Can’t Stop Looking At Scotland

Apr 16, 2014 by

Do you have a favorite image of Scotland?  Matador Network, an online community of travel writers, journalists and photographers, recently posted a list of 30 Images of Scotland We Can’t Stop looking At, and a quick glance through the pictures shows why these shots are so compelling.  From outrageously beautiful landscapes to ancient castles and architecture, the images chosen are clear examples of why Scotland is a major tourist destination and a photographer’s dream.

It’s hard to limit myself when it comes to views of Scotland, but here are a few of my favorite images from the Matador list.



The Great Highland Bagpipe (GHB) is one of the most iconic symbols of Scotland, and is often used by civilian and military bands, as well as by soloists. Widely used in Europe for centuries, the GHB came into use in Scotland many centuries ago as war pipes played before and during battles.


Castle Stalker (Caisteal an Stalcaire, in Scots Gaelic, meaning castle of the hunter or falconer), is a 14th century keep in Argyll, set on a small island in Loch Laich.  This former home of the Clans MacDougall, Stewart and Campbell is one of the best-preserved medieval tower-houses surviving in western Scotland.  You might remember seeing it in the 1975 film,  Monty Python and The Holy Grail–it is from the top of Castle Stalker that the French soldier (played by John Cleese) famously taunts the English as “English pig dogs” and “silly English K-nig-hts [pronounced kuuuh-nig-its].”



Who doesn’t love a brawny red haired Highlander? The Highland cow, affectionately known as the Hielan Coo, is certainly popular with most visitors to Scotland.  This hardy breed is native to Scotland and comes in red, black, brindle, dun and yellow coat colors.  Females have horns that generally curve upward (as in the above photo), while the horns of Highland bulls usually grow straight out and slightly forward from the head.


To see the rest of the Matador images of Scotland, click HERE.

read more

The KILTED Hottie of the Day: Glasgow’s David McCourt

Apr 2, 2014 by


David McCourt, Glaswegian model, photographer and film maker, scores the hat trick

with beard, tattoos AND KILT!
His tartan is modern Crawford, by the way.

I’m also giving him bonus points for supporting independence for Scotland:

“I sincerely hope my Scottish countrymen and women take a stand against London rule this year by voting Yes.

We are a strong nation with so much to offer the entire world (on top of what we have given already). Time to act bravely with conviction and be our own nation.”

You can find more of David’s photos and film work on his Facebook page HERE

and his Twitter page HERE.

read more

Vikings and Celts in Northern Scotland: The Govan Stones

Jan 29, 2014 by

The town of Govan (Baile a’ Ghobhainn in Scots Gaelic), now a part of Glasgow, Scotland, is an ancient city with origins dating back to at least the 5th century AD.   The site of the earliest known Christian church in the area,  Govan also was part of the Kingdom of Strathclyde, an early medieval kingdom of the Celtic people called the Britons in the Hen Ogledd, the Brittonic-speaking parts of what is now southern Scotland and northern England.   After the sack of Dumbarton Rock (the chief fortress of the kingdom) by a Viking army from Dublin in 870, Govan rose to prominence as the seat of the warrior chieftains, particularly Constantine, a 7th-century king of Strathclyde who founded a monastery at Govan, where he was buried in 876 AD.   One of the most outstanding legacies of this ancient Celtic kingdom is a collection of 31 early medieval sculptures known as the Govan Stones, one of which will be featured in a new Viking exhibition opening soon at the British Museum.

Tim Clarkson, historian and author of several books about ancient Scotland, including The Men of the North: the Britons of Southern Scotland has noted that

“The thirty-one carved stones at Govan Old Parish Church represent one of the largest collections of early medieval sculpture in Scotland. These remarkable examples of Celtic art were produced between the 9th and 11th centuries AD at a time when Govan was a focus of royal power and religious ritual in the kingdom of Strathclyde. The artwork includes crosses, interlace patterns and figures of humans and animals, while the shapes of the stones themselves range from simple rectangular slabs to the enigmatic hogbacks. Common stylistic features indicate that Govan was the centre of a distinctive local ‘school’ of stonecarving whose craftsmen drew inspiration from Pictland, Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England. The artistic traditions of the Govan School spread outward across Strathclyde and can still be seen today in Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire and other parts of the old kingdom.” source



The most unusual and rare sculptures found amongst the Govan stones are the five Hogback stones, huge sandstone blocks carved with interlacing Scandinavian patterns and shaped like Viking houses. These stones are found only in areas of northern Britain that were settled by the Vikings:

“My feeling is that this is meant to represent a lord’s hall or a chieftain’s hall. This type of monument, these hogback monuments, you only find them in Britain. You don’t get them in Scandinavia and you don’t get them before the Vikings come here. So somehow the Vikings come here and see they are in this world where people carve stones all the time and they think ‘let’s carve us a suitable stone that resonates with us’.” Stephen Driscoll, Professor of Historical Archaeology at Glasgow University.

The British Museum is opening a major new exhibit called Vikings: Life and Legend, which will include one of the giant Hogback stones from Govan,  the first time a hogback stone from Govan has ever left Scotland.  Read more about the exhibit and the role of this unusual stone in telling the story of Vikings in ancient Scotland in this story from the BBChere at The Scotsman,  and at the British Museum’s site here.

If you travel to Glasgow, you can see the Govan Stones (minus one hogback gravestone) at Old Govan Church.  Admission is free for the public, although you might need to call for an appointment time.   Learn more about the location and amazing history of these early Celtic sculptures by visiting the Govan Stones online site  here.  
Short video on the Govan stones:

Time Team video with loads of info on Govan Stones:

read more

Related Posts

Share This

Scotland in Gingerbread

Dec 23, 2013 by

During the holiday season, one of the most popular decorating mediums is gingerbread, a tricky, but tasty substance that dessert artisans wield with joie de vivre.  Scotland and Scottish life are always popular themes in gingerbread art and architecture.   Here are a few fantastic and fantastical Scottish gingerbread creations to rouse your inner gingerbread Celt…

Lovingly decorated by a young girl fascinated with the Katie Morag stories set on a magical Scottish  island, this sweet wee croft comes with Hielan coos, sheep and lovely tartan curtains. The roses are a reference to Robert Burns’ famous song,  My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose.
Find out more about Katie Morag and her creator, Mairi Hedderwick,  by clicking HERE.

Two of the most famous Scottish icons–Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness–come to gingerbread life in this fun display.  Click HERE to see the other side of Urquhart, where dwells the the dreaded gingerbread beastie known as Nessie.

Beautiful Saint Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow gets the white Christmas treatment with a liberal dusting of sugar snow.  The stained glass windows were made from melted colored sugar crystals which were “poured” into the gingerbread windows.  Read the creator’s comments about her ambitious first try at gingerbread art HERE:

Everyone knows that J. K. Rowling’s magical world of witches, wizards and Hogwarts is hidden somewhere in Scotland. Unlike the Grimm Brothers tale of a gingerbread house with an evil witch, the witch at this gingerbread Hogwarts in the woods is much more likely to welcome you than eat you.

Back in 2003,  Abercrombie and Fitch commissioned this Scottish castle, with towers and turrets,  for their Christmas catalog.  The little Scottish Terriers below, created by the same designer, would no doubt  be right at home here.

Last, but certainly not least are the KILTS, the emblem of Scottish warriors, past and present.  What Christmas is complete without braw Scotsmen men in kilts?   None, I say!  These gingerbread gents can be made to order in your clan’s tartan or you can just order a batch of assorted Scottish  men in kilts.  Dreams really do come true…

Click on the caption for information on these kilted cookies.

read more

Mar 17, 2013 by

Glasgow, Scotland (by Architectural Historian)

read more

Related Posts

Share This

Feb 5, 2013 by

Wall Tapestry from the Burrell collection in Glasgow

read more

Related Posts

Share This

Feb 3, 2013 by


Welcome to Glasgow!!!

read more


Share This