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25th July 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

It's your Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend is nearly here :-)

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  It's your Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend is nearly here :-)It's your Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend is nearly here :-)

Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
The Scottish Nation
Poetry and Stories including Poems for Kids
New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Book of Scottish Story
The Life of Tom Morris
The Industries of Scotland, their Rise, Progress and Present Condition
Scottish Gardens
The Life of John Duncan (New Book)
Heraldic Bookplates
Chronicles of Stratheden (New Book)
Robert Burns Lives!
Atholl, Scotland's Heartland

I start off by giving you a story from the BBC as it does have huge significance for Scottish Politics as the by-election was in the Labour Party's safest seat. This was a by-election for a Westminster seat in the UK parliament (not the Scottish Parliament).

The SNP has pulled off a stunning by-election victory by winning Glasgow East, one of Labour's safest seats.

The Nationalists overturned a Labour majority of 13,507 to win by only 365 votes with a swing of 22.54%.

The SNP polled 11,277 votes in the contest, while the Tories came third with 1,639 and the Lib Dems, with 915 votes, came fourth.

SNP candidate John Mason said the victory was "off the Richter Scale", while Labour expressed disappointment.

Voter turnout was 42.25%, down on the 48% figure at the last election, with 26,219 votes cast.

The result was declared in the early hours of Friday following a delay, after a re-count was requested by Labour, which won 10,912 votes in the contest.

SNP candidate John Mason said the victory had sent a message to Downing Street.

'Epic win'

Labour minister Douglas Alexander said the result was "very disappointing" and admitted it had been a "notable victory" for the SNP.

Speaking from Glasgow's Tollcross Leisure Centre, Mr Mason said: "Three weeks ago the SNP predicted a political earthquake.

"This SNP victory is not just a political earthquake, it is off the Richter scale.

"It is an epic win and the tremors will be felt all the way to Westminster."

Nine candidates stood in the seat, in a contest sparked by the resignation of Labour's David Marshall on health grounds.

Scotland's Deputy First Minister and deputy SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, said the swing towards the Nationalists had been of "epic proportions".


Steve will be working on the forums this weekend so there might be a time when you can't access the service but shouldn't be down for very long. We've received a couple of security upgrades which need to be done and a couple more upgrades for bits of the service.  We do need to bring down the service to do these updates and upgrades and hence some down time.


Have made a start at the account of John Duncan for which more below.


Haven't heard back from Glasgow City Council as yet so if I don't hear from them by next week I'll make a start on "The History of Glasgow".


There is a Robert Burns & the Scottish Diaspora International Conference, Edinburgh 10-11 July 2009. You can get more details at


We have done a major upgrade to our ScotGenealogy program at in which some 131 changes and improvements have been included. For example you can now add a Google map of a place, add more media and create a pdf file of your family tree.

We'd also recommend anyone using the service backup their data by exporting it to a Gedcom file and likewise if you already have a gedcom file of your family tree you can also import it into the service.


The Robert Burns Lives! article below highlights that by purchasing the book now you can get your name printed in it under the list of Subscribers and it will be delivered in time for Christmas.


The Clan MacIntyre Gathering in Scotland is now over and at some point I'll be getting an account to post up on the site. That said, some early pictures have been sent in and you can view these at

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.

As Tricia, that normally does the Flag, is away on holiday I've did the last issue and this one but thankfully she'll be back in time for next weeks issue :-)

This weeks Flag is compiled by Ian Goldie in which he tells us more about the Glasgow East by-election and you'll be able to see the result on Friday night :-)

Stop Press: The SNP won the by-election!!!!

THE SNP have won the Glasgow East by-election, claiming victory over Labour with a margin of 365 votes.

The results were as follows:

John Mason (SNP) 11,277 (43.08%, +26.06%)
Margaret Curran (Lab) 10,912 (41.69%, –18.99%)
Davena Rankin (C) 1,639 (6.26%, –0.64%)
Ian Robertson (LD) 915 (3.50%, –8.35%)

In Peter's cultural section he's telling us more about his visit to the new Culloden Centre.

This week we continue the description of our recent visit to the new £9 million National Trust for Scotland Culloden Visitor and Exhibition Centre. Having left the splendid new building we made our way to the Leanach Cottage which stood within the Hanoverian lines and proceeded to walk, on the new footpaths, to some of our favourite spots on the battlefield.

Walking towards the Culloden Memorial Cairn, you pass the Well of the Dead. Here the brave leader of Clan Chattan, Alexander MacGillivary of Dunmaglas, died crawling towards the well. His regiment was the first to charge and break through the first Hanoverian line but the impetus of the Highland Charge was gone by the time they hit the second line. The devastating fire of the Government forces turned Drummossie into a killing zone. In spite of her husband and Clan Chief being a serving Hanoverian officer, Lady Anne Mackintosh raised Clan Chattan for the Prince under the command of Alexander MacGillivary. Red Alexander, Alistair-Ruadh-na Feille, paid the ultimate price for his loyalty to the Stewart cause. After the battle his body was removed from the battlefield and his betrothed, Elizabeth Campbell, allegedly arranged for his secret internment under the doorstep of Petty Church. She died of a broken heart on 22 August 1746.

From Red Alexander’s dying place, you proceed passed the Clan graves as marked in 1881 by Duncan Forbes, 10th Laird of Culloden, to arrive at the Memorial Cairn he erected, from his own pocket, in the same year. He was a descendant of the famous Duncan Forbes, 5th Laird of Culloden and Lord President of the Court of Session, who did so much to avert the 1745 Rising and prevent its success. The cairn stands approximately mid-way between the lines of the opposing armies and carries an inscription which fails to convey the full story of the 1745 Rising, but does serve as an appropriate salute to loyalty and bravery –

16th April 1746

Next week we will look at a few more notable spots on the battlefield and as last week’s recipe referred to the German-led Hanoverians, this week’s Potato Gnocchi is a reminder that Prince Charles Edward Stewart was Italian-born. This is basically a Scottish potato scone mixture shaped and cooked differently.

Potato Gnocchi

Ingredients: 1 lb/500 g floury potatoes (cooked and mashed finely); 6 oz/175 g plain flour; salt and pepper/ ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Method: Mix all together thoroughly and roll into a long sausage about a finger diameter. Cut into 1 inch lengths and make a dent in the middle of each so that it curls a little. Bring salted water to the boil and drop in a few at a time. Cook each batch about 3-5 minutes or until they rise to the surface. Scoop out with a perforated spoon and put into a buttered ovenproof dish. Keep hot until all are cooked. Dot with butter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve with tomato sauce.

See the Scottish Food, Traditions and Customs in the Features section at

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

Christina McKelvie MSP's weekly diary for this week did not arrive.

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

We are onto the R's now with Rosslyn, Rothes, Rothesay, Row, Roxburgh, Roxburghe and Roy.

As always lots of interesting stories in there accounts and here is how the account of Rothes starts...

ROTHES, earl of, a title in the peerage of Scotland, conferred, before 20th March, 1457-8, on George de Lesley of Rothes, Fifeshire, the ninth in descent from Bartholomew, a Flemish baron, ancestor of the family in Scotland. The first earl died about 1488, and having been predeceased by his only son, Andrew, master of Rothes, was succeeded by his grandson, George, second earl, who, with his younger brother, William, was killed at Flodden. The latter had two sons; George, who succeeded as third earl, and John, one of the prisoners taken by the English at the rout of Solway in 1542. He has obtained an historical name as being one of the chief conspirators in the assassination of Cardinal Bethune. After the martyrdom of George Wishart, March 1, 1546, he declared in all companies, holding his dagger in his hand, that “that same dagger and that same hand shall be priest to the cardinal,” and he kept his word.

You can read the rest of this account at

You can read these entries at

Poetry and Stories
Another poem from John Henderson called "Tak Tent An Bide A Wee" which you can read at

Margo Fallis has sent in a few more of her poems for Children. See

Stan Bruce sent in a new poem which you can read at

We also have some new poems and articles from Donna, Alastair and others in our Article Service at

On the Article Service I might just suggest that when you go to the home page you take the time to sign in as that way when you read an article and feel you'd like to add a comment you'll be able to do that right away. If you don't sign in then you are asked to do so before you can add your comment and that way you might find it more difficult to find that article again that you wanted to comment on :-)

Also, when you sign in the login panel becomes your personal panel allowing you to Change Password, Submit an Article, list your Favorite Articles, list My Articles, List My Comments, Hide Contact Info, Subscribe and to Logout.

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 New Macher

Name.—In the earlier registers, the parish is called the Upper Parochine of St Machar; and in those of later date, Upper Ma-char. The modern name is New Machar, in contradistinction, no doubt, to the name of the adjoining parish of Old Machar, of which it originally formed a part.

Extent.—The length of the parish from north-west to southeast may be 10 miles; average breadth about 2½ miles.

Boundaries, &c.—It is bounded on the north and north-east, by the parish of Udny; on the east, by the parish of Belhelvie; on the south, by Old Machar and the river Don; and on the west, by the parishes of Fintray and Keith Hall. The greater part of the parish is situated between gently sloping hills of moderate elevation, inclining from north-west to south-east, and is considerably diversified by small hills, cultivated or under wood.

Eminent Characters.—Robert Gordon.—This eminent geographer and antiquary was born at Kinmundy in this parish on the 14th September 1580. He was the second son of Sir John Gordon of Pitlurg, a gentleman who long stood high in the favour of his sovereign, James VI. Mr Gordon has the merit of being the first who applied actual mensuration in topographical surveys to Scotland. At the request and earnest solicitation of King Charles he undertook, in 1641, the preparation of an atlas of Scotland, which was published in 1648, and soon afterwards went through a second and third editions. It was his diligence and accuracy in the science of geography, then in an extremely rude state, that first obtained for him the celebrity which he afterwards enjoyed.

Dr Thomas Reid.—This distinguished metaphysician and moral philosopher was settled minister of this parish May 12, 1737, and continued in that office till June 21, 1752.

You can read 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...

The Miller of Doune: a Traveller's Tale

This week we have up Chapter 1 of this tale and here is how it starts...

In the reign of James the Fifth, the mill on the Teath, near Doune, was possessed, as it had been for abune a century, by a family of the name of Marshall.

They were a bauld and a strong race of men, and when the miller of whom we’re now to speak was in his prime, it used to be a common saying in the kintra, " Better get a kick frae a naig’s foot, than a stroke frae John Marshall;" and even now that he was threescore and one, there were unco few that liked to come to grips wi’ him. But though John kent he need fear nae man, and would carry things wi’ a high hand when needfu’, yet he was onything but quarrelsome, and was aye mair ready to gree wi’ a man than to fight wi’ him; and as he was a gash sensible man, and thoroughly honest, he had mony frien’s and weel-wishers, and was muckle respeckit in the hale kintra side.

John’s family consisted of twa sons and a dochter, who had lost their mither when they were but weans. The eldest, james, was as like what his father was at the same age, as twa peas; only, if onything, a thought stronger. William, the next, was mair slender; but though he couldna put the stane, nor fling the fore-hammer, within mony an ell o’ James, yet he could jump higher than ony man he had ever met wi’; and as for rinnin’, naebody could come near him. Of Jeanie Marshall we need say nae mair than that she was a sensible, spirited, light-hearted lassie, the pride of her brothers, and her father’s darling.

It happened ae night, as the miller was coming back frae gien his horse a drink at the water, that he heard something cheep-cheeping in the grass at the roadside, and every now and then it gied a bit flee up in the air, and then doun again; and upon looking at it again, the miller saw that it was a robin chased by a whuttrit, which was trying to grip it ; and the miller said to himsel, "I canna thole to see the puir bit burdie riven a’ to coopens afore my very een ; "so he banged aff the horse, and ran and got it up in his hand, and he let drive sic a kick at the whuttrit, that the beast gaed up in the lift, and ower the hedge, just as if it had been a kuisten snawba’.

On lookin’ at the robin, John saw some straes stickin’ to’t wi’ burd-lime, which had stoppit it frae fleein’, and he begood to pike them aff; but Clod, who was a restless brute, and was wearyin’ for his stable, tuggit and ruggit sae at the helter, that the miller could come nae speed ava. "And now," says the miller, "gif I set you doun, puir thing, as ye are, some beast or anither will come and worry ye; and it’s no in my power to get on that dancing deevil’s back wi’ ae hand—sae gang ye in there;” and he lifted up the flap o’ his pouch, and pat in the robin.

You can read this at

The other stories can be read at

The Life of Tom Morris
By W. W. Tulloch, Member of the Royal & Ancient Club of St. Andrews

Have now completed this book with the following chapters...

Chapter XXIV
From 1900

Chapter XXV
A Scotch Physician - Tom as head of the Faculty

Chapter XXVI
Tom as modern statesman

Chapter XXVII
Tom at Home - On the Links, in Shop and House

Chapter XXVIII

I thought I'd let you read the entire chapter 25 here as it's a fun story...

TOM has frequently appeared in the pages of Punch, and the article which we quote describes him acting as an eminent Scotch physician the Head of the Faculty.

"Bulger was no cricketer, no tennis-player, no sportsman in fact. But his doctor recommended exercise and fresh air. ' And I'm thinking, sir,' he added, ' that you cannot do better than just take yourself down to St Andrews and put yourself under Tom Morris.' ' Is he a great Scotch physician? ' asked Bulger; ' I don't seem to have heard of him.' ' The Head of the Faculty, sir,' said the medical man ' the Head of the Faculty in those parts.'

"Bulger packed his effects, and in process of time he arrived at Leuchars. Here he observed some venerable towers within a short walk, and fancied that he would presently arrive at St Andrews. In this he was reckoning without the railway system he was compelled to wait at Leuchars for no inconsiderable time, which he occupied in extracting statistics about the consumption of whisky from the young lady who ministered to travellers. The revelations now communicated convinced Bulger that either Dr Morris was not on the lines of Sir Andrew Clark, or, as an alternative, that his counsels were not listened to by travellers on that line.

"Arriving in the dusk, Bulger went to his inn, and next morning inquired as to the address of the Head of the Faculty. ' I didna ken,`` said an elderly person to whom he appealed, 'that the professors had made' Tom a doctor, though it's a sair and sad oversicht, and a disgrace to the country, that they ha'ena done sae lang syne. But I jalouse that your doctor was jist making a gowk o' ye.' ' What! ' said Bulger. ' Jist playin' a plisky on ye, and he meant that Tom wad pit ye in the way o' becoming a player. Mon, ye 're a bull-neckit, bow-leggit chief, and ye'd shape fine for a gowfer! Here's Tom.' And, with this brief introduction, the old man strolled away.

'Bulger now found himself in the presence of Mr Morris, whose courtesy soon put him on a footing of friendliness and confidence. He purchased, by his mentor's advice, a driver, a cleek, a putter, a brassey, an iron, a niblick, and a mashie. Armed with thor implements, which were 'carried by an orphan boy,' and under the guidance of the Head of the Faculty himself, Bulger set forth on his first round. His first two strokes were dealt on the yielding air; his third carried no inconsiderable parcel of real property to some distance; but his fourth hit the ball and drove it across the road. ' As gude as a better`` quoth the orphan boy, and bade Bulger propel the tiny sphere in the direction of a neighbouring rivulet. Into this affluent of the main Bulger finally hit the ball; but an adroit lad of nine stamped it into the mud while pretending to look for it, and Bulger had to put down another. When he got within putting range he hit his ball, careering back and forward over the hole, and, ' Eh, man,' quoth the orphan boy, ' if you could only drive as you putt! '

"In some fifteen strokes he accomplished his task of holing out; and now, weary and desponding (for he had fancied golf to be an easy game), he would have desisted for the day. But the Head of the Faculty pressed on him the necessity of ' the daily round, the common task.' So his ball was teed, and he lammed it into the Scholar's Bunker, at a distance of nearly thirty yards. A niblick was now placed in his grasp, and he was exhorted to 'Take plenty sand.' Presently a kind of simoom was observed to rage in the Scholar's Bunker, out of which emerged the head of the niblick, the ball, and, finally, Bulger himself. His next hit, however, was a fine one, over the wall, where, as the ball was lost, Bulger deposited a new one. This he, somehow, drove within a few feet of the hole, when he at once conceived an intense enthusiasm for the pastime. 'It was a fine drive' said the Head of the Faculty. 'Mr Blackwell never hit a finer.' Thus inflamed with ardour, Bulger persevered. He learned to waggle his club in a knowing way. He listened intently when he was bidden to 'keep his eye on the ba', and to be 'slow up.' True he now missed the globe and all that it inhabits, but soon he hit a prodigious swipe, well over cover-point's head or, rather, in the direction where cover-point would have been. 'We're awfu' bad in the whims,' said the orphan boy; and, indeed, Bulger's next strokes were played in distressing circumstances. The spikes of the gorse ran into his person he could only see a small part of the ball, and, in a few minutes, he had made a useful clearing of about a quarter of an acre.

'It is unnecessary to follow his later achievements in detail. He returned a worn and weary man, having accomplished the round in about 180, but in possession of an appetite which astonished him and those with whom he lunched. In the afternoon, the luck of beginners attending him, he joined a foursome of professors, and triumphantly brought in his partner an easy victor. In a day or two he was drinking beer (which he would previously have rejected as poison), was sleeping like a top, and was laying down the law on stymie and other ' mysteries more than Eleusinian.' True, after the first three days, his play entirely deserted Bulger, and even professors gave him a wide berth in making up a match. But by steady perseverance, reading Sir Walter Simpson, taking out a professional, and practising his iron in an adjacent field, Bulger soon developed to such an extent that few third-rate players could give him a stroke a hole. He had been in considerable danger of ' a stroke ' of quite a different character before he left London and the delights of the Bar. But he returned to the capital in rude health, and may now often be seen and heard topping into the Pond at Wimbledon, and talking in a fine Fifeshire accent. It must be acknowledged that his story about his drive at the second hole, ' equal to Blackwell himself, Tom Morris himself told me as much,' has become rather a source of diversion to his intimates; but we have all our failings, and Bulger never dreams, when anyone says, ' What is the record drive? 'that he is being drawn for the entertainment of the sceptical and unfeeling. Bulger will never, indeed, be a player; but, if his handicap remains at 24, he may some day carry off the monthly medal. With this great aim before him, and the consequent purchase of a red coat and gilt buttons, Bulger has a new purpose in existence 'something to live for, something to do.' May this brief but accurate history convey a moral to the pessimist, and encourage those who take a more radiant view of the possibilities of life! "

The other chapters can be read at

The Industries of Scotland, their Rise, Progress and Present Condition
By David Bremner (1869)

Have added a number of new chapters...

Manufactures in Glass
History of Glass—Difficulties of the early Manufacturers in Britain—Origin of the Manufacture of Glass in Scotland—The Holyrood Glassworks— How Articles of Glass are made—Glass Cutting and Engraving—Revival of the Art of Glass-Painting.

Manufacture of Earthenware
Antiquity of the Potter's Art—Its Decay and Revival—Introduction into Britain—The Scotch Potteries—Description of the Manufacturing Pro-cesses—History of Bricks—Early Brick-Works in England—Manufactures in Fireclay—Terra Cotta and its applications.

Granite, Freestone, Pavement, and Slate Quarrying
Importance of the Quarries as a Branch of Industry—Rise and Progress of the Aberdeen Granite Trade—Granite Polishing—The Kirkcudbright-shire Granite Quarries—Sandstone Quarries in various parts of Scotland —The Pavement Trade of Forfarshire and Caithness—The Easdale and Ballachulish Slate Quarries—Social Peculiarities of the Workpeople.

Early History of Brewing—Curious old Laws affecting the Trade—The Malt-Tax—Fatal Riots in Glasgow in consequence of the Extension of the Tax to Scotland—Extent of the Brewing Trade in Scotland—Description of a Brewery.

Invention of Distilling—Introduction of the Art into Britain—The Early Distillers in Scotland—Smuggling and Smugglers—Story of the First Highland Distillery—Progress of the Trade—The Caledonian Distillery.

You can read these at

Scottish Gardens
By the Right Hon. Sir Herbert Maxwell

We've now started getting up chapters on individual gardens...

Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
Baberton, Midlothian
Pollok, Renfrewshire
Stonefield, Argyllshire
Castle Kennedy, Wigtownshire

Here is how the account starts on Stonefield, Argyllshire ...

CAELO FAVENTE—weather permitting the shores of Clyde and the Kyles of Bute present constantly shifting scenes of beauty to those who go down to the sea in the fine ships the Iona, the Columba or the Grenadier; but of the many thousands who take their pleasure in this way every summer, what a small percentage suspect what treasures are stored in the sloping woods on either hand. No English gardener will believe, till he has seen for himself, what luxuriant growth of tender exotics can be produced on the west coast of Scotland, wherever it is possible to provide shelter from Atlantic gales. The fierce winds and mighty rollers that waste their fury for weeks together on the rock-bound western isles, can work no ruin in the long, narrow fjords which intersect the mainland. I was prepared, therefore, to find evidence of a very gentle climate along the shores of Loch Fyne; but what I found exceeded all anticipation.

If you look at the map of Argyll, you will see that the promontory of Cantyre, a finger of land about forty miles long and, on an average, not more than seven miles wide, only escapes severance from the mainland by means of a strip of ground a mile wide. When Malcolm Canmore ceded to Magnus Barefoot, King of Norway, all the islands "between which and the mainland he could pass in a galley with its rudder shipped," the Northman secured Cantyre by running his craft ashore at the head of West Loch Tarbert, and causing it to be drawn on rollers across the isthmus to Loch Fyne, with his own hand on the tiller. Three hundred years later, Robert the Bruce repeated the feat, in token of his lordship of the Isles, and built a keep at the eastern end of the portage, which still presides, grim and time-worn, over the snug little town of Tarbert, with its tortuous, but profound, harbour. These incidents are commemorated in the name of the place, Tarbert signifying "boat draft" or portage, from the Gaelic taruinn bada.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

You can read the rest of the chapters at

The Life of John Duncan
Scotch Weaver and Botanist with Sketches of his Friends and Notices of the Times
By William Jolly (1883)

Have now embarked on this book which I have personally enjoyed reading. In the book it refers to a 3 part article about him which was published in the 1878 edition of "Good Words". I managed to find a copy of this edition on the web and took the liberty of capturing the pages to a separate pd file which you may like to read before embarking on this book. You can find this at the foot of the index page of the book at

There are also references in the book to a couple of books that John Duncan purchased to help him with his botany and have also found them on the web and have produced links to them at the foot of the page.

The first 2 chapters are also up for you to read.

Heraldic Bookplates
An article by W. Neil Fraser in which he tells us of another use for Heraldic Arms. You can read this at

Chronicles of Stratheden
By a Resident (1881)

This is another new book which I actually started last week but I forgot to tell you about it.

The Introduction starts...

IT is the aim of the writer of the following pages to sketch a Highland parish of our own times, just as it is; and in doing this, there will be made such references to the past as may enable the reader, to some extent at least, to compare a Highland parish of to-day with that of a past of from twenty to forty years ago.

While there is little or nothing sensational to chronicle, it is hoped that these sketches will not be lacking in interest to such as care to glance at the changes that have taken place within recent years, in a part of the country long, on account of its remoteness, invested with a sort of romance, and now largely frequented by many, not only for the invigorating benefit of its bracing air, but also for the richness and variety of its natural scenery.

Stratheden is a fairly representative Highland parish, and possesses the interesting features of being at once materially influenced by the changes of recent times, and of retaining a few of the special characteristics of a Highland parish of other days.

Though not a sound particularly inviting to the lover of harmony, the whistle of a passing railway train may now be heard along with the bleating of the sheep that pasture on the hillsides of Stratheden; and those of the inhabitants who can, from personal knowledge, compare the present with the past of twenty years ago, reckon this fact alone as a marked sign of the progress of the age, and as a patent enough proof that the remoteness of the past has vanished.

I found the first chapter on Crofting most interesting and you can read this book at

Robert Burns Lives!
A good article from Frank Shaw on a new book on Robert Burns and I've actually ordered a copy of this book myself. Should you order it in time you'll also get your name printed in the book under the list of Subscribers :-)

You can read this at

Frank has also had a "Chat" with the authors of the book which you can read at

On this page you'll also get to see some sample pages of the fabulous artwork.

Atholl, Scotland's Heartland
by James Irvine Robertson

James sent me in this 35,000 word account of Atholl that he's produced as a Guide and History of the area.

He starts of by saying...

Some appreciate Highland Perthshire as no more than one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. But what makes a place special is bound up with many things. Of course scenery and the quality of the environment are a large part of it but the fourth dimension - time - has transformed the bare hills. Humanity was the instrument of time and it is our predecessors who named the landmarks and shaped the countryside. To understand this magnificent landscape, one must appreciate something of its legends and history, often inextricably interlinked, as well as the way of life of its people. By knowing this one’s appreciation of its beauty is enhanced.

The actual account starts by setting the scene...

350 MILLION YEARS ago Scotland gave a great shake and developed a fault which runs by Dumbarton, Callander, and Dunkeld before curving north. South and east of this boundary are the Lowlands of Scotland; to the north and west lie the Highlands. For centuries this line represented the greatest cultural boundary in Europe. South of the river Forth at the dawn of history, the people were of Germanic stock, originally subjects of the kingdom of Northumbria which stretched down to the Humber. In the south west of Scotland they were British, in the far north and far west from Scandinavia but in the Highlands they were Picts and Scots who had come from Ireland.

These two last peoples were united in 848 by Kenneth McAlpine to create the nucleus of modern Scotland but the centre of power soon slipped south. For centuries afterwards the Highlands lay in a time warp, preserving the last tribal society in Europe. The people of Lowland Scotland had much in common with the English but by the sixteenth century Highlanders spoke a different language from the rest of Great Britain; they wore different clothes, had a different culture and customs, and habitually carried weapons. A mutual contempt was almost all these two societies had in common.

At the handful of passes into the rampart of frowning mountains, settlements grew where these two peoples could trade. Dunkeld was one of the most important of these interfaces and the straths to its north were amongst the richest and most fertile in the Highlands. Up until the beginning of the nineteenth century this was an unknown country to the sassenach - the southern Scot - peopled by strange and savage barbarians. Only the most intrepid traveller dared cross the Tay into the district of Atholl and endure the primitive conditions, the ‘horrid’ frowning hills, the bare moors, and the outlandish inhabitants.

Now the entry to the Highlands is scarcely noticeable. No narrow pass cuts through the hills. You can waft through Atholl in twenty minutes, sweeping down from Birnam Hill and across the Tay where the broad flood plain of the river opens out, then north, up the great strath before climbing up to the winter-blizzard swept pass of Drumochter. Through the window of car, coach, or train, you will observe the tree-covered slopes, Pitlochry, Blair Atholl, the distant hill tops, and the rivers which originally carved out these valleys leaving their jagged edges to be ground smooth by the glaciers.

Travelling thus is almost virtual reality. You can see the land as you pass but you cannot feel its geography. The modern road runs on embankment above the flood-prone haughland, marches on stilts across hillsides, and spans gorges that generations died to defend. You cannot feel the wind which brushes over the high tops, perhaps picking up the chill of the late season snow. You miss the midge which can make memorable a dull late-summer evening. You may note an osprey over the river, and the magnificence of the Atholl Palace Hotel which you think Blair Castle until you pass the real thing a few miles further on, but you’ll never know of the majesty of the great trees, the tumbling burns, the tranquil lochs and mountain summits from where Scotland lies at your feet, or the deer, the grouse, pine martins and the capercaillie that still lurk in the ancient pine woods. Nor will you understand the way each corner of this country was shaped by the hand of man.

You can read this guide at

I might add that I decided to leave this as a single web page rather than dividing it into chapters as I thought you might like to print it out should you be going to that area on holiday. If you click on our "Printer Friendly" button it will be easy to print.

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


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