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Weekly Mailing List Archives
28th March 2008

Alastair McIntyreElectric Scotland's Weekly Email Newsletter

Electric Scotland - The No.1 Scottish History Site Aois - The Celtic Community
The Electric Scotland Article Service

Dear Friend

The weekend is nearly here and so it's time for your weekly newsletter from Electric Scotland :-)

You can view what's new this week on Electric Scotland at and you can unsubscribe to this newsletter by clicking on the link at the foot of this newsletter.

See our Calendar of Scottish Events around the world at 

Electric Scotland News
Scotland on TV
The Flag in the Wind
Article Service
The Scottish Nation
New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Book of Scottish Story
Good Words - Edited by the Rev Norman MacLeod
Clan Information
Poetry and Stories
Sketches of The Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland
Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland 1881
Household Encyclopaedia
Antiquarian Scottish Books in Adobe Reader format
The Scottish Tradition in Canada
Sketch of the Civil and Traditional History of Caithness from the Tenth Century (new book)
Fallbrook Farm
Robert Burns Lives!
Thistle & Broom's offer to Electric Scotland readers

Well It's been an interesting week. We were moving to a new email server and had lots of issues but thankfully are up and running at long last. I must say spam levels are now almost non existent which in turn makes me wonder if any genuine email is not getting through. You'd think I'd be more than happy not getting in spam but such are the problems with email these days that you can't help wondering if all is as it should be :-)

When we launch our new community we will be offering a new email service and part of this upgrade to a new email server was to ensure we had a quality service to offer.

While Steve gets on with working on our community software I've made a start at selling some advertising space. I'm trying to find some large companies that would like to take over that 300 x 250 advertising box in our header as in my opinion it's the kind of space that really equates to a double page colour advert in a magazine and it's also on all our web pages.

In the meantime I'm replacing the current Google box with a nice picture of Scotland :-)

I also spent a few days over in Toronto this week taking a wee Easter break and so returned a bit more relaxed and refreshed and ready to get back to work. I'll be back next week to attend the Tartan Day event at the CN tower and might even take my camera with me as it's been a while since I did any photo shoots.  And talking about photo shoots if anyone is attending the Scottish events in the USA do feel free to send me some pictures :-)

Some of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do check out the site for the full versions. You can always find the link in our "What's New" section at the link at the top of this newsletter or on our site menu.

Scotland on TV
Visit their site at 

China/Scotland new openings

As the spotlight on China intensifies in the run up to the Beijing Olympics, economic development chiefs say Scottish businesses cannot afford to ignore the country's increasing wealth. China has seen huge growth in recent years and Scottish firms have been quick to get a slice of the action.

Last week a delegation from the Scottish business world visited China to explore some of the opportunities which are opening up now. stv's economic correspodent, Cheryl Paul, went with them and this week she has been filing a series of reports all about the findings of the visit. The first two reports are now available on and the remaining two will be added over the weekend.

Cheryl's films are a fascinating glimpse into what some would call a new entrepreneurial spirit now at work within a devolved Scotland. In the first film she meets John Melvin and his business partner Chen Zhang who set up Galink, an Edinburgh based travel agency specifically targeted at the Chinese market. And in the second film she sees how J and D Wilkie, a Kirriemuir company took the brave step of setting up a factory in Jiaxing - a move born out of necessity. In China, the firm employs 30 staff and with a quarter of the costs of the UK, they are hopeful of doubling production whereas back in Kirriemuir, the firm is concentrating on its flags and banners business.

You can see the first film here

This weeks Flag is compiled by Donald Bain in which he tells us of the launch of the Constitutional Commission and also explore the proposed tax changes for council tax.

In Peter's cultural section he is discussing April Fools Day...

April Fools Day, 1 April, Hunt-the-Gowk in Scots, falls next week when bairns of all ages try all kinds of japes in order to be able to shout "April Fool" at their victim ! In this more sophisticated ( ! ) age the practice seems to be dying out but it does remind us that in the past Kings and Nobles all had their Jester or Fool. One of the most famous in Scotland was Aberdeenshire's Jamie Fleeman, the Laird of Udny's Fool. He lived in the eighteenth century and was well known for his pithy wit. One of his most quoted sayings was "A'm the Laird o Udny's Feel. Faw's feel ar ye ?"

Now Jamie Fleeman might have been a Fool but he wasn't daft and would well know that you can sup fish with a spoon ! For Haddock is the basis of the winter soup Cullen Skink - we might be into Spring but a plate of Cullen Skink is a treat in the continuing cold weather.

Cullen Skink

Ingredients: 1 smoked haddock, 6 oz chappit tatties, 1 onion, sliced, 1 oz butter, 1 pint milk, chopped parsley, salt and pepper

Method: Place haddock and onion in pan with sufficient water to boil ( no more ). Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Lift out the cooked fish and remove skin and bones. Flake the haddock and return skin and bones to pan and simmer stock with onions for 30 minutes. Strain the stock and return to rinsed pan and again bring to the boil. Boil milk in separate pan and add to fish stock with the flaked fish and salt to taste. Boil for a few minutes. Add enough mashed potatoes to give a smooth consistency, with the pepper and a little more salt if necessary. Sprinkle over chopped parsley and serve very hot with triangles of dry toast. Delicious !

You can read the Flag, listen to the Scots Language, enjoy the Scots Wit and lots more at

Christina McKelvie MSP's weekly diary is available at

This week she is talking about the forth coming trips of Scottish MSP's to the USA and Canada.

The Article Service
More interesting articles in this week and again some excellent poems. Also learn about events at St. Andrews College in North Carolina.

See these at

The Scottish Nation
My thanks to Lora for transcribing these volumes for us.

We are now onto the M's with Maxwell, Mayne, Melfort, Melgum, Melrose, Melville and Menzies

Here is how Maxwell starts...

MAXWELL, a surname of ancient standing in Scotland, originally Maccus-well, so called from the territory of that name on the Tweed, near Kelso. In the history of the Anglo-Saxons mention is made of Maccus, the son of Anlaf, king of Northumbria (949-952). Anlaf was surnamed Cwiran, and appears to be identical with the Amlaf Cuarran whose name occurs in the Annals of Ulster (944-946). On the expulsion of Anlaf by the treachery of his people, King Eric, a son of the Danish king, Harald Blatánd, was set on the Northumbrian throne, but, with his son Henry and his brother Regnald, was slain in the wilds of Stanmore, by the hand of Maccus, the son of Anlaf. (Leppenberg’s History of England under the Anglo Saxon Kings. Thorpe’s Translation, vol. i. p. 125, London, 1845.) A potentate of the same name, “Maccus of Man and the Hebrides,” is also mentioned somewhat later in the same century. The following is from Lappenberg, “On making his annual sea-voyage round the island, King Edgar found, on his arrival at Chester, eight sub-kings awaiting him, in obedience to the commands they had received, who swore to be faithful to him, and to be his fellow-workers by sea and land.” These were Kenneth of Scotland, Malcolm of Cumbria, Maccus of Man and the Hebrides, Dyfnwall or Dunwallon of Strat Clyde, Siferth, Iago (Jacob) and Howell of Wales, and Inchill of Westmorland. All these vassals rowed the proud Basileus on the river Dee in a barge, of which Edgar was the steersman, to the monastery of St. John the Baptist, where they offered up their orisons, and then returned in the same order to the palace.”

The same in substance is mentioned in the Chronica de Melros, which styles Maccus the ‘King of many Isles.” Roger of Wendover and William of Malmesbury also relate the same, the latter of whom calls Maccus “that Prince of pirates,” thus identifying him with Mascusius Archipirata, who about the same time (973) was a witness to a charter by King Edgar of England, and who signs immediately after “Kinadius rex Albanie” and the royal family, and before all the bishops, “Ego Mascusius Archipirata confortavi.” (Dugdale Monast. Vol. i. p. 17.) This Marcuss would therefore appear to have been a friend or ally of Kenneth king of the Scots, and may have held lands under him.

The name of Maks or Max in medieval Latin Macus, is found in Domesday Book as being that of a baron holding several manors in England before the conquest; and Mexborough in Yorkshire, and Maxstoke in Warwickshire, still preserve the memorial of his residence and possessions. The latter, Maxsoke, is said to have belonged to Almundus, or Ailwynd, the same name, no doubt, as Undewyn, as the father of Maccus, hereafter mentioned, was called. The saltire cognizance of the Maxwells appears on the ceiling of the ancient priory of Maxsoke, along with many others of Norman descent, but without name.

You can read the rest of this account at

You can read the other entries at

New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
The first volume I am dealing with is the one on Aberdeenshire. There are some 85 parishes in this volume and a write up on each.

This week have added...

Parish of Logie-Buchan at

Here is a bit from the account...

Name.—The name Logie is understood to signify a low-lying place, and has been aptly applied to an estate of about 300 acres, on the south bank of the Ythan, upon which, as situated near a principal ferry, the church and manse have been built. From this circumstance that small property has given its name to the parish. To distinguish it from others, Buchan is the addition made to the name, from its lying wholly or in part in that district. It is generally considered that Buchan, the most easterly land in Scotland, comprehends all that tract of coast which lies between the mouths of the Doveran and the Don, bounded for a certain length at least in the interior, by the courses of these rivers. But for two centuries back there have been some who considered Buchan as not extending south of the Ythan.

The water of the Ythan is brackish, more or less, for nearly four miles, but abounds with trout of various kinds, as the sea-trout, bull-trout, yellow or burn-trout, finnock, salmon, eels, flounders, &c. The salmon and sea-trout are said by the overseer to ascend the river for spawning in summer, and to return towards the sea with their fry in the months of March and April following. The salmon-fishing, which belongs to the Honourable William Gordon of Ellon, has been very unsuccessful of late years. Mr Buchan of Auchmacoy has right to a private net for flounder-fishing, which he occasionally exercises with success. The river is much resorted to by gentlemen from Aberdeen for rod-fishing. Otter hunting has lately been practised by parties from Haddo House, with Lord Aberdeen's hounds. Seals sometimes make their appearance in the river, opposite the church.

The pearl muscle is found in the Ythan; and the pearl-fishery seems to have been, in former times, an object of more attention than it is now. My predecessor mentions, that, in the list of un-printed acts of the first Parliament of Charles I., there is an act for repealing the patent for the pearl-fishery in the Ythan, granted to Robert Buchan. This gives countenance to a prevalent tradition that the large pearl in the Crown of Scotland was procured in the Ythan, it is said, by a person of the name of Jamieson, and the very spot is pointed out where it was found. About the middle of last century, a gentleman in Aberdeen got L.100 Sterling, from a jeweller in London, for a lot of pearls found in the Ythan. [See Dr Keith's Survey.] No wonder, then, that the Ythan has been called "the rich rig of Scotland." Pearls of considerable value are yet occasionally found in it, during both the droughts of summer, and the frosts of winter. A very valuable and extensive mussel and cockle-fishery exists on both sides of the river, near the sea, beyond the bounds of this parish.

You can read the rest of this account at

On the index page of this volume you can see a list of the 85 parishes and also a map at 

Book of Scottish Story
Our thanks to John Henderson for sending this in for us.

This week have added...

My Sister Kate by Andrew Picken

And here is how the story starts...

There is a low road (but it is not much frequented, for it is terribly round about) that passes at the foot of the range of hills that skirt the long and beautiful gut or firth ot the Clyde, in the west of Scotland; and as you go along this road, either up or down, the sea or firth is almost at your very side, the hills rising above you; and you arc just opposite to the great black and blue mountains on the other side of the gut, that sweep in heavy masses, or jut out in bold capes, at the mouth of the deep lochs that run up the firth into the picturesque highlands of Argyle-shire.

You may think of the scene what you please, because steam-boating has, of late years, profaned it somewhat into commonness, and defiled its pure air with filthy puffs of coal smoke; and because the Comet and all her unfortunate passengers were sunk to the bottom of this very part of the firth; and because, a little time previous, a whole boatful of poor Highland reaper girls were all run down in the night-time, while they were asleep, and drowned near the Clough lighthouse hard by; but if you were to walk this road by the seaside any summer afternoon, going towards the bathing village of Gourock, you would say, as you looked across to the Highlands, and up the Clyde towards the rocks of Dumbarton Castle, that there are few scenes more truly magnificent and interesting.

There is a little village exactly opposite to you, looking across the firth, which is called Dunoon, and contains the burying-place of the great house of Argyle; and which, surrounded by a patch of green cultivated land, sloping pleasantly from the sea, and cowering snugly by itself, with its picturesque cemetery, under the great blue hills frowning behind, looks, from across the firth, absolutely like a tasteful little haunt of the capricious spirit of romance.

You can read the rest of this story at

The other stories can be read at

Good Words - 1860 Edition
Edited by Rev. Norman MacLeod

You should note that as this is a weekly publication you'll find larger articles are continued week by week.

This week have added articles on...

Seeking (Pages 392-393)
Aspects of Indian Life During the Rebellion (Pages 394-397)
Lady Somerville's Maidens (Pages 397-399)
Good Words for Every Day of the Year (Pages 399-400)
St Columba (Pages 401-406)
Without and Within (Page 406)
A Summer's Study of Ferns (Pages 407-408)

Here is how the account of "A Summer's Study of Ferns" starts...

September set in ere I again succeeded in visiting my favourite wood. But Esther had agreed that I should do so if I would first go with her as far as an old stone bridge spanning our dear brook near to its juncture with the Swale, and from thence wend our way along the banks of the brook, now on one side and now on the other, without attempting to find any beaten path. I readily agreed to this, and we reached the bridge in question. Esther insisted on our going under it, and I was well rewarded for doing so. The archway formed the frame of a wild picture of waterfall and drooping trees, with such a wealth of golden flitting lights and deep still shadows, as might have been a rare prize to any artist, and from the sides and top of the arch hung tufts of the Black - stalked Spleenwort, and a very light feathery fern of a different character. Eagerly gathering and examining some of these fronds, I found the seed-masses covered by a delicate white envelope. It just answered the description of the Bladder Fern. In the more advanced specimens the cover was thrown off. The sharply cut leaflets, crisp dark stalk, and light foliage, made me feel satisfied that my new friend was the Brittle Bladder-Fern. (Cystopteris Fragilis, fig. 2.)

We had some difficulty in getting along the brook-side. Again and again we had to cross the stream, springing from one boulder to another. Where some rocks stood before an earthen bank, overshadowed by bushes, I espied some more of the Brittle Bladder-Fern, at least such I imagined it to be. But from its paler foliage, more slightly cut leaflets, and more pliant stalk, I decided it to be the Toothed Bladder- Fern, (Cystopteris Dentata, fig. 3.) Whether this be a different fern, or only a variety of the Brittle one, I cannot decide. I am inclined to think that its shaded position was the cause of it differing from the one I had gathered off the bridge.

"I have a fern something like that in my fernery," Esther said; "but it is broader and shorter, and the foliage is more dense. They told me it was something Dickieana, and I remembered it as a kind of feminine Dicky. I will give you a frond of it, if you like."

"Thank you; I shall like it extremely. If it be Dickie's Bladder-Fern, (Cystopteris Dickieana, fig. 4,) as, from your description, I believe it is, it will be valuable, as another member of the family which comes next to the Spleen-worts in order. I see there are two other species, the Alpine Bladder - Fern and the Mountain Bladder-Fern but there is no likelihood of our finding either the one or the other."

You can read the rest of this account at

I might add that these stories give you ideas of walks should you be in the general area :-)

You can read the other articles at 

Clan Information
Was advised that Clan Durie has a new web site at

I was sent in some additional information about Clan Shaw by William G. A. Shaw, Seannachaidh of the Clan, which you can read at

Got in some information on the Clan Currie Society at

Poetry and Stories
Further articles have been added to our Articles Service where the likes of Donna have been adding poems and recipes at 

Got in "Davy's Dool Veesions" another doggerel in from John Henderson but this time in English which you can read at

I might add that John also includes a midi or wav music file with his doggerels to match the words.

Sketches of The Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland
by Major-General David Stewart (1822)

We are nearing the end of Volume II with the final account of the Fencible Regiments and now onto the various mutinies. Next week will see the completion of this book.

This week we've added...

Argyle, Glengarry, &c..
Mutinies of the Highland Regiments
Macdonald's Highlanders
Detachments of the 42d and 71st Regiments

Here is the complete account of the Seaforth mutiny as it's quite short...

In the year 1778, the Seaforth Highlanders were marched to Leith, where they were quartered, for a short interns though long enough to produce complaints about the infringement of their engagements, and some pay and bounty which they said were due to them. Their disaffection was greatly increased by the activity of emissaries from Edinburgh, like those just mentioned as having gone down from London to Portsmouth. The regiment refused to embark, and marching out of Leith, with pipes playing and two plaids fixed on poles instead of colours, took a position on Arthur's Seat, of which they kept possession for several days, during which time the inhabitants of Edinburgh amply supplied them with provisions and ammunition. After much negotiation, in which the Earls of Dunmore and Seaforth, Sir James Grant of Grant, and other gentlemen connected with the Highlands, were actively engaged, the causes of the soldiers' complaints were investigated and settled to their satisfaction; they then marched down the hill in the same manner in which they had gone up, with pipes playing, and "with the Earls of Seaforth and Dunmore, and General Skene, at their head. They entered Leith, and went on board the transports with the greatest readiness and cheerfulness."

In this case, as in that of the Athole Highlanders, none of the men were brought to trial, or even put into confinement, for these acts of open resistance; consequently, similar inferences have been drawn, accompanied by that feeling of distrust in their future transactions which I have just noticed, and which has contributed to give strangers an unjust and prejudiced view of the real character of this race of people; for when a seemingly ungenerous want of confidence and narrowness of mind has, in a manner, been forced on men, by meeting with breaches of faith and with deception at the hands of their superiors, it cannot, with justice, be called their original native character.

You can read the other chapters at 

Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland 1884
This week have added annother large account of The Agriculture of the County of Selkirk and here is how it starts...

Selkirkshire, the most inland county in Scotland, lies between 55° 22' 20" and 50° 41' 54" N. lat., and between 2° 47' 40" and 3° 18' 46" W. long., and extends to 166,524 acres or 260 square miles—164,527 land and 1997 water. Its extreme length from the source of the Ettrick to the confluence of the Tweed and the Gala is 28 miles, and its width from Roberton Kirk to the point where Haystoun Burn leaves the county is 17½ miles. As regards size, Selkirkshire ranks twenty-sixth among the counties of Scotland, while in point of rental and population it is twenty-seventh. It is singularly irregular in form, and is bounded on the east and south-east by Roxburghshire, on the south-west by Dumfriesshire, on the west and north-west by Peeblesshire, and on the north by Mid-Lothian. Its surface is as whimsical as its outline is arbitrary and sinuous—one continuous succession of mountain, valley, and stream. Its numerous hills rise abruptly from the three lovely streams by which the county is mainly watered, roughly resembling in form the heavings of a turbulent sea. The unevenness of the surface may be further illustrated by the fact that the arable land of the county ranges in elevation from 300 to upwards of 1200 feet above sea-level, and that it embraces no fewer than 56 hills, varying in height from 744 feet in the case of Moat Hill, to 2433 feet in the case of Dun Rig. Several peaks, notably Stake Law, Blackhouse Heights, Deerlaw, Ettrick Pen, Hundleshop Heights, Birkscairn, Hermon Law, Bodesbeck Law, Capel Fell, and Wind Fell, exceed 2000 feet; while one might count on their fingers all that are under 1000 feet in height.

Of the ten parishes which constitute the county only three are wholly within its confines, viz., Kirkhope, Yarrow, and Ettrick. It contains something like eleven-twelfths of the parish of Selkirk, one-third of Galashiels, one-third of Roberton and Ashkirk parishes, scarcely so much of Stow, about one-fourth of Innerleithen, and a small corner comprising a moderate-sized grazing farm of the parish of Peebles. It has been truthfully observed that Selkirkshire, situated as it is in respect to its parishes—excepting Nairnshire, which has similar detachments—stands unique among the Scottish counties, if indeed not in the United Kingdom.

There are few counties in Scotland more interesting historically than Selkirkshire. In early times it was the principal hunting ground of the Scottish kings, and was designated the Ettrick Forest. It was in a great measure covered with wood, scarcely a vestige of which now remains, and stocked with herds of deer. David I. is said to have delighted in the sylvan sport which its mountains afforded. Near the castle of Selkirk he built a church, where he first settled the community of monks whom he ultimately transferred to Kelso. Among the other monarchs who participated in the favourite recreation in "the Forest" (by which a certain portion of the county is still known) were William the Lion, Alexander II., Alexander III., and James V.; but the mission of the last-named autocrat was more the punishment of disloyal border chiefs than for the purpose of sport. King James ultimately converted "The Forest" into a sheep-walk, which he found more profitable than to have it confined to deer, and to His Majesty's enterprise at that particular time tradition attributes the introduction of blackfaced sheep into Scotland.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The other articles can be read at

Household Encyclopaedia
I have added a few more pages to the B's which you can see at

The index page of this publication can be seen at 

Antiquarian Scottish Books in Adobe Reader format
I said I'd do my best to add a book each week and so this week I've added...

War Diary of the Fifth Seaforth Highlanders 51st (Highland) Division

This is an interesting account of a regiment in the 1st World War and it's experiences in the trenches.

It starts of by saying...

The 5th Seaforth Highlanders, whose war record is given in this book, is the territorial Battalion of Caithness and Sutherland, the two most northerly counties in Scotland.

The battalion was first formed in 1859, early in the Volunteer movement, by the Duke of Sutherland and took as its badge, the Sutherland Crest (the Wild Cat), with the proud motto "Sans Peur," while its tartan was also the Sutherland, of black, navy blue, and green, similar to that worn by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

At first confined to Sutherlandshire, it later amalgamated with the Caithness Volunteers and was known as the 1st Sutherland Highland Rifle Volunteers. It had a double justification for its badge and tartan, for the 93rd (Sutherland) Highlanders were recruited in 1801, during the Napoleonic Wars, in the same area, and had the same badge and tartan, hence the battalion regards itself as the lineal descendant of that famous unit.

When the Territorial Force was formed, the battalion had to change its name to the 5th (Sutherland and Caithness) Seaforth Highlanders, but as a concession to volunteer and county traditions, it was still allowed to wear the Sutherland Badge and Tartan, and is thus unique in being differently dressed from all other Seaforth Battalions.

On 5th August 1914 its mobilization, under Col. E. G. Buik, V.D., took place, the various companies concentrating at Nigg on the northern shore of the Cromarty Firth, whence, after a week spent in digging trenches for the defence of the Admiralty Forts on the North Sutor, it proceeded to Inverness. Thence, in a few days, it entrained for Bedford, which became the training centre for the Highland Territorial Division, afterwards so well known as the 51st.

For eight months the Division was billeted in this town, and was treated with the utmost cordiality and kindness by the townspeople, who did all they could to make their kilted invaders comfortable and happy.

This is not a large book and so will make easy reading.

You can read this book at

The index page for this section can be reached at

The Scottish Tradition in Canada
Edited by W. Stanford Reid

This week have added two chapters...

The Scottish Protestant Tradition W. Stanford Reid
The Scottish Military Tradition George F.G. Stanley

Here is how The Scottish Military Tradition in Canada starts...

'S ann as an tir's 'eachdraidh a chineas spiorad cogail
The military spirit comes out of the land and its history

Ever since the first disbanded Highland soldiery and displaced crofters settled on Canada's shores two hundred years ago, in the 1760s and 1770s, Scottish Canadians have borne their full share of the burden of Canada's defence. Soldiers and regiments bearing Scottish names and wearing the bonnet, kilt and feather form a mighty array in our history; they have fought in the snows of Canada, in the mud of Flanders, in the mountains of Italy; they have inspired Canadians with the military traditions of old Scotland, bravery and devotion, fortitude in distress. Today there are over 2,000,000 people of Scottish descent in Canada, although through intermarriage the Scottish blood flows in the veins of many more Canadians than the census returns would suggest. It is, indeed, sufficiently widespread that, despite dilution, it has encouraged that mystic sympathy of Canada for Scotland which unites the two lands in the unity of understanding. The Canadian soldier in World War II was well aware of it, if only because he seemed to feel more at home in Scotland than in the land of the Southrons. Perhaps that understanding derives, in part at least, from the fact that Canadian and Scot live in northern lands, to the south of which there is a powerful, and too often dominating nation. Each knows that his nation has always to be on the watch lest it lose its freedom and its own distinctive nationality.

The Scottish military tradition is generally associated with the Highlands, the country of the chief, clan and cateran. This does not mean that the Lowlands were bare of men of military virtue, of men ready and able to wield a spear or broadsword in defence of their faith and their possession - the achievements of the Cameronians contradicts that - but rather that the Highlands, by the very nature of the countryside and the tribal feudalism it nourished, tended to develop and perpetuate the military characteristics of independence and combativeness more than did the land and society of the Lowlands.

The country north and west of the Highland Line was, and still is, in many respects, a wild, harsh, forbidding land of violent tempests and uncertain climate. It is not a rich luxuriant land, but one of bare mountains, bleak hills, heathered moors, coniferous forests, lakes, streams and fens. There are only isolated and disconnected patches of arable soil located in the sequestered straths, glens and islands which favoured the settlement of family groups under their natural leaders or ceann-cinnidh. Such a land was not of the nature to sustain a large and prosperous agricultural population. The men who lived in the Highlands were the sons of Esau. They lived on the fish they caught in the lochs, the deer they hunted in the hills, and the herds they tended on their thin mountain pastures or reaved from their Lowland neighbours. Only the bold, the strong, the hardy and the independent survived in such a land, men nursed in poverty, men whose needs were simple and basic. Geography made the Scottish Highlander, and it made him good soldier material, because it demanded those qualities which make men good soldiers; hardihood, courage, endurance, self-reliance and loyalty to one's leader and one's comrades.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

You can read the other chapters at

Sketch of the Civil and Traditional History of Caithness from the Tenth Century
By James T. Calder (1861)

Another new book for you and here is the Preface...

I had long cherished a desire to draw up something like a regular history of Caithness, but on making the requisite investigation, I found that neither the public records of the county, nor yet family papers, afforded sufficient materials for the purpose. The present work, therefore, is merely a Sketch or outline mostly drawn from other sources, and in some measure aided by local tradition. The writer to whom I have been chiefly indebted for information regarding what may be called the ancient history of Caithness, is Torfaeus, whose authority on this point is justly entitled to credit from the following circumstance:—When the Orkney islands, of which Caithness formed a part of the earldom for so many hundred years, had from increase of population and proximity to Scotland become valuable as an appendage to the crown of Norway, an historiographer was appointed to reside in the island of Flota, and to record all transactions of any public moment that took place in the two counties. These were regularly entered into a diary or journal, entitled the "Codex Flatensis," or Book of Flota. The work, which was one of national importance, was, for better preservation, afterwards deposited in the royal library at Copenhagen; and from it, and the "Orkneyinga Saga"—the latter a compilation of Jonas Jonnaeus, an Icelandic scholar—Torfaeus drew the materials of his history. "Torfaeus," says Chambers, "sustains the character of a faithfill historian, and the facts which he details are probably as authentic as the early records of any portion of the British empire, while he has enabled us to correct several errors in the commonly-received accounts of Scotland." And Samuel Laing, a still higher authority on this point, says that "his history may be regarded as the only authentic record of affairs in the North for many ages."

The following are a few of the leading particulars of his personal history. Thormod Torfeson (Torfaeus being the Latinised name) was a native of Iceland. His father, Torfe Erlendsen, was a person of some consideration in that country. The son was born in 1636, and educated at the University of Copenhagen. While attending this seminary, he became distinguished as a student; and his classical acquirements were such that they afterwards procured him the honourable situation of historiographer to the King of Denmark. His great work, which he composed in Latin, was published about the year 1690, under the title of "Orcades, seu rerum Orcadiensium Historiae." He died, according to the best accounts, in 1720, at the advanced age of 84.

With regard to the more modern history of Caithness, my information has been chiefly derived from Sir Robert Gordon's elaborate work, entitled a "Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland," which contains a full account of the various feuds, etc., which for so long a period existed between the two rival houses of Caithness and Sutherland. Sir Robert, however, with all his industry and research, cannot be considered an impartial historian. He everywhere discovers a strong prejudice against the Sinclair family; and his statements in regard to them and to Caithness matters in general, must be received with large deduction. The continuator of his history, Gilbert Gordon of Sallach, in a eulogy of his many virtues and talents, candidly admits that he was a man of a passionate temper, and a "bitter enemy."

Among other works which I consulted, and which supplied me with some important facts and details, may be mentioned Mackay's History of the House and Clan of Mackay, Henderson's Agricultural View of Caithness, Barry's History of Orkney, Peterkin's Notes of Orkney, Balfour's Odal Eights and Feudal Wrongs, Brand's Description of Orkney, Shetland, and Caithness, Pennant's Tour, the "Origines Parochiales Scotiae," and a most interesting volume entitled, "An Account of the Danes and Norwegians in England, Scotland, and Ireland," by J. J. Worsaae, Royal Commissioner for the preservation of the National Monuments of Denmark.

For much interesting information connected with the rentals, roads, and pedigrees of some of the principal families in the county, I am indebted to Sir John Sinclair of Dunbeath; James Sinclair, Esquire of Forss; John Henderson, Esq., Banker, Thurso; Mr James Mackay, Messenger-at-Arms, Thurso; and Mr George Petrie, Clerk of Supply for the county of Orkney. Mr Sinclair of Forss furnished me with the valuable paper on the Caithness roads, and Mr Mackay with the curious document entitled the "Liberties of Thurso." I would have gladly given, had they been sent me, some more pedigrees of Caithness families, as genealogical details of this kind are to many persons exceedingly interesting. The two woodcuts representing Ackergill Tower, and Castles Sinclair and Girnigoe, are from photographs taken on the spot by an ingenious friend, Mr John F. Sutherland, a native of Thurso, who follows the profession of teacher in Edinburgh.

I have not, from my slight acquaintance with such subjects, touched on the geology, botany, or ornithology of the county. In this respect, however, Caithness presents a wide and varied field, and one which, in skilful hands, I have no doubt would afford materials for a highly interesting volume.

The work which I have ventured to publish is, as I have said, merely an imperfect Sketch. Such as it is, however, it may afford some interest to local readers; and with the help of additional sources of information, should any such cast up, it may prove useful to some future writer in supplying materials for a fuller and more connected history of the county.

I have also added Chapter 1 to get you started which you can read at

Fallbrook Farm
We've had more updates in on this conservation project and if you'd like to help you just need to email them your support as the more emails they can produce in support of the project the better chance they have in making it happen.

Do visit their page and keep up to date with their findings and activity at 

Robert Burns Lives!
By Frank Shaw

This article is entitled "Burns Nicht Bits, Tidbits, and Fragments" and starts...

This article is dedicated to those fine people at Mount Airy, NC who are members of The Scottish Heritage Society of the Blue Ridge and The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History for sponsoring Burns Nicht, especially to Linda Blue Stanfield, museum director, and Scotia Script editor, Tom Scott, who puts out a great newsletter for the society’s members. I particularly want to thank the many others who made possible the wonderful time those of us attending had in celebrating Burns Nicht at the Cross Creek Country Club on January 26, 2008. The theme for the evening was “A Celebration of the Life and Times of Robert Burns.”

I look back on that occasion with great memories. A tip of the hat to the Reverend Dale Cline, our emcee, for his humor, particularly about pipers and their bagpipes. Dale delivered an outstanding rendition of “Address to the Haggis”. Special thanks are also in order to the Triad Scottish Fiddlers & Friends who entertained during dinner with songs from Robert Burns, a very nice touch indeed! (Other Burns Clubs should take note!) I was notably thankful for the wonderful haggis. The chef was kind enough to serve me a second helping, as well as a wee bit to bring back to Atlanta. I must confess, though, it never made it any farther than my motel room!

Susan and I enjoyed the warm welcome of these gracious men and women who proudly spoke of their Scottish heritage and wore their tartans with an air of dignity! These Scottish Southerners did justice to the acclaimed hospitality that Scots and Southerners alike are known for around the world. It was an honor to be asked to deliver The Immortal Memory in the home town of famed television star, Andy Griffith. I only hope your Burns Nicht was as good as ours in Mount Airy – it ranked right up there with the best I have participated in over the years!

You can read the rest of this article at

Thistle & Broom
Electric Scotland Newsletter readers are getting the first opportunity to purchase "The Talisman"

Golf’s Spiritual Home Inspires Luxury Ball Marker

‘The Talisman’ Brings Scotland’s Energy to the Putting Green

Thistle & Broom, Scotland’s source of luxury, has announced the release of its newest luxury product, The Talisman golf ball marker. Individual Talismans are named for the penultimate Scottish golf course located within the geographical region in which the semi-precious stone used for each marker can be found.

The laboriously hand crafted 23mm markers are set in 925 sterling silver bezels with traditional hallmarks struck by Edinburgh’s Assay Office. The hallmarks provide assurance of authenticity and quality whilst becoming an integral design element of the otherwise smooth surfaces. Thistle & Broom has developed an optional version with an open triangular (pin flag) shaped hinged bail for secure placement on the green which allows the Talisman to also be worn as a pendant, as well as a C-clasp pin version for either lover’s keepsakes or to accommodate clansmen desiring an adornment made from stones sourced from Scottish ancestral lands. The Talisman range currently includes: the Royal Dornach in deep purple Royal Amethyst, a rare branched moss agate chosen for Carnoustie, smoky Cairngorms for Speyside’s Boat of Garten, grey and pale pink East Sands banded agates for St. Andrew’s, mulberry jasper for Loch Lomond and a mustard and persimmon Burn Anne agate for Turnberry. All the stones used for the Talisman are collected and honed by Fife lapidary Renato Forno.

“Trials of The Talisman this winter on Scottish courses were met with enthusiastic responses by golfers and professional greens keepers alike. The size is on par with those markers currently being used by professional golfers and the precious metal bezels offer a great sight advantage for long putts,” said Teresa Fritschi, Thistle & Broom’s Managing Director and Chief Creative Officer. “An estimated 70 million people think of Scotland as golf’s spiritual home. Even if they never play our hallowed courses The Talisman provides a physical connection to the magical energy found in Scotland. These stones have been carried for thousands of years for their purported abilities to bring calm to the mind and ward off evil spirits – where is this more necessary than on the golf course?”

The Special Offer for Electric Scotland readers is...

A sterling silver Talisman (not as brooch or available to convert to a pendant) with the presentation box and engraved with clan crest would be priced at 90 GBPs plus shipping, insurance and applicable taxes (VAT obviously if within the UK). 70 GBPs +++ for the non-engraved versions.

Dollar price would be roughly double the GBP price due to the current exchange rate.

So if you'd like to order one or more email Teresa at and tell her you are an Electric Scotland member and she'll quote you a firm price in your own currency. And be sure to tell her what clan crest you want if you want that option.

Sounds like a great gift for someone's birthday or an early purchase as a Christmas present or just as a wee treat for yourself :-)

And that's it for now and I hope you all have an enjoyable weekend :-)


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