A unique holy place | A neolithic ceremonial site | Bronze-Age burials A unique holy place
Cairnpapple Hill is one of the most important prehistoric sites in mainland Scotland. When Professor Piggo of Edinburgh University excavated there in 1947–8, he discovered the summit of the hill crowned with ceremonial and burial monuments. They had been the focus of communal ac vity for over 200 genera ons of local farmers, from the 4th millennium BC through to the Chris an era. The site was subsequently taken into State care and laid out for visitors to view this remarkable legacy from our remote past. A neolithic ceremonial site
The earliest traces of ac vity dated from around 5,500 years ago. They comprised six hearths, in which pot‐sherds were found and, more significantly, two stone‐axe fragments – from axe‐factories in Wales and Cumbria. Clearly the early‐neolithic farmers of West Lothian did not live isolated lives. None of the hearths is visible anymore, because they were covered over in the later neolithic period by a great oval enclosure known as a ‘henge monument’. (The best henge monument in Scotland can be seen at the Ring of Brodgar, on Orkney.) The henge comprised a bank 60m across, with a broad ditch on its outside and a ring of 24 upright mber posts within. There were two entrances, almost opposite each other. We know nothing of the nature of any ceremonies that surely took place there. Bronze-Age burials
Around 4,000 years ago, during the early Bronze Age, the henge ceased to be used for ceremonial purposes. However, the local peo‐ ple s ll clearly revered it, for they buried an important member of their community there. This first burial was lined by an oval se ng of stones. A single monolith, about 2.4m tall, stood at the head. The body had long since decomposed, but evidence showed that it had been buried full‐length, with the face covered by a wooden mask. The two Beaker pots had probably been le full of food and drink to sustain the dead person on their journey to the a erlife. Later, two burial cists were added. These comprised stone‐lined pits with a single massive capstone on top. A food vessel was found in one, and a single human crema on in the other. One cist bore three cup‐marks pecked into a surface. These burials were covered by a stone cairn, 15m across and neatly edged with 21 kerb stones. Finally, a much larger burial cairn was built. With a diameter of 30m, it completely covered the two earlier cairns. But it had no burial at its centre, just two crema on burials, in upturned, collared cinerary urns, placed in pits cut into the cairn. There is no doubt that Cairnpapple is a magical mys cal place that holds its own secrets it is reckoned that all the ley lines (hidden energy fields) in Great Britain run into Cairnpapple and enthusiasts have shown how the energy fields are strong enough to turn a compass around mysteriously reading South when it is actually poin ng North. Cairnpapple is well worthy of a visit even if it is for the superb panoramic views and the possibility of alien sigh ngs on a clear even‐ ing. Make sure you pay it a visit and the surrounding places of interest such as Linlithgow birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots or Bathgate home to the beginnings of the oil industry.
THE KITCHIN in Edinburgh Tom Kitchin, head chef at The Kitchin restaurant, is one of Scotland's most talented young chefs. Tom began his career at the pres gious Gleneagles Hotel, near his childhood home in Kinross. He went on to train and work alongside some of the world's most respected chefs, including Pierre Koﬀmann at La Tante Claire, Guy Savoy at Restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris and Alain Ducasse at the Louis XV in Monte Carlo. He opened The Kitchin on the waterfront in Leith in June 2006, with the aim of showcasing seasonal Sco sh produce prepared using the techniques of classic French cookery. The restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in January 2007. Tom Kitchin has a profound apprecia on of the best ingredients that Scotland has to oﬀer making full use of Scotland’s excellent natural larder he has a unique ability to intro‐ duce the fresh wild herbs that are in season into his cuisine. He has a passion for ensuring that only the finest quality Sco sh ingredients are sourced with fish delivered di‐ rectly to the restaurant from the boats every morning and the meat delivered whole and butchered within the restaurant. It is important to Tom Kitchin that produce used is always of the highest quality and in season and all his menus reflect this. The Kitchin is at Commercial Quay within Edinburgh’s stylish water‐ front an area renowned for quality ea ng establishments more infor‐ ma on on the Kitchin can be found at www.thekitchin.com where sample menus can be found and booking details. If food is your pas‐ sion then a visit to The Kitchin is a must when you visit Edinburgh the capital city of Scotland. Sample Set lunch Menu STARTER Ar choke & Rico a Ar choke barigoule served with rico a gnocchi, olives and basil Lamb Crispy lamb’s tongue from Dornoch served with sweetbread fri ers, confit of leek and sauce gribiche Asparagus First of the season asparagus from the Wye Valley served with a so boiled hen’s egg and crispy bacon MAIN Hake Seared fillet of North Sea hake with a herb crust, served with crushed poatoes and a langous ne sauce Rabbit & Peas Riso o of English peas served with sauteed rabbit kidneys, lardons and a mustard sauce Pork A selec on of pork cuts from Clash Farm served with spiced aubergine caviar and apple DESSERT Rhubarb & Crowdie Baked crowdie cheesecake served with poached Yorkshire rhubarb and a rhubarb sorbet Lemon Lemon souﬄe served with lemon poppy seed frozen yoghurt from Loch Arthur Cheese A selec on of Bri sh and French cheese served from the trolley
THE WARRIOR SPEAKS Angel's Share I reckon I would be worth an absolute fortune if I had the Angels Share for the past ten years, that’s providing I didn’t indulge in my favourite pas me whisky tas ng. Angels Share is the dis ll‐ ers' term for matura on losses. In Scotland, some two per cent of all maturing whisky evaporates through the porous oak casks each year. If ever there is a be er way to explore Scotland I think nothing can surpass finding your way around the whisky trails back‐packing with no agenda and freedom of me. As well as whisky tas ng at the various dis lleries along the way. It is inevitable that you will find yourself seeking out the na ves in their most hospitable of establish‐ ments, where you will be overwhelmed by their friendliness and eagerness to have you involved in the fun they are having. However, be warned last me I was fully awake for two days partying non‐stop that could easily have con nued for another few days. That’s why it’s important for you not to set a me limit on reaching all the dis lleries. You can always come back and have another go you will learn more about Scotland if you get involved with the people. That leads me on to one of my other passions. There is no be er way to seek out the na ves and get involved than to find out where all the live music venues are in the area. Scotland has a wealth of talented musicians and whatever your pas‐ sion in music there is sure to be somewhere that will provide you with a venue worth visi ng. As well as new bands emerging the already famous have been known to turn up unannounced for a good old jamming or acous c session at venues across Scotland.
OVER THE SEA TO SKYE The heritage of Skye & Lochalsh surrounds us in the landscape, from the dinosaur footprints in the rocks at Staﬃn Bay in North Skye, to the Neolithic chambered cairns and stone circles sca ered in the countryside, and up to the present day peat banks, s ll u lised by the community. The area can be seen as a microcosm of High‐ land life. Shaped by na onal events such as the ba les at Culloden and the resultant de‐ mise of the clan system, the people here also aﬀected the wider community through local rebellion and agita on, leading to an Act of Parliament in 1886 gaining security of tenure for cro ers. The next century brought dra‐ ma c changes with few families unaﬀected by emigra on, wars and urbanisa on, though the way of life and integrity of tradi onal values in the community remained strong. Skye and Lochalsh was a busy and turbulent place in mes gone by. With the sea as the ancient highway it was vital that the sea lanes were guarded. Castles, brochs and duns can be found all over the area and are a testament to the clan rivalry of the past. Most famous amongst the clans were the MacLeods and MacDonalds with the lesser clans and septs of MacKinnon, Nicolson, MacAskill, Maccrimmon, Beaton, MacQueen, Mar n and Mac‐ Innes. MacLeods and MacDonalds visit from all over the world on a regular basis with huge numbers of families s ll bearing the name on the island today. Dunvegan Castle and Gardens, the seat of the Clan MacLeod, holds a Clan MacLeod Parliament every four years to which Mac‐ Leod’s from all over the world return to their ancestral home for this special family gathering. Armadale and the Museum of the Isles is a similar magnet for MacDonalds. Folklore provided explana on for events beyond reason, or those simply feared. Par cularly renowned for their supers on were seafarers, hopeful of a rac ng good luck or avoiding bad. Every telling on dark stormy nights at a ceilidh, would enhance the ferocity of the creature, the peril of the myth, or the wisdom in the supers on. Revelling in the turbulent white waters of a storm, 'the blue men of the minch', a empt to lure sailors to disaster ‐ a mythical challenge s ll facing sailors today. A sharp tongue, skill with rid‐ dles and ability in having the last word is considered a sailors only escape. Somewhat gentler, are tales of the roman c selkies who must take care if they shed their seal‐ skin ashore, preven ng them from returning to the sea. Mer‐ maids are believed to leave gi s ashore, a Mermaids purse ( d o g fi s h e g g s a c k ) a n d t o e n a i l s ( t h e p a i n t e d t o p s h e l l ) , t o o ﬀ e r inspira on to the islands cra speople.
A s i d e f r o m t h e m a g n i fi c e n t m o u n t a i n s , t u m ‐ bling rivers, colourful rugged moor land, rich sea‐lochs, intricate coast, and boun ful wild‐ life, the elements that make such a unique outdoor experience are, its climate, light, weather and evening skies. That these ever‐ changing elements are an endless source of conversa on is unsurprising. Skye & Lochalsh lies on the la tude 57de‐ grees north, along with Moscow and Hudson Bay, places ice‐bound for much of the year. Fortunately, the Gulfstream tempers our cli‐ mate bringing changing weather light, and drama throughout the seasons. An endless topic of comment, the weather's variety will never disappoint. One short day can witness a tranquil morning sunrise burst over the mountains, shortly later bringing wild south westerly wind to blow waterfalls uphill capturing misty rainbows i n t h e i r fl i g h t . W e a t h e r a b a n g b y e v e n i n g s e e s t h e s l i d i n g o f a n e n o r m o u s r e d fi e r y s u n i n t o a n oily calm purple sea on the north westerly horizon. The locals say, "if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes". A s i d e f r o m t h e m a g n i fi c e n t m o u n t a i n s , t u m b l i n g r i v e r s , c o l o u r f u l r u g g e d m o o r l a n d , r i c h s e a ‐ lochs, intricate coast, and boun ful wildlife, the elements that make such a unique outdoor expe‐ rience are, its climate, light, weather and evening skies. That these ever‐changing elements are an endless source of conversa on is unsurprising. Skye & Lochalsh lies on the la tude 57degrees north, along with Moscow and Hudson Bay, places ice‐bound for much of the year. Fortunately, the Gulfstream tempers our climate bringing chang‐ ing weather light, and drama throughout the seasons. An endless topic of comment, the weather's variety will never disappoint. One short day can witness a tranquil morning sunrise burst over the mountains, shortly later bringing wild south westerly wind to blow waterfalls uphill capturing m i s t y r a i n b o w s i n t h e i r fl i g h t . W e a t h e r a b a n g b y e v e n i n g s e e s t h e s l i d i n g o f a n e n o r m o u s r e d fi e r y s u n i n t o a n o i l y c a l m p u r p l e s e a o n t h e n o r t h w e s t e r l y h o r i z o n . T h e l o c a l s s a y , " i f y o u d o n ' t like the weather, wait 5 minutes". Our northern la tude also brings drama cally changing daylight hours through the seasons. Alt‐ hough winter evening darkness is not so drama cally diﬀerent from the rest of Britain, the end‐ less summer light is magical. Summer evenings stretch into the wee hours of the morning, encour‐ aging you to sit in the twilight and simply enjoy it. Visitors are amazed by the truth in the fact that you can read outside at midnight in June! G a z e s k y w a r d s w h e n s t e p p i n g i n t o t h e c o o l e v e n i n g a i r a e r a c e i l i d h , t o fi n d t h e c a n o p y o f g l i e r i n g s t a r s i n t h e i r i n fi n i t e d a r k h o r i z o n u e r l y c a p v a n g . Those lucky to witness the aurora borealis or 'northern lights' will quite simply be mesmer‐ ised. Great swathes of light emblazon the sky as shimmering luminescence ripples from one horizon, through 180 degrees to the other, while vibrant stabbing beams like search‐ lights wing through the darkness. A breath‐ taking gi you will treasure forever. Skye and Lochalsh is a place whose pace and ambience enables you to create a dynamic memory, from moments and o en intangible elements found nowhere else, making any trip a simply magical experience…….. unforge able
SCOTLAND CELEBRATES in 2014 2014 is certainly a year to consider a visit to Scot‐ land for several reasons. It is the year that Scot‐ land hosts the Commonwealth Games and The Ryder Cup has the worlds best golfers a ending Gleneagles. Now if that is insuﬃcient reason to book that holiday to Scotland wait for it 2014 sees the 700th anniversary of The Ba le of Bannockburn where Robert the Bruce defeated the English on the 24th June 1314. There are many celebra ons lined up for the week 23rd to 29th June 2014 in and around Bannockburn that is situated on the outskirts of S rling. Re‐enactments of the ba le and the oﬃcial opening of a new Visitor Centre by The Na onal Trust for Scotland will take place. Plans for Clans 2014, an interna onal gathering of the clans (11‐13 July 2014) are taking shape, to include a Clans Village, a cavalcade procession between Bannockburn and S rling Cas‐ tle, and entertainment on the spectacular Castle Esplanade. There will also be a programme of musical and other cultural events in venues across the city of S rling. Clans 2014 will run alongside the Sekonda S rling Highland Games. There will be a link‐up with the Bannockburn Ba lefield site to give visitors another opportunity to commemorate the special 700th anniversary. But the most important ac vity taking place in 2014 is the people Of Scotland will decide in a referendum whether to claim independ‐ ence from the Westminster Parliament and English rule. The big debate on independence is already underway and everyone is en‐ couraged to take part so get blogging ,open up or take part in a debate.