundations largely comprise Silurian deposits laid down some 400–500 million years ago. The high point of the Southern Uplands is Merrick with an elevation of 843 m (2,766 ft). The Southern Uplands is home to Scotland’s highest village, Wanlockhead (430 m or 1,411 ft above sea level).


Main article: Climate of Scotland

Tiree, one of the sunniest locations in Scotland

The climate of most of Scotland is temperate and oceanic, and tends to be very changeable., As it is warmed by the Gulf Stream from the Atlantic, it has much milder winters (but cooler, wetter summers) than areas on similar latitudes, such as Labrador, southern Scandinavia, the Moscow region in Russia, and the Kamchatka Peninsula on the opposite side of Eurasia. However, temperatures are generally lower than in the rest of the UK, with the coldest ever UK temperature of −27.2 °C (−17.0 °F) recorded at Braemar in the Grampian Mountains, on 11 February 1895.[135] Winter maxima average 6 °C (43 °F) in the Lowlands, with summer maxima averaging 18 °C (64 °F). The highest temperature recorded was 32.9 °C (91.2 °F) at Greycrook, Scottish Borders on 9 August 2003.

The west of Scotland is usually warmer than the east, owing to the influence of Atlantic ocean currents and the colder surface temperatures of the North Sea. Tiree, in the Inner Hebrides, is one of the sunniest places in the country: it had more than 300 hours of sunshine in May 1975. Rainfall varies widely across Scotland. The western highlands of Scotland are the wettest, with annual rainfall in a few places exceeding 3,000 mm (120 in). In comparison, much of lowland Scotland receives less than 800 mm (31 in) annually. Heavy snowfall is not common in the lowlands but becomes more common with altitude. Braemar has an average of 59 snow days per year,  while many coastal areas average fewer than 10 days of lying snow per year.

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Scottish Places of interest. Auchindrain.

Auchindrain is a museum representing an important part of Scotland’s past. The 22-acre site, deep in the stunning Argyll countryside, contains the houses and other buildings of a small farming community known as a township. Back in history Scotland had relatively few cities and towns. Most people lived in the country, worked as farmers and lived in a township – there were once thousands of places like this.

In a township, a group of families lived alongside each other, sharing the land and the work, growing their own food, and breeding cattle (from around 1850, sheep) to sell. They were most common in the north and west of Scotland, and evolved so that people could survive in a mountainous and unforgiving landscape with poor soil and a cold, wet climate. Life in a township was extremely harsh: people had few possessions, very little money, and starvation was always just around the corner.

In the 1700s, new ways of farming started to develop, based on better and more scientific understanding of things like land drainage, animal breeding and crops such as potatoes and turnips. Landowners, supported by the new knowledge and encouraged by increasing demand for everything that the land could produce, began a process known as agricultural improvement – the farming equivalent of the industrial revolution that was transforming cities like Glasgow. The townships with their communal way of life were seen as an obstacle to change. More could be produced from the land and there was more money to be made, but the townships and their people were in the way.

Over about a hundred years from around 1750 almost all of Scotland’s townships were improved out of existence. In some places they were replaced by modern-style farms run by tenants who could apply the new ways and which employed people as agricultural labourers. In others they were divided up into crofts, Small individual tenancies that deliberately did not provide a family with enough land to earn a living – the system was partly intended to provide a captive workforce for new industrial enterprises. Some landowners had the townships demolished and sent the people away so that the land could be used to graze large flocks of sheep managed by a few shepherds, or sometimes as private sporting estates. The process, known as the Highland Clearances (although not all landowners actually evicted the people who had been their tenants in the old townships) was brutal, often traumatic, and changed the face of rural Scotland for ever. By around 1850 most townships had gone.  A few seem to have survived into the late 1800s and early 1900s, by moving with the times and changing their approach to farming and the construction of buildings. Auchindrain was the last, remaining a genuine community into the 1930s before the number of tenants dropped to just one. Farming ended here in 1963, the last people moved away in 1967, and the township has been open to visitors as a museum since 1968.


Today, Auchindrain is a very special place indeed: there is nowhere else like it, in Scotland or elsewhere. During the main period of agricultural improvement, between about 1780 and 1860, it kept its traditional communal structure and was not divided up into crofts or rebuilt as a modern-style farm. As a consequence it retains much of the character and layout of a traditional township – a random scatter of simple buildings set in a landscape that has changed relatively little in centuries.  The preserved buildings give an authentic insight into how people lived and worked. There’s nothing staged or glossy, and what you see creates a powerful picture of the lives of ordinary people. You can wander freely around the houses and farm buildings, see where the animals grazed and where crops were grown. The houses are furnished with everyday objects and you’ll find old farming tools and implements in the barns.  It feels as if the people have just gone out for the day.

Auchindrain is truly a place in Scotland’s history: a reminder of how we once were.  It has particular significance for people around the world of Scottish descent in countries like the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. If this is you, the reality is that your ancestors almost certainly came from a township, and either chose to emigrate to seek a life that was not so hard, or were forced to do so. Only at Auchindrain can you get a real sense of the sort of place they came from. So if you are coming to Scotland in search of your ancestors, please put Auchindrain on the list of places you absolutely must visit. If you can’t make the journey in person, follow the link below and explore the township online.

We hope you will share our view that this magical place should continue to be preserved.  If so, please click here to make a donation to support our work. Auchindrain is owned and operated by a charity, Urras Achadh an Droighinn/The Auchindrain Trust: although Histoirc Environment Scotland does provide us with financial help with running costs, we need every penny we can get and your gift will be very much appreciated.

Courtesy of Auchindrain website.

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Scottish places of Interest. Arthur’s Seat. Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano which is the main peak of the group of hills in Edinburgh, Scotland, which form most of Holyrood Park, described by Robert Louis Stevenson as “a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design”.It is situated just to the east of the city centre, about 1 mile (1.6 km) to the east of Edinburgh Castle. The hill rises above the city to a height of 250.5 m (822 ft), provides excellent panoramic views of the city and beyond, is relatively easy to climb, and is popular for hillwalking. Though it can be climbed from almost any direction, the easiest and simplest ascent is from the east, where a grassy slope rises above Dunsapie Loch. At a spur of the hill, Salisbury Crags has historically been a rock climbing venue with routes of various degrees of difficulty, but due to hazards, rock climbing is now restricted to the South Quarry and a permit is required.

It is sometimes said that its name is derived from legends pertaining to King Arthur, such as the reference in Y Gododdin. Some support for this may be provided by several other hilltop and mountaintop features in Britain which bear the same or similar names, such as the peak of Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) in the western highlands, sometimes known as Arthur’s Seat, and Arthur’s Chair on the ridge called Stone Arthur in the Cumbrian lake district. There is no traditional Scottish Gaelic name for Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, but William Maitland proposed that the name was a corruption of Àrd-na-Said, implying the “Height of Arrows”, which over the years became Arthur’s Seat (perhaps via “Archer’s Seat”). Alternatively, John Milne’s proposed etymology of Àrd-thir Suidhe meaning “place on high ground” uncomfortably requires the transposition of the name elements.

Natural heritage

Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat is the largest of the three parts of the Arthur’s Seat Volcano site of special scientific interest (the other parts being Calton Hill and the Castle Rock) which is designated to protect its important geology (see below), grassland habitats and uncommon plant and animal species.

Like the rock on which Edinburgh Castle is built, it was formed by an extinct volcano system of Carboniferous age (lava samples have been dated at 341 to 335 million years old), which was eroded by a glacier moving from west to east during the Quaternary (approximately the last two million years), exposing rocky crags to the west and leaving a tail of material swept to the east. This is how the Salisbury Crags formed and became basalt cliffs between Arthur’s Seat and the city centre. From some angles, Arthur’s Seat resembles a lion couchant. Two of the several extinct vents make up the ‘Lion’s Head’ and the ‘Lion’s Haunch’.

Aerial footage of Arthur’s Seat and the George Square area of. Edinburgh.

Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags adjoining it helped form the ideas of modern geology as it is currently understood. It was in these areas that James Hutton observed that the deposition of the sedimentary and formation of the igneous rocks must have occurred at different ages and in different ways than the thinking of that time said they did. It is possible to see a particular area known as Hutton’s Section in the Salisbury Crags where the magma forced its way through the sedimentary rocks above it to form the dolerite sills that can be seen in the Section.

The hill bears a strong resemblance to the Cavehill in Belfast in terms of its geology and proximity to a major urban site.

Human history

Hill fort defences are visible round the main massif of Arthur’s Seat at Dunsapie Hill and above Samson’s Ribs, in the latter cases certainly of prehistoric date. These forts are likely to have been centres of power of the Votadini, who were the subject of the poem Y Gododdin which is thought to have been written about 600 AD. Two stony banks on the east side of the hill represent the remains of an Iron Age hill-fort and a series of cultivation terraces are obvious above the road just beyond and best viewed from Duddingston.

On 1 May 1590 to celebrate the safe return of James VI of Scotland and Anna of Denmark, a bonfire was lit that night on the Salisbury Crags fuelled with ten loads of coal and six barrels of tar.

A track rising along the top of the slope immediately under Salisbury Crags has long been a popular walk, giving a view over the city. It became known as the Radical Road after it was paved in the aftermath of the Radical War of 1820, using the labour of unemployed weavers from the west of Scotland at the suggestion of Walter Scott as a form of work relief.

In 1836 five boys hunting for rabbits found a set of 17 miniature coffins containing small wooden figures in a cave on the crags of Arthur’s Seat. The purpose has remained a mystery ever since the discovery. A strong contemporary belief was that they were made for witchcraft, though more recently it has been suggested that they might be connected with the murders committed by Burke and Hare in 1828. There were 16 known victims of the serial-killers plus the first person sold “to the doctors”, namely a man who had died of natural causes. However, the murder victims were primarily female, while the eight surviving figures are male. Alternatively, the coffins may have represented the 16 bodies sold to the doctors, plus that of the final victim who remained unburied at the time of the duo’s arrest, but was, as a destitute beggar, very likely dissected in any case. The surviving coffins are now displayed in Edinburgh’s Royal Museum.

The prominence of Arthur’s Seat over Edinburgh has attracted various groups and has a particular significance to the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because this is where the nation of Scotland was dedicated in 1840 “for the preaching of the gospel”. The apostle, Orson Pratt, arrived in Scotland in early 1850 and climbed the hill to pray to God for more converts.

In 1884, alpine mountain guide Emile Rey visited Edinburgh where he climbed Arthur’s Seat, local tradition stating that before doing so he estimated it would take much of the day to reach the top.


Arthur’s Seat is often mentioned as one of the possible locations for Camelot, the legendary castle and court of the Romano-British warrior-chief, King Arthur.

Tradition has it that it was at the foot of Arthur’s Seat, covered by the forest of Drumselch, that Scotland’s 12th-century king David I encountered a stag while out hunting. Having fallen from his horse and about to be gored, he had a vision of a cross appearing between the animal’s antlers, before it inexplicably turned away, leaving him unharmed. David, believing his life had been spared through divine intervention, founded Holyrood Abbey on the spot. The burgh arms of the Canongate display the head of the stag with the cross framed by its antlers.

The slopes of the hill facing Holyrood are where young girls in Edinburgh traditionally bathe their faces in the dew on May Day to make themselves more beautiful. The poem “Caller Water” (fresh cool water), written by Robert Fergusson in 1773, contains the lines:

On May-day, in a fairy ring,
We’ve seen them round St Anthon’s spring,
Frae grass the caller dew draps wring
To weet their een,
And water clear as crystal spring
To synd them clean

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Scottish places of Interest. Princess Street Gardens Edinburgh.

Hi folks, Edinburgh is a Beautiful City, at the Centre of the City, are lovely gardens overlooked by the Castle. I spent many a time here when I was young.

Princes Street Gardens are two adjacent public parks in the centre of Edinburgh, Scotland, lying in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. The Gardens were created in two phases in the 1770s and 1820s following the long draining of the Nor Loch and building of the New Town, beginning in the 1760s.

The loch, situated on the north side of the town, was originally an artificial creation forming part of its medieval defences and made expansion northwards difficult. The water was habitually polluted from sewage draining downhill from the Old Town.

In 1846 the railway was built in the valley to connect the Edinburgh-Glasgow line at Haymarket with the new northern terminus of the North British line from Berwick-upon-Tweed at Waverley Station.[1]

The gardens run along the south side of Princes Street and are divided by The Mound, on which the National Gallery of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Academy are located. East Princes Street Gardens run from The Mound to Waverley Bridge and cover 8.5 acres (3.4 ha). The larger West Princes Street Gardens cover 29 acres (12 ha) and extend to the adjacent churches of St. John’s and St. Cuthbert’s, near Lothian Road in the west.

The Gardens are the best-known parks in Edinburgh, having the highest awareness and visitor figures for both residents and visitors to the city.

In 1846, the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Company constructed a sunken railway line along the southern edge of the Gardens to join its Haymarket terminus to a new General Station adjoining the North British Railway Company’s North Bridge terminus (both stations later renamed Waverley Station). This involved constructing the Haymarket Tunnel (comprising separate north and south tunnels), 910 metres long, between the western end of the gardens and Haymarket Station. A shorter tunnel (again comprising two separate tunnels) was also dug through the Mound dividing the East and West Gardens.

PB3X9P The restored Ross Fountain in West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh Scotland with Edinburgh Castle in the background.

East Princes Street Gardens originated after a dispute between Edinburgh Corporation (town council) and the early New Town proprietors, among whom was the philosopher David Hume who resided in St. David Street, a side street off Princes Street. In 1771 the council acquired the land as part of the First New Town development. It began feuding ground on the south side of Princes Street (on the site of the current Balmoral Hotel and Waverley Mall) for the building of houses and workshops for a coach-builder and a furniture-maker. After a failed petition to the council, the proprietors raised two actions in the Court of Session to halt the building and to condemn the Corporation for having contravened their feuding terms by which they had pre-supposed open ground and a vista south of the street. After the Court found in favour of the council on the first point the decision was quickly appealed to the House of Lords and overturned, but when the Court again supported the council on the second point, the matter was submitted to judicial arbitration. This resulted in a judgement that the houses could be completed which later allowed the North British Hotel (Balmoral Hotel) to be built on the site, that the adjacent furniture-maker’s premises must not rise above the level of Princes Street (which is the reason the roof of the Waverley Mall is at street level) and that the ground westwards for half the length of Princes Street “shall be kept and preserved in perpetuity as pleasure-grounds to be dressed up at the expense of the town council as soon as may be.”

Along the south side of Princes Street are many statues and monuments. In the East Gardens, most prominent is the Scott Monument, a Neo-Gothic spire built-in 1844 to honour Sir Walter Scott. Within East Princes Street Gardens there are statues of the explorer David Livingstone, the publisher and Lord Provost Adam Black and the essayist Professor John Wilson, who wrote under the pseudonym Christopher North. There is also a small commemorative stone honouring the volunteers from the Lothians and Fife who fought in the Spanish Civil War.

Every year, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the East Gardens are transformed into ‘Winter Wonderland’. This includes a variety of amusement park rides and the Christmas Market, which has food and gifts from all around the world. The most notable attractions are the ice rink and the 33 metres (108 feet) high Ferris wheel, often dubbed ‘The Edinburgh Eye’.

West Princes Street Gardens were originally the private property of “the Princes Street Proprietors” who overlooked them from their houses on the western half of the street. This was passed to them from the council in 1816[4] and the gardens were opened to subscribers generally in the New Town in 1821.

Dogs, cricket, perambulators and smoking were prohibited under their rules, and people using bath-chairs had to present a doctor’s certificate to the Committee of the garden attesting to their ailment not being contagious. An application by the Scottish Association for Suppressing Drunkenness that the gardens be opened during Christmas and New Year “with the object of keeping parties out of the dram shops (i.e. illegal drinking premises)” led eventually to them being opened to the general public on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and one other day in the year.

The Gardener’s Cottage of West Princes Street Gardens in 2014, before it was restored by the Ross Development Trust

In 1876, despite much opposition from residents, the town council reacquired the ground for use as a public park. The new park was laid out by the City Architect Robert Morham including the building of a very picturesque gardeners cottage at the east end of the West Gardens. As part of a later agreement (c.1880), the council widened Princes Street (resulting in a far steeper embankment on that side). A series of statues were erected along the edge of the widened road.

Modernization of the gardens is currently under discussion with the launch of The Quaich Project fundraising campaign from the Ross Development Trust. The new design will improve accessibility and provide new pathways and connections across the city.

In 1939 four huge air-raid shelters were created within this northern embankment. The distinctive shelters now on the upper walkway date from 1950 and were designed by Alexander Garden Forgie. As with most structures in the gardens, they are listed buildings.

The Ross Bandstand of 1935 that the Ross Development Trust propose to replace

The Ross Bandstand in the centre of the West Gardens is named after William Henry Ross, Chairman of the Distillers Company Ltd., who gifted the first bandstand on the site in 1877. The present building and terraces date from 1935. The Princes Street proprietors contributed £500 as a goodwill gesture to the cost of the bandstand.  Various concerts and other events are held at the Ross Bandstand including the Festival Fireworks Concert, Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest, and during the city’s Hogmanay celebrations. The Ross Development Trust proposed to rebuild the bandstand as a Ross Pavilion based on a design by architects wHY following an international competition in 2017.

The Ross Fountain is the focus of the western end of the gardens. Gifted by Edinburgh gunsmith Daniel Ross, it was originally installed in 1872 and restored in 2018 with the help of the Ross Development Trust.

Along the south side of Princes Street are statues of the poet Allan Ramsay, the church reformer Thomas Guthrie, and the obstetric pioneer James Young Simpson. Other monuments are the Royal Scots Greys Memorial, the Scottish American War Memorial, the Norwegian Brigade War Memorial, and Wojtek the Bear.

The statuary group on the lower path represents The Genius of Architecture crowning the Theory and Practice of Art and is by William Brodie originally for the garden of Rockville, the home of his maverick architect son-in-law Sir James Gowans. It was moved here in the 1960s following the demolition of Rockville.

The Swedish runestone U 1173 was located beneath the Castle walls (grid reference NT25267352), however, due to security concerns, it was removed from its location in November 2017 and is being prepared to move to George Square, outside the school of Scandinavian studies.

At the eastern entrance to the Gardens, there is the world’s first floral clock dating from 1903.

The large curved monument to the Royal Scots stands slightly hidden just south of the gardener’s cottage. It was designed by Sir Frank Mears with sculpture by Pilkington Jackson. Described as a “modern henge” it dates from 1950 but was added to and “finalised” in May 2007 following the termination of the Royal Scots in 2006. This added additional Battle Honours gained since the 1950s.

East Princes Street Gardens

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