Scots Roots


MacLeod’s Tables
June 24, 2017, 1:00 pm
Filed under: Photographs | Tags: ,

MacLeod's Tables 1MacLeod's Tables 2As you drive around the Isle of Skye there’s a good chance you’ll see two flat topped mountains in the distance. These are Healabhal Bheag (1601 ft) and Healabhal Mhor (1538 ft), also known as MacLeod’s Tables.

MacLeod's Tables 3MacLeod's Tables 4Legend has it that, when he was at a banquet in Edinburgh given by King James V, the Chief of Clan MacLeod boasted that he had a much grander table.

When MacLeod hosted a banquet some time later, he took his guests onto the hilltops on a clear night, with clansmen standing round the edge of the plateau holding torches.

MacLeod's Tables 5It can be a bit of a slog getting to the tops of the Tables but the views are spectacular.

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Butt of Lewis Lighthouse
May 15, 2017, 10:11 am
Filed under: Photographs | Tags: ,

Butt of Lewis Lighthouse 1Built in 1862 by David and Thomas Stevenson, this lighthouse is situated at the northernmost tip of the Isle of Lewis, one of the windiest spots in the United Kingdom.

Butt of Lewis Lighthouse 2The red brick tower stands 37 metres tall and its light has a range of 25 miles. Like many lighthouses in Scotland, it was automated in 1998.

Butt of Lewis Lighthouse 3

Butt of Lewis Lighthouse 4



Almondell
March 24, 2017, 5:58 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History, West Lothian | Tags: ,

Almondell 1Almondell and Calderwood Country Park in West Lothian was once the setting for Almondell House, the country retreat of the Honourable Henry (Harry) Erskine (1746 – 1817), a younger son of the 10th Earl of Buchan. Almondell was then a private estate belonging to the Erskine family and here, in stunning surroundings of woodland and a river valley, Erskine designed and built his mansion in 1786. The building had major flaws in its design and construction however, and was demolished in 1969.

Almondell 2Almondell House had a two-storey centre section flanked by pavilion-roofed wings and stood where today the car park for disabled visitors is situated. This is a short distance from the Visitor Centre which occupies the former coach house and stables. Next to this, part of the walled kitchen garden still stands.

Almondell 3

Old stable block, now a Visitor Centre.

Almondell 4Erskine was an outstanding lawyer and politician with a great social conscience and was known as the “poor man’s advocate”. His illustrious career included two spells as Lord Advocate for Scotland, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and Member of Parliament, first for Fife, and then for Haddington and Dumfries. But an architect Erskine certainly wasn’t.  “The roof would not keep the water out,” said his son, “and the foundations would not let it away.”

Almondell 5Almondell 6All the same, a young relation of Erskine, Henry David Inglis Esq., always looked forward to holidays at Almondell. He wrote in the Edinburgh Literary Journal of the mail coach setting him down (always with his fishing tackle) at Almondell gate, about three quarters of a mile from the house, and “the beauty of that secluded domain.” And, best of all, a melon from the garden’s melon-bed.

To get to the house from the south, Henry Erskine commissioned Alexander Nasmyth, the Scottish painter, architect and landscape designer, to build a bridge over the river Almond. Parts of the bridge collapsed into the river in 1973 but it was restored in 1997.

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Nasmyth Bridge

The house and estate remained in the family until the 1950’s. A fire caused extensive damage to the building in the 1960’s which hastened its end.

In 1971, the estate was officially designated as West Lothian’s first country park.

Almondell 8Copyright © Yvonne MacMillan and Scots Roots 2017



Trumpan Church, Isle of Skye
March 13, 2017, 12:16 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: ,

Trumpan Church 1Trumpan Church 2Trumpan Church 3

Another church with a gruesome past, Trumpan Church sits peacefully on a hill overlooking Ardmore Bay, near Waternish Point on the Isle of Skye.

But in 1578, under cover of mist, several boatloads of MacDonalds from the Isle of Uist sailed into the bay and attacked the church, setting fire to its thatched roof and burning the Clan MacLeod worshippers alive.

Trumpan Church 4Trumpan Church 5Trumpan Church 6One young girl apparently escaped and raised the alarm leading to the massacre of the MacDonald men before they could leave the island.

The triumphant MacLeods dragged the bodies of the dead to a nearby wall and buried them by simply pushing the wall over the top of them.

The township of Trumpan never recovered and the church has remained a ruin to this day.

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House of the Binns, West Lothian
February 24, 2017, 11:40 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History, West Lothian | Tags: ,

House of the Binns 1The Binns estate, near Linlithgow, is situated on two hills from which it derives its name and the current House of the Binns was built by Thomas Dalyell in 1612. Thomas was an Edinburgh butter merchant who made his fortune as Deputy Master of the Rolls in the court of King James VI and I in London.

House of the Binns 2Thomas’s son, General Tam Dalyell, was a famous Royalist commander in the Civil War who later became the first colonel of the Royal Regiment of Scots Dragoons, also known as the Royal Scots Greys.

The remains of the steading where the General billeted his troops and the Sergeant’s Pond where they watered the horses can still be seen if walking round the grounds.

House of the Binns 3

The Steading

Extensions were made to the house in the 18th and 19th centuries by Sir Robert Dalyell and his son James.

The tower on the hill, a folly built by Sir James Dalyell in 1826 apparently as the result of a wager, commands a superb panoramic view of the Firth of Forth to the North and the Pentland Hills to the South.

House of the Binns 4

The Tower

The house has remained the home of the Dalyell family to the present day, although it was gifted to the National Trust for Scotland in 1944 provided that subsequent generations of the family would retain the right to live there.

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St Andrews Cathedral
February 10, 2017, 5:55 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: ,

St Andrews Cathedral 1Around 732 AD, relics of St Andrew were brought to a place in Fife which would later become St Andrews. A religious community grew there but they were supplanted by an order of Augustinian canons in 1144. The canons took over and extended the existing St Rule’s Church.

St Andrews Cathedral 2By the 1160s it was clear that St Rule’s Church was no longer big enough to accommodate the ambitions of the Augustinians and work was begun on the building of a new cathedral by Bishop Arnold.

It took 150 years to complete and when it was finished it was the largest church in Scotland. It was dedicated in 1318 in the presence of King Robert the Bruce and became the headquarters of the Scottish church.

St Andrews Cathedral 3During the Reformation in the 16th century as Scotland broke away from the Catholic Church in favour of Presbyterianism, the Catholic Cathedral of St Andrew was stripped of its altars, fittings and furnishings.

St Andrews Cathedral 4In the 1560s the parish church of St Andrews became the principal place of worship and the Cathedral effectively ceased to function, gradually falling into disrepair and ruin.

Only a few of the Cathedral walls still stand today, although the 33 metre tall square tower at the rear of the Cathedral walls is part of the 12th century St Rule’s Church and it is possible to climb to the top for a breathtaking view of the town of St Andrews and the surrounding coastline.

St Andrews Cathedral 5

St Andrews Cathedral 6



Chanonry Point
January 27, 2017, 12:04 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Wildlife | Tags: , ,

Chanonry Point 1The best place in the UK to see bottlenose dolphins is at Chanonry Point, a small spit of land on the Moray Firth, where the firth narrows between the Point and Fort George.

Chanonry Point 3Most often seen on a rising tide not long after the tide turns, the dolphins like to play in the strong currents as they chase the fish in.

Chanonry Point 2The shingle beach at the Point often hosts large crowds of people as they watch the dolphins feeding just metres away.

Chanonry Point 4A lighthouse is situated at the point. Designed by Alan Stevenson, uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson, the lighthouse was first lit in 1846 but has been fully automated since 1984.

Chanonry Point 5




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