Scots Roots


Scone Palace
July 27, 2017, 9:30 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: ,

Scone Palace 1Scone Palace 2Scone (pronounced Scoon) was an Abbot’s Palace rather than a Royal Palace. The priory at Scone, near Perth, was granted abbey status in the 12th Century and the residence was built for the Abbot at that time.

The early kings of Scotland were crowned here at Moot Hill on the Stone of Scone (often called the Stone of Destiny) until the Stone was carried off by Edward I of England to Westminster Abbey in 1296. He built a Coronation Chair to fit over the Stone and it has been used at the coronations of English and British monarchs through the centuries. The Coronation Chair still sits in Westminster Abbey but the Stone of Destiny is now on view in Edinburgh Castle until it is needed again.

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Moot Hill – crowning place of the Kings of Scots. The small chapel was a later addition.

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Replica of the Stone of Destiny.

Even after the removal of the Stone of Destiny, the Moot Hill continued to be the crowning place of the Kings of Scots.

Scone Abbey was severely damaged by a mob from nearby Dundee during the Reformation in the 16th Century and now nothing of the abbey can be seen above ground.

Scone Palace 5In 1600 the abbey estates were granted to Sir David Murray and have remained in his family to the present day. Much of the work on the Palace as it can be seen today was commissioned by David William Murray, the 3rd Earl of Mansfield, around 1802.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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



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.

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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.

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St Michael's Church, Linlithgow 6




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