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The Scotsman (UK)


  • 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 08/12/2013

    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

    5,000-year-old Neolithic art found in Orkney dig

    An intricately-inscribed stone was discovered by excited archaeologists at the Ness of Brodgar on Wednesday.Nick Card, the excavation team director at the dig – which lies in the heart of Neolithic Orkney, between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Strenness – said the latest find had created a “huge buzz” on the site.The stone is unusual as it is artistically decorated on both sides and has impressive deep incisions.Mr Card, of the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology and based at the University of the Highlands and Islands in the islands, said: “It is perhaps the finest piece of art we have recovered from the site, and one of the finest from the UK ever – amazing and awe-inspiring.”...

  • 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 07/29/2013

    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 07/22/2013

    Harris Tweed was Cold War ‘uniform’ for CIA

    WHILE British secret agents of the 1970s were portrayed on TV in tight blue jeans, shirts with huge collars, ludicrous wide ties and brown cardigans – a la The Professionals – their real-life equivalents on the other side of the Atlantic opted for … Harris Tweed.The American hero behind the Iran hostage rescue featured in the film Argo has revealed the fashion style of CIA agents during the Cold War as he was honoured for services to the famous Scots cloth.Tony Mendez was played in the Best Picture of the Year Oscar-winner by Ben Affleck, whose Harris Tweed jacket is giving the fabric its highest-profile Hollywood exposure in years.Former agent Mendez, speaking in New York, confirmed that the movie reflected reality and that Harris Tweed had been “part of what every agent wore” during his time in the service.....

  • 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....