Scotland of Yesterday

By Carol Fraser


Dunvegan Castle Dunvegan Castle, Skye. c.1932

The Isle of Skye is popular with visitors; it is easily accessible, and has a combination of marvellous scenery and interesting history. It has the romantic tale of Flora MacDonald's farewell with Prince Charles Edward Stuart to its credit, and Dunvegan Castle, home to the Macleod chiefs, with its grim dungeon and fairy associations. The scenery centres on the Cuillins. The Black Cuillins are fearsome looking peaks formed from basalt and gabbro. They are jagged as opposed to the more rounded red granite of the Red Cuillins. These mountains are spectacular and have been known to have a lovely pink glow at sunset.

Eilean Donan Castle Eilean Donan Castle. c.1908

This is the archetypal fairy tale castle in a romantic setting on the Kyle of Lochalsh. It is linked to the shore by a causeway. This picture was taken prior to the 1912 restorations. Its setting is dramatic, at this junction of Loch Duich and Loch Alsh with forests, mountains and tidal waters surrounding it. Originally, it was built in 1230 as part of Alexander II's defence of the western mainland against the Viking's; later, it became the property of the Mackenzies, one of whom was involved in the Jacobite rebellion. Warships bombarded the fortress into a ruin while it was held by a Spanish garrison supporting James II's son, the Old Pretender. This place surely has to be on the short list as one of the more romantic areas.

Caledonian Canal
Caledonian Canal at Fort Augustus. c.1921.

The Canal was constructed by Thomas Telford and opened in 1822 and was the connection between the east and west coasts of Scotland to save ships the 400 mile journey around the stormy seas north of Great Britain. This was quite a feat of engineering and building to create a canal some sixty miles long (the artificial portion being around twenty two miles), with twenty eight locks. Like most canals, this one fell into dis-use because of its small size and the increased power of ships. Railways and improved road links further eroded the importance of the canal systems throughout Britain.

Island of Iona
Children selling shells on Iona. c.1920.

This famous island is off the south west coast of Mull. It has many historic connections with Christianity, most notably St Columba who founded a sixth century monastery here. Here, local children are selling sea shell necklaces to visitors, a helpful additional source of revenue for the islanders.