Now folks, just a wee bit a history-in-a-nutshell:….When Romans ruled Britannia from the first Century AD, Scotland was never entirely part of the package.
Those lands were the province of the indigenous Picts/Picti (meaning “painted people” – no, too early for Mel Gibson in Braveheart), tribal people considered ‘barbarians’ by Rome for their want of a written language. After the Romans pulled out about 200 years later, the elaborate infrastructure they left behind, including Hadrian’s Wall, establishes a heritage of passionate defence of these lands.
It is not known precisely when Picts morphed into Caledonians with the “Scoti”, who it is theorised, were Kingdom-crashing Conquistadors from far eastern Eire. But I like to think these themes have all persisted and abound today in the genetic memory, to be further mixed with those who came next with brutish intent who climbed Hadrian’s Wall from the south; and with those Nordics who clambered ashore through wild Shetland and Orkney surfs; plus sundry other assorted folk with inexhaustible immigration tales to tell, including those romantics who must have come simply to live and love among the splendour.
Our most excellent Highlands tour guide was 26-years-old Barney Norris from the border town of Berwick. His home town is the site of an original massacre in which the bloody violent death of every man, woman and child in the village
was delivered by order of out-of-sorts King Edward1 of England. He gave us to understand that the Romans’ low opinion of the Picts, meant they recorded very little of them. However, just to indicate the prevailing commitment of the Scots to their freedom, that great historian Wikipedia, records that:
In AD 83–84, the General Gnaeus Julius Agricola defeated the Caledonians at the Battle of Mons Graupius. Tacitus wrote that, before the battle, the Caledonian leader, Calgacus, gave a rousing speech in which he called his people the “last of the free” and accused the Romans of “making the world a desert and calling it peace”. After the Roman victory, Roman forts were briefly set along the Gask Ridge close to the Highland line (only Cawdor near Inverness is known to have been constructed beyond that line). Three years after the battle, the Roman armies had withdrawn to the Southern Uplands.
There’s bin Alexanders One, Two, Three,
and Bridie and Belei and Bede
There’s bin Cináed MacAilpín and Oengus MacFergus,
an Andrew, a Wallace and Robert The Bruce;
MacDonalds, MacGregors, and Stewarts to Stuarts;
The Davids, The James, and The Johns on the loose.
There’s bin Gaelic and English and Gaelic and Norse
and Gaelic prevailed in Alba’s due course
from David the First up to Alex the Third
when nary a fool’s angry word would be heard.
But when King Edward One put a John in his gun,
he breached his own peace ’til the next King to come
wore his own crown on his own Scottish head,
and stilled the great flood that brave Scots had bled
until the stand at Stirling Bridge and ‘cross the Bannockburn
wed English blood and roses to their own deaths in turn…
and turn about of crowns from friend to foe and back and back
this history track has worn half thin and fit to crack
where fair Alba’s feet may yet step her Freedom Way
for the time is now or never left for her to say……
the time is now or never left for her to say……
Of course there’s so much more than this brief excursion to the history of The Scots. And although we have no properly informed right to an opinion, we’re hoping hard for the big go-ahead which we may or may not celebrate with…
Haggis, steamed or boiled, neeps and tatties with larshings (lashings) of butter. We did it! With instructions from the local Castle Douglas butcher. We enjoyed the meal! Second helping…..Nooooo thanks.
I don’t enjoy bagpipes BUT in Edinburgh I loved the lone pipers. At the Tattoo the pipe bands sent a thrill and chill through me
and to top it off the lone piper on the side of the hill in Glencoe, the most beautiful glen in Scotland. The tragedy of the Glencoe Massacre (Feb 3rd 1692) gives the area a terrible beauty! Wild mountains and lochs, foaming salmon rivers and waterfalls, rugged coastlines with mighty sea cliffs, traditional crofts and large farms, small fishing villages and bustling towns.
Nessie welcomed us to a certain large loch in Scotland by striking a rather coy pose on a nearby rocky shelf, courtesy of an Englishman who has camped 6 ft from the shore in a wee caravan for the 15 years of his Nessie hunt.
Glasgow was smelly and grey after elegant Edinburgh and all the fun of the Festival. Not very chic.
We can’t sign off this post without a tribute to Amazing Eve, our host in the beautiful border town of Moffat. Eve welcomed us with lovely traditional Scottish goodies, oat cakes, Tunnocks tea cakes, whiskey marmalade and fabulous cheese and crackers as a fantastic starter pack to our self-catering stay in her very comfortable digs. It was our first stop in Scotland and she did her country proud! She was all sorts of invaluable help to us and we can’t thank her enough! So Thanks a Million Eve.
And Gooo Scotland!