Celtic Red Hair From Vikings?

Jun 11, 2015 by

If you have Scottish and/or Irish ancestry AND red hair, you probably also have VIKING ancestry, according to a new study.

The director for Nordic Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands says red hair is modern evidence of the influence of the ancient Vikings in Celtic lands.

Professor Donna Heddle is the director for both the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Centre for Nordic Studies. She is a leading expert on the Norse and has reached the conclusion that Scotland’s famous red hair is a vestige from the invading Vikings. If the compelling case which Heddle makes is true, it means the Vikings were very successful at spreading their DNA in this Northern kingdom.

Heddle explains that the perception that the invading Vikings were blond is a myth. The Vikings were likely red headed. Relatively few people in the world have red hair. Statistics are that only 0.6% of the population have that hair color. However, countries with the highest concentrations of red hair are all part of ancient Viking trading routes. Scandinavia, though long stereotyped for a high number blonds, has a high concentration of red haired people.

“The perception that the Norse were blond is nothing more than a prevalent myth,” she said. “Genetically speaking, the chances of them having blond hair weren’t that likely. The chances are that they would have had red hair. Interestingly, if you look at where red hair occurs in the world you can almost map it to Viking trading routes.”

Professor Heddle explains that in Ireland, the red hair concentrations are in the areas where the Vikings settled. She states that an observation of dispersal patterns shows a dark red spot in Scotland and a corresponding spot in Scandinavia. There is nothing similar to be found in Europe which lends further credence that the DNA gene for red hair had to have been imported from the Vikings and the Norse.

Source: Vikings Responsible for Scottish Red Hair Gene? | eCanadaNow

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Outlander Fans In Fife 

Jun 7, 2015 by

Outlander fans go star spotting as filming takes place in Fife

 

Lead actors Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan were on set in Dysart Harbour, which has been transformed to portray the French port of Le Havre during the 1740s.

 

Dressed in period costume Balfe, who plays time-travelling nurse Claire Randall, and Heughan, who plays Highlander Jamie Fraser, shot scenes for the second series.

 

Outlander, dubbed Scotland’s Game of Thrones, has a legion of fans in the US and Canada, but is only available on Amazon Prime Instant Video in the UK.

Sourced from :Outlander fans go star spotting as filming takes place in Fife – Fife / Local / News / The Courier

~Haven’t read the books yet? Click HERE to get any of Diana Gabaldon’s first four novels in the Outlander series.  The DVD set of Starz’ Outlander cable series, Season One, Part One, is available HERE.

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The Glenfinnan Monument And The Unknown Highlander

Oct 20, 2014 by

The Glenfinnan Monument stands on the shore of Loch Shiel in the Scottish Highlands, near the town of Lochaber.

This 60 foot tall stone tower was erected in 1815 to honor Prince Charles Edward Stuart and his arrival at Glenfinnan (Gleann Fhionghain) in 1745.  It was in this remote Highland spot that Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his royal standard and began a war that would ultimately destroy a way of life for the Highland clans.

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The Glenfinnan Monument on the shore of Loch Shiel. Image by Bernard Blanc

 

On August 19, 1745, Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of exiled Stuart King,  James II of England, journeyed from France to Eriskay in the Western Isles of Scotland. His intent was to lead an army of French, Irish and Scottish soldiers into battle against the English, and place himself on the throne of Scotland and England.   Bonnie Prince Charlie, or The Young Pretender, as he is often called, traveled to the Scottish mainland in a small rowing boat, coming ashore at Loch nan Uamh, just west of Glenfinnan.   On arrival, he was met by a small number of MacDonald clansmen, but within several days more MacDonalds, Camerons, Macfies and MacDonnells arrived to join Charlie’s cause.
Once enough clan support arrived, Prince Charlie climbed the hill near Glenfinnan and raised his royal standard, announcing his claim to the Scottish and the English thrones in the name of his father James Stuart, known as the Old Pretender.

 

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Charles Edward Stuart, by Allan Ramsay, painted in Edinburgh in 1745


The Jacobite cause–and the way of life of the Highland clans– would end in defeat and tragedy just eight months later, at Culloden. The Prince fled after the defeat at Culloden, and was vigorously pursued by the Duke of Cumberland.   After being hidden by loyal supporters, Charles boarded a French frigate on the shores of Loch nan Uamh, close to where he had landed and raised his standard the previous year. He would never set foot on Scottish soil again.  The Prince’s Cairn (Càrn Prionnsa) now marks the spot  where Charles left Scotland, never to return.

 

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The Prince’s Cairn marks the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie left Scotland, never to return. Image by Colin Smith

 

  The Glenfinnan Monument was erected in 1815 as a tribute to the Jacobite clansmen who fought and died in the cause of Prince Charles Edward Stuart.   A wealthy descendant of a Jacobite paid for the monument and it was designed by famed Scottish architect James Gillespie Graham. The Glenfinnan Monument now is in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.

 

You might think the figure atop the monument is Prince Charles Edward Stuart, but you’d be wrong.

 The statue is that of an unknown Scottish Highlander in full kilt, an enduring memorial to the tragic results of the Rising of 1745.

This clever video gives you a bird’s eye view of beautiful Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Monument:

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A Breath-taking Scottish Highlander

Sep 24, 2014 by

The Scottish Highlander has at last married his Sassenach lass in Starz’ cable series Outlander.

Episode 7 of the first season, aptly entitled “The Wedding” has come and gone, leaving Outlander fans eager for the mid-season finale.  While I do look forward to the action of the upcoming episodes, I increasingly find myself almost more eager to see the costumes.  The wedding dress designed by Terry Dresbach for Claire was truly exquisite, but the groom, James Fraser, was–as Diana Gabaldon describes in her novel– positively “breath-taking.”

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James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser–THE Scottish Highlander. Original image here.

Fair is fair–Claire was also stunningly attired in her intricate, beautiful wedding dress (not the same as the book wedding dress, though):

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Dressed to thrill a Scottish Highlander. Original image here.

Behind the scenes of the Outlander wedding episode:

 

There are many talented costume designers for big shows such as Game of Thrones, Once Upon A Time and Downton Abbey, but I hope wise Emmy voters will give a nod next year to Outlander’s costume designer, Terry Dresbach (producer Ron Moore’s wife). Click HERE to read her blog about designing Scottish Highlander costumes for the characters of Outlander.  

Terry Dresbach’s authentic and skilled costume designs do honor not only to Outlander, the book and cable series, but more importantly,

they honor the history and breath-taking beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

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The Kilt Rock Of Skye

Sep 23, 2014 by


Located on the Trotternish Peninsula of the Isle of Skye, Kilt Rock is an impressive 200 foot high sea cliff in the Scottish Highlands.

The cliff gets its name from the vertical basalt columns (the pleats) and horizontal dolorite rock strata (the pattern) which combine to give the appearance of a traditional Scottish tartan kilt.

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Kilt Rock, on the Isle of Skye, Scotland    Image:Nicolas Valentin

 

Fed by the waters of Loch Mealt, the Mealt Waterfall freefalls over Kilt Rock into the Sound of Raasay below.   The winds around the cliff are often incredibly strong, sometimes turning the waterfall to mist before it can even reach the sea below.

 

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Mealt waterfall over Kilt Rock in Scotland. Image: TuVeuxMaPhoto

 

Kilt Rock’s location on the beautiful Isle of Skye in Scotland makes it a popular tourist destination. There is ample parking nearby, as well as an observation platform that allows good views of Kilt Rock and the waterfall.  Rock climbers challenge Kilt Rock on a regular basis, so don’t be surprised to see people moving up and down the rock face.

 

 

As is true with real kilts, spectators should approach Kilt Rock with extreme caution, as trying to get too close of a view can prove hazardous to your health.

 

 

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Starz Releases Outlander Episode One

Aug 1, 2014 by

The long wait is over, Sassenachs!!

Starz will release Outlander Episode One on August 2nd at 12 am EST on Starz.com, Starz Play ( their phone app), on your television via On Demand service and on the Starz Youtube channel.

At last, we’ll see author Diana Gabaldon’s  Outlander come to life, complete with Jamie Fraser, Claire Randall and all the glory and beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

  Are ye ready?

Starz Releases Outlander Episode One

Starz releases Outlander Episode One at midnight, August 2.

 

 

Here are the pertinent details to ensure you get to see the first episode of Outlander as soon as it’s released:

This complimentary episode is FREE, FREE, FREE-no subscription needed.

It is the full 1st episode, uncut and commercial free, but it is available to US VIEWERS ONLY, no other countries.

The official premiere is still August 9th for subscribers and the rest of the season will be available to Starz subscribers only. Starz is betting that after you see the first episode, you’ll be hooked and become a subscriber so you can see the entire series. Considering the legions of fans garnered by the Outlander book series, I’d say this is a safe bet on the part of Starz.

For all the details, click HERE to go to the Starz Outlander site.  You’ll find links to download the phone app, a list of cable providers offering the show via On Demand service and what devices you can use to view the episode.

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John Muir: Making The Scottish Mountains Glad

Jun 30, 2014 by

 

Scottish born John Muir was a visionary wilderness explorer who loved mountains passionately.  In 1849, his family emigrated from Dunbar, Scotland, to Wisconsin and John began his lifelong love of  America’s rugged mountains, wild rivers and green-graced forests and valleys.

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In 1892, Muir helped found the foremost conservation group in the world, the Sierra Club,
to “make the mountains glad.”
Though he began his wilderness project to protect American mountains and forests, his words are equally applicable to the Highland beauty of Glen Coe and other wild places in his native land of Scotland.  I have no doubt that Muir, a spiritual naturalist, would have counseled Scots as he did Americans:

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

John Muir, 1901

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