Scots Roots

RRS Discovery

RRS Discovery 1The job of building the Royal Research Ship Discovery was given to Dundee’s shipyards because of their long experience of building whaling ships that were strong enough to sail through the Arctic pack ice. It was commissioned by the Royal Geographical Society for the 1901 British National Antarctic Expedition to be led by Lieutenant Robert Falcon Scott of the Royal Navy.

Setting sail from the Isle of Wight on 6th August 1901, the Discovery made her way to the Antarctic by way of New Zealand carrying enough provisions for three years – including a flock of 45 sheep. Life on board can’t have been easy considering that they also had 23 sled dogs to look after.

Antarctica was finally sighted on 8th January 1902. A base was established at McMurdo Sound and this would be home to the members of the expedition for the next couple of years. The expeditions main purpose was scientific so magnetic surveys and geological, biological, meteorological and oceanographic research were all carried out. Many new species were discovered and hundreds of miles of coastline and mountain ranges were mapped.

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Scott’s Cabin.

On February 16th 1904, having been blasted free from its icy prison with help from two relief ships, Morning and Terra Nova, Discovery began the long voyage home arriving at Spithead on 10th September 1904.

RRS Discovery 4In 1905, Discovery was sold to the Hudson’s Bay Company and she began working as a cargo vessel.

Scott returned to the Antarctic in 1910 on board the Terra Nova in a bid to become the first man to reach the South Pole. His group made it to the Pole only to discover that Roald Amundsen had beaten them to it by five weeks. Scott and his party all died in blizzard conditions while returning from the Pole to the ship. Scott is presumed to have died around 29th March 1912, his body and those of his companions being found by a search party several months later.

RRS Discovery 3Following a period running munitions to Russia during the First World War, the Discovery was refitted in 1923 and in 1925 again set sail for Antarctica as part of the Discovery Oceanographic Expedition to research whale stocks. From 1929 to 1931 she served in a research role as part of the British Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition.

After a period as a training ship for the Sea Scouts in London, Discovery passed into the care of the Maritime Trust in 1979 until ownership transferred to the Dundee Heritage Trust in 1985. In 1986, Discovery returned to Dundee to form the centrepiece of the Discovery Point Visitor Centre.

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St Andrews Castle
August 5, 2016, 9:32 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: ,

St Andrews Castle 1St Andrews Castle 2St Andrews Castle 3Not far from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews Castle stands on the cliffs overlooking the North Sea.

Originally built in the 1100s as the residence of the bishops of the newly built cathedral, the castle suffered significant damage during the Wars of Independence (1296 to 1356) and was substantially rebuilt in 1385 by Bishop Walter Trail.

Mines and countermines dug during the religious tensions of the Reformation in the 16th century  when the castle was under siege can still be visited deep in the castle’s underbelly.

St Andrews Castle 4Bishops were abolished in Scotland following the Reformation so the castle was left without a resident and it fell gradually into disrepair and ruin.

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Malleny Garden
July 22, 2016, 2:26 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: , ,

Malleny Garden 1Malleny Garden 2At Balerno, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, is a wonderful walled garden surrounded by woodland. Malleny Garden has around 150 varieties of rose including a National Collection of 19th century shrub roses.

The borders are wide and contain a large selection of shrubs and herbaceous perennials with two Victorian greenhouses sheltering some of the more tender plants.

Next to the garden stands Malleny House. The current house was built in 1637 but records of the site date back to 1330.

Four tall 400 year old yew trees, known as the Four Evengelists, dominate the entrance to the garden.

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Cairnpapple Hill
July 9, 2016, 10:47 am
Filed under: Scottish History, West Lothian | Tags: ,

Cairnpapple 1Cairnpapple Hill, to the north of Bathgate in West Lothian, is one of the most important prehistoric sites on mainland Scotland. The site was excavated in the 1940s by Professor Piggott of the University of Edinburgh. He discovered that the site had been in use from around 5,500 years ago.

Cairnpapple 2Traces of six hearths from that period were discovered but these were later covered by a henge monument consisting of a large oval bank surrounded by a ditch enclosing a ring of 24 wooden posts.

The wood has long since rotted away but the post holes can still be seen.

Cairnpapple 3The henge fell out of use around 4,000 years ago but the area continued to be used as a burial site.

Cairnpapple 4Several burial cists have been found but these were eventually covered by a large burial cairn measuring 30 metres in diameter. The 1940s excavation has now been partly covered by a concrete dome replicating one of the earlier cairns. Visitors can enter the cairn by means of a stepladder to see reconstructions of two of the early graves.

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Jupiter Artland
June 27, 2016, 9:55 am
Filed under: Photographs, West Lothian | Tags:
Jupiter Artland 1

CELLS OF LIFE – Charles Jencks

Jupiter Artland 2Taking it’s inspiration from Ian Hamilton Findlay’s ‘Little Sparta’, Jupiter Artland is a collection of artworks by internationally renowned artists spread across the grounds of Bonnington House near Wilkieston in West Lothian.

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FROM EAR TO HERE V.20 – Celeste Boursier – Mougenot


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TEMPLE OF APOLLO – Ian Hamilton Finlay

The formal gardens, meadows and woodland around the Jacobean house have been adapted to create a unique sculpture park across the 100 acre estate.

The owners, art collectors Robert and Nicky Wilson, have spent the years since buying the house and grounds in 1999 commissioning art works inspired by the landscape.

Any money raised from events, exhibitions etc is put towards an education programme so that children in Scotland can benefit from the inspiring environment at Jupiter Artland.



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FIRMAMENT – Antony Gormley

Strome Castle
June 10, 2016, 10:41 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: , ,

Strome Castle 1Strome Castle 2Strategically placed on a rocky promontory on the north side of Loch Carron in Wester Ross, Strome Castle was built in the early 1400s as a stronghold for the Lords of the Isles.

Strome Castle 3The castle later became a source of bitter rivalry between the Clan McDonald of Glengarry and the Clan Mackenzie of Kintail.


Following a long siege in 1602, the MacDonalds surrendered the castle to the Mackenzies who promptly demolished it and blew it up.

Today you can still see the remains of what would have been a square stone tower with four foot thick walls.

Through the window you can look down the loch towards the Isle of Skye in the west.

Strome Castle was donated to the National Trust for Scotland in 1939.

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Knock Farril
May 27, 2016, 11:16 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: , ,

Knockfarrel 1The hillfort of Knock Farril was the seat of an Iron Age chieftain or a Pictish king. It’s remains can be found on the summit of Knockfarrel hill near Dingwall to the north of Inverness.

Knockfarrel 2The summit is a wide grassy square surrounded by ditches and strange looking rocks with an almost glass-like appearance – the result of vitrification, a process whereby dry stone walls were subjected to intense heat which fused the stones together. It was once thought that vitrification was part of the building process but it is now more commonly believed to have been a process of destruction – where a conquered hillfort was destroyed by the victors.

In the early 1770s the engineer John Williams conducted one of the earliest recorded archaeological excavations in Scotland here.

The views from the summit are spectacular in all directions.

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