The Isle of Skye is the largest and most northerly large island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.
The island’s peninsulas radiate from a mountainous centre dominated by the Cuillins, the rocky slopes of which provide some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the country.
There are numerous important prehistoric remains in Orkney, especially from the Neolithic period, four of which form a World Heritage Site. There are diverse reasons for the abundance of the archaeological record. The sandstone bedrock provides easily workable stone materials and the wind-blown sands have helped preserve several sites. The relative lack of industrialisation and low incidence of ploughing also have helped to preserve these ancient monuments. Local tradition hints at both a fear and veneration of these ancient structures (perhaps inherited from the Norse period of occupation) that may have helped to retain their structural integrity.
The caber toss is a traditional Scottish athletic event in which competitors toss a large tapered pole called a “caber”. It is normally practised at the Scottish Highland Games. In Scotland the caber is usually made from a Larch tree and is typically 19 feet 6 inches (5.94 m) tall and weighs 175 pounds (79 kg). The term ‘caber’ derives from the Gaelic word “cabar” or “kaber” which refers to a wooden beam.
The Trossachs is a small woodland glen in the Stirling council area of Scotland. It lies between Ben A’an to the north and Ben Venue to the south, with Loch Katrine to the west and Loch Achray to the east. However, the name is used generally to refer to the wider area of wooded glens and braes with quiet lochs, lying to the east of Ben Lomond. The Lake of Menteith, in the strictest sense Scotland’s only natural lake, lies about six miles (10 km) to the south east of the glen, on the edge of the Trossachs area.
The steamship Sir Walter Scott is our flagship and the jewel in the Loch Katrine Experience’s crown. With over 100 years of sailings to her name, this world famous steamship has captivated visitors for almost a century. Connecting every aspect of the Loch Katrine Experience, the steamship Sir Walter Scott brings together the best of adventure, relaxation and history – all in one experience.
Tolbooth Tavern building was used to collect tolls from travellers entering the burgh but has also served as a Council Chamber, Police Court and Prison. The Prison was tenanted by those who suffered in the cause of liberty and many of its captives were wrongly detained and brutally treated.
Eilean Donan Castle was founded in the thirteenth century, and became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies the Clan Macrae. In the early eighteenth century the Mackenzies’ involvement in the Jacobite rebellions led in 1719 to the castle’s destruction by government ships. Lieutenant-Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap’s twentieth-century reconstruction of the ruins produced the present buildings.
Scotland is The Home of Golf. The game has flourished here for six centuries and remains one of the nation’s key attractions. There is no finer place for a golf break than the country that gave golf to the world.
In February 1306 following an argument during their meeting at Greyfriars monastery, Dumfries, Bruce killed Comyn. He was excommunicated by the Pope, but absolved by Robert Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow. Robert moved quickly to seize the throne and was crowned king of Scots on 25 March 1306, at Scone.
Edward I’s forces defeated Robert in battle and he was forced to flee into hiding in the Hebrides and Ireland, before returning in 1307 to defeat an English army at Loudoun Hill and wage a highly successful guerrilla war against the English. Robert defeated the Comyns and his other Scots enemies, destroying their strongholds and devastating their lands from Buchan to Galloway. In 1309 he was able to hold his first parliament at St Andrews, and a series of military victories between 1310 and 1314 won him control of much of Scotland.
try try try again
According to a legend, at some point while he was on the run during the winter of 1306–07, Bruce hid in a cave on Rathlin Island off the north coast of Ireland, where he observed a spider spinning a web, trying to make a connection from one area of the cave’s roof to another. Each time the spider failed, it began again until it succeeded. Inspired by this, Bruce returned to inflict a series of defeats on the English, thus winning him more supporters and eventual victory. The story serves to illustrate the maxim: “if at first you don’t succeed, try try try again.” Other versions have Bruce in a small house watching the spider try to make its connection between two roof beams; or, defeated for the seventh time by the English, watching the spider make its attempt seven times, succeeding on the eighth try.
Most medieval battles were short-lived, lasting only a few hours, therefore the Battle of Bannockburn is unusual in that it lasted for two days. On 23 June 1314 two of the English cavalry formations advanced, the first was under the Earl of Gloucester and the Earl of Hereford. They encountered a body of Scots and among them was Robert the Bruce himself. A celebrated single combat then took place between Bruce and Henry de Bohun who was the nephew of the Earl of Hereford. Bohun charged at Bruce and when the two passed side by side, Bruce split Bohun’s head with his axe. The Scots then rushed upon the English under Gloucester and Hereford who struggled back over the Bannockburn. The second English cavalry force was under Robert Clifford and they advanced on the flank of the Scots, coming up against the schiltrom that was commanded by Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray but the English withdrew in confusion, unable to break the Scottish formation.
In the Year of our Lord 1314,
Patriots of Scotland – starving and outnumbered – charged the fields of Bannockburn.
They fought like warrior poets; they fought like Scotsmen, and won their freedom.
Under nightfall the English forces crossed the stream that is known as the Bannock Burn, establishing their position on the plain beyond it. A Scottish knight, Alexander Seton, who was fighting in the service of Edward II of England deserted the English camp and went and told Bruce of the low English morale, encouraging Bruce to attack them. In the morning the Scots then advanced from New Park. The English archers should have been able to counter this advance but they were neutralized by a Scottish cavalry charge led by Sir Robert Keith. The English responded to the Scots advance with a charge of their own led by the Earl of Gloucester, however Gloucester had argued with the Earl of Hereford over who should lead the vanguard into battle, and argued with the king that the battle should be postponed, thus the king accused him of cowardice, which perhaps goaded Gloucester into the charge. Few accompanied Gloucester in his charge and when he reached the Scottish lines he was quickly surrounded and killed. Gradually the English were pushed back and ground down by the Scots’ schiltrons. An attempt to employ the English and Welsh longbowmen to shoot at the advancing Scots from their flank failed when they were dispersed by the Scottish 500-horse light cavalry under the Marischal Sir Robert Keith The English cavalry was hemmed in making it difficult for them to maneuver. As a result the English were unable to hold their formations and broke ranks. It soon became clear that the English had lost and Edward II needed to be led to safety. However one of Edward’s knights, Giles de Argentine, declared that he was not accustomed to flee and made one final charge on the Scots, only to die on their spears.
Culloden is the site of one of Britain’s most important battles. On the 16th April 1746, an army of around 5000 Jacobite Highlanders faced an army of 9000 Hanoverian Government Troops across the bleak Culloden Moor. Although the Jacobites had defeated the Government troops in every battle since the beginning of that campaign in August 1745, their exhaustion and bad leadership resulted in decimation at Culloden.
Culloden Battlefield has been returned to a similar appearance as it would have had in 1745. The moor is marked with the burial sites of the dead of the clans, and flags mark the positions of the Jacobite clans and the Government troops.
There is a visitor centre detailing the events leading up to the battle, the key actions of the battle and the gruesome aftermath. A new visitor centre opened in 2008 and it is well designed so that you can understand the motivations and dilemmas of the opposing sides that fought at Culloden.
The exhibition starts with some background history about the unrest in Scotland following the Act of Union in 1707 which resulted in Scotland losing its status as an Independent nation. You then walk along a series of long corridors which take you in chronological sequence through the events leading up to the morning of the battle. On opposite walls of the corridors you get the perspective of the Jacobite and Government forces.
After learning the background to the battle from the information boards and exhibits, you can enter a stark auditorium where all 4 walls are used as screen for a surround sound and vision experience of the events of the battle. There is no narration of the film, which is deliberately presented in a way that tries to convey the noise, terror and confusion of the battle. It is loud and has some graphic images (someone gets shot in the eye) so not really suitable for young children. We’ve even seen adults emerging from the auditorium who have been moved to tears.
After the video show, you enter a large room with a display of the weapons used in the battle, fragments of bullets and shot found on the battle field and some period artifacts. But the most interesting thing in this part of the exhibition is the large animated battle plan which takes you step by step through the events of the battle and explains why it went so disastrously wrong for the Jacobites. Tragically, the failure of the Jacobite battleplan was largely anticipated by teh Jacobite Generals, but Bonnie Prince Charlie was too stubborn to heed their advice.
One of the most interesting aspects of the battlefield is the Leanach Cottage that existed on the site in 1746. The cottage interior is presented as it might have appeared during the battle when it may have been used as a hospital for the Government troops. At the time of our last visit, July 2013, the cottage was closed for repairs.
The paths around the battlefield are generally good, but they can be muddy in places so wear suitable shoes.
If you are interested in Scottish History then we highly recommend you stop here as the atmosphere is still very sad and moving.