Sir Walter Scott: A Writer with Global Appeal

When novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott died at his home, Abbotsford House near Melrose, in late September 1832, the press in Scotland was full of praise for, as the Caledonian Mercury put it, ‘this illustrious writer’ and ‘great luminary of letters’. Though not normally described as Scotland’s national bard – this being a title Read More

The Scots in Australia

Thanks to a Visiting Fellowship at the Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University (Canberra), and a grant by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, I got to spend the last two months in Australia, giving me time for some further explorations of the Scots who settled there for my next book, as well as for Read More

Educationalist Learmonth White Dalrymple

Learmonth White Dalrymple was the daughter of William Dalrymple and his wife Janet, and was baptised at Coupar Angus at the end of July 1827. Learmonth did not have an easy childhood as her mother’s death, in 1840, meant that much of the daily tasks of caring for the family fell to her (she was Read More

Scotland for the Holidays

‘Out with the map of Scotland, a good large one’, wrote New Zealand Scot W.J. Crawford in 1900, one suitable for the ‘journey through the fair land of Scotia.’ Said map in hand, Crawford embarked on a cycling tour, exploring the ‘far-famed Western Highlands replete with rugged mountains and stream-roaring glens’ and ‘the towering portals Read More

From Stornoway to the Pacific Ocean

On 22 July 1793 explorer Alexander Mackenzie reached the Pacific Ocean from Canada by land in the first crossing of the North American continent – a remarkable achievement. He was born in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in 1764 and, ten years later after the death of his mother, Mackenzie’s father took him to Read More

The Battle of Bannockburn and the Scots Abroad

Next year will see the 700th Anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and much has already been made of that. There is, for instance, the Battle of Bannockburn Project, a partnership between the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Project seeks to create Read More

Naturalist John Muir and the Preservation of Wilderness

Scotland saw many a geologist, surveyor and explorer go out into the world charting unknown lands. What is perhaps less well known is that there were also botanists and naturalists who cared for the environment in, for their time, progressive ways. One of them was John Muir. Born in Dunbar on 21 April in 1838, Read More

The Legacy of David Livingstone

Scottish missionary, explorer and anti-slavery campaigner David Livingstone was born on 19 March 1813 in Blantyre, Lanarkshire. Livingstone came from a humble background and was dedicated to studying from an early age. It was through his education, in fact, that he was able to bring together his interest in medicine and theology with his Christian Read More

Sir Harry Lauder and the Scottish Diaspora

On 26 February 1950 Sir Harry Lauder, the famous Scottish entertainer Winston Churchill once referred to as ‘Scotland’s greatest ever ambassador’, died in Strathaven, Lanarkshire. Lauder’s story is a remarkable, and one that directly connects him to the Scottish Diaspora. Born near Edinburgh on 4 August 1870, Lauder’s mother moved the family to Arbroath after Read More

Happy Halloween

Halloween is very much en vogue these days. The tradition of carved pumpkins and scary costumes that is so popular in the United States has clearly influenced celebrations in the UK and even in continental Europe. The custom of celebrating Halloween does, however, have its own roots in Europe, and in Scotland they are particularly Read More

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