the pioneer pilot and the Spaniards of Strathbran

Graveyards of Scotland

Cnoc na Bhain is a fair hill, indeed. Some say (in this case Wikipedia) it is one of the most beautiful graveyards in Scotland and this certainly seems true on a stunningly sunny and clear winter’s day. Access is difficult, you have to park the car down at Achanalt train station and walk up the hill, where the graveyard tops the curves like a crown.

It is not just a picturesque graveyard, but one that holds a few surprises: it has a Spanish connection. Entering the graveyard, one passes a large boulder with various plaque attached. The one on top dedicated to the Marquesa de Torre Hermosa. This is not a Highland name so what is the story?

The next clue on this intriguing mystery on the breathtakingly beautiful burial site is the name Bignold. Written in stone on the rather stern looking mausoleum to the side of the graveyard…

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the burial site of the Cameron chiefs

Graveyards of Scotland

The burial site is not easy to find for those who are neither Camerons nor locals. It is hidden a few hundred yards behind Achnacarry castle. Nothing indicates where these iron gates lead to, no sign at all to what seems just an overgrown path heading gently uphill. Obviously, not many people come here.

Catriona, kind curator of the Clan Cameron Museum, gave me directions, otherwise I would not have found it. After all, this is not a tourist attraction but the private burial site where the Cameron Chiefs are traditionally laid to rest.

the origin of the Clan Cameron

There are various theories about the beginning of this clan. One says the Camerons, and the Clan Chattan shared a common origin, another, the Camerons came out of the Macgillonies. There’s also the belief, that the Camerons are descendants of the royal Danish line, since a Danish prince they…

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kirk o’ the forest

Graveyards of Scotland

They called it “the forest”, plain and simple, there was never another one that size and importance. The Ettrick forest is extraordinary in the history of Scotland, its worth was political, biological and geographical. When one spoke of the forest, everyone knew which one was meant. There was only one of these dimensions; it reached into three Shires Selkirk, Dumfries and Peebles. The name Selkirk itself means church in the wood.

Ettrick Water

The Ettrick Forest is impressive and part of the vast Caledonian Forest that once covered the country, old pine trees, oaks, birch and hazelnut but also more open areas with heath and moss. An ideal habitat for red deer, wild boars and birds, sadly not much of it is left compared to its former size. James V allowed sheep farming on a large scale, which considerably decimated the trees within a few generations. However, it also meant that the…

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Obscure Antiquity

Were the broch builders ZOMBIE FLESH EATING CANNIBALS???

Touched on recently in the new book “Aspects of Prehistory: Caithness Archaeology” and debated for some time, throughout this thread we dare to delve into the depths of the macabre Iron Age and discover what is behind the claims of Iron Age ritual cannibalism!

During the time of the first excavations of brochs in Caithness, many human and animal body parts were discovered deposited within the buildings, commonly at doorways. During these first excavations by Laing and Huxley in the 1850-1860s, the idea of naked cannibal barbarian savages was a popular, if ‘romanticised’ view common amongst many antiquarians of the day.

Adding fuel to the fire of their imaginations was the discovery of a child’s jawbone alongside animal bones during the excavation of Keiss harbour broch. Laing and Huxley commented

“…this raises a strong assumption that these aboriginal savages were occasionally cannibals…I…

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seven slain brothers — Graveyards of Scotland

The Douglas clan was a powerful one in ancient Scotland, respected and sometimes feared. Mothers would use the name to pressure their children: Be good or the black Douglas will get you. They were called Black Douglas, for their inclination as well as their complexion; they were a rather dark-skinned family. One of the many […]

via seven slain brothers — Graveyards of Scotland

graves of a lost generation

Graveyards of Scotland

The HMY Iolaire disaster

How can tragedy be grasped and described in all its horror?

It is war and it affects people in all areas of their lives. The men are away fighting, none are left on the island of Lewis but the old and the young. Women struggle, they wait and they fear. Then it’s all over and the men are safe. They are coming home they write; the husbands, the sons, the cousins, the uncle, the fathers. They will be back on New Year’s Day 1919. Lewis celebrates what is probably the happiest New Year’s Eve in history, the houses are cleaned, cakes and biscuits baked, the women are dressing in their  finest, they go to bed thinking about their husbands arrival. Soon!

They lie in bed and dream: Tomorrow he will be back! Tomorrow he is back! Tomorrow, finally!

sheep grazing

The men write telegrams from Kyle of Lochalsh…

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the warrior chief

Graveyards of Scotland

Gairloch sandsFrom the first Viking raids right up to the middle of the 17th century Gairloch was nothing but a big battlefield.  First the Norsemen against then Scots, then the Mackenzies, the McLeod, and the MacDonalds among each other, fighting for power and ownership,  retaliating attacks, avenging murders, killing rivals.

Many died a brutal death here.

warrior chief Hector Roy Mackenzie Gairloch graveyards of Scotland

The very first church in Gairloch goes as far back as Maelrubha, the late 7th or early 8th century. It stood roughly in the middle of what is the churchyard today. No traces are left. The Mackenzies buried their chiefs in Gairloch since the 16th century, the baronets were interred in Beauly priory. One of the first to be buried in the small chapel in the graveyard was probably the great warrior chief Hector Roy, who died in 1528. There is still some doubt surrounding his interment in Gairloch but not as…

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historic murder comic

Graveyards of Scotland

Sueno's Stone Pictish symbol stone Forres Inverness Graveyards of ScotlandThere are many Pictish stones in Moray, most of them stand lonely in some field or other somewhere along the roadside, often fenced-in with a small sign giving a few an explanations. They usually do not differ very much to the untrained eye, prior knowledge of Pictish symbolism often helps.

The Sueno stone is an exception for several reasons.

For one, it stands at the roadside on the edge of a modern residential area and for another it is the largest you can find in Scotland.

Sueno’s stone is spectacular not only because of its 6.5 meters but also because of the symbolism on display. It is decorated on all four sides, carved in the 9th or 10th century. The front side mainly with ornamentation, the back side tells the story of a battle. This is where it gets interesting. What battle could that be? It’s not easy to decide…

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The Might and Majesty of Glencoe

Culloden Battlefield

Glencoe is a beautiful part of Scotland that is rich, not just in landscape, but also history so today we thought we share a little bit about why we love the spot so much.

Firstly, the landscape. You cant help but love the drama and scale of Glencoe, even if you’ve lived in Scotland your whole life it is still a fantastic place to visit and drive through. A drive through the valley is always enjoyable not matter what the weather is. In the sunshine the hills look stunning and if you’re really lucky you can sometimes catch a glimpse of a golden eagle. Summer is also the perfect time to try some of its many walking routes as the site houses eight Munros. Don’t worry if it’s been raining though. When you get the clouds and the rain Glencoe transforms into an area of classic Scottish atmosphere and the…

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