Jacobite Mansion Up For Sale

Oct 26, 2015 by

The recent listing of an 18th century Jacobite mansion presents a rare opportunity for Scottish history buffs.  If you have a yen to restore a secluded ruin that was a major center of the 1715 Jacobite rebellion, and 150,000 pounds to spend, Grange House may be the fixer upper of your dreams.

 

 

“Grange House East Neuk, Fife, now stands as a secluded historic ruin – looking out across a local golf course and the Firth of Forth.

But 300 years ago the first Jacobite rebellion of 1715 was planned by royal usurper James Malcolm within its walls.

Malcolm built the home in 1708 – and used it as the base for a bloody attempt to replace King George I of Britain with the exiled monarch James VIII and III.

The rebellion failed – and the house was burnt into ruins in the years since – but now any history buff with £150,000 to spare can buy the historic ruins to return them to their former glory.”

Source: For sale: a fixer upper where a plot to overthrow the crown was hatched | Deadline News

 

The land on which Grange House sits was used by local nuns, between the 13th and 16th centuries, as a farm to grow food for the poor. James Malcolm purchased the land in 1708, building himself a grand–and heavily fortified– manor house.

“Fortified with a large surrounding wall on a high vantage point – and with a hidden secret chamber – it is now widely accepted that the house was built as a military base for his cause.

And it was within the walls of the house that the Jacobite rebellion of 1715 was planned to seize Scotland back from George I. The rebellion officially began in August of 1715 – when the banner of James was raised in Aberdeenshire.

By October the 20,000 Jacobites had taken all of Scotland north of the Firth of Forth – but after an indecisive and bloody battle at Sheriffmuir the rebellion lost its momentum and floundered.

After the rebellion many Jacobites were taken prisoner, tried for treason and sentenced to death, and Malcolm was forced to forfeit his possessions and his home to the crown.”

Source: For sale: a fixer upper where a plot to overthrow the crown was hatched | Deadline News

Restoration of the Jacobite mansion will require adherence to a strict set of regulations set by local authorities. Materials will have to be historically accurate and match the existing ruins of Grange house.

The rewards, however, are potentially great: a beautiful, historic piece of Scotland with a view of the Firth of Forth and enough stories to pass down for generations to come.

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Waiting On Jamie Fraser

Jun 8, 2014 by

It’s been a while since I’ve done an update here on the new Outlander cable series from Starz, so I thought we could all do with another attempt to keep up with the Frasers.

I won’t rehash all the basics, but for those who don’t know yet  (been off the grid  for awhile, aye?), Outlander is based on a series of best-selling novels by author Diana Gabaldon.  It is a time travel/romance/historical fiction story set mostly in 18th century Scotland, and filmed almost entirely in 21st century Scotland.  I’ve done several posts about the upcoming series–click HERE, HERE and HERE to read some of my previous posts about Jamie and Claire Fraser and the world of Outlander.

 

The first episode of Outlander is set to debut at 9PM on August 9, 2014, and the countdown is making more than few fans crazy with excitement. Starz has just released a new trailer (above), perhaps to help keep the shouts of “Are we there YET?!” to a low roar.  There have also been additions to the “How To Speak Outlander” YouTube series, the newest being a Happy Birthday wish in Scots Gàidhlig from Sam Heughan:

In another installment, Dougal (Graham McTavish) and Colum (Gary Lewis) MacKenzie teach us how to shout the Mackenzie war cry, Tulach Àrd. It sounds a bit like “To the Car!”, which is a fitting battle cry  if you’re on the way to attend an Outlander fan gathering, but not so much if you’re a member of an ancient Highland clan about to rout the bloody English army.  Tulach Àrd is Gàidhlig for “High Hill” and refers to a mountain in the McKenzie clan heartland of Kintail, a region of the Northwest Highlands of Scotland.

 

Media coverage has greatly expanded in recent months, as news outlets see that global television executives are taking strongly positive views (i.e., putting their money where their mouths are) of  Starz’s  Outlander series. A recent article from TVWise predicts Outlander could be cable’s next global hit, and outlines five things driving the show’s success.  The crazy-like-a-fox  money analysts at The Motley Fool have also given a nod of approval to Outlander, noting that the show has an early August premier, which follows right on the heels of San Diego’s Comic-Con (a happy scheduling fact sure to give Outlander a tremendous publicity boost) and a large, worldwide fan base, all factors which give the show ” the ingredients to draw AMC or HBO-like numbers for an original series.”

 

 

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EW’s new issue features two pages of Outlander info from Ron Moore; image source:OutlanderItaly.com

 

According to Outlander TV News, always a great site for the latest Outlander news, the June 13th issue of Entertainment Weekly will feature a two page spread showing side-by-side comparisons between the scene from the book and the script for the scene in the TV series. Outlander Italy, another terrific fan page, has some scans (see above) of the article, with new photos of the love triangle at the center of the plot. Wowza!

The newest book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series

The newest book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series

 

The best way to pass the time til the premiere is by reading Diana Gabaldon’s newest book in the Outlander series, Written In My Own Heart’s Blood, (referred to as MOBY by fans) due out June 10, 2014. You can pre-order the book in any available format HERE on Amazon.   You can also read Diana’s thoughts about seeing–and hearing–the full Outlander Episode One for the first time by clicking HERE.

 

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The bottom line, however, is this—we simply, frustratingly, must wait until the 9th of August.  Like Jamie Fraser himself, Starz and Ron Moore mean to take their time about it, working hard to produce an adaptation of Outlander that is faithful to the spirit of the book, full of swash and buckle, and so visually stunning it will leave us all asking for more.

As a longtime fan of Outlander, I say that’s a verra good thing to wait for, ye ken.

 

 

 

Places To Visit Before Going Through The Stones~ Sites I recommend to learn more or keep updated about Outlander, the book, the series and the fans:

 

DianaGabaldon.com

Starz’s Outlander page

Starz’s Official Outlander  Twitter page

The Outlander Podcast--chatting about all things Outlander, and having fun doing it!

My Outlander Purgatory–believe me, they FEEL your pain!

Outlander Kitchen–historical and character-inspired recipes from Diana’s books

WESCelt’s Outlander Pinterest board

WESCelt’s Outlander Facebook album

 

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Rob Roy Versus Jamie Fraser: Who Wears the Kilt Best?

Jun 8, 2014 by

I thought I’d give my Facebook followers a little fun by positing this simple question: Who wears the look best–Rob Roy in a kilt or Jamie Fraser in a kilt? The comparison was between the two pictures below–Rob (Liam Neeson) first, and Jamie (Sam Heughan) in the second picture.

Well, hoo whee, did that stir up the hens!  Click HERE to read some of the comments.

 

Liam Neeson as Rob Roy MacGregor

Liam Neeson as Rob Roy MacGregor

 

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser

For those of you who have never heard of Jamie Fraser,  some background is required.  James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, a  Highland warrior,  is the lead character in Diana Gabaldon’s novel Outlander, an historical romance set in Scotland in 1745 and right after World War II–yes, there is time travel involved, with ancient standing stones (not a blue police booth) as the portal.  Diana added  several subsequent novels to the series, which is extremely well written and chock full of historical facts and allusions.

 

You can buy any or all of Diana’s novels (in all formats) on my Amazon list of  her novels by clicking here.    It will be a good investment of both your time and money because the premium cable channel Starz is premiering  the first season of Outlander, the TV adaptation of the novels ( filmed on location in beautiful Scotland)  at 9PM on August 9, 2014.  Starz has been given approval for a second season  of Outlander, as well.

 

outlander_starz

 

Think Game of Thrones, with a Scottish setting, and you’ll be close to visualizing the  upcoming series that has fans shivering with antici…pation.   Sam Heughan, a  Scottish actor, has been chosen to play the critical role of Jamie Fraser, earning him thousands of devoted–and I do mean DEVOTED–fans throughout the  social media universe.

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Fans Reaction to Sam Heughan Tweeting the Word “Sassenach”

 

To be fair, Sam Heughan does look a bit more scruffy in his photo, but Starz has been dribbling out official photos of Jamie/Sam, releasing only a few of him in a kilt.  Here’s one that was tweeted by a Starz employee–a cut out of Jamie in a kilt, looking like he just finished a battle:

 

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The fans are VERY clear , however, on what they want from Starz and Ron D. Moore, who’s adapting the series for TV (his wife is a die-hard Outlander fan):

 

 

Liam Neeson, from Northern Ireland, is a well-known actor, and is highly regarded for his portrayal of the famous Scottish figure,  Rob Roy MacGregor.  Liam also has a serious fan base and it’s easy (on the eyes) to see why:

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Liam in the 1995 Film Rob Roy

But, clearly, there’s a new Scot in town, with dashing good looks, red hair and a kilt–in whatever shape– set on winning over more Sassenach wenches to the Fraser clan.

And in this instance, I’m thinking fans don’t want Jamie/Sam to take his time about it, aye?

 

Jamie Fraser; image source

Jamie Fraser; image source ©SRusso

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A New Battle On Culloden Moor

Jan 13, 2014 by

It was a short, bloody battle that irrevocably changed the course of Scotland’s future.  Though it lasted only an hour, the Battle of Culloden (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) on April 16, 1746, ended the Jacobite effort to restore Charles Edward Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, to the throne of Scotland.  Approximately 2000 Scottish Highlanders sacrificed their lives that day, and more died during the brutal repression of Highland and Gaelic culture that followed soon thereafter.  The sorrow and pain of that day is still felt by many contemporary Scots, as well as those whose ancestors fled Scotland to escape the harsh retaliatory actions meted out by the English in the years following the battle.  For those people, Culloden will always be sacred ground,  “ground zero” of the centuries-long Scottish battle for freedom from the English invaders.

New invaders have now come to Culloden,  developers who want to build houses less 400 meters from the battlefield—and surprisingly, the Scottish government is set to approve those plans.

 

 

People in Scotland and around the world have voiced outrage that such a project would even be considered, much less approved.   Historic Scotland  has given their stamp of approval for the scheme, even though no representative from the government  authority has visited the site to see how it might be impacted.   The National Trust For Scotland (NTS), which owns and maintains the battlefield and visitor center, has expressed great disappointment in the decision, arguing that the approval creates a ” slippery slope”  for future housing schemes, which could result in the the degradation of the historic site at Culloden.

I grew up in Georgia, a Southern state that was the site of many battles during the American Civil War and the American Revolutionary War.  My father was a Civil War historian and ardent battlefield preservationist, who taught me from an early age that historic sites are tremendous visual symbols of what was and, more importantly, what should never be again–specifically, being ruled by a monarchy ( the Revolutionary War) or allowing the enslavement of our fellow men and women (the Civil War).  When you lose those places where people fought and died for their beliefs,  places that are the final resting places of so many souls, you betray their memory.  Moreover, you also lose a valuable teaching tool for future generations who will have no tangible connection to their past.  Textbooks, photos and videos can only go so far—to truly know your history, you must walk the same ground your predecessors walked, feel that sense of connection and emotion that comes from standing where they stood.  Once those historic places are sacrificed for commercial development, they are gone forever.

 

 

Do the souls of those long-dead Highlanders still walk the moor at Culloden?   Celtic mythology holds that there are “thin places” in the world where different planes of existence touch, and the past can sometimes be felt in the present.  If any such place exists in Scotland, it surely must be at Culloden,  where sadness seems to hover over the fields like Highland mist.  I have walked that moorland where Gaelic war cries of fierce, proud Highlanders once rang through the air, and I believe the spirits of those long-dead men are there still.   For me, any encroachment on the battlefield is a defilement of the war graves of brave  men—Scots, Irish and even English who fought with the Highlanders—who died for their country, their families and their way of life.

We will always have competing interests in the name of progress, when developers confront preservationists in the modern world.   Finding a balance between these two interests is difficult and one side (sometimes both)  often believes its arguments have been completely ignored or misunderstood.    In the case of important historical sites such as battlefields, however,  the bigger picture needs to be carefully considered.   Houses can always be built in other places—there will only ever be ONE Culloden.

 

Read more about the proposed housing development, and the arguments on both sides, here:

http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/historic-scotland-slammed-over-culloden-housing-1-3264115

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/government-called-upon-to-protect-culloden-from-housing-developers.23117157

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-25684570

http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/light-pollution-fears-over-culloden-housing-plans-1-3266229

http://www.inverness-courier.co.uk/News/Battlefield-site-visit-not-needed-claims-watchdog-10012014.htm

To sign an online petition to stop the proposed development at Culloden, click HERE.

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Outlanders in Los Angeles

Jan 11, 2014 by

Fans of the upcoming Starz’ cable series Outlander are gathering by the thousands today in Los Angeles for a chance to meet the VIP’s of the production: Diana Gabaldon (author of the books), Ron Moore (producer of the series), Caitriona Balfe (Irish actress playing Claire Fraser) and Sam Heughan (Scottish actor playing Jamie Fraser). The show is currently being filmed on location in Scotland and, to put it mildly, the first episode is eagerly awaited by legions of fans of Diana’s books.

 

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For many Outlander devotees, the chance just to be in the same room as Sam Heughan aka Jamie Fraser is well worth the high cost of a trip to LA (tickets to the event were free).   For those of us whose budgets and schedules would not allow a trip to the West Coast, or those who could go, but didn’t snag a ticket, Starz is streaming the event LIVE at 4 pm, Pacific Time–click HERE to see all the fun.

Here’s hoping Sam speaks Scots Gaelic at least once and wears a kilt.

 

Photos in my meme are HERE, along with more Outlander info from Starz.   Diana’s quote is from a James Hibberd (@james_hibberd) online article posted yesterday at Entertainment Weekly, HERE.

 

 

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Scotland’s Red Haired Robin Hood

Dec 28, 2013 by

On December 28, 1734, the famous 18th century Scottish outlaw, Rob Roy MacGregor, died at his home in Inverlochlarig Beg, on the Braes of Balquhidder, Scotland.  Raibeart Ruadh MacGriogair, as Roy is known in Scots Gaelic, Ruadh being the Scots word for “red-haired”, was truly a legend in his own time, and is often called the Scottish Robin Hood.

 

Robert Roy MacGregor

Robert Roy MacGregor

Rob Roy was born at Glengyle, at the head of Loch Katrine, in 1671 and married Mary Helen MacGregor of Comar in 1693. Like many of his clansmen, Roy was a strong supporter of the Jacobite cause. At the age of 18, he fought alongside his father in the failed Jacobite uprising of 1689 led by Viscount Dundee, and was badly wounded at the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719, in which a British army of Scots and English defeated a Jacobite and Spanish expedition that aimed to restore the Stuart monarchy.

He spent most of his later life waging a feud against James Graham, 1st Duke of Montrose, who succeeded in entangling Roy in debt that ruined him. After defaulting on a loan for cattle, Roy was branded an outlaw, his lands were seized, his family evicted and his house was burned down. His blood feud with Montrose continued until 1722, when Roy was forced to surrender and then imprisoned. He was finally pardoned in 1727. There is an alternative argument that the MacGregor lands were not seized for non-payment of debts, but rather for Roy’s participation in the Jacobite Uprising of 1715. Under this version of events, Montrose then bought the MacGregor lands in 1720 from Crown agents. There may be some credence to this view because Rob Roy and the whole of the Clan Gregor were specifically excluded from the benefits of the Indemnity Act 1717,  which pardoned all others who took part in the Jacobite rising of 1715.

Beginning with the publication of The Highland Rogue in 1723, allegedly written by Daniel De Foe, the legend of Rob Roy has been spread through numerous stories, poems, books and films. Sir Walter Scott’s Rob Roy, published on Hogmanay in 1817, was a huge success with the public, becoming the equivalent of a New York Times bestseller.  Berlioz composed an overture based on Scott’s story of Rob Roy, Wordsworth wrote a poem about Roy and a whisky cocktail was created in Roy’s honor in 1894:

Of course, no hero is truly legend unless he has a Disney movie about his life, and the Mouse obliged in 1953 with the film Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue.  

The film most associated with Rob Roy, however, is the 1995 film starring Liam Neeson as Roy and Jessica Lange as his wife, Mary:

 

Tim Roth plays the evil Archibald Cunningham, Montrose’s henchman, who gets his comeuppance from Roy in what is widely considered to be one of the greatest sword fights ever filmed:

 

A skillful and fitting end to a Montrose enemy that would have made the real Rob Roy MacGregor proud.

 

Sources:

Oxford DNB.com

Wikipedia.com

 

 

 

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Edinburgh Castle, Scotland’s Iconic Fortress

Nov 2, 2013 by

For the third year in a row, Scotland’s magnificent Edinburgh Castle has been voted the top heritage site in the UK. If you have ever toured the castle, you’ll know why this ancient beauty continues to intrigue visitors from all over the world.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said:

“To win this prestigious award three times in a row confirms that Edinburgh Castle’s fascinating history, dramatic location and panoramic views have an enduring appeal for visitors of all ages both in the UK and around the world.”

http://bbc.in/HyEqy1

The fortress stands on a volcanic plug of basalt, known as Castle Rock, and dominates the Edinburgh skyline. The rock was once home to a late Bronze age people and archaeological evidence shows it was also the site of an Iron Age hill fort or broch.

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