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  • Originally published 08/18/2013

    New excavations to find lost Pictish kingdom

    ARCHAEOLOGISTS are planning a major dig to uncover one of the lost Kingdoms of the ancient Picts, the tribe of legendary warriors whose empire stretched from Fife to the Moray Firth before they mysteriously vanished from history.Until recently historians had believed that Fortriu - one of the most powerful Kingdoms of the “painted people” - had been based in Perthshire.But recent research has now placed the Pictish stronghold much further north to the Moray Firth area.And it was revealed today that a team of archaeologists from Aberdeen University are to embark on a series of excavations on the Tarbat peninsula in Ross-shire where archaeologists have already uncovered evidence of the only Pictish monastic settlement found in Scotland to date....

  • Originally published 08/18/2013

    The battle of Flodden 500 years on

    IF IT weren’t for the history, Branxton Hill in north Northumberland would be an ordinary patch of farmland essentially indistinguishable from a thousand other northern English fields. But there is history – and tragedy – aplenty here. As the clouds part, the land is washed with sunshine, the barley whispers in the breeze and you remember that the fate of a nation was once decided on these quiet and ordinary fields. For this is Flodden.Five hundred years ago this place was a charnel house; on these fields were piled high the bodies of the Scottish dead. All very gallant; all very dead. Ten thousand of them, it is reckoned, though it is hard to be precise about these matters half a millennium later. At any rate, Scottish corpses outnumbered their English counterparts two to one. Among them King James IV himself, his natural son, the bishop of St Andrews, and no fewer than 13 earls. All of them lying cold in the clay.For centuries Flodden was the yin to Bannockburn’s yang. To recall one was to implicitly recall the other. They balanced one another perfectly; one a triumph the other a disaster. But no more, I think. The 700th anniversary of Bannockburn next year will be loudly celebrated; the 500th anniversary of Flodden next month will be recalled with barely a whisper....

  • Originally published 08/13/2013

    Ancient ammunition found at Mingary Castle

    A MEDIEVAL castle in the Highlands has revealed signs of its bloody past after a musket ball and cannonball were found by archaeologists.The artifacts are the latest discoveries by the team tasked with excavating Mingary Castle in west Ardnamurchan, Lochaber, for the first time.The castle is thought to be the best preserved 13th-century castle in Scotland.The musket ball is just under an inch in diameter and has been described as being “extremely heavy” due to having a high lead....

  • Originally published 08/13/2013

    Titan crane receives international heritage honour

    THE Titan crane in Clydebank, the world’s first giant electrically-powered cantilever crane, will today receive the same international heritage honour as held by the Eiffel Tower in Paris.The 106-year-old former shipyard crane on the River Clyde will be designated as an international historic civil engineering landmark by four leading civil and mechanical engineering institutions.The crane, which became a visitor attraction in 2007, helped to fit out some of the world’s biggest battleships and liners, such as the Queen Mary, QE2 at the John Brown’s shipyard....

  • Originally published 08/12/2013

    Great Train Robbers dumped ‘foreign’ Scottish money

    THE Great Train Robbers ditched a huge haul of cash from their infamous raid because they were Scottish banknotes, it has been claimed.Gang members were said to be too wary of the “foreign” money snatched in the 1963 robbery, in which they stole £2.6 million (the equivalent of over £40m today) so they left it in their countryside hideout.But this proved to be one of the key pieces of evidence that led to most of the 15-man gang’s eventual capture.Author Nick Russell-Pavier, who carried out a series of interviews with mastermind Bruce Reynolds before he died, revealed the gang left behind a large sum in Scottish and Irish banknotes because they were wary of the currency....

  • Originally published 08/12/2013

    Scots army defeat at Flodden blamed on 18ft weapon

    IT WAS one of Scotland’s most catastrophic defeats, a battle that robbed the country of its king and countless lairds.Now, in the run-up to the 500th anniversary of the battle of Flodden, an expert has blamed the defeat on the Scottish army’s inability to master their weapon of choice: an unwieldy, 18ft pike.The forces of James IV were destroyed by the English troops of Henry VIII because they were unable to use their long pikes properly and did not have enough time to get used to them, according to military archaeologist Dr Tony Pollard, of Glasgow University....

  • Originally published 08/07/2013

    Lost Edinburgh: The Great Fire of Edinburgh

    THE impact of the Great Fire of Edinburgh in 1824 helped to change the face of firefighting forever. It heralded a new era as Scotland’s capital led the way by launching the world’s very first municipal fire service.Edinburgh has been no stranger to devastating blazes throughout its history. The overcrowded and tightly-packed tenements of the Old Town were at constant risk. There is, however, one year in the city’s history which is more intensely associated with such incidents than any other. The unprecedented number of large fires which took place during 1824 threatened to destroy Scotland’s capital and led many citizens to believe that God was out to punish them. The most terrible of these fires ignited on the evening of November 15....

  • Originally published 08/07/2013

    Anger over Bothwell Bridge battle site building plan

    A PLANNED housing development on the site of a 17th-century battlefield is an “insult” to the soldiers who lost their lives there, critics have said. Cala Homes wants to move a war memorial and build a multi-million-pound estate on Covenanters’ Field in Bothwell, Lanarkshire. There are plans for 15 homes on the site of the 1679 Battle of Bothwell Bridge.But the move has drawn fierce protests from objectors, who claim it would be an “act of desecration” at an important historic site.Ten objections have been lodged so far, with some from as far afield as the United States....

  • Originally published 08/02/2013

    Plan to teach Gaelic in every Scots primary school

    EVERY primary school pupil in Scotland should be taught Gaelic, according to the government agency responsible for developing the school curriculum and carrying out school inspections.Education Scotland has said Gaelic should be put at the centre of an ambitious plan to teach children two foreign languages at primary school. The Scottish Government is currently considering a new approach to language learning, which would see pupils introduced to a second language in P1, and a third no later than P5.This is known as the 1 + 2 Approach to language learning, meaning pupils are taught in their mother tongue and two additional languages.Publishing its Gaelic Education Plan yesterday, Education Scotland said it was important to recognise the language’s “valuable contribution to Scotland’s heritage” as well its status as an official language. The quango said it hoped to see Gaelic at the “heart” of language learning while also increasing the impact of Gaelic-medium bilingual education....

  • Originally published 07/31/2013

    Viking treasure hoard to make Shetland return

    TREASURES from the largest hoard of Viking silver ever found in Scotland are returning to the Northern Isles for the first time since they were unearthed on Orkney more than a century ago. In March 1858, David Linklater chased a rabbit into its hole near St Peter’s Kirk in Sandwick in Orkney, near the Bay of Skaill, and as he dug at the entrance to the warren he came across a few scattered pieces of silver buried in the earth.His find led to the discovery of the remarkable “Skaill Hoard” - 15 lbs of silver bullion consisting of 115 items of Viking jewellery, including nine brooches, 14 necklets, 27 armlets, an assortment of ingots and silver fragments and Anglo-Saxon and Arabic coins....

  • Originally published 07/29/2013

    Bannockburn anniversary ban for skean dhu blades

    SKEAN dhus, a blade traditionally worn with Highland dress, have been banned by organisers of the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.The celebration takes place next year and will be overseen by the National Trust for Scotland, who have told attendees that they will not be permitted to bring the blades to the event.Skean dhus are exempt from laws surrounding the carrying of weapons in Scotland, but organisers claim carrying the traditional dagger in a public place constitutes an offence.The festival, taking place in June next year, is expected to attract around 45,000 visitors. It will mark Robert the Bruce’s victory over the English in 1314....

  • Originally published 07/29/2013

    Scotsman story in world’s longest tapestry

    IT WAS born out of the indignation at the attitude of newspapers to Edinburgh’s under-fire establishment. Now the origins of The Scotsman, dubbed the “Tenpenny Thunderclap” for its radical content, have been immortalised in tapestry.The newspaper is to star in what will be billed as the world’s longest tapestry.William Ritchie and Charles MacLaren, who founded The Scotsman, famously deployed a thistle emblem to prick the pomposity of the middle classes in the early 19th-century capital.The two men, the date of the newspaper’s launch in 1817, its early nickname and its original address, 347 High Street, Edinburgh, all feature in The Great Tapestry of Scotland, which will be unveiled at the Scottish Parliament later this year. The panel features a quote from philosopher David Hume, written in shorthand by The Scotsman’s editor, Ian Stewart, which states: “It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.”...

  • Originally published 07/28/2013

    How Scots ‘Taleban’ and crack forces won Civil War

    HE FAMOUSLY wanted his portrait “warts and all”, but Oliver Cromwell was not the hero of the English Civil War that history has painted him.According to a new book, victory for the Roundheads, as the Parliamentary forces were known, was secured by battle-hardened Scottish troops who were more comfortable slaughtering Englishmen than southern soldiers forced to fight their fellow countrymen.A key battle at Marston Moor in 1644, which turned the tide of the 17th-century conflict between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers – King Charles I’s royalist forces – over who controls Parliament, was won by Colonel Hugh Fraser, a Scots soldier from Inverness, rather than Cromwell, who was wounded and forced off the battlefield.The controversial new study of the bloody military campaign – in which 80,000 people died – also compares the Scottish Army of the Covenant, battalions supported by the Kirk who wished to protect Presbyterianism against the religious policies of Charles I, with the Taleban of modern day Afghanistan....

  • Originally published 07/28/2013

    New excavations to find lost Pictish kingdom

    ARCHAEOLOGISTS are planning a major dig to uncover one of the lost Kingdoms of the ancient Picts, the tribe of legendary warriors whose empire stretched from Fife to the Moray Firth before they mysteriously vanished from history.Until recently historians had believed that Fortriu - one of the most powerful Kingdoms of the “painted people” - had been based in Perthshire.But recent research has now placed the Pictish stronghold much further north to the Moray Firth area.And it was revealed today that a team of archaeologists from Aberdeen University are to embark on a series of excavations on the Tarbat peninsula in Ross-shire where archaeologists have already uncovered evidence of the only Pictish monastic settlement found in Scotland to date....

  • Originally published 07/21/2013

    Scotland coining in it out on the treasure trail

    A MEDIEVAL heraldic badge worn by a diplomat negotiating between Scottish and English forces during the reign of King Edward I was among the treasure trove artefacts unearthed in Scotland in the past year.A hoard of coins used to bribe hostile clans after the Romans retreated from Scotland were also handed to the Crown.There were 316 cases of historical items being handed over to the Treasure Trove Unit in 2012-13, up from 152 the previous year. The unit aims to ensure significant or important finds are kept for the nation and go on show in museums....

  • Originally published 07/16/2013

    Historians in battle to safeguard Catholic archives

    A GROUP of leading academics is calling on the Scottish Government to intervene in a controversy over the Catholic Archives in Edinburgh.Historians Professor Dauvit Broun, Professor Thomas Owen Clancy, Dr Jenny Wormald, and Professor Ewen Cameron have already attempted to force the issue on the Parliament's Public Petitions Committee, calling for the Church to reverse plans to split the archives, dating back to Mary, Queen of Scots, and move on claims they are deteriorating.Although the committee has responded claiming the bid was outside its remit, it has advised those behind it to enrol the support of sympathetic politicians if they want a debate on the issue in Parliament....

  • Originally published 07/15/2013

    'World's oldest calendar' discovered in Scottish field

    Archaeologists believe they have discovered the world's oldest lunar "calendar" in an Aberdeenshire field.Excavations of a field at Crathes Castle found a series of 12 pits which appear to mimic the phases of the moon and track lunar months.A team led by the University of Birmingham suggests the ancient monument was created by hunter-gatherers about 10,000 years ago.The pit alignment, at Warren Field, was first excavated in 2004.The experts who analysed the pits said they may have contained a wooden post....

  • Originally published 07/11/2013

    Aberdeen ancient council records on UNESCO list

    A UNIQUE collection of burgh records - the only archive to have survived in Scotland dating back to the 14th Century - has been ranked alongside the Domesday Book and Winston Churchill’s archive in Britain’s list of globally important documents.The ancient collection of Aberdeen burgh records, now held by Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, has been chosen for inclusion on an eleven-strong list of treasured documents on the UK Register of Important Documentary Heritage, part of the UNESCO’s online Memory of the World Programme.Written in Latin and old Scots, the archives cover eight volumes, dating from 1398 to 1509, and represent the oldest and most complete set of burgh records in Scotland, charting local government in the Granite City in medieval times....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Woman who took Stone of Destiny back to Scotland dies

    A leading figure in a plot to return the Stone of Destiny to Scotland more than 60 years ago has died.Kay Matheson was one of a group of four students who took the relic from Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1950.The stone was taken back to Scotland from where it had been removed by Edward I in 1296 as a spoil of war.Ms Matheson, who drove a car carrying the stone through police road blocks, died in Wester Ross at the age of 84....

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Is haggis actually from England?

    A RENOWNED food historian has claimed haggis is an English dish, whose Scottish origins are as “made up” as tartan.Peter Brears, 68, said that many traditional tartans were “invented”, claiming that haggis and tartan were both appropriated by Scots in order to revitalise the country’s national identity.“Haggis is a really good English dish,” said Brears, the author of Traditional Food In Northumbria.“The earliest recipes are from 1390 from a book called The Forme of Cury, which means ‘the art of cooking’....

  • Originally published 06/13/2013

    Bonnybridge archaeologist discovers 700-year-old relics from the battle of Bannockburn

    An amateur archaeologist from Bonnybridge is hoping his remarkable discoveries can shed more light on one of the most famous episodes in Scottish history.James Bayne (64) used a metal detector he was given as a birthday present three years ago to unearth a number of number of intriguing artefacts from the site of the Battle of Bannockburn, the great conflict in 1314 in which the Scots army under the command of Robert the Bruce vanquished the much larger force of King Edward II of England.The retired maintenance engineer has unearthed a variety of items including a bronze pendant and the remains of a brutal medieval dagger known as a ‘bodkin’....

  • Originally published 06/02/2013

    Robert the Bruce begged English for peace, letter shows

    Sent in 1310 to King Edward II, the letter suggests Robert the Bruce was willing to offer any terms to prevent an advancing English army marching into the heart of Scotland.However, he made clear that the English would have to recognise Scottish independence and asserted his God-given authority as king of Scots, addressing Edward II as one monarch to another.The bold move appeared to pay off as Edward II took his army south again to Berwick where he remained until July 1311.When he finally returned north three years later, he was “sent homeward tae think again” after being humiliated at Bannockburn, the 700th anniversary of which is being celebrated next year shortly before the Scottish independence referendum....

  • Originally published 04/25/2013

    More skeletons found near grave of medieval knight

    A city car park has been hailed a “real treasure trove of archaeology” after seven more skeletons were unearthed from the grave of a medieval knight.Archaeologists working on the site now believe they have uncovered the remains of a family crypt having found bones from three fully grown adults, four infants and a skull.The exciting discovery comes one month after experts ­excavated the burial site of a medieval knight – affectionately christened Sir Eck – within the grounds of the new Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) at High School Yards, off Infirmary Street....

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    10% of Scots descended from Picts

    A RECENTLY discovered DNA marker suggests that 10 per cent of Scottish men are directly descended from the Picts, it is revealed today.Mystery has long surrounded the fate of the tribe of fierce enigmatic people who battled with Rome’s legions before seeming to disappear from history.Now new research from ScotlandsDNA, an ancestry testing company, has found a marker strongly suggesting for the first time that a large number of descendants of these northern tribes, known as “Picti” by the Romans meaning “Painted Ones”, are living in Scotland....

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    New digs reveal truth about Hadrian's Wall

    Stretching the breadth of northern England, Hadrian's Wall is a majestic reminder of the ambition and might of the Roman Empire's conquest in Britain. Now, new archaeological evidence has suggested, contrary to previous belief, that the Romans far from co-existing peacefully with the locals, ejected them by force in order to build the 73-mile divide.The UNESCO World Heritage Site stretches from the Solway Firth in the west to Wallsend on the river Tyne in the east. Construction was ordered by the Emperor Hadrian and started in AD122. It was Roman Britain's most ambitious building project, designed primarily to mark the northern limit of the Empire....

  • Originally published 02/15/2013

    New Macbeth trail in Scotland

    The route will wend its way through several sites in north-east Scotland, in a move that organisers hope will boost tourism to the region, as well as separating the facts from Shakespearean myths. Details will be unveiled today at Glamis in Angus, where Macbeth died in the play.The Scottish MSP Alex Johnstone was the driving force behind the new trail."Many people don't realise that Macbeth existed," he told the Herald Scotland....

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