Scots Roots


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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House of the Binns 6



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



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




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