Scotland of Yesterday

By Carol Fraser

Blair Castle
Blair Castle. Blair Atholl c.1920

The castle overlooks the village of Blair Atholl and once guarded a strategic route into the Highlands. Parts of the castle go back to the 13th century (1269), but it was mainly rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries. Home to the clan Murray, it was the last castle in Britain to be besieged - in 1746. The Young Pretender stayed here in 1745. Blair Atholl is home to an annual September gathering.

Nairn High Street
High Street. Nairn c.1920
An interesting picture of this coastal town. The harbour here was constructed by Thomas Telford in 1820. The town is attractive, with a good dry mild climate. Many summer visitors come here for the sea air and, of course, the golf. The industries mainly relate to fishing.

Last House in Scotland
The Last House in Scotland. c.1920
This place was named after the 15th century ferryman Jan de Groot and is thought of as the most Northern point on Britain's mainland. In truth, this is Dunnet Head, which is not terribly accessible. Good views are afforded here of Stroma and Orkney, but there is little else to attract the visitor for very long. The North Sea can become quite violent and views of this expanse of water on windy days are well worth seeing. It is of course the finishing point for those doing the Land's End to John O'Groats walk. The story of Jan de Groot is worth relating. Three brothers, Malcolm, Gavin and Jan, Dutchmen, arrived under the protection of James IV. They prospered and eight families bearing the name celebrated their arrival annually with a feast. A dispute arose regarding who was first. This was settled by Jan who built a house with an octagonal room and table so that they were all "head of the table".

High Street Wick
High Street Wick. c.1920.
Wick is a small burgh situated at the head of Wick Bay at the North Sea, not far from John O'Groats. Its harbour was built, like the one at Nairn, by Thomas Telford. A centre for traditional industries - fishing, particularly herring, but also knitwear. It is an important link between Orkney and Shetland and the rest of Scotland and England. It was once a Viking stronghold.

Loch Maree
Prince Charlie's Monument, Glenfinnan. c.1930
Dramatically situated amidst the mountains, the monument marks the site where Prince Charles Edward Stuart ordered his standard to be raised in 1745. The monument was not actually built until 1815. An unmissable place for those interested in the Rising of the clans.

Foyers Pier
Foyers Pier at Loch Ness. c.1916.
Foyers is a small village on the hillside close to Loch Ness, noted for its water falls, so dramatic that they were used in the 1890s for hydro electric power. Sightings of the famous Loch Ness monster have been reported from here.

Inverness High Street
Inverness High Street. c.1914
Inverness is an interesting town known as the "capital of the Highlands". It is at the north end of the Great Glen and not far from Loch Ness. It is a very old town, said to have been a stronghold of the Picts and was said to have been visited by St Columba with a view to convert King Brude.


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