To make it easier for contributors to add new sites, the pages for Scotland are currently being reorganised according to the present Scottish Council areas.
A map of these can be seen on the Gazetteer for Scotland website.
Reclusive American leaves Scotland his £2.5m fortune
A 79 year old recluse has left his fortune to the National Trust of Scotland. He had never visited apparently and his conception of Scotland was based on the film Brigadoon. His only friend, the barber, got the pug and a vet's bill.
Ramblers Scotland is backing a petition to force a Scottish Government review on unsightly vehicular hill tracks and electrified deer fencing in the Scottish countryside. "Neither requires planning permission and both cause scars on our wild landscapes" says Helen todd, Ramblers Scotland's development officer... continues...
Mathematical analysis of Scottish Stone Art points to lost language?
At New Scientist web site:
"Elaborate symbols and ornate depictions of animals carved in stone by an ancient Scottish people have given up their secret – to mathematics. Statistical analysis reveals that the shapes are a forgotten written language... continues...
In a silent move, the RCAHMS switched to a state-of-the-art update of the good old Canmore database on 11th March 2009.
It really looks much better and there are obvious advantages over the old format like direct access instead of a log-in procedure and, when available, a 10-digit gridref... continues...
The Hunterian museum is re-assembling his(mostly Northern Isles) donation and adding this to their catalogue as they go http://www.huntsearch.gla.ac.uk
At present this is text-only but images will be added over the coming months
The name "Thunderbolt" was also given in Scotland to stone axes until within recent years. A finely formed axe of aphanite found in Berwickshire, and presented to the Museum in 1876, was obtained about twenty years before from a blacksmith in whose smithy it had long lain. It was known in the district as "the thunderbolt," and had probably been preserved in the belief that it had fallen from the sky.
In Shetland stone axes were said to protect from thunder the houses inwhich they were preserved. One found at Tingwall was acquired from an old woman in Scalloway, who believed it to be a "thunderbolt," and "of efficacy in averting evil from the dwelling in which it was kept;" while another, believed to have "fallen from the skies during a thunderstorm," was preserved in the belief that "it brought good luck to the house."
In the North-East of Scotland they "were coveted as the sure bringers of success, provided they were not allowed to fall to the ground."
In the British Museum there is a very fine axe of polished green quartz, mounted in silver, which is stated to have been sewed to a belt which was worn round the waist by a Scottish officer as a cure for kidney disease.
The late Sir Daniel Wilson mentions an interesting tradition regarding the large perforated stone hammers, which he says were popularly known in Scotland almost till the close of last century as "Purgatory Hammers," for the dead to knock with at the gates of Purgatory.
Mr. Stuart adverted to the varying circumstances under which flint arrowheads were found. The popular belief which long regarded them as "elf-darts," and which was not confined to Scotland, had been expressed by the well-known Scottish geographer, Robert Gordon of Straloch, about two centuries ago. After giving some details about them, he adds that these wonderful stones are sometimes found in the fields, and in public and beaten roads, but never by searching for them; to-day perhaps one will be found where yesterday nothing could be seen, and in the afternoon in places where before noon there was none, and this most freqently under clear skies and in summer days. He then gives instances related to him by a man and woman of credit, each of whom while riding found an arrowhead in their clothes in this unexpected way.
Described on p174 of 'The Gentleman's Magazine' Jan-June 1861.
Insular stone Circles :-
In a talk on Wednesday by Colin Richards his subject was the Stone Circles in Orkney and Lewis, which contrary to expectation turned out to be of different natures and for different purposes. Those in Orkney are constructed of material from seperate areas (Stones of Stenness five different sandstones, Ring of Brodgar twelve different geologies in distinct segments of the circle that significantly aren't always curved arcs) whilst those on Lewis are built of rock from their immediate vicinity (also the evidence is that both Orcadian circles were intentionally incomplete, from which he infers the rituals of the construction were an end in themselves). His ?new idea is that those on Orkney had place as the key factor (place of origin, spatial community) whilst those on Lewis had folk as the key factor (family, dispersed community [moiety ?] }.
From which is extrapolated that our obsession with geometry and algnments isn't theirs, that what looks incomplete to us is meant as is, and that whatever comes after is most likely not the original intent, that being the construction process itself.
"I left Banks very happy and made my way to the Tomb of the Eagles. In comparison to Banks this place seems better organised in terms of signage and parking. I paid my entry fee (£6.80 I think it was) and was led into an adjoining room where a member of the staff was talking to a small group of visitors about the tomb."
"I was awoken at 5am by some other person arriving and parking right next to me with their radio blasting out… what is it with people and their need to make as much noise as possible regardless of what other people might think… I was very glad when the ferry arrived and I booked in, boarded and sat down somewhere quiet."
"After successfully transferring from train to bus and finally plane, I arrived in a reasonably sunny Inverness. It was about 4pm and after picking up the hire car I made my way towards the Bronze Age Clava Cairns, a short distance east from the city. On the way I noticed a sign for the Culloden battle field and decided to take a quick look (well, I was already going past it after all)..."
Zealous Antiquaries, strange to tell, have not yet succeeded in manufacturing the Standing Stones of Torhows into pigsties and byres 'for their better preservation,' as they have done with most Galloway antiquities; and so they stand there yet, and enduring testimony to the authenticity of the ancient traditions of the district.
In my young days there used to be four stones standing on the high side of the road, and twenty three on the low side of it, and they were arranged in a circle.
The tradition about them was that in those ancient times the Picts, when hard pressed, formed themselves into a ring and defended themselves in that way from attacks on all sides, and as soon as they saw a weak place in the ranks of the enemy, they lengthened the ring into a triangle or wedge and forced a way through their opponents; and it is recorded that the Galloway men or Albanich as they called themselves, who were the descendants of the Picts, fought in a wedge-saped phalax at the battle of the Standard in eleven hundred and something.
Well, it happened that the Picts at Torrhows were like to be beaten at one time, and were obliged to form a circle, and there was a most desperate struggle till the king came up with assistance, and a great many of the chiefs or great men, who fought in the front rank, were killed by the Danes.
When the battle was over and they assembled to bury the dead, a great stone was set up wherever any of the chiefs fell fighting, to mark the spot, and it is said that there were originally sixty stones, one for every chief killed, and the place was therefore called Torrhows, which means something about a bur[y]ing-ground, though I never heard it said that any of the chiefs were buried at the stones.
It was said at one time that the Laird was going to hoke them all up to send to Edinburgh, to try if they would give him F.S.A. to put to his name, but I think it hasn't been done yet.
A not altogether serious account from Galloway Gossip by Robert Trotter (1877).
[Having crossed the Ochils and descended to the moor below..] The whole moor was covered with a luxuriant crop of bent and heath, and while surveying the modest blossom of the latter, we could not help heaving a sigh for the many brave hearts which had sunk there to "fill a nameless grave." After having made a circuit of the scene of the battle, we directed our steps to a number of large stones, almost in the centre of the field, and upon which, tradition avers, the Highlanders sharpened their broadswords, dirks, and axes, the evening previous to the engagement. Indeed, from the appearance of the stones, one would be led to suppose as much, for they are all more or less scratched, as if they had been acted upon by these warlike weapons; but, judging from the date of the battle, it surprised us how these marks could remain so long without suffering from the effects of the weather, situated as the stones are in a cold moorland district, where the snow lies long, and where they are beat upon by every blast that blows. If these marks have been occasioned by what tradition says, they will, in all likelihood, remain for many years to come.
One of the stones is called the "Belted Stane," from a grayish sort of belt encompassing it. A few inches still remain between the two extremities of the belt; but we are informed that this space has become gradually less within these fifty years, and the credulous peasantry around are in the firm belief, that as soon as
The twa ends o' the belt embrace,
A bluidy battle will tak' place.
A pertinent question is, how did these stones come to be placed in their present situation? They are of great size, and must have been carried a considerable distance. There is no tradition as to their being of Druidical origin.
In The Scottish Journal, 1848. Has the belt joined up I wonder. And how scratched does the poor thing look.
In the vicinity of the village of Dunlop, writes Chalmers in 1824, "there was in former times a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary [..] After the Reformation, this chapel was allowed to fall in ruins, but the remains of it are still to be seen on the side of a small rivulet which was here crossed by stepping-stones called the Lady's Steps, and this name is still continued altho' the steps have been superseded by a bridge." (Caledonia, vol. iii. p 556.)
[..] In a field in the neighbourhood is a large detached stone, round which, if tradition is to be believed, it was customary for persons attending the chapel to perform part of their devotions. It is called the Thugart Stane, supposed to be a corruption of the grid stane. This stone, the name of which is by the inhabitants of Dunlop commonly pronounced "Ogirtsane," is composed of a variety of trap rock, differing from the trap formation in the surrounding country. What appears of it above the surface measures about 12 feet by 8, and its greatest height is about 4 feet.
We parked up at the small parking area at the lovely little beach at the Sands of Wright. Looking back to Hoxa Hill the observation hut atop the hill is clearly visible, signposting the way to the cairn.
Taking the advice of Wideford's fieldnotes we walked back up the road to the fine large country house of Roeberry, where just past the entrance drive, a gate allows access to a lane which runs up the side of Roeberry's garden wall as it heads up the hill.
At the top of the lane you are greeted by gates to each side of you. Directly in front a gate opens onto scrubland atop the hill, where the trig point and observation hut draw the eye toward the small mound of the cairn.
Two curious horses approach us as we stand at the gate, hopefull that we may be carrying apples, they have to be satisfied with a pat on the nose. Ellen, being a little wary of horses, waits at the gate whilst I set off for the cairn with an equine escort.
The Wart is an unfortunate name for the fine remains of an Orkney-Cromarty type cairn, and in fact would be a more fitting epithet for the strange observation hut building which encroaches close to the cairn. From here the views are fantastic over Hoxa Head and out across Scapa Flow, particularly today with clear blue skies complimenting the deep azure sea.
Once this cairn would have been huge, as evidenced by the remains of the circumference, although many of the stones have now gone. It looks as if some stones may have been built up to act as a wind break, as they seemed somehow out of place, but inside the chamber one of the stones that formed the stall is still standing, and as I hunker down away from the wind to write my fieldnotes it's really quite cosy.
On a day like today it's a fine place to spend some time, I could happily stay all day, it feels like a place outside of time, and far away from the hassles of the mundane world, but aware of Ellen still waiting at the gate, I settle for five minutes to soak in the atmosphere, and the promise to return on a day with equally fine weather.