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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 8th July 2000
Issue No 187

New Internet Con Selling Phoney Lairdships

Internet scam merchants are conning people into paying thousands of pounds to become phoney Scottish lairds.

The bogus titles, which give ownership of as little as one square foot of Highland land, comes with the false assurance that holders can call themselves Lord or Lady. The sellers also give advice encouraging new "lairds" to break the law by using the title to gain advantage in business or society. Now trading standards officers in the Highlands are to launch an investigation into the scam. Bizarre titles such as Laird of Camster and Laird of John O'Groats, which come with a square foot of land in a Caithness peat bog, are available as novelty gifts in the UK for only 20 - but people from abroad are offered them for as much as 650. Buyers who splash out 1500 for a similar sized patch in Inverness-shire to become Laird of Cranachan, a Scottish dessert as well as a place, will feel like puddings when they realise their title is worthless. One site demands 5,5000 for a square yard of land to become Laird of Muness in the Shetland Islands. A Scots expert on noble titles revealed one fake changed hands at auction for a startling 100,000. Frederick Hogarth, editor of online genealogy site The Baronage Press, said: "It's time to clamp down. "The sales pitch is moonshine. We've been getting inquiries from potential buyers asking whether the titles are real. "We've advised people buying genuine baronial titles and they can cost 75,000. But what we're dealing with here are feudal titles or imitations of them and the invitation to pass them off as peerage titles." It's legal to go by any name you want, but against the law to use a fake title for the purpose of fraud. However, the conmen's sales pitch suggests that putting "laird" on a driver's licence, bank cards or business cards can guarantee influence. One seller claims, "Titles spell out that you're affluent and well connected. In business and finance appearance really matter. Titles may pay for themselves many times over if you play it wisely." Another salesman claims, "People will take you more seriously and in restaurants or hotels you may find the best table and free upgrades." His site offers Laird of Canster and Laird of John 0'Groats for 330 although they're for sale for as little as 20 from Scottish companies. A Caithness firm has been offering the titles for years along with land on the bog of Camster Burn Estate. A Glasgow based agent of the company said: "We sell about 150 a month and make it clear the titles are only novelty gifts." The office of the Lord Lyon, which has responsibility for noble titles in Scotland said: "You can't lawfully be the Laird of Camster unless you own the whole feu of Camster Burn, not just a small patch. "However, people can call themselves anything they want unless they have an intention to defraud."

Get a Ticket for the Scotsman

One of the most expensive train journeys yet made in Britain is planned for the autumn when the famous steam locomotive Flying Scotsman makes a return trip from St Pancras, London to Inverness costing each passenger 3000. The locomotive, with its own coaches, is being hired by gun maker Holland & Holland. The owners of the locomotive and rolling stock, Flying Scotsman Railways of Lichfield, Staff, say they understand the figure of 3000 to be accurate. A spokesman for Flying Scotsman Railways said: "Our locomotive is booked to haul a private charter train from St Pancras to Inverness in October. Matched with our coaching stock, the train will leave London on Tuesday October 17, for a leisurely three day trip via the Midlands, York, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, arriving in Inverness on the evening of the 19th." It is to start the return journey the following morning and the route is expected to be the same. The Flying Scotsman was built in 1922 to haul express trains on the former London North Eastern Railways between King's Cross and Edinburgh.

MacLennans Gathering

Members of the clan MacLennan are holding their triennial gathering, Celebration 2000, this week. At least 50 clan enthusiasts with many more expected, converged from all over the world on the Beaufort Hotel, Inverness to take part in four days of activities. Clanfolk attended a civic reception at Inverness Town House on Thursday, while on Friday the same building was the venue for the clan parliament, presided over by clan chief and university student Ruaridh MacLennan from Dores. Guest speaker at the clan dinner at the Beaufort Hotel was author and historian Dr James Hunter. Today there is a tour of the West Highlands, including the ancient churchyard at Kintail, Inverinate where MacLennans and MacRaes ambushed Government troops and threw them in the river, and Eilean Donan Castle, from which members of both clans marched to fight at Sheriffmuir in the first Jacobite rising of 1715. The gathering ends tomorrow with a service at Auldearn and an afternoon picnic at Dores on the banks of Loch Ness.

Gaelic Festival Hope

The Scottish Arts Council is funding an initiative which it is hoped will lead to the establishment of an annual Gaelic Festival in north Sutherland. While the area has played host to provincial mods and has active Gaelic choirs, it lacks a regular forum for lovers of Gaelic language, song, music and dance. That is set to change with moves spearheaded by backers of the Duthchas project in north Sutherland. Along with Duthchas areas in Trotternish in Skye and North Uist, north Sutherland has been awarded a grant by the SAC. It is to be used to foster the interest in Gaelic culture in the sprawling, scattered communities between Durness and Strath-Halladale.

War Graves Row

A flock of sheep brought in to restore Culloden battlefield to its former glory stand accused of damaging the graves of fallen clansmen. The 50 Hebridean sheep should be controlling the growth of silver birch tree saplings and other unwanted vegetation in the Field of English, but have been tempted by the sweeter grass over the fence, where they have rubbed against gravestones and left droppings. The flock was brought in last year by the National Trust for Scotland in an effort to recreate the look of the battlefield as it was two and a half centuries ago, as it had become overgrown with long grass and saplings. Highland councillor Roddy Balfour said: "I am unhappy that a site of such emotional significance to Scotland is being treated in this way. There must be a better way to control vegetation and trees." Ross Mackenzie, of the Culloden Visitor Centre, said: "One or two of the animals escaped from the Field of the English where they were fenced off and supposed to be grazing. Sheep are good at jumping, so I suppose that was to be expected."

Black Watch Bids Farewell

An army regiment is due to leave its Highland base of four years to form part of Britain's forces in Germany. The 547 strong 1st Battalion the Black Watch, which has been based at Fort George, near Inverness, since April 1996, will depart in August for a six year tour of duty in Fallingbostel, Germany. The Black Watch will be succeeded by the Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret's Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment) which returns from duty in Fallingbostel. It has for the past six years been operating as an armoured infantry battalion equipped with the Warrior armoured vehicle. The Black Watch is expected to carry out similar duties. The Black Watch in May formed the largest guard of honour in the regiment's 272 year history for Private Gary McMillan and his childhood sweetheart, Adele Morman, as they left Dunfermline Abbey after their wedding ceremony.

Kyleakin Wildlife Project

Actress Virginia McKenna recently launched the Eilean Ban Project at Kyleakin for the long term protection of wildlife on the tiny island which supports one leg of the Skye Bridge. Local Highland councillor Bill Fulton formally declared berthing pontoons open at the former Skye ferry terminal village, which has lost out financially since bypassed by the bridge. The Eilean Ban Trust was set up 19 months ago to manage Eilean Ban as a wildlife habitat for the benefit of the Kyle and Kyleakin communities, to construct paths and dykes for visitors and to convert the lighthouse cottages into an interpretative centre and memorial to the writer Gavin Maxwell, who lived there prior to his death in 1969.

Charity Event

Around 120 tartan clad walkers turned out recently to raise money for the Highland Hospice. It is hoped the five mile annual March of the Highlanders has raised thousands of pounds towards the care of patients. The walk started at Daviot Wood and went by old General Wade Roads to Inverness, where the marchers were piped to Inverness Castle. Last year the walk raised 8,000 for the hospice.

Political Roundup

Independence Gaining Support says Salmond

North East nationalist MSPs have supported Alex Salmond's claims that support for the SNP and independence in Scotland is growing. Mr Salmond said: "The last year has been one of growth for the Scottish Parliament and the SNP. The parliament has now bedded down, and the people of Scotland want to see it develop further in power, status and authority. "The SNP too has grown. We are the official opposition, the government in waiting. "We have a team of MSPs that this party can be proud of, but more importantly, our fellow Scots now see us as a team fit to govern."

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Patchy rain turning to showers/sunny spells. Winds mod W-SW. Temperature 13c to 19c.
Saturday Night
Blustery showers. Clear spells. Winds mod W-SW. Temperature 9c to 13c.
Cloudy in the far N, showers or longer periods of rain. Further S a mix of showers/bright spells.
A cool day. Cloudy in the E with rain at times. A mixture of showers and bright spells in the W.

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This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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