Scots Roots


Verdant Works, Dundee
January 13, 2017, 10:59 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: , ,

Verdant Works 1In the 19th century, Dundee was the world’s largest producer of jute products. Over 50,000 people were employed in more than 100 mills by the end of the century and the population of Dundee had virtually quadrupled from 45,000 to 161,000.

Verdant Works 2Ideally placed on the Tay estuary, Dundee already had a thriving textile industry, a large whaling fleet and its own shipbuilding industry. They built the big ships needed to bring the raw jute across from India, the whaling industry provided the whale oil necessary for softening the jute fibres ready for processing and the existing textile workers were retrained to process the jute.

Verdant Works 3Jute is quite a rough fibre and is used to make sacking, burlap, twine, canvas, rope etc. The sails on the ships carrying Scots settlers to new lives in the U.S.A., Australia and New Zealand and the tents and covers on the wagons that carried them across these lands were made from jute.

Wars were very popular with the jute barons in Dundee and the 19th century had no shortage of conflicts. These fuelled a great demand for tents, horse blankets, covers for wagons and guns, sandbags and sacks for carrying all sorts of produce.

Verdant Works 4Although jute production made the mill owners very rich, the mill workers were poorly paid and working conditions were dreadful. Most of the workers were women and children because they could be paid less.

Verdant Works 5The industry in Dundee began to decline in the 20th century when the mill owners realised that they could set up jute mills in India and employ cheap local labour.

Today there are no working mills in Dundee. Many have been demolished, others turned into housing, offices or social clubs.

Verdant Works is a former working mill which has been converted into a museum by Dundee Heritage Trust. Originally built in 1833 and extended in 1870, it opened as a museum in 1996. Most of the machinery in Verdant Works came from Dundee College of Technology when its textile course closed in the 1980s. Other items were donated by the public. It’s a really interesting place to visit.

Verdant Works 6

Verdant Works 7



Fairy Glen, Isle of Skye
December 20, 2016, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Photographs | Tags: ,

Fairy Glen 1Fairy Glen 3Fairy Glen 6Not signposted but definitely worth a visit, the magical landscape of the Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye can be stumbled upon if you take the road for Balnacnoc near Uig on the west side of Trotternish.

Like most of Skye’s stunning landscapes, this glen was formed by a series of landslides followed by a period of glaciation.

Fairy Glen 2

Fairy Glen 7The road winds round grassy mounds and lochans and there’s even a rocky hilltop that looks like a ruined castle – which has been given the name Castle Ewan.

It’s a great place to relax with a picnic.

Fairy Glen 5Fairy Glen 4



Rogie Falls
November 21, 2016, 6:31 pm
Filed under: Photographs | Tags: ,

Rogie Falls 1About a mile north west of Contin on the Ullapool road in Ross-shire, Rogie Falls are a popular tourist attraction and starting point for a number of forest trails along the Black Water river.

Rogie Falls 2A suspension bridge supporting no more than five people at a time crosses the river, its swaying motion making it quite difficult to take photographs.

Rogie Falls 3Below the bridge, at the side of the river, a fish ladder was built to allow salmon and other fish to reach their spawning grounds upriver. Not all of them realise it’s there, of course, and you can often see salmon leaping up the main falls, usually in the autumn.

Rogie Falls 4

Rogie Falls 5



St Michael’s Church, Linlithgow
October 16, 2016, 11:29 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History, West Lothian | Tags: , ,

St Michael's Church, Linlithgow 1Standing on a hill next to the old Royal palace at Linlithgow, St Michael’s church can be seen from miles away in all directions – thanks, in particular, to its distinctive crown-topped tower.

St Michael's Church, Linlithgow 2Built in the 12th century, the church has seen many changes. It was used as a garrison storehouse by King Edward I of England in the years prior to the Battle of Bannockburn. It was badly damaged by a great fire in 1424 and took more than a hundred years to rebuild. Much of the money for its rebuilding came from the Stewart monarchs who liked to worship there.

St Michael's Church, Linlithgow 3Mary, Queen of Scots, was born at Linlithgow Palace in 1542 and was baptised at St Michael’s.

In 1646, Oliver Cromwell’s roundhead troops arrived in Linlithgow and men and horses were billeted in the church.

St Michael's Church, Linlithgow 4Further repair work was needed in the early 1800s when it was realised that some of the ceiling beams were rotten. In 1821 the old stone crown which sat on top of the tower had to be removed because it was too heavy. This crown was eventually replaced in 1964 with a 58 feet tall crown made of light anodised aluminium.

St Michael's Church, Linlithgow 5

St Michael's Church, Linlithgow 6



Iron Age Village, Great Bernera, Outer Hebrides
September 30, 2016, 10:00 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: , ,

Iron Age Village 1A great storm in the winter of 1993 uncovered substantial stonework amongst the sand dunes on the beach at Bostadh on Great Bernera in the Outer Hebrides.

The site was excavated in 1996 to reveal a Norse settlement but further digging brought to light an earlier Iron Age village dating from around 500 – 800AD.

Iron Age Village 2Archaeologists removed various animal and fish bones, shells, plant remains and combs from the dig and some of these can be seen at the museum in nearby Breaclete. The site was then covered over with sand once more to preserve the structures.

Iron Age Village 3In 1998, a replica of one of the Iron Age huts was built just inland from the beach. It is comprised of a larger circular building with a central hearth, connected to a smaller circular building which was probably used for storage. A single turf roof covers both buildings. The inside is laid out as it would have been and visitors are welcome for a small fee.

Iron Age Village 4



Abriachan Gardens
September 16, 2016, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Photographs | Tags: , ,

Abriachan 3This garden was established little more than thirty years ago and has steadily grown up the hill from the Loch Ness roadside to merge with the surrounding woodland.

Abriachan 2Native plants are expertly mixed with exotic plantings from New Zealand and the Falkland Islands where the current owners previously lived.

Abriachan 5Stunningly situated in the Great Glen by the shores of Loch Ness, just 8 miles south of Inverness, this 4 acre garden will lead you up the woodland path and provide you with fantastic views over the loch.

Abriachan 1An adjoining nursery gives you the opportunity to take home many of the plants you will have seen.

Abriachan 4

Abriachan 6



North Lewis Poppy Trail
September 6, 2016, 1:33 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: , ,

Poppy Trail 1These photos aren’t exactly picturesque but the story they tell is quite interesting. Large poppies have been placed beside the homes or crofts of the men of North Lewis in the Outer Hebrides who lost their lives in World War One.

Poppy Trail 2Poppy Trail 3It’s shocking to look down whole streets and see these reminders outside nearly every house – not always single flowers but often two, three or four outside individual dwellings. Some villages have 20 to 30 poppies.

The loss of so many young men – sons, brothers, husbands, fathers – must have been devastating to such a rural community. Around a quarter of 900 people from the north of Lewis who served in the war didn’t return. The Trail is a very moving memorial to the men who died.

Poppy Trail 4

Poppy Trail 5




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