Douglas MacQueen's blog

The Gunpowder Plot to kill King James

November 5th is commemorated by some in Britain as the date of the so-called Gunpowder Plot. Traditionally it is the date when bonfires, with an effigy of Guy Fawkes on top, are lit and this is accompanied by fireworks.  Guy Fawkes (April 1570 – 31 January 1606), also known as Guido Fawkes, was a member of a group of English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. They planned to assassinate King James I, (James VI of Scotland) and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne.

Fairy Pools community land acquisition on Skye and need for long term tourism strategy

On the Isle of Skye (Scottish Gaelic: An t-Eilean Sgitheanach), the belief in the existence of fairies, or “the little people,” goes back to prehistoric times. Something that they share with some other Celtic peoples. A number of places on Skye are associated with this local legend. Locations like naturally occurring pools typically under waterfalls are seen as a favoured site for the little people to gather.

Scottish island of Sanday in the Inner Hebrides to get its first road

The small Scottish Hebridean island of Sanday (Scottish Gaelic: Sandaigh) is to get its first road. When built it will replace a track that gets covered by water at high tide. The road will be a mile and a half long. Sanday is connected by a bridge to the larger neighbouring Isle of Canna. The Isle of Canna Community Development Trust is helping with a crowdfunding campaign to raise more than £31,400 to pay for the construction of the road.

Ancient Pictish carving found during work on Scottish road building project

A large Pictish stone carving has been uncovered during a road building project in Pertnshire (Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt) in Scotland. The carving features a walking figure with a distinctive hairstyle and holding a spear.  The weapon is typical of spears used in the mid first millennium AD. Contractors stopped works in the area to allow archaeologists from Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust and Culture Perth & Kinross to inspect the stone and the site of its discovery.

Mysterious face that looks down from the bell tower of St Salvator's Chapel

The University of St Andrews is the oldest university in Scotland and was founded between 1410 and 1413. It is in the town of St Andrews (Scottish Gaelic: Cill Rìmhinn) which on the northeast coast of the historic county of Fife (Fìobha). The university occupies historic and modern buildings located throughout the town, including St Salvator's Chapel. Noted as a rare and beautiful example of Late Gothic architecture it was founded in 1450 as a part of Bishop James Kennedy's College of the Holy Saviour. The University has two collegiate chapels.

Ghostly portrait of Mary Queen of Scots emerges from 16th Century painting

A unfinished portrait believed to be of Mary, Queen of Scots has been found beneath a 16th Century painting. The hidden drawing was discovered by conservator Dr Caroline Rae from the Courtauld Institute. An X-ray revealed the image underneath the 1589 portrait of Sir John Maitland, Lord Chancellor of Scotland, painted by Dutch portrait artist Adrian Vanson for Mary's son King James VI, two years after she was executed. The Maitland painting is part of a National Trust collection and went on display this weekend at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

Ice: The great sculptor of the Scottish landscape

The land area of Scotland is 30,414 square miles (78,770 km2), with the mainland of Scotland having 6,160 miles (9,910 km) of coastline. The physical features of Scotland having been formed by the action of tectonic plates, and later erosion arising from glaciation. The beauty of the towering mountains, shimmering lochs, deep glens and rolling hills owe much to the force of ice that sculptured Scotland's landscapes during the last 'Ice Age'. Wearing it down, the smoothing and shaping of bedrock, transporting and depositing rock debris.

Ultima Thule: Mysterious northern land and theme of Faclan: Hebridean Book Festival 2017

Ultima Thule is said to be a distant northern place located beyond the known world. In classical European literature and cartography at various times it has been placed in Norway, other parts of Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland, into the Celtic world of Ireland, the Western Isles of Scotland and Orkney and Shetland. It was Pytheas, the Greek explorer who was the first to have written of Thule, in his lost work On the Ocean, about his travels between 330-320 BC.

Scottish badger sneaks into home for a quick snooze in the cat basket

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA) were called to deal with an unusual incident at a house at Beecraigs Country Park in Linlithgow (Scottish Gaelic: Gleann Iucha) this week. An opportunist badger had sneaked into the house through a cat flap, ate the cat's food then promptly made itself cosy on its comfy bed for forty winks.  

Animal rescue officer Connie O'Neil said: "I got a surprise when I arrived at the property and saw a badger having a nap.

Exhibition explores Scotland's thousand year love affair with silver

An exhibition is underway at the National Museum of Scotland on Scotland’s Early Silver. Supported by The Glenmorangie Company the exhibition shows how for Scotland, unlike other parts of Europe, it was silver, not gold, that became the most important precious metal over the course of the first millennium AD. Scotland's Early Silver traces the first thousand years of the Scottish love affair with silver.

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