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Exclusive Scotland Tour

Sunday, August 31, 2008

This evening, I am presenting some images from a recent 3 day tour. We used Scotland's capital of Edinburgh as a base.

The following two images were taken at the 'Home of Golf' at St. Andrews, which is also a famous, historic city which also boasts a top university, castle and cathedral.

This is a view of St. Andrews taken from the Old Course Club House with Royal and Ancient in centre left.

View of famous Old Course. This is the Home of Golf where golf was first played some 600 years ago. It is venue for The 2010 Open Championship. St. Andrews links comprises six public golf courses including the Old Course.

Golfing is a major contributor to tourism in Scotland.

The following two images were taken at the quaint and historic fishing village of Crail located on the Fife Coast and just 10 miles from St. Andrews. Crail was once the largest fish market in Europe and today it is still possible to buy fresh lobster and shellfish here.

Note house with pantiled roofs

The following two images were taken at St. Monans Parish Church which was founded about AD 1265-67 and which may have been conceived as a thank-offering by King David II. The church sits close to the sea and location affords visitors a tang of the salty sea air.

Here is an image of the Alexander Selkirk statue at Lower Largo (Fife Coast). Alexander Selkirk was the real life role model for the fictional Robinson Crusoe.

The following four images are of the famous/historic Dupplin Cross which is situated in St. Serf's church at Dunning. This dates back about 1100 years and commemorates King Constantine.The heavy and intricate carvings appear to contain messages which we may not be able to fully understand today.

This is a view of the village of Dollar taken from atop nearby Castle Campbell. This is a prosperous community with a famous fee paying school. The name Dollar has nothing to do with money and originates from the ancient word for field ,'Dal'.

This is an image of Castle Campbell which is located high in the Ochills atop Dollar Glen. Originally known as 'Castle Gloom', the stronghold was acquired in the 15th century by the senior branch of the Campbell family, who over the years became earls, marquises and dukes of Argyll. In 1489 the place was renamed Castle Campbell and remained occupied until partly destroyed by fire in 1654 during the Civil War.

This is a view of the centre of the attractive little village of Dirleton which is dominated by the ruins of Dirleton Castle.

The following three images are of the stunning formal gardens at Dirleton Castle.

This is the main entrance to Direlton Castle which originated in the 12th century and was added to over the following three centuries until destroyed by Cromwell's army in the 17th century.
Dovecot at Direlton Castle. Pigeons were an important source of food in medieval times.

More garden scenes at Direlton Castle which include the world's longest herbaceous border.

The following three images were taken at Glenkinchie Whisky Distillery near Pencaitland. We enjoyed a guided tour describing the process of whisky making from malting. mashing, fermentation, distillation through to maturation.

The final three images were taken at Rosslyn Chapel, about 12 miles south of Edinburgh. This 15th century chapel is famous for its stone carvings, including the Apprentice Pillar. Regrettably, photography is not allowed inside the chapel. More recently, the chapel has attracted new visitors through the connection with the Da Vinci Code.

Overall, we had a good tour. Weather was OK but could have been better!


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Housesteads Hadrian's Wall Roman Britain Tour

Saturday, August 30, 2008

This evening I am posting some images from a recent visit to Housesteads Fort on Hadrian's Wall.

This is one of the most iconic sites of the Roman Empire and was known as Vercovicium. The fort was an addition to the Wall and covers two hectares. The overall layout of the fort changed little over nearly 300 years of occupation.

Here is an image of the granaries which are above ground level to keep the grain dry and free form vermin.

Here is the Wall passing through the landscape.

Foundations at the Fort


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Visit Glencoe Scotland

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This afternoon, I am presenting an image taken at a just-completed tour of Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands.

Glencoe is a 'must see' on a Scotland Tour. The scenery is awesome and there is added dimension in that Glencoe was the location of a famous massacre in 1692 when a detachment of Campbells serving in the British Army massacred 38 members of the Maclan MacDonalds on Feb 13th 1692.

There is a good Visitor Centre operated by the National Trust which focuses on the local ecology and scenery.

Glencoe also has a heritage museum and is very popular with hikers and climbers.


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Small Group Tour Scotland

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This evening, I am presenting some images from a just completed two day, small group tour of Scotland taking in some key sites.

Here is the quaint heritage village of Luss. The houses were originally built to house workers at a nearby slate quarry.

Loch Lomond with Ben Lomond in the distance.

Here are some images of the famous Glencoe landscape. We just arrived at the right time-as the sun was shining!

Here are some views of Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart. Loch Ness comprises the largest inland body of water in the U.K.

Happy travellers
Another view of Castle Urquhart. This is a magnificent ruin in its own right.

The following are some images from a tour of Edradour Distillery near Pitlochry. The tour is free and covers the whole whisky making process from malting, mashing, fermentation to distillation and maturation.

The following are images taken at Stirling Castle.

This is a handwoven tapestry located on the wall of the chapel. Tapestry weaving is still undertaken on-site.

The Chapel Royal. This was built in 1594 for the christening of Prince Henry.

Exterior of the Great Hall This is very impressive both inside (hammer beam roof) and outside (authentic gold coloured exterior).
The Palace
Outer Defences
Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum Glasgow. This is one of the finest civic attractions in Europe and attracts over 1.0m visitors per annum.

Glasgow University.This is one of Scotland's premier university's and located in the West End of Glasgow.
Overall, a good tour. Weather was reasonably clement.


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Visit Loch Lomond Scotland

Monday, August 25, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images of Loch Lomond taken today from the pier at Luss.

Loch Lomond is a freshwater loch which sits just 27 feet above sea level. It was the actions of a glacier some 10,000 years ago which created this landscape.

Loch Lomond's proximity to the populated lowlands of Scotland means it well suited to meeting then leisure needs of recreational users of many kinds, including boating, hiking,angling and birdwatching.

The images show Ben Lomond


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Tour Alnwick Castle

Saturday, August 23, 2008

This evening I am presenting images from a recent visit to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.

Alnwick was built in the 1300s and has been home of the Percy family for almost 700 years.

This home of the Duke of Northumberland holds many treasures including:

  • China
  • Furniture
  • Paintings including Old Masters such Canaletto and Titian.
The castle is popular with film makers and has been featured in Harry Potter films.

The castle is a major visitor attraction and very popular with Harry Potter fans.


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Tour Norham Church Northumberland

Friday, August 22, 2008

This evening, I am presenting an image of St. Cuthbert's Church, Norham. From an architectural perspective, this is a fascinating building dating from 1165 (but possibly on the site of a much earlier Saxon building). The church has had a chequered history being occupied by Scots' King Robert the Bruce during a siege of the nearby castle in 1320. It was restored in 1619 with further restoration evident in more recent times.

Norham is a pleasant village, well worth a visit in conjunction with the local castle.


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Abbotsford Gardens Tour Scottish Borders

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images of a recent visit to Abbotsford, the former home of Sir Walter Scott near Melrose.

The gardens provide a colourful complement to the House which sits on the banks of the River Tweed and comprise three elements: Entrance Courts; Morris Garden and Walled Kitchen Garden.

These gardens provide some opportunity for quiet reflection and are well worth a visit.


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Makins Ancestry Tour Scotland

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This evening I am posting some images from a recent ancestry themed tour based around the Scottish Borders.

We had a brief foray down to Hadrian's Wall. Here are some images taken at Housesteads Fort.

This is one of the granaries where the floor level is elevated to protect the grain against damp and vermin.

View of the Wall snaking across the landscape. The Romans made use of a natural escarpment.

Another view of the Fort foundations.

The following are images of Alnwick Castle (pronounced Annick), home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. This castle is popular with film makers and was used a set in Harry Potter films.Hence the Castle is very popular with Harry Potter fans. Visitors can also see the impressive State Rooms.

View of Norham from Norham Castle

The following two images are of Norham Castle, a magnificent ruin which dates from between 1121 and 1559 after which it fell into disrepair and was eventually taken into State ownership. For more information see yesterday's blog posting.

This is the village of Swinton where the Wheatsheaf Inn is located.

The following two images are of Norham Church, a very impressive building and a "living" place of worship.The church is dedicated to St. Cuthbert and may sit on the site of a much earlier Saxon place of worship. In the graveyard are buried members of the Makins family.

John Robson

Richard Makins died at Murton June 26 1870 age 65. Jane Kirkwood, wife died at Berwick April 23 1914 age 97 years.
In memory of Margaret, wife of William Makins of Thornton Mains who died Jan 12th 1847 age 28.Elizabeth second wife died March 20th 1873 age 63.Margaret Pringle (daughter) who died at Thornton Mains Dec 31st 1860 age 4 months. William Makins died at Berwick Aug 8th 1886 age 73 yrs. Sophia, eldest daughter born Oct 21st 1844 died Feb 21st 1901. Mary (daughter) died at Berwick Dec 24th 1915 age 64.
The inscription on this stone is faded but may read: Edward Makins died at Auchencrow Mains April 29 1859 age 56. Also Mary his wife died at Shoreswood July 20th 1895 age 77. Charles Makins younger son died at Mainsfield, Tweedmouth April 27th 1928 age 76.

Here are a couple of images of Abbotsford House, Sir Walter Scott's own creation of his version of Scotland and its heroic past. The House dates from the early 1800s. Worthy of a visit if in the area.

Garden at Abbotsford.


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Tour Norham Castle Scottish Borders

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images of a very impressive ruined castle at Norham which sits on the banks of the River Tweed.

This castle has a very illustrious history and has featured the centre of conflict between England and Scotland.

The castle was originally built by Bishop Ranulph Flambard of Durham in 1121 and has witnessed many sieges and changes of control between England and Scotland. It was re-built and repaired many times from 1157-70 through to 1559 when it was siezed by Queen Elizabeth I but subsequently fell into disrepair. The castle was taken into State ownership (England) in 1923.

This site will appeal to a wide a range of interests, from students of castle architecture to those who just want to admire the massive structure in such a beautiful setting. Entrance is free!


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Mary Queen of Scots Tour Scotland

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mary was born in 1542 (I daughter of James V). She was crowned Queen of Scots Sept 9 1543 and married in France in 1558.

Mary was Queen of France from 1559-1560. She returned to Scotland in 1561 and reigned as a Catholic Queen in a Protestant country until 1566.

Mary's husband, Lord Darnley died Feb 1567. Three months later she married the Earl of Bothwell who subsequently deserted her. Mary was forced to abdicate on 24/7/1567 in favour of her baby son, James VI.

Mary spent the last 19 years of her life as a prisoner in various locations in England and was beheaded in 1587.


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Kirk Lane Cemetery Tour Pollockshaws Glasgow

Thursday, August 14, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images of Kirk Lane Cemetery. This is an absolutely fascinating place, dating from 1764 and contains many 18th century grave markers packed full of local history.

The cemetery comprises an oasis in the midst of a low/middle income area which is undergoing extensive rebuilding.

This is a typical old grave marker and is less eroded than most.


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Tour River Clyde at Glasgow

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This evening, I am posting some images of the Clyde at Glasgow. The river and the City are synonymous as historically the river has been a major contributor to Glasgow's evolution and wealth, principally through trade and shipbuilding.

Here are the offices of BBC Scotland.

View of the Clyde with the 'Squinty' Bridge.

Titan Crane- a legacy of shipbuilding on the Clyde.

The Clyde at Glasgow seems vey quiet with very little pleasure or commercial traffic. It is possible to have a gentle walk or cycle ride along the river's edge.


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Tour Prestwick Scotland

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images of Prestwick. This is a town on the coast just south of Glasgow and perhaps best known for its airport which used by budget carriers. There are also some fine golf courses and beaches.

Here is a view of the town centre

Here are views of the beaches


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Glasgow Necropolis Ancestors Tour Scotland

Monday, August 11, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images of Glasgow's Necropolis (City of the Dead).
This is a hallowed burial ground which contains the remains of some 50,000 people. It was built during Victorian times when Glasgow was the second city of the British Empire and houses memorials to the merchant patriarchs of the City. The elevation of the Necropolis also offers ( on a clear day) views of the valley of the Clyde bounded by the hills of Cowal, Kyle and Cunninghame.

During the 1830s Glasgow's population mushroomed. This rising population was allied with outbreaks of typhus and cholera which resulted in the deaths of over 5000 people each year. There were concerns on hygiene grounds with the traditional practice of burying the increasing numbers of deceased within churchyards which led to the establishment of cemeteries such as the Necropolis.

View of burial monuments.

This is the Major Archibald Douglas Monteath Mausoleum. It was designed in 1842 by David Cousin.

The following two images are of the entrance facade designed by John Bryce in 1836. This was intended as a magnificent gateway to a subterranean crypt housing tiers of vaults which would ensure safety form "body snatchers".

A visit to the Necropolis is well worthwhile. Not only are the views superb ( on a good day) but the memorials provide the visitor with an insight into the lost world of Victorian Glasgow. A honeypot for ancestry researchers!


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Tour Forth Rail Bridge Scotland

Sunday, August 10, 2008

This evening I am presenting an image of the famous Forth Road Bridge, near Queensferry on the Forth of Forth.

This bridge is an iconic piece of Victorian engineering which is over one and a half miles long and 360 feet high.

The bridge was constructed between 1883 and 1890 using 60,000 tons of steel in the process.

Approximately 100 workers lost their lives during construction of the bridge.

The bridge is well worth a visit, especially for those interested in architecture and engineering. Queensferry is a quaint little town.


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Stewarton Ancestry Tour Ayrshire Scotland

Saturday, August 09, 2008

This evening, I am presenting some images of a recent visit to St. Columba's Church, Stewarton. This is a fascinating old church with many grave-makers dating back to the 18th century and beyond. In past years Stewarton was a major textile centre which industry generated considerable local wealth. Farming remains a major industry.

This very ancient stone is not very clear but seems to date to the early 1700s.

John Watt
Uncle of Robert Burns (national poet)

General views of church and graveyard

Overall, Stewarton is somewhat of a "mixed" town in terms of modern day prosperity but perhaps worth a visit on the way to Ayr. I found the churchyard fascinating.


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Maggie Wall Tour Dunning Perthshire

Friday, August 08, 2008

This evening, I am presenting an image of a very unusual roadside memorial cum shrine to Maggie Wall "burnt here 1657 as a witch".

This stone monument is located about 1 mile west of the village of Dunning.

It is assumed that Maggie Wall was one of the unfortunate casualties of 17th century witch-hunts. However, despite diligent record keeping at the time , there is no record of any trial, conviction or sentence relating to a Maggie Wall . Moreover, Christian themed memorials to witches are extremely unusual. Clearly, therefore, the monument is something of a conundrum. Another dimension is the fact that the stonework is of 19th century origin ( which may have replaced an earlier one). So, there is something here for the historical detective!


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Robert Burns Tour Stewarton

Thursday, August 07, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images of a memorial which I came across at St. Columba's Parish Church, Stewarton, Ayrshire.

This significant memorial requires a good clean but, as fas as I can ascertain, the words read:

Erected by the Stewarton literary Society Sept 24th 1810 in memory of Robert Burns uncle of the National Poet who died at Stewarton Jan 3rd 1789. The connection between the poet and uncle's family was a very close one see letter Feb 9th 1789

The poet appears to have been named after his uncle who moved south with the poet's father.

Here is more information on the letter dated Feb 9th 1789.


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Tour Forteviot Perthshire

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

This evening I am presenting images from my recent visit to the village of Forteviot. Prime purpose of the visit was to attend a talk from archaeologists on work in progress on excavations of this historic site which was the capital ( or centre of power) of Scotland in the mid 9th century. What is now a small and quite village was in past millennia a major population and possibly ritual centre spanning the neolithic to the post medieval. There is evidence to suggest that Forteviot was an ecclesiastical centre in Pictish times and may have been the premier ritual complex in the East of Scotland. The church, which has bell dating from the 10th century, is probably built on the site of a much earlier church.

The current village may be located on the site of a Pictish Palace where Kenneth McAlpine lived and died AD 842/3-AD858.

The archaeologists clearly have a major task over the next 10 years and will use latest technology including crop mark analysis to learn how the village evolved.

Here is a spectacular double rainbow

Evening view from the village
I think this is a Rowan tree.
Plaque in centre of village. This dates from the 1920s and underscores the belief of a connection with Kenneth McApline.

Forteviot Church

Overall, Forteviot is well worth a visit, which should be conducted in conjunction with a visit to nearby Dunning.


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Dunning Ancestry Tour Scotland

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images from St. Serf's Church, Dunning Perthshire.

Yesterday, I took a stroll around the church graveyard which has a fascinating collection of burial stones and grave-markers some of which date back to the 17th century.

Dunning is a vibrant small community set beneath the Ochils in Strathearn. The locality has been inhabited by man since about 4000BC.

The impressive Romanesque steeple of St. Serf's Church dominates the village. Records of the church go back to 1219 but the remains of an old doorway suggest a much older church on the site, possibly going back to the 8th or 9th centuries AD.

Below are some images of a sample of headstones which include such local names as Wedderspoon, Cunningham, Duncan, Dougal, Reid, Fraser, Miller, Morris and MacFarland.

Here is a general view of the graveyard.


The horizontal stones are probably the oldest and are influenced by the Scandinavian/Viking 'Hogback' style.


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Tour Carmunnock Scotland

Monday, August 04, 2008

This evening I am presenting some pictures of Carmunnock, in Glasgow.

Carmunnock is a conservation village and is the only remaining identifiable village within the city of Glasgow boundaries. It lies 5 miles south of the city centre and is surrounded by green belt land. The old part of Carmunnock Village was declared a conservation area in 1970.

The name Carmunnock derives from the Gaelic "Coire Manaich", the glen of corrie of the monk. In the 12th century the land was possessed by Henry of Carmannock and by the middle of the 15th century, James Lord Hamilton was confirmed in possession of land including Carmunnock. His successors held this land until the middle of the 17th century, when it passed to Stuart of Castlemilk.

Many of the villagers were involved in work associated the farms, as well as laundry work in the 19th and early 20th century, and also in hand-loom weaving in the 18th and 19th century.

This building, which contained a shop until the 1940s, was refurbished in 1984.

Green Side, Old Green

Beautiful flowers

The date-stone on the wall was found in the ruins of the first Parish School, which had been in operation for 138 years until 1840.

The Mitchell Restaurant was originally Boghead farmhouse and steadings, dating from 1755 and becoming an Inn in the late 19th or early 20th century.

Weavers' cottages, which dated 1697, are amongst the oldest in the village.

The Doo Well, Waterside Road, is the last remaining of the 4 public wells in the village.

Busby Road. Old cottages

Manse Road was earlier known as School Loan.

Carmunnock Church

the Glebe

Kirkennan Cottage, which was the former post office from the 1890s to early 1900s.

The War Memorial

Another Image of the Glebe

This building was the old School, built in the 1840s. It is a now the Village Recreational Club.

Trestermyre, which dates from the late 1690s, was originally the cottage of a crofter, or portioner.

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Key Sites of Glasgow Tour

Saturday, August 02, 2008

This evening I am presenting some pictures and videos about Glasgow.

We went on a cycle ride today down Glasgow. We went to the market place called Barras, and visited the St Mungo Cathedral, where a wedding was proceeding, then down to the Chapel and the tomb of St Mungo, and to the Blackadder Aisle. We also went to the Necropolis and enjoyed the beautiful views up there. The Necropolis is the place where wealthy characters were burried in the 19th century. We aslo had the opportunity to cycle on the Squinty Bridge and the Millennium Bridge, and we took some pictures of the River Clyde, the BBC Scotland Building, The Science Centre Tower and the Armadillo, which is a conference centre.

The Glaswegian Bar


Barras Market Place

The Glasgow Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral

The Tomb of St Mungo

The Blackadder Aisle

Piper with traditional and ceremonial kilt during the wedding

Classic cars for the wedding

The Necropolis

The Squinty Bridge

View from the Squinty Bridge

The Crowne Plaza

The Science Centre Tower and the Millenium Bridge

The Armadillo

The BBC Scotland Building

Views from the Millenium Bridge

The Science Centre


View from the Necropolis

View from the Millenium Bridge


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High Rise Views of Glasgow

Friday, August 01, 2008

This evening I am presenting some views of Glasgow. We visited some appartments and had the opportunity to enjoy some high rise views of the city.

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