All Things Scottish

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Crathes Castle: One of the most popular castles in the care of the National Trust for Scotland is Crathes in the Grampian Region. Built in the second half of the sixteenth century by the Burnetts of Leys its grounds are equally as famous, being more a series of gardens divided by yew hedges planted about 1702. The ancient Barony of Leys was granted to Alexander de Burnard by Robert the Bruce in 1323 as a token of appreciation of his support, and with it came the post of King's forester. But the King had committed one of these 'faux pas' which could lead to one party being highly offended, for the post was also given to the Irvines of Drum nearby! The matter was settled amicably enough however, for while the Irvines continued to display the official arms of the King's forester - a silver shield with three holly leaves, the Burnetts, as they came to be known, have incorporated in their Arms a horn. The actual jeweled ivory horn they received from the king is perhaps the most famous of the family heirlooms and has pride of place over the fireplace in the Great Hall. Their first home was built on an island in the loch of Leys and legend associates the building of Crathes with a tragedy that occurred in their original stronghold. The old laird had died, leaving a wife and an heir, Alexander, who was still a child. The widow Lady Agnes, was a managing domineering woman who had ambitious plans, as the years went past, for her son's marriage with one of the noble families of Scotland. She wasn't at all pleased when romance blossomed between young Alexander and a relative, a pretty girl called Bertha, who had been left in her care for a few months. Her chance came when Alexander was called away on business that took him some time. As the days and weeks passed the servants noticed his beloved Bertha was pining away. Alexander returned home too late - his sweetheart had died that day. All solicitous his mother came to comfort him as he stood by the bier. Alexander stretched out his hand to a nearby goblet of wine. As quick as lightning his mother snatched it from his hand and flung it out of the window, into the loch below. Alexander never said a word - but, horrified, he knew his mother had poisoned his beloved. The months went past until one day Bertha's father arrived to claim the daughter he had left in their care. As they tried to explain her death a chill came over the room. Lady Agnes shrieked and pointed, screaming "She comes, she comes" ...then fell to the floor, dead. The unhappy memories made Alexander set in motion plans to build a new castle and Crathes was the outcome. But once a year, so they say, on the anniversary of Bertha's death a ghostly figure crosses the country from the site of the old castle of Leys to Crathes. Opinions differ however, as to whether it is the murdered Bertha or her murderer Lady Agnes. The painted ceilings in three of the bedrooms are famous. The chamber of the Nine Nobles depicts Hector, Alexander and Julius Caesar; Joshua, David and Judas Maccabeus; King Arthur, Charlemange and Godfrey de Bouillon each supported by a rhyme or proverb and ending with "Gude redar tell me or you pass Whilk of these myn maist valiant was?" The Green Lady's room is the haunt of another ghost. She is most frequently seen crossing the room carrying a baby, only to disappear at the fireplace. She first made her appearance early in the eighteenth century and legend states she was a young girl living at the castle in the care of the laird. She became pregnant by one of the servants who was ultimately dismissed. The girl and her baby disappeared and rumor said she had eloped with the servant. Then the hauntings began ... and when workmen were engaged on alterations in the room skeletons were found under the hearthstone ...
Donna Fraser <dfraser@webweather.com>
Laurel, MD USA -
BEN NEVIS. At 1343 Metres or 4406 Feet above Sea Level, Ben Nevis is the Highest mountain in the United Kingdom. The name 'Nevis' comes from the Gaelic word for heaven or clouds. Ben Nevis can therefore be translated 'mountain with its head in the clouds' or 'cloudy mountain'. At any time of year the "Ben" is spectacular and a view you will never forget. Massive, round-shouldered hulk with steep cliffs on its north face. Rough 5 mile long footpath leads to mountain's summit from Achintree House near Fort William. Initial strenuous climb levels out at 2,500ft; summit offers views stretching for more than 100 miles from Great Glen to Atlantic islands. GLEN NEVIS. This Glen runs on the West and Southern flanks of Ben Nevis with the Water of Nevis flowing through it. A road runs through this Glen running from Fort William to Polldush waterfall from where it detiorates into a poor track. On the way however there is the vitrified fort of Dun Dearadil, which stands to the West of the road at 1100 ft, nine miles South East of Fort William. This fort measures 150 ft by 90 ft within a massive vitrified ruin which is some 50 ft thick in places. One of Scotland's loveliest valleys with varied terrain of rivers, crags and steep wooded gullies. At eastern end, flanked by steep tracks, is 1,250ft 'water slide', Allt Coire Eoghain, tumbling from flanks of Ben Nevis.
Donna Fraser <dfraser@webweather.com>
Laurel, MD USA -
The Ochil Fairy Tales: The Story of the Brownie. by R. Menzies Fergusson. Once upon a time, long, long, before any of you were born, there lived an old woman in a cottage, beside a wide-stretching moor, behind the Ochil hills. Her cottage was in a very lonely spot, far from neighbours, and to keep her company there lived a little grandchild with the name of Nelly. The house in which they dwelt was known by the name of "Bessie o' the Bogs", for the old woman's name was Bessie, and the moor at this part was full of boggy places, in which it was very dangerous to venture. The old woman kept a cow and a few fowls, so that she and her grandchild were supplied with plenty of milk, butter, and eggs. Little Nelly was not able to go to school, because the road was too long for her tiny feet; so her grandmother gave her lessons at home, and taught Nelly the letters of the Alphabet from an old horn book, which she had used herself when a little girl. She also taught Nelly to sew a sampler, which is a piece of fine canvas, stretched upon a frame, on which is sewn in coloured wool all the letters of the Alphabet, the figures 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0, and beneath that the girl's own name, which in this case was Nelly Henderson. On the long winter nights the Granny used to tell stories about the Fairies and Brownies, who were at that time believed to dwell in a large earth mound, called "The Fairy Knowe," which was near Pendreich, overlooking the beautiful vale of Menteith, and the western group of the Grampian mountains. There they held high revels, dancing in the silver moonbeams, and playing at leap-frog and other funny games, which kept them amused until the dawn drove them into hiding. Nelly loved to listen to tales of these grey people, as they were sometimes called, and especially the doings of one Brownie, called Tod Lowrie, or Red Bonnett, from the red cap which he was supposed to wear. This Brownie was a great favourite with the shepherds who looked after the sheep on the Ochils, and as he always helped them, though he was never seen by any of them, none would speak an evil word of this good Fairy. Nelly's Granny had quite a budget of tales about the things Tod Lowrie used to do, and thus the little girl got to love the tiny elf whose good-humour and kindly deeds were proverbial. At night when she went to bed she used to wish very much to see her favourite Fairy, but she never managed to catch even a glimpse of his red cap. As time went on little Nelly thought more and more about her Fairy friends, and often wished to see some of them as the gambolled on the dewy grass or crept quietly into people's houses to do their work for them, and leave everything tidy in the morning. For, of course, Nelly knew that when all the folks in a house were sound asleep, then it was that Tod Lowrie would step inside, and take up the broom and sweep the floors and lay the fire, and leave everything tidy and neat for the shephard's wife in the morning. Though Nelly and her Granny lived so far from other people, they had a little world of their own to take up their attention. Nelly was specially fond of the scones which her Granny baked, and which she called her "Fairy scones", because they were covered with little rings made by a thimble. These rings reminded Nelly of the rings she often observed on the dewy grass in the early morning, which were supposed to be made by the Fairies dancing at the dawn of day. When the evening shadows fell she would sit by the fire and dream of the little queer folk who hid away from the view of mortals, and only appeared to do some service to the people they regarded with favour. One night, as Nelly thus sat by the fire and watched the glowing peats, for they had no coal in that moorland region, she prayed to herself that God would let her see the Brownie whom she knew as Tod Lowrie, or Red Bonnet. Her Granny had not been very well that day, and Nelly had tried her best to do the work of the house, but she had not been able to do it all. When she went to bed, where her Granny had been resting all day, she felt very tired, and soon fell asleep. It was the month of January, and the cold of winter was severe, the ground being covered with snow. That night a snowstorm began to blow across the moor, just as the evening shadows began to fall, and about the time little Nelly had gone to bed. Some little time after she fell asleep the door gently opened, and a strange, quaint little figure stole into the room. It was a wee man with a red cap upon his head, green shoes upon his feet, and a tight little jacket of greenish leather closely buttoned round his body. He looked slyly round the room, which was in semi-darkness, the only light being that which came from the flickering embers of the peat fire. Having satisfied himself that everybody was asleep, he picked up a broom and set to work to sweep the hearth and the floor; next he arranged the dishes upon the shelves of the dresser or cupboard. Then the Brownie, for this was none other than Tod Lowrie himself, went out to an outhouse and brought in two wooden stoups, or pitchers, full of water, and set them carefully in a corner. Going out again, he brought in some peats which he placed upon the fire, and bending down upon his knees, he blew the embers until the fire blazed quite cheerily. Taking a hurried glance round to see if he might be observed, he seemed to be satisfied that all was well, and going into a scullery close by, he carried a pot into the room, and, having put some water into it, he hung it upon the hook above the fire. The Brownie then took a bowl full of meal, and with a wooden stick, called a "spurtle," in his hand, he slowly allowed the oatmeal to trickle through his fingers into the pot, stirring the contents the while until it boiled; adding a pinch of salt, he allowed it to boil for some time. Taking out the wooden spurtle, he scraped it upon the side of the pot and laid it carefully aside. His next action was to fetch two wooden bowls from a press, one large and one small. Turning to the fire, he unhooked the pot, carried it carefully to the table, and poured out porridge into the two empty bowls. When this was done, Ted Lowrie took the pot into the scullery and washed it clean, using a bunch of heather stalks tied firmly together, called a "range"; going into the scullery again, he returned with two small bowls of fresh milk, which he placed beside the bowls of steaming porridge. Looking at his handiwork, the Brownie smiled to himself and rubbed his hands together in high glee. "This will surprise my little Nell," he said to himself; and wheeling round he said, "Now it's time I was off, before the morning light wakens up my little friend." Red Bonnet went to the door, but great was his surprise to find that during the night, when he had been so busy, the snow had been falling and the wind had been causing it to drift; so heavy had it been that the cottage was completely surrounded by a bank of snow, heaped up to the roof. He next tried the window, but it was blocked too, so the wee man could find no exit that way. Standing in the middle of the floor the Brownie considered what he should do. At last he hit upon a plan of escape. He went to the fireplace and prepared to climb up the chimney; but as he stepped upon the jamb of the fireplace, the smoke from the burning peats so tickled his little nose that he gave a huge sneeze and fell with a dump on the floor. This untoward noise awoke Nelly from her slumbers, and looking out from her box-bed, she saw the wee Brownie with his red cap and green shoes, and, thrilled with delight; she cried to her Granny: "Oh look, Granny, here's Tod Lowrie!" But when Granny had opened her eyes and looked out of the bed, the Brownie was gone, having leapt up the chimney and vanished. So, after all, the only person who ever saw Tod Lowrie was little Nelly, whose pure eyes and kind heart enabled her to see a Fairy.
Donna Fraser <dfraser@webweather.com>
Laurel, MD USA -
Robert Burns: TAM O' SHANTER A Tale `Of Brownyis and of Bogillis full is this Buke.' ... Gawin Douglas Composed for Francis Grose, to accompany an engraving of Alloway Kirk, and published in the second volume of Antiquities of Scotland in April 1791. It was written in fulfillment of a promise to Grose, in 1789 but not carried out before the winter of 1790. In November that year Burns sent the first fragment to Mrs. Dunlop. Grose received the complete poem at the beginning of December. Like `Halloween' it draws heavily on the lore of witchcraft, which Burns, imbibed from Betty Davidson? The story is loosely based on Douglas Graham of Shanter, (1739-1811), whose wife Helen was a superstitious shrew. He was prone to drunkenness on market-day and on one such occasion the wags of Ayr clipped his horse's tail --- a fact he explained away by this story of witches which mollified his credulous wife. Captain Grose, in the introduction to his `Antiquities of Scotland', says, `To my ingenious friend, Mr. Robert Burns, I have been most seriously obligated; he was not only at the pains of making out what was most worthy of notice in Ayrshire. The country honored by his birth, but he also wrote, expressly for this work, the pretty tale annexed to Alloway Church.' What an odd notion Captain Grose must have had of the fitness of things when he called Tam O'Shanter, `a pretty tale.' In a letter to Captain Grose the author gives the legend which formed the groundwork of the poem:- `On a market day in the town of Ayr, a farmer from Carrick, and consequently whose way lay by the very gate of Alloway kirkyard, in order to cross the river Doon at the old bridge, which is about two or three hundred yards farther on than the said gate, had been detained by his business, till by the time he reached Alloway it was the wizard hour, between night and morning. Though he was terrified with a blaze streaming from the kirk, yet it is a well-known fact that to turn back on these occasions is running by far the greatest risk of mischief, --- he prudently advanced on his road. When he had reached the gate of the kirkyard, he was surprised and entertained. Through the ribs and arches of an old Gothic window, which still faces the highway, to see a dance of witches merrily footing it round their old sooty blackguard master, who was keeping them all alive with the power of his bagpipe. The farmer, stopping his horse to observe them a little, could plainly descry the faces of many old women of his acquaintance and neighborhood. How the gentleman was dressed tradition does not say, but that the ladies were all in their smocks. One of them happening unluckily to have a smock which was considerably too short to answer all the purposes of that piece of dress. Our farmer was so tickled that he involuntarily burst out, with a loud laugh, `Weel luppen (leaped), Maggie wi' the short sark!' and, recollecting himself, instantly spurred his horse to the top of his speed. I need not mention the universally known fact that no diabolical power can pursue you beyond the middle of a running stream. Luckily it was for the poor farmer that the river Doon was so near, for notwithstanding the speed of his horse, which was a good one, against he reached the middle of the arch of the bridge. Consequently the middle of the stream, the pursuing, vengeful hags, were so close at his heels that one of them actually sprung to seize him. It was too late, nothing was on her side of the stream but the horse's tail, which immediately gave way at her infernal grip, as if blasted by a stroke of lightning; but the farmer was beyond her reach. However, the unsightly, tailless condition of the vigorous steed was, to the last hour of the noble creature's life, an awful warning to the Carrick farmers not to stay too late in Ayr markets.' The poet constituted Douglas Graham, the farmer of Shanter, hero of the legend, and as he really was the jovial careless being he is represented to be in the poem, several ludicrous incidents current about him were introduced into it. The poem was composed in the winter of 1790, and was begun and ended in one day. Mrs. Burns told Cromek that she saw him by the riverside laughing and gesticulating as the humorous incidents assumed shape within his mind. But the evidence suggests careful reworking of the poem: Burns thought the poem had `a finishing polish that I despair of ever excelling.' Burns named it as his `own favorite' of his own works and said `I look on "Tam o' Shanter" to be my standard performance in the Poetical line,' an opinion endorsed by generations of critics. Beginning with A.F.Tytler who wrote to Burns, on 12 March 1791, `when you describe the infernal orgies of the witches' sabbath and the hellish scenery in which they are exhibited, you display a power of imagination that Shakespeare himself could not have exceeded.' Sir Walter Scott (in the first issue of the Quarterly Review, February 1809) also compared the Burns of `Tam o' Shanter' with Shakespeare: `No poet, with the exception of Shakespeare, ever possessed the power of exciting the most varied and discordant emotions with such rapid transitions.' Burns confided to Mrs. Dunlop, in 1789, that he wanted `to write an epic poem of my own composition.' He never achieved that ambition but did write a masterly mock epic in `Tam o' Shanter'. On one level, the poem is a comical Odyssey (Burns had read Pope's translations of Homer) following the homewards journey of a farmer to Kirkoswald, in the Carrick area of Ayrshire, from the county town of Ayr. Traditionally the protagonists of the poem are supposedly modeled on characters Burns met when sent to school in Kirkoswald in the summer of 1775, Tam on Douglas Graham of Shanter farm; Kate on Graham's nagging wife Helen; Souter Johnnie on John Davidson, a shoemaker who lived near Shanter farm; Kirkton Jean on Jean Kennedy who, with her sister Anne, kept an ale-house in Kirkoswald; Cutty-sark on Katie Steven, a local fortune-teller. Above all, though, `Tam O' Shanter' is an imaginative work and it is clear that Burns found the octosyllabic couplet the perfect form for a narrative that moves easily from the natural to the supernatural, from the earthly to the other-worldly, thus giving Tam's odyssey a timeless dimension. `Tam o' Shanter' first appeared in the Edinburgh Magazine (March 1791) and the Edinburgh Herald (18 March 1791) then as a footnote (pp. 199-201) to the account of Kirk Alloway in the second volume of Grose's, `The Antiquities of Scotland (April 1791). In these first printings, four lines completed the section ending `Which even to name wad be unlawfu''. Three lawyers' tongues, turn'd inside out, Wi' lies seam'd like a beggar's clout; Three priests' hearts, rotten, black as muck, Lay stinking, vile, in every neuk. Writing to Alexander Fraser Tytler in April 1791, Burns agreed there were faults in the poem as first published: `one of them, the hit at the lawyer and priest, I shall cut out.' So he did, omitting the four lines when he collected the poem in the second Edinburgh edition of 1793. When chapman billies leave the street, And drouthy neebors neebors meet; As market-days are wearing late, An' folk begin to tak the gate; While we sit bowsing at the nappy, An' getting fou and unco happy, We think na on the lang Scots miles, The mosses, waters, slaps, and styles, That lie between us and our hame, Whare sits our sulky, sullen dame, Gathering her brows like gathering storm, Nursing her wrath to keep it warm. This truth fand honest Tam o' Shanter, As he frae Ayr ae night did canter; (Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses, For honest men and bonnie lasses.) O Tam, had'st thou but been sae wise, As taen thy ain wife Kate's advice! She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum, A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum; That frae November till October, Ae market-day thou was nae sober; That ilka melder wi' the miller, Thou sat as lang as thou had siller; That ev'ry naig was ca'd a shoe on, The smith and thee gat roaring fou on; That at the Lord's house, even on Sunday, Thou drank wi' Kirkton Jean till Monday. She prophesied, that, late or soon, Thou would be found deep drown'd in Doon, Or catch'd wi' warlocks in the mirk By Alloway's auld, haunted kirk. Ah! gentle dames, it gars me greet, To think how monie counsels sweet, How monie lengthen'd, sage advices The husband frae the wife despises! But to our tale:- Ae market-night, Tam had got planted unco right, Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely, Wi' reaming swats, that drank divinely; And at his elbow, Souter Johnie, His ancient, trusty, drouthy cronie: Tam lo'ed him like a very brither; They had been fou for weeks thegither. The night drave on wi' sangs and clatter; And ay the ale was growing better: The landlady and Tam grew gracious Wi' secret favours, sweet and precious: The Souter tauld his queerest stories; The landlord's laugh was ready chorus: The storm without might rair and rustle, Tam did na mind the storm a whistle. Care, mad to see a man sae happy, E'en drown'd himsel amang the nappy. As bees flee hame wi' lades o' treasure, The minutes wing'd their way wi' pleasure: Kings may be blest but Tam was glorious, O'er a' the ills o' life victorious! But pleasures are like poppies spread: You seize the flow'r its bloom is shed; Or like the snow falls in the river, A moment white-then melts for ever; Or like the Borealis, race, That flit ere you can point their place; Or like the rainbow's lovely form Evanishing amid the storm. Nae man can tether time or tide; The hour approaches Tam maun ride: That hour, o' night's black arch the key-stane, That dreary hour Tam mounts his beast in; And sic a night he taks the road in, As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in. The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last; The rattling showers rose on the blast; The speedy gleams the darkness swallow'd; Loud, deep, and lang the thunder bellow'd: That night, a child might understand, The Deil had business on his hand. Weel mounted on his grey mare Meg, A better never lifted leg, Tam skelpit on thro' dub and mire, Despising wind, and rain, and fire; Whiles holding fast his guid blue bonnet, Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet, Whiles glow'ring round wi' prudent cares, Lest bogles catch him unawares: Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh, Where ghaists and houlets nightly cry. By this time he was cross the ford, Where in the snaw the chapman smoor'd; And past the birks and meikle stane, Where drunken Charlie brak's neck-ban And thro' the whins, and by the cairn, Where hunters fand the murder'd bairn; And near the thorn, aboon the well, Whare Mungo's mither hang'd hersel. Before him Doon pours all his floods; The doubling strorm roars thro' the woods; The lightnings flash from pole to pole; Near and more near the thunders roll: When, glimmering thro' the groaning trees, Kirk-Alloway seem'd in a bleeze, Thro' ilka bore the beams were glancing, And loud resounded mirth and dancing. Inspiring, bold John Barleycorn! What dangers thou canst make us scorn! Wi' tippenny, we fear nae evil; Wi' usquabae, we'll face the Devil.! The swats sae ream'd in Tammie's noddle, Fair play, he car'd na deil's a boddle. But Maggie stood, right sair astonish'd, Till, by the heel and hand admonish'd, She ventur'd forward on the light; And, wow! Tam saw an unco sight! Warlocks and witches in a dance: Nae cotillion, brent new frae France, But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels, Put life and mettle in their heels. A winnock-bunker in the east, There sat Auld Nick, in shape o' beast; A tousie tyke, black, grim, and large, To gie them music was his charge: He screw'd the pipes and gart them skirl, Till roof and rafters a' did dirl. Coffins stood round, like open presses, That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses; And, by some devilish cantraip sleight, Each in its cauld hand held a light: By which heroic Tam was able To note upon the haly table, A murderer's banes, in gibbet-airns; Twa span-lang, wee, uncristen'd bairns; A thief new-cutted frae a rape --- Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape; Five tomahawks wi' bluid red-rusted; Five scymitars wi' murder crusted; A garter which a babe had strangled; A knife a father's throat had mangled --- Whom his ain son o' life bereft --- The grey-hairs yet stack to the heft; Wi, mair of horrible and awefu', Which even to name wad be unlawfu', As Tammie glowr'd, amaz'd, and curious, The mirth and fun grew fast and furious; The piper loud and louder blew. The dancers quick and quicker flew, They reel'd, they set, they cross'd, they cleekit, Till ilka carlin swat and reekit, And coost her duddies to the wark, And linket at it in her sark! Now Tam, O Tam! had thae been queans, A' plump and strappin' in their teens! Their sarks, instead o' creeshie flannen, Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linen! --- Thir breeks o' mine, my only pair, That ance were plush, o' guid blue hair, I wad hae gi'en them off my hurdies For ae blink o' the bonie burdies! But wither'd beldams, auld and droll, Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal, Louping and flinging on a crummock , I wonder did na turn thy stomach! But Tam kend what was fu' brawlie: There was ae winsome wench and walie, That night enlisted in the core, Lang after kend on Carrick shore (For monie a beast to dead she shot, An' perish'd monie a bonie boat, And shook baith meikle corn and bear, And kept the countryside in fear.) Her cutty sark, o' Paisley harn, That while a lassie she had worn, In longitude tho' sorely scanty, It was her best, and she was vauntie... Ah! little kend thy reverend grannie, That sark she coft for her wee Nannie, Wi' twa pund Scots (`twas a' her riches)' Wad ever grac'd a dance of witches! But here my Muse her wing maun cour, Sic flights as far beyond her power: To sing how Nannie lap and flang (A souple jad she was and strang); And how Tam stood like ane bewitch'd, And thought his very een enrich'd; Even Satan glowr'd and fidg'd fu' fain, And hotch'd and blew wi' might and main; Till first ae caper, syne anither, Tam tint his reason a' thegither, And roars out: `Weel done, Cutty-sark!' And in an instant all was dark; And scarcely had he Maggie rallied, When out the hellish legion sallied. As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke, When plundering herds assail their byke; As open pussie's mortal foes, When, pop! she starts before their nose; As eager runs the market-crowd, When `Catch the thief!' resounds aloud: So Maggie runs, the witches follow, Wi' monie an eldrich skriech and hollow. Ah, Tam! Ah, Tam! thou'll get thy fairin! In hell they'll roast thee like a herrin'! In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin! Kate soon will be a woefu' woman! Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg, And win the key-stane of the brig, There, at them thou thy tail may toss, A running stream they dare na cross! But ere the key-stane she could make, The fient a tail she had to shake; For Nannie, far before the rest, Hard upon noble Maggie prest, And flew at Tam wi' furious ettle; But little wist she Maggie's mettle! Ae spring brought off her master hale, But left behind her ain grey tail: The carlin claught her by the rump, And left poor Maggie scarce a stump. Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read, Ilk man, and mother's son, take heed: Whene'er to drink you are inclin'd, Or cutty sarks run in your mind, Think! ye may buy the joys o'er dear: Remember Tam o' Shanter's mare.
Donna Fraser <dfraser@webweather.com>
Laurel, MD USA -
A dictionary will tell you that tartan is "woolen cloth woven in specific checkered patters". This bland description hardly tells the full story, as the very identify of a nation has been inexorably bound in the tartan image for 300 years. It is easy to forget, in these modern times when a new tartan is designed almost on a daily basis, the important role these unique colored patterns have had on Scots since they were first developed in the 17th Century. The popular image of the tartan-clad Highlander, proudly wearing the colors of his or her own particular clan, is one that we are quire happy to foster - after all; it is good for business! American tourists in particular will flock to such as the Tartan Gift Shop in Edinburgh, eager to identify "their" family tartan. It would probably not be too much to suggest that, had it not been for this American search for a history that they so crave, the whole tartan industry might never have grown to the size it has. Selling Scotland's history has become a major industry, one in which tartan plays the leading role. How, though, did we come to adopt these patters, and why? As ever curious, I went in search of the answers, and in doing so discovered a few surprises. The word "tartan" itself is shrouded in some mystery. Depending upon which historian one asks, it is said to have come from the Gaelic word for "across", tarsuinn. More convincing, perhaps, are those who point to the French tiretaine. Both have valid claims to the word, but history does not provide sufficient facts to support either strongly enough to be certain. What can, however, be supported by historical fact is the age of tartan. The popular belief that the unique designs was used in Scotland in Celtic or Pictish designs are, sadly, unsupported by any hard evidence. What is clear though is that the first definitive account, which appeared in 1538, came when James V placed an order for some material, which included "Helend tertane, to be hois for Kingis Grace". This is considered to refer to a simple two-color check, which was probably required for the making of a pair of trews (it is unlikely at this time to have been a kilt). These two-color designs, usually brown and black interspersed with white or cream check, were knows as the Shepherd's Check. They are known to have been woven by local weavers from local sheep, but in the Lowlands of Scotland - destroying another myth that tartan was developed purely as an identifying "badge" of the Highland clans (although it may well have developed as such later). The French connection rears itself again in the search for tartan roots in the form of the historian Beaugue, who, in his description of the Highlanders at the siege of Flanders (probably mercenary soldiers), described their attire as being "light coverings of wool in many colors". A woodcut from 1631 also shows Highlanders in the army of Gustavus Adolphus (the King of Sweden who, from 1611, waged a series of wars against Denmark, Russia, Poland and Germany) wearing what appeared to be tartan. Indeed one soldier is seen to be wearing what was possibly the first recorded use of the kilt. Quite how tartan became the identification symbols of the Highland clans remains a mystery. Early records show that, around 1691, groups of Highland soldiers were wearing the same cloth, and in 1703 the historian Martin Martin wrote of the Western Isles that "Every isle differs from each other in their fancy of making Plads … at the first view of the man's Plad, (one could) guess the place of his residence." This could, of course, have had more to do with local variations in the availability of plants from which the dyes were extracted to color the cloth. Given the lack of any evidence to the contrary, I lean towards this being the beginning of the Highland clan-specific tartan. The fame that tartan enjoys today can perhaps traces its roots to the defeat of the Jacobite uprising in 1745. Following that defeat at Culloden, the wearing of tartan was banned, a situation that remained until 1782. Whatever effect the English had hoped this ban would have, what actually resulted was an enormous increase in the popularity of tartan dress. Indeed, the reason the ban was lifted was as an inducement in the recruiting of Highlanders into the British Army! The romantic view of tartan had now been born, but again it was in a somewhat more unromantic manner that the popular clan tartans as we know them today were instigated. William Wilson & Son, a weaving company, used a wide range of colors and patterns in their cloths around the middle of the 18th century. As a result of this, the wearing of a "family" tartan became ever more popular, because in an audacious marketing exercise for the day, Wilson & Son wrote to just about every lord or laird suggesting various combinations from which their own tartan could be chosen. The final piece of the jigsaw in the new popularity of tartan was placed in 1822 when King George IV, encouraged by such as Sir Walter Scott and others determined to promote the wearing of tartan, dressed himself from head to toe in scarlet Stuart tartan garb for a visit to Edinburgh. This royal approval elevated the wearing of tartan from a poor clansman's badge of honor to that of an essential fashion statement and thus an entire industry was born.
Donna Fraser <dfraser@webweather.com>
Laurel, MD USA -
Did you know? There are three Scottish place names, which contain only two letters-Oa, Ae, and Bu. Five species of deer can be found in Scotland. Red Deer, Roe Deer, Fallow Deer, the small Sika introduced from Japan, and Reindeer. The shortest scheduled flight in the world is one and a half miles from Westray to Papa Westray in the Orkneys. The trip takes 1 min 14 sec. Edinburgh has more booksellers per head of population than any other city in Britain. Britain's narrowest hotel is the Star in Moffat. It is 20 feet wide, has eight bedrooms, two bars and a restaurant seating 70. A Scottish mile is 1,984 yards compared to the norm of 1,760 yards. The Lincoln Monument in Edinburgh's Old Carlton Cemetery was the first statue of an American president to be constructed outside the US. There are approximately 450 golf courses in Scotland. Johnny Walker Red Label is the world's largest selling whisky brand. Strathisla, in Keith, founded in 1785 is the oldest working malt whisky distillery in the Highlands. Tomatin Distillery is the largest in Scotland making malt whisky. The Scottish people of today are made up of Scots, Picts, Britons, Celts, Angles, Vikings, Normans, Flemings, Dutch, Pakistanis, Sikhs, and Bangladeshi. Loch Lomond is Britains' largest fresh water lake, 23 miles long and one and a half to five miles wide. There are 24 islands on it. Scotland is divided physically by "faults", which are great fractures of rock strata. The Highland clearances in the 19th century resulted in the emigration of Scots to America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Landlords evicted tenants to make way for sheep, as mutton and wool were more profitable. Scotland's national flag is the St. Andrew's cross-a white cross on -a blue background - known as the Saltire. The Lion Rampant, often used to represent Scotland is in fact an illegal display of the banner. Scotland's oldest inhabited castle is Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye. The largest ship ever built in Scotland is the QE 2, launched by Queen Elizabeth in 1967. The population of Scotland is approximately five and a half million. Its area is 30,411 square miles including 787 islands. Inverewe Gardens near Poolewe is in the same latitude as Siberia and Labrador but the plants grown there are sub-tropical-from South America, South Africa and the South Pacific. The Gulf Steam makes this possible. Golf has been played in St. Andrews since its arrival from Holland in the 15th Century. The Old Course is the oldest in the world. McGill University in Montreal was founded in 1744 by a Glasgow fur-trader of the same name. The Witches Well on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade marks the spot where more than 300 witches were burned between 1479 and 1722. A large proportion of Indian tea plantations were developed by Scots. By the late 1800s, a Glasgow trader named Thomas Lipton controlled a tenth of the entire tea trade. There are two river Dee's in Scotland, in the Grampian and Galloway regions. In 1645 the bubonic plague devastated the city of Edinburgh. Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to land on the moon, was part Scottish. Ceilidh is Gaelic for 'visit'. People in remote areas used to gather in each others' homes for entertainment, each contributing a song, a poem, a story or instrumental music. Heather grows in great abundance in Scotland, as it thrives on the sort of acid soil prevalent in many parts of the country. Paisley was the world's leading producer of thread. Oats are the chief crop in Scotland, because the cool, moist climate is most suited for growing that crop. Oats is able to grow on poor soil, which is common in the Highlands. Alan Pinkerton, born in Glasgow founded the world famous detective agency. John Muir, father of the American Conservation movement was born in Dunbar in 1838. The most Scottish immigrants are in Canada. Australia is in second place. James IV came to the throne at age fifteen. King James practised dentistry and charged his patients for the extractions. - Adapted from The Wee Scottish Facts Book by A. Scott, as compiled by Jack Devlin and Josephine McGeachy.
Donna Fraser <drfraser@webweather.com>
Laurel, MD USA -
Scottish thistle There is a legend that, in 1010 when they attempted to capture Scotland, the Danes landed secretly at night. As they approached Stains Castle they removed their shoes to avoid making any noise. When they reached the castle's moat, they jumped in not realizing that the moat was dry and overgrown with thistles. The screams of the bare-footed Danes roused the garrison. The castle and Scotland were both saved and, according to legend, it is in memory of that night that the thistle became the floral emblem of Scotland.
Donna Fraser <dfraser@webweather.com>
Laurel, MD USA -
ST. ANDREW. Feast day 30 November Died c.60 Brother of St Peter, fisherman by trade; disciple of St John the Baptist before following Christ. Always mentioned within the first four in all Gospel lists of the Apostles. Later history unknown though oldest written tradition links him with Greece. Notable cult in the West where many churches were dedicated to him; ancient legends speak of a journey to Ethiopia and the translation of his bones, by St Rule, from Patras to Scotland in the 8th century. It was this story which appears in many guises that led to his adoption as patron of Scotland. Generally depicted with the saltire cross ('X') which was first associated with him in the 10th Century and became common by the 14th.
Donna Fraser <dfraser@webweather.com>
Laurel, MD USA -
Drumashie Moor. At the northeast edge of the parish where it joins the parish of Dunlichity, lies Drumashie Moor and Loch Ashie. Out on the moor, there is a large circle of stones -- the ruins of a fort called Buail a Chomhraid, "the fold of strife." This is the traditional site of a battle between the Gaels, led by Fingal, and the Norse led by A'ishidh (Ashie), who was killed. Further along, on the Inverness-Erogie road, there is an outcrop of rock above the loch, called Cathair Fhionn, or the "throne of Fingal." Here, the legendary figure is supposed to have sat while watching the battle. In the past and to this day, a ghostly battle has been seen in this area, with columns of soldiers and mounted men appearing on the moors near the north-east of Loch Ashie. According to local tradition, this battle is re-enacted as a silent phantom-play soon after dawn on the first of May. When the ghostly battle was observed in 1870, the curious happening was 'explained' in terms of its being a long-distance 'mirage reflection' of men who were even at that time fighting in the Franco-Prussian war. The same phantom battle was also seen during the First World War. Again after the Second World War, a group of picnicing Americans saw the phantom battle, to their astonishment. As an aside, an equally 'phantom' battle was said to have been seen near a small well on the road from Uig to Portree in Skye, on 15 April 1746, with the ghost of a young man watching the battle and lamenting. On the following day the battle of Culloden was fought, and the Scots defeated. A few days later, the fleeing Prince Charles drank at the same small well, and the locals immediately took the earlier vision as a presage of the disaster which occurred at Culloden. C.J. Shaw of Tordarroch (which estate lies over the hills to the south from Ashie) writes in his History of Clan Shaw of other ghostly happenings in the area: "The whole area has a reputation of being haunted. Where the road passes the end of Loch Ashie, there is a ruined cottage which is said to have been much haunted. At the roadside, between the second and third passing places on the way up to the main road, on the right is a large circular flat stone with a hole half-way through the centre. This is called Clach-na-brataich - "the stone of the banner." Tradition suggests that it is where Fingal's banner was raised. At the crossroads the road to the right goes to Inverness across Drumashie. It is haunted, and the story is told of a man on his bicycle meeting four horsemen who disappeared as they rode through him. Hereabouts the writer [Mr. Shaw] and his wife had the experience, in broad daylight, of slowing down at a corner where he had seen an approaching car which had signalled with his lights that he was pulling into the passing place, only to find the road empty! On telling this to a party of visitors with the field club, a local member said that recently a forest worker sitting down to his lunch looked up to see a woman and child approaching who simply disappeared!"
Donna Fraser <dfraser@webweather.com>
Laurel, MD USA -
Robert the Bruce. (1274-1329 A fugative lay on a bed of straw heartsick with discouragement. Idly he watched a spider hanging from its web and trying to swing itself from one beam to another of the wretched cottage roof. Six times the spider tried and failed. "If it tries again and is successful," said the fugitive to himself, "I too will make another attempt." On its seventh attempt the spider was successful. The fugitive was the Scottish hero Robert Bruce, who had been crowned king of Scotland after Sir William Wallace was executed by the English (see Wallace ). Taking heart from the spider's success, he now won back one stronghold after another. At last, on June 24, 1314, the English and Scottish forces met in the great battle of Bannockburn, which was to decide the fate of Scotland. The great army of Edward II came pouring over the border. Bruce had not half as many men. He chose a strong position. On one side flowed the little stream called the Bannock, with steep rocky banks; on the other rose Stirling Castle. In front were bogs and marshes. Wherever the land was firm, Bruce had pits dug to entrap the enemy's horsemen. The skilled English archers were unsupported by the English cavalry and were forced to retire. When the armored knights advanced they stumbled into the pits that had been dug for them and found themselves helpless before the forest of leveled spears of Bruce's men. Presently from behind the Scottish ranks what appeared to be a fresh army was seen advancing. In reality it was only the servants, drivers, and other camp followers whom Bruce had sent behind a hill, and who now came forward to join the fight. The English were thrown into confusion and suffered a bloody defeat. Bruce's throne and Scotland's independence were secure. Bruce proved to be a wise king and during his reign, from 1306 to 1329, was called "good king Robert." In his later years he longed to go to the Holy Land to fight against the Muslims, who were again in possession of the Sepulcher of Christ. He was the more anxious to do this because he was troubled at the thought that when he was a young man he had slain a rival before the very altar of God. When he knew that he must die without fulfilling his desire, he asked Lord James Douglas to be responsible for taking his heart to the Holy Land. When Bruce died, Douglas put the king's heart in a silver casket and started with it for the Holy Land. In Spain he found the Christians hard pressed by the Muslims and went to their aid. In the heat of the battle he threw Bruce's heart into the midst of the infidel host, crying: "Go thou before as thou wert wont to do, and Douglas will follow!" The brave Douglas perished in the battle, but one of his knights recovered Bruce's heart. He carried it back to Scotland, where it was buried in Melrose Abbey. Many of you know the famous song written :- Robert Bruce's March to Bannockburn (Bruce before Bannockburn) (Written by Robert Burns) Otherwise known by its first line "Scots wha hae", this is a song of national pride and loyalty, and as always with such things it relates to fighting with the English! Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled, Scots, wham Bruce has aften led, Welcome to your gory bed, Or to victorie. Now's the day, and now's the hour; See the front of battle lour; See approach proud Edward's power - Chains and slaverie! Wha will be a traitor's knave? Wha can fill a coward's grave? Wha's sae base as be a slave? Let him turn and flee! Wha for Scotland's King and Law, Freedom's sword will strongly draw, Free-man stand, or free-man fa'? Let him follow me! By oppression's woes and pains! By your sons in servile chains! We will drain our dearest veins, But they shall be free! Lay the proud usurpers low! Tyrants fall in every foe! Liberty's in every blow! Let us do, or die!
Donna Fraser <dfraser@webweather.com>
Laurel, MD USA -
Mary, Queen of Scots, also Mary Stuart (1542-87), daughter of James V, king of Scotland, by his second wife, Mary of Guise. Born in Linlithgow in December 1542, Mary became queen before she was a week old. Raised in France, in 1558 she was married to the Dauphin, who succeeded to the French throne as Francis II in 1559 but died the next year. Mary returned to Scotland in 1561. Although Roman Catholic, at first she accepted the Protestant-led government that she found in place. Her chief minister was her half brother James Stuart, whom she soon afterward created earl of Moray. Mary's marriage in 1565 to her cousin, the Catholic Scottish nobleman Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, was performed with Roman Catholic rites. The marriage aroused Protestant feelings and was the signal for an insurrection by Moray and a Scottish noble family who hoped to be joined by the whole Protestant party. Their hope was disappointed, however, and the queen, taking the field in person, at once quelled the revolt. Her triumph was scarcely over when misunderstandings began to arise between her and Darnley. She had given him the title of king, but he now demanded that the crown be secured to him for life and that, if the queen died without children, it should descend to his heirs. Before Moray's rebellion Mary's secretary and adviser had been David Rizzio, a court favorite and a Roman Catholic. The king was now persuaded that Rizzio was the obstacle to his designs upon the crown. Acting on this belief, he entered into a formal compact with Moray; Lord Patrick Ruthven; James Douglas, 4th earl of Morton; and other leaders of the Protestant party. The result of this conspiracy was the murder of Rizzio in 1566. Early in 1567 the house in which Darnley lay sick was blown up by gunpowder, probably at the instigation of the Scottish nobleman James Hepburn, 4th earl of Bothwell, who, since Moray's revolt and still more since Rizzio's murder, had been favored by the queen. Darnley was discovered strangled close by the scene of the explosion. It was suspected that Mary herself was not wholly ignorant of the plot. Evidence substantiating this theory is reflected in incriminating letters and sonnets, allegedly written by Mary to Bothwell and found later that year in a silver casket. Bothwell was brought to a mock trial and acquitted; soon afterward he divorced his wife and married Mary in a Protestant ceremony. This step at once turned the Scottish nobles against Mary. She was able to lead an army against them, and although it was equal in number to the confederate army, it was visibly inferior in discipline. On June 15, 1567, Mary's forces were defeated at Carberry Hill, and she was forced to abandon Bothwell and surrender herself to the confederate lords. On July 24, at Lochleven, she was prevailed upon to sign an act of abdication in favor of her son, who was crowned as James VI five days afterward at Stirling. Escaping from her island-prison at Lochleven on May 2, 1568, she was able within a few days to assemble an army of 6000 men. On May 12 her army was defeated by the regent Moray at Langside, near Glasgow. Four days afterward, in spite of the entreaties of her best friends, Mary crossed Solway Firth and sought refuge at the court of Elizabeth I, queen of England, only to find herself a prisoner of Elizabeth for life. Of the ensuing intrigues to effect her deliverance and to place her on the throne of England, the most famous was that of Mary's page, Anthony Babington, who plotted to assassinate Elizabeth. The conspiracy was discovered, and Mary was brought to trial in October 1586. She was sentenced to death on October 25, but not until February 1, 1587, did Elizabeth sign the warrant of execution, which was carried out a week later
Donna Fraser <dfraser@webweather.com>
Laurel, MD USA -
The Selkirk Grace by Robert Burns. (Anglo Version;) Some have meat but can not eat, some have none but want it, But we have meat. and we can eat, so let the Lord be thankit. The Selkirk Grace By Rabbie Burns, ( Scots version) Some hae meat but canna eat some hae nun but wants it but we hae meat an we can eat sae let the Lord be Thankit. Gaelic Version; Tha biad aig, 's gun aca cail; acras aig cuid, 's gun aca baid; ach againne tha biadh is slaint, Moladh mar sin a bhith don Triath.
Robert Fraser Andrews <fraser2@starpower.net>
Fredericksburg, VA USA -
FRUMENTY! Christmas Pudding originates from an old, Celtic dish known as 'frumenty'. Not quite what we would consider a direct substitute for potatoes. "frumenty - hulled wheat boiled in milk, seasoned with sugar;" Rather more like what *we* (us today), think of as breakfast food, although they ate it at supper. (Sounds rather good, actually... :) By the way, I don't know when this changed, but throughout much of this period *butter* was considered to be a worthless by-product only fit for peasantry! "No doubt this was not true of the lowest class that lived chiefly on 'white meats, i.e. milk, butter, and cheese,' "etc. Usually the lower-class diet also contained fowl, fish, and other things, and was probably pretty healthy, and it sounds a lot better than what the upper classes were doing! Think we should all have frumenty for breakfast tomorrow...
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
SCOTLAND'S FLAG. Scotland has two flags - the Saltire or St Andrew's cross (white on blue) and the Lion Rampant (yellow and red). The Lion Rampant is the Royal flag and is supposed to only be used by royalty. The Saltire is the oldest flag in Europe. The St Andrew's Cross according to legend is that shape because the apostle Andrew petitioned the Roman authorities who had sentenced him to death not to crucify him on the same shape of cross as Christ, and this was granted. Legend has it that the Saltire flag has its origins in a battle near Athelstaneford in East Lothian, circa 832AD when Angus mac King of the Picts, defeated the army of Athelstane, King of Northumbria. There is a Saltire flying there near the church with an explanation regarding the origin of the flag. The night before the battle, the Scots saw a cross formation of clouds in the sky resembling a St Andrew's cross - the patron Saint. They took this sign as an omen and indeed they were successful in battle the next day. Thus the colors in the flag are supposed to be white to represent the clouds and azure, the color of the sky towards the end of the day. Sky blue is not the right color, it is too light. The Saltire was later incorporated in the union flag and union jack although the color of blue there is different. In those flags it is navy blue which is used. The union jack is the version of the union flag used on the jackstaff at the front of a ship. This difference of color between the Saltire and the union flags has resulted in some confusion over the correct color of the Scottish flag - so insist the you get one which is azure and white and not anything else! William the Lyon who adopted the Lion Rampant (in 1165) to replace the previous symbol of Scots Sovereignty, which was a Boar. This has led to some humorous speculation as to what the present title of the Lord Lyon King of Arms might be had the change not been adopted. Further, it was a heraldic symbol (or a Lyon rampant gules) far before the charge of the Earl of Galloway. I forget what bloodline used the charge just now, but I know that it predated the adoption of the Saltire in the 9th century. I've got the reference somewhere and I'll have a look about for it. The most modern change to the standard occurred in 1165 with the addition of the gules bordure tressure fleury-counterfleury, which is entirely distinctive and to my knowledge not emblazoned on any other arms anywhere.
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
HIGHLAND COWS-pronounced Highland Coos-Scottish Highland Cattle are among the most picturesque and beautiful-looking of all cattle breeds. The Highlands are distinguished by their unique shaggy coats of waved hair and striking set of elegant horns. Highlanders are known for their gentle dispositions. Children (of all ages) delight in feeding carrots and apples to the herd at Weatherbury Farm. Records of Scottish Highland Cattle go back as far as the twelfth century! And there's archaeological evidence of them from the sixth century. Highlands are the oldest known breed of cattle. They were first imported into the U.S. in the late 1800s.
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
Merry Christmas in GAELIC - Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
SCOTTISH PROVERBS. A ROLLING STONE GATHERS NO MOSS=A rowin stane gaithers nae fug. A HUNGRY PERSON CANNOT LISTEN TO REASON=A hungersome wame haes nae lugs. I NEED IT LIKE A HOLE IN THE HEAD=A cauld needs the ceuk sae muckle the doctor. DON'T LOOK A GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH=A gien cou shoudna be leukit ee mou. GREEDY PERSONS ARE NEVER SATISFIED=A greedie gutsie ee ne'er gat a fou wame. A GOOD NAME IS SOONER LOST THAN GAINED=A guid name's suiner tint nor won. A SMALL BUSH IS BETTER THAN NO SHELTER=A smaa buss is better nor nae bield. ONE MAN'S FOOD IS ANOTHER MAN'S POISON=Ae man's meat is anither man's pushion. A BAD WORKMAN ALWAYS BLAMES HIS TOOLS=An ill shearer aye blames his tuils. AS MAD AS A HATTER=As daft as a yett on a windie day. OLD PROVERBS TELL THE TRUTH=Auld saws speaks suith. IT'S DIFFICULT TO TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS=Auld speugies is ill tae tame. COUNTING YOUR CHICKENS BEFORE THEY ARE HATCHED=Caukin the claith afore the wab be in the luim. KILL TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE=Fell twa dugs wi the ae bane. PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES SHOULDN'T THROW STONES=He shoud hae a hail powe that caas his neibour nittie nou. A SHY CAT MAKES A PROUD MOUSE=It's a blate chittie that maks a prood moose. MAKE HAY WHILE THE SUN SHIINES=It's guid tae begin weel, but better tae end weel. YOU CAN'T HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT=It's ill bringin but, whit's no ben. IN FOR A PENNY, IN FOR A POUND=Ne'er gang til the deil wi a dishcloot on yer heid.
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
WHISKY FACTS. Glenmorangie is the biggest selling malt in Scotland. The Famous Grouse is the biggest selling whisky within Scotland. Bruichladdich is Scotland's most westerly distillery. Bladnoch is the most southerly of Scotland's distilleries. Highland Park is the most Northern Scotch Whisky Distillery in the World. Glenugie was the easternmost distillery in Scotland. Pulteney is the most northern distillery in the Highlands. Strathisla is the oldest malt whisky distillery in the Highlands of Scotland. Founded : Est. 1786 / OBAN is also one of the oldest stills in Scotland. Founded : 1794 Glenturret is one of Scotland's oldest malt whisky distillery. Bowmore is reputed to be the oldest legal distillery on Islay. Tomatin Distillery Compagny's is one of the highest in Scotland and it is also the largest capacity distillery in Scotland. Edradour is the smallest distillery in Scotland - With three people to run the entire operation.
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
WHISKY. It is a toast to civilization. It brings exhiration and conviviality, stimulation and comfort. In short, it is the finest alcoholic drink ever created by man. Kinds of whisky. MALT WHISKY. Malt whisky is the original stuff of myth. Discover some of the secrets of whisky distilling and explore the range of malts available. BLENDED WHISKY. Since the first commercial blend was made in 1853, Scotch has become one of the most popular spirits in the world. LIQUER WHISKY. A spirit based on whisky, and may be flavored with herbs, flowers, fruit, seeds or roots. There are a number of liqueurs now available on the market. GRAIN WHISKY. Unusually is made from unmalted wheat or maize and is fermented together with green barley as with malt whisky but generally lower in alcohol. UNCHILFILTERED WHISKY. The process of making blended whisky involves chilfiltering, to avoid the whisky becoming cloudy when cold - unchillfiltering retains the 'solids' such as proteins and vitamins.
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
CLOOTIE DUMPLING......6oz self raising flour, 6oz brown breadcrumps, 6oz suet,1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, 4oz currants, 6oz sultanas, 4oz soft dark brown sugar, 2 tablespoons syrup, 1.5 cups milk/or/milk stout. Place your cloot in boiling water. Mix all the ingredients together with the milk to make a fairly soft consistency. Make sure everything is mixed well. Take the cloot out of the water and wring, then lay it out flat and dredge well with flour. Smooth the flour over the cloot with your hands to get an even spread. Place the mixture on the cloot, draw it together evenly, leaving room for expansion, and tie the cloot with string. Put a plate in the bottom of the pot, and the cloot with the mixture on top of that. Use a large pot, big enough to allow covering the dumpling with water. That way there will be no need to top up through the cooking. Simmer the dumpling for two to three hours. Remove from the pot and put in a colander in the sink. Untie the string and gently pull the corners of the cloot apart. Put a plate over the dumpling in the colander and whip it over. Carefully peel the cloot away from one corner and you should have a champion dumpling :-)
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
NOVEMBER SCOTTISH FESTIVALS/HOLIDAYS. MARTINMAS …The feast of St. Martin was held on November the eleventh, one of the Scottish quarter days. It is usually referred to as Martinmas but pronounced Martimas. It was the same day as Hallowe'en in the old calendar. In the traditional ballad the 'Wife of Usher's Well', her sons return from the dead. It fell about the Martinmas, When nights are lang and mirh, The carlin's wife's three sons came hame, And their hats were made o' the birk. It neither grew in syhe nor ditch, Nor yet in ony sheugh, But at the gates o' Paradise, The birk grew fair eneugh. TRADITIONAL …..At cock crow the spirits would return to their graves. The crowing of a cockerel, especially a black one, was also thought to frighten away evil spirits. MART…..Fodder was scarce in the days before the Agricultural Revolution of the mid-seventeenth century and in the eighteenth the approach to crop husbandry changed. Oxen were killed and butchered and salted to preserve the meat which was the winter as food. These were called marts. HAGGIS…..This was always a popular dish at Martinmas. The entrails of the animals which were slaughtered were mixed with oatmeal and stuffed into a sheep's bladder to be boiled. Spices were added to help to preserve them. Another favourite which used up the blood was black puddings. White mealy puddings were also popular. ANERMAS…..St Andrew. St Andrew was adopted as the patron saint of Scotland after a famous Pictish Victory in 747 A.D. in the reign of Aengus. A huge saltire was seen in the sky which they believed turned the tide in their favour. His relics were believed to be housed at St Andrews. It is a day more celebrated abroad by ex-patriots than in Scotland. King James IV celebrated it by a Saint Andrew's Dinner:- And ilka year for his patron's saik, Ane banquet royall wald he maik, With wild fowle, venisoun and wyne. Squire Meldrum, David Lyndsay, 1879 Sanct Andra-ing Traps were set for rabbits and squirrels and the farmworkers set off to the woods on what was known as 'going Sanct Andra-ing'. They brought these home to be cooked and feasting and drinking. OBSERVANCE…..There was also a kind of volunteer effort in certain classes to get up an observance of the day consecrated to the national saint, November 30th, 1662, a Sunday. Many of our nobles, barons, gentry and others of the Kingdom put on ane livery or favour os revenue therof. This being a novelty I thought good to record it because it was never of use herto fore since the Reformation, Domestic Annals of Scotland, Vol 2, From the Revolution to the Rebellion 1745, Robert Chambers 1874 . INTERNATIONAL…..There are St Andrew's societies in many parts of the world which hold dinners on the night of November the thirtieth. They wear tartan, the kilt, sing Scots songs and dance Scottish reels and strathspeys. The scattered clans are ane this nicht, Nae mair we war wi' ane anither, Auld Scotland Yet!' for Scotland's richt We'll bide the warld's fueds the-gither. Sanct Andrew's Nicht, George Leith, n.c. THE SALTIRE…..The saltire of St Andrew, a white diagonal cross on a blue background, is the national flag of Scotland and is flown from all public buildings. It was incorporated into the Union Flag after the Act of Union of Parliaments in Scotland and England in 1707.
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
Have you ever had a strange urge to build a pyramid. Well there could be a reason for it. According to the ancient text Scotichrinican the Scots are descendants of the ancient Egyptians. During the time of the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt a group of Egyptians were forced out and wandered by boat across the Mediterranean in search of a new home, finally settling in Ireland. This group became known as the Scotti, named after their leader Scota, daughter of a Pharaoh. The closest relatives to the ancient Egyptians today are the Berbers and many have commented on their striking resemblance to the Scots.
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
The BRAT is a rectangular piece of cloth thrown around the body and fastened on the breast or shoulder by a brooch. Both men and women wore them. The brat could be wrapped around the shoulders or looped under the sword arm for better maneuverability. Brats were worn in varying lengths depending upon the occasion and the rank of the wearer. Some tales speak of the Queen's brat dragging on the ground behind her chariot. They were also worn in many colors, "variegated" and "many-colored" being mentioned in the ancient tales. Because the number of colors one could wear was restricted by one's rank, a many-colored brat was a sure sign of nobility. In the Táin Bo Culaigne, King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster's costume is described: "He wore a crimson, deep-bordered, five-folding tunic; a gold pin in the tunic over his bosom; and a brilliant white shirt, interwoven with thread of red gold, next to his white skin." "Five-folding" has also been rendered as "wrapped five times." The Irish word used here, "filleadh" is also used in the word for kilt, "filleadh beag."
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
SIDHE (pronounced 'shee') literally means "people of the (fairy) hills". It is the Gaelic name for the fairies in both Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland. Usually these fairies are attracted to those who are beautiful as well as wealthy.
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
BLACK DONALD IN SCOTTISH FOLKLORE. Black Donald is the Devil. It is said that the Devil is good at all jobs except for one, tailoring, because when the Devil is among the tailors they close up shop so he has never learned to baste. He can take many disguises including an old man in a black suit but whatever disguise he takes, he's always giving himself away because of his cloven feet which cannot be shod.
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
Highland Shortbread Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream 1 cup salted butter. sift together 2 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 cup sugar, & 1/4 tsp. salt . Blend the dry ingredients into the butter. Pat the stiff dough into an ungreased 9 X 9 inch pan and press edges down hard. Pierce with a fork, every half-inch through the dough. Bake 25-30 minutes. Slice into squares while hot.
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
TO A MOUSE, By Robert Burns. Wee sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie, O, what a panic's in thy breastie! Thou need na start awa sae hasty, Wi bickering brattle! I wad be laith to rin an chase thee, Wi murdering pattle! I'm truly sorry man's dominion Has broken Nature's social union, An justifies that ill opinion, Which makes thee startle At me, thy poor, earth-born companion. An fellow mortal! I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve: What then? poor beastie, thou maun live! A daimen icker in a thrave 'S a sma request; I'll get a blessin wi the lave, An never miss't! Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin! Its silly wa's the win's are strewin! An naething, now, to big a new ane, O foggage green! An bleak December's win's ensuin. Baith snell an keen! Thou saw the fields laid bare an waste, An weary winter comin fast. An cozie here, beneath the blast, Thou thought to dwell, Till crash! the cruel coulter past Out thro thy cell. That wee bit heap o leaves an stibble, Has cost thee monie a weary nibble! Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble. But house or hald, To thole the winter's sleety dribble, An cranreuch cauld! But Mousie, thou art no thy lane, In proving foresight may be vain: The best-laid schemes o mice an men Gang aft agley, An lea'e us nought but grief an pain, For promis'd joy! Still thou art blest, compar'd wi me! The present only toucheth thee: But och! I backward cast my e'e, On prospects drear! An forward, tho I canna see, I guess an fear!
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
Outside the Greyfriars Bobby Inn, on Candlemakers row in Edinburgh, stands a statue of a little skye terrier shepherd dog. During the 1850's, the Inn was the Traills Coffee- House in an open air market in the Scottish capital. Everyday at one o' clock, a kindly shepherd named Jock Gray made his way in from the meadows with his dog, Bobby. Jock would eat lunch as Bobby laid at his feet chewing a bone tucked under paw. The daily tradition went on for many years, but ended one day when Jock collapsed and died. He was buried in the Greyfriars Kirkyard. A few days after the funeral, the proprietor of Traills was surprised when the little terrier showed up at one o' clock asking for a bone. The same thing happened the following day, and the next, and the next. On the fourth day, when Bobby finish his afternoon bone, the owner followed the little shepherd dog. Bobby lead him through town to Greyfriars Kirkyard. There, Bobby laid down at the tombstone where old Jock was buried, and there he kept his vigil for the next 14 years until he died in 1872. The Traills Coffee-House still stands in the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh and is known as the Greyfriars Bobby Inn.
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
The Flower of Scotland commemorates the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) when the Scottish Army under Robert the Bruce (Robert I, King of Scots) defeated Edward II of England. This ended English rule of Scotland for a time. In 1603 Elizabeth I, Queen of England, Wales, Ireland and France died childless, and her second cousin James VI, King of Scots, ascended to the English throne. Thus marriage achieved what force of arms could not. THE FLOWER OF SCOTLAND - (words to the song) O Flower of Scotland When will we see Your like again, That fought and died for Your wee bit Hill and Glen And stood against him Proud Edward's Army, And sent him homeward Tae think again. The Hills are bare now And Autumn leaves lie thick and still O'er land that is lost now Which those so dearly held That stood against him Proud Edward's Army And sent him homeward Tae think again. Those days are past now And in the past they must remain But we can still rise now And be the nation again That stood against him Proud Edward's Army And sent him homeward, Tae think again. 0 Flower of Scotland When will we see Your like again, That fought and died for Your wee bit Hill and Glen And stood against him Proud Edward's Army, And sent him homeward Tae think again. Here is an authorized Gaelic translation: THE FLOWER OF SCOTLAND (translation by John Angus Macleod) O Fhlu\ir na h-Albann, cuin a chi\ sinn an seo\rsa laoich a sheas gu ba\s 'son am bileag feo\ir is fraoich, a sheas an aghaidh feachd uailleil Iomhair 's a ruaig e dhachaidh air chaochladh smaoin? Na cnuic tha lomnochd 's tha duilleach Foghair mar bhrat air la\r, am fearann caillte dan tug na seo\id ud gra\dh, a sheas an aghaidh feachd uailleil Iomhair 's a ruaig e dhachaigh air chaochladh smaoin. Tha 'n eachdraidh du\inte ach air di\ochuimhne chan fheum i bhith, is faodaidh sinn e\irigh gu bhith nar Ri\oghachd a-ri\s a sheas an aghaidh feachd uailleil Iomhair 's a ruaig e dhachaidh air chaochladh smaoin. Story behind the Gaelic translation; "Aig ce\ilidh ann an Du\n De\agh sheinn Anna NicGillEathain a' Bheurla de seo. Thuirt i rium, ''S bochd nach robh Ga\idhlig air an o\ran.' Fichead mionaid an de\idh sin dh'eirich i is sheinn i na facail seo, a chuir mi ris fhad 's a bha sinn ag o\l cupan ti\!" "At a ceilidh in Dundee, Anna MacLean sang the English version of this. She said to me 'It's too bad that there isn't a Gaelic version of the song.' Twenty minutes after that she got up and sang these words which I put to the song while we were drinking cups of tea!" John Angus Macleod, from his book "Na freumhan thug dhomh cothrom fa\s", available from the author: John Angus MacLeod 76 Brisbane Street Largs, Scotland, KA30 8QN
Donna Fraser <drfraser@earthlink.net>
Laurel, MD USA -
Donna Fraser thought it would be nice to have a place on The Frasers to post anything Scottish. When Donna speaks, I listen. She is very astute as to what is needed here. She thought it would be nice to have a place to post Scottish recipes, places people have visited in Scotland, and share experiences from a recent trip to Scotland.
Robert Fraser Andrews <fraser2@fls.infi.net>
Fredericksburg, VA USA -