Scots Roots

Skara Brae, Orkney
April 7, 2015, 10:00 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: ,

Skara BraeOrkney is a very windy island even today but in 1850 a huge storm uncovered the remains of a prehistoric village near the beach at the Bay of Skaill.

The village is remarkably well preserved and has proved to be the best-preserved Neolithic village in western Europe.

It is around 5,000 years old, pre-dating Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.

Today Skara Brae survives as eight dwellings, linked together by a series of low, covered passages.

Skara BraeVisitors can wander around the village and see ancient homes fitted with stone bed enclosures, dressers and seats.

A replica construction lets visitors see how the interior of a prehistoric house looked.
In 1999 the village was inscribed on to the World Heritage List as part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.

Skara BraeCopyright © Scots Roots Research 2015

Greyfriars Bobby
March 30, 2015, 2:41 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: , ,

Greyfriars BobbyNot just the star of a Walt Disney film, Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye terrier in 19th century Edinburgh who became famous for guarding his master’s grave for 14 years.

His owner was John Gray, a night watchman, who died and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard in 1858.

Bobby spent his days sitting on his master’s grave, leaving only on hearing the one o’clock gun when he would visit a local coffee shop where they would feed him his lunch.

In 1867 a new bye-law was passed requiring all dogs to be licensed.

The Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir William Chambers paid for Bobby’s licence, and gave him a collar which can now be seen in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh .

John Gray's grave

John Gray’s grave

Bobby died in 1872 and was buried near John Gray’s grave just inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Following his death, Lady Burdett-Coutts had a statue and fountain erected at the southern end of George IV Bridge to commemorate him.

Even today, people still leave flowers on Bobby’s grave.

Greyfriars Kirk

Greyfriars Kirk and Bobby’s grave.

Copyright © Scots Roots Research 2015

Rubh’ An Teampaill

Northton ChapelThis mediaeval chapel looks out across the Sound of Harris towards the Uists. It stands on a rocky headland, Rubh’ An Teampaill, near Northton on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides.

It was probably built in the 15th or 16th century and stands on the site of a much older broch, which is likely to have supplied most of the stones for the chapel.

Northton ChapelThe chapel has a small slit window in each wall with a door in the north wall.

Surrounding the chapel lie the remains of a graveyard thought to have been there since Viking times.


Northton Chapel

A mucky highlander
February 25, 2015, 2:12 pm
Filed under: Photographs


The Lewis Chessmen
February 4, 2015, 9:41 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: , , ,

Lewis chess piece 1Thought to have been made in Norway in the 12th century, a hoard of medieval gaming pieces was found at Uig on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides in 1831.

The collection consisted of 78 chess pieces, 14 tablemen and a belt buckle.

Most of the pieces are carved in walrus ivory but some are made from whale teeth.

Lewis chess piece 211 of the pieces are currently exhibited at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and the other 82 pieces are owned and usually exhibited by the British Museum in London.

Some of the chessmen were stained red when they were found indicating that red and white may have been used to distinguish the two sides as opposed to the modern black and white.

The sizes of the pieces vary and it has been suggested that they may belong to at least five different chess sets.

Uig beach

Uig beach

Copyright © Scots Roots Research 2015

Arbroath Harbour 1974
February 1, 2015, 3:35 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: ,

Here’s a short film I made of Arbroath Harbour in 1974 when fishing was still a major industry in the town. Quota cuts and decommissioning from the 1980s onwards have drastically reduced the fishing fleet.

Copyright © Scots Roots Research 2015

MacLeod’s Stone (Clach MhicLeoid), Isle of Harris
January 22, 2015, 12:46 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: , ,

MacLeod’s Stone 1MacLeod’s Stone is more than 3 metres tall and stands on a small hill at the north end of the beautiful Traigh Iar beach on the west coast of the Isle of Harris, overlooking the small island of Taransay.

Erected more than 4,500 years ago, its purpose is now unclear but it may have been part of a calendrical system or it may just have been a navigational aid to guide boats into the bay.

It was later named after the local clan chief and was possibly a rallying point for the clan.

MacLeod’s Stone 2

More pictures are available at Ancient Scotland.

Copyright © Scots Roots Research 2015


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