Results for category "Heritage and Archaeology"

Clan Cameron Tour


Clan Cameron TourWhilst we have been busy delivering and expanding our Outlander Tours, in the background we have been doing a lot of research into Scottish History, Culture and Clans. We are introducing more of this type of content into our tours for those that want it. We are also developing a range of Clan Tours focussing mainly on the Highlands Clans – one of our favourites being the Camerons. So we are delighted that our first Clan Tour has been a Clan Cameron Tour. Clan Cameron is one of our favourites.

This tour between Inverness and Lochaber, takes in many sites that are important in the context of the Cameron history, especially the proud military history of Clan Cameron.

We are developing a longer two or three-day version of our Clan Cameron Tour which will be available on this website soon. Our one-day itinerary for this tour included: Read More →

Inverness Victorian Market & Academy Street Heritage Photography Project


This month I took part in two heritage projects here in Inverness, to record parts of the city, namely Inverness Victorian Market and Academy Street.

These are part of a community engagement programme to generate digital content for a mobile website or app focused on Academy Street. This, in turn, is part of an overarching project to regenerate Academy Street.

The first project was to re-create old photographs of Academy Street, to document how things have changed. So we took photos from as close as possible to the original spot at a similar focal length (to try to recreate the same image); we also presented a modern take on the image and then made the image look old/aged like the original.

Below are four of those pictures. My reproductions, taken in June 2017, on the top row, the originals below. This is followed by a gallery of the other photographs I took around Academy Street, which in turn is followed by a gallery of images of the Victorian Market here in Inverness: Read More →

Highland Games History, Facts and Traditions


Here’s some fascinating Highland Games facts and history for you to enjoy and learn about. These events are also known as Highland Gatherings .

  • David Webster in his 1973 published book on Highland Games indicates that the timeworn history of Highland Gatherings includes tales and legends that are fascinating and worthy of telling, yet difficult when it comes to separating fact from fiction.
    • Webster tells of one James Logan, a respected historian and member of ‘The Club of True Highlanders’ who chose to focus on writing about Highland Games after having his nose broken by a hammer at a competition.
    • Ancient games were often started with a primitive form of shinty1 using a horsehair ball, and the games then finished with chariot races, which sounded more like a scene from Ben Hur in a Roman amphitheatre (except they were typically held in a local marketplace.
    • Other sports that you don’t tend to see int eh modern games included: archery and a sling shot.
    • Music and song was always an important part of gatherings, keeping the older generations involved, who also recited stories of days gone by, importantly passing on tradition and folklore through oral tradition. These were complemented by travelling jugglers and showmen.
  • The Scottish Highland Games Association represent over 60 Highland Gatherings in Scotland, with over 500 athletes competing in 1000 events in front of 150,000 spectators.
  • The Cowal Highland Gathering, also known as the Cowal Games, held in Dunoon, Scotland, every August, is the largest Scottish Highland Games with 3,500 competitors and 23,000 spectators. It is famous for the quality of its Highland Dancing, hosting international competitors who compete for the Scottish and World Championships.
    • Highland Dancing is said to be one of the most sophisticated forms of national dance anywhere in the world, with a strong competitive tradition. It’s recorded origins date back as far as 1525, though Romans are said to have witnessed some kind of Highland Dance when invading Britain as far back as the 1st century AD.
    • The Gaelic for Highland Dancing is ‘Gille Calum’, though it is also written as ‘Gillie Chaluim’.
    • According to Visit Scotland’s mini-guide to Highland Games, Highland Dancing was an all-male competition until the late 19th century.
    • The Highland Fling, one of the best-known dances, is supposed to be based on the antics of a stag on a Scottish hillside. This dance, on the spot, is thought to originate with men dancing on their targe2 (shield).
  • The oldest Highland Games are held each June at Ceres in Fife. They began under a Charter awarded by Robert the Bruce in recognition of the villagers’ support at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
  • The march of the Lonach Highlanders is a 175 year old tradition where around 200 men armed with Lochaber axes and pikes, join the march from Belabeg to Lonach Hall as part of the Lonach Highland Gathering in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire.
  • The origins of Highland games are said to date back even further to the 11th century, with their roots in tests of strength for troops. The ‘Heavy Events’ i.e. shot put, hammer throw and “Maide Leisg,” where two seated athletes wrestle over a stick — still reflect this.
    • The contests of strength – jumping, running, throwing and riding, are said to have been introduced by Malcolm Canmore in 1040 as a means of selecting the most able men for soldiers and couriers.  Also known as King Malcolm III, (1031-1093) the son of Duncan (murdered by Macbeth), he is said to have called a foot race to the summit of Creag Choinnich, near Braemar, in the hopes of finding the fastest runner in the land.
    • King Malcolm is also said to have introduced the sword dance, still popular at modern gatherings. Here’s a video of the sword dancing:

    • Some historians believe that Heavy Events actually originated during Druid times!
    • Yet others suggest that Highland Games originate from Ireland in 2000 BC, crossing the water to Scotland with the 4th and 5th century migrations of the Scotti (original Scots people) into Dalriada (Argyll).

highland games compilation

  • These Highland gatherings are as much about music and dancing as they are about sports, featuring dancing, piping, fiddling and the Clarsach (Gaelic harp).
    • The heritage of Scotlands national instrument, the Bagpipe or in Gaelic “piob-mhor” (the great pipe) actually traces back to the middle-east dating back to 1000 BC. Bagpipes are mentioned in the Old Testament. The pipes themselves evolved alongside early European civilisation – with many different evolutions and variations across the continent.
    • The Highland Pipes (Scottish Great Highland bagpipes) are one of the over thirty different kinds of bagpipes that have appeared throughout the world. The Spanish, French, Italians, Germans, Hungarians, Czechoslovakians, Tunisians, Indians, Greeks, and many other cultures have developed bagpipes of their own. This includes variants such as the Scottish Lowland Bagpipes, the Northumbria pipes, and the Irish Union pipes.
    • The bagpipes were popular across England and Ireland in the Middle Ages (5th to the 15th century).
    • It doesn’t appear to be clear quite when and where the first, second and third drones were added to the “piob-mhor” or when and where the bagpipe entered Scotland. According to wikipedia, the first clear reference to the Scottish Highland bagpipes comes from French history, which mentions their use at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547. The bagpipe replaced the trumpet on the battlefield.
    • It is thought that the original Highland pipes probably comprised a single drone with the second drone being added in the mid to late 1500’s. The early seventeenth century saw the development of piping families including the MacCrimmonds, MacArthurs, MacGregors and the Mackays of Gairloch. The third, or the great drone, came into use sometime in the early 1700s. Whereas, Scottish Lowlands, pipers were part of the travelling minstrel class, performing at weddings, feasts and fairs.

Read More →