Yes Scotland : Proclaiming For Freedom

Sep 3, 2014 by

The historic drive for Scottish independence, led by Yes Scotland, is coming down to the final days as the September 18th referendum draws closer. 

The anti-freedom groups, mostly composed of non-Scottish residents, have had no trouble commanding attention from the mainstream press or in raising funds.  In fact,  Better Together, (BT) the notorious cabal behind the negative side, has been forced to say no to more cash from the deep pockets funding their alarmist ads.

Yes Scotland has a groundswell of popular support inside Scotland, amongst Scottish citizens.  Happily, they also got a big financial boost this week from the popular Scottish band, The Proclaimers.    Twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid, the band members, donated £10,000 to Yes Scotland, saying  that the cause of Scottish independence was ” a matter of principle” for them.

 

The Proclaimers, best known for their song I’m gonna Be (500 miles), have long been pro Scottish independence. Yes Scotland supporters recently began a campaign to have Cap In Hand, The Proclaimers’ 1988 anthem to Scottish freedom, top the musical downloads charts.  Well,  Yes Scotland supporters got a big YES from Amazon yesterday: Cap In Hand moved to Number One on the Amazon singles chart.

Click HERE to hear Cap in Hand with the lyrics and HERE to purchase the single for 99 cents and show support for Yes Scotland.

 

Yes Scotland supporter

You’re Scottish, not British: Say Yes, Scotland   image: THE

 

A recent poll shows a surge of support for independence, good news for Yes Scotland.  After all the scaremongering by the no side and British politicians, that is a huge accomplishment.  Hopefully, it’s also a sign of good things to come for Scotland on September 18th.

In the interest of fairness, I must admit I’m ABSOLUTELY, COMPLETELY in favor of independence for Scotland–have been for years.  I’m an American and don’t get to cast a vote, but my Scottish ancestors would cast me out of the clan if I opposed it.

I will ALWAYS say YES, Scotland.

 

And, just because I like to stir things up– click HERE to see funny Twitter responses to BT’s patronizing ad aimed at Scottish women.

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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.

 

indexJAMIEWORTHWAIT

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:

33liamneeson

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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Scotland’s Dunnottar Castle

May 11, 2014 by

 

On the north east coast of Scotland, high atop a rocky headland on the North Sea, lie the ruins of a medieval fortress called Dùn Fhoithear. Known as Dunnottar in English, this famous castle is one of the most photographed in Scotland, and with good reason. The views of the castle from land and sea are simply stunning, calling up memories of ancient Picts, medieval Scottish knights and Jacobites, all of whom are connected to the site. Dunnottar was once controlled by the Keiths, who held the peerage title Earl Marischal until the lands and castle were seized by the Crown from the 10th Earl for his role in the Jacobite Rising of 1715. The castle essentially fell into disrepair until it was bought by the Cowdray family in 1925; the family still owns the castle, but it is open to the public.

 

 

The castle played a prominent role in the history of Scotland, and William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II all visited Dunnottar at some point during its storied history.

 

 

In November, 1651, Cromwell’s forces laid siege to the castle, seeking the Honours of Scotland (the regalia of crown, sword and sceptre) used during the coronation of Charles II at Scone castle earlier in 1651. The Dunnottar defenders held out for six months against a vastly superior force, until the Honours were safely smuggled out of the castle and secreted beneath the floor of a local church. The Honours, which are the oldest set of crown jewels in the British isles, are now on display at Edinburgh Castle.

 

 

Visitors to Dunnottar can walk from the nearby town of Stonehaven (about two miles) or drive to the small car park near the castle. You must then follow a footpath to the base of the castle headland, and climb a long, steep set of stone stairs to reach the castle grounds.

 

For more information about Dunnottar, its hours of operation and directions, click on the castle website HERE.

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Alexander the Fierce, King of the Scots

Jan 8, 2014 by

On January 8, 1107, Edgar I,  son of King Malcolm III and Margaret of Wessex, died in Edinburgh, Scotland.  At the time of his death, Edgar was unmarried and childless, therefore the crown of Scotland passed to his 29 year old brother, Alexander, who was crowned that same day as King Alexander I of Scotland.  Who was this young king, described by contemporaries as a bold and godly man?

Alexander I, King of Scotland 1107-1124 AD

Alexander I, King of Scotland 1107-1124 AD    image

Alexander (Medieval Gaelic: Alaxandair mac Maíl Coluim;Modern Scots Gaelic: Alasdair mac Mhaol Chaluim) was born in 1078, the fourth son of Malcolm III by his wife Margaret of Wessex, who would become Saint Margaret of Scotland in 1250. Upon the death of his older brother, Edgar I, Alexander became King of Scotland; in accordance with Edgar’s wishes, Alexander gave his younger brother, David, the lands of the former kingdom of Strathclyde, or Cumbria. David, the Prince of Cumbria as he was entitled, would go on to become King David I of Scotland after defeating Alexander’s illegitimate son, Malcolm, in battle.

Alexander was by all accounts a pious man, not surprising in light of his mother’s devotion to the Catholic Church. She was a devout Catholic and quite active in reforming the Celtic Church of Scotland along the lines of the continental Catholic Church.  Margaret practiced what she preached, so to speak, pursuing many activities on behalf of the poor and ill.  Alexander’s father, Malcolm III, was not nearly as religious, but indulged his wife in her daily prayers and devotionals and in her dedication to raising her sons to be just and holy rulers.  Alexander  may have been named in honor of Pope Alexander II, the leader of the Catholic Church, who had died just a few years earlier.

Saint Margaret of Scotland, as depicted in her chapel at Edinburgh Castle   image

Saint Margaret of Scotland, as depicted in her chapel at Edinburgh Castle image

Alexander established Augustinian priories at Scone and on Inchcolm Island, sometime between 1114 and 1124. He also appointed his mother’s chaplain and hagiographer, Thurgot, as Bishop of Saint Andrews (or Cell Rígmonaid) in 1107 and granted lands for a priory to be built there.

A king, however godly he may wish to be, must also be willing to raise his sword in defense of his kingdom, a royal duty Alexander understood and was more than willing to perform. In 1114, Alexander joined Henry I of England on his successful campaign against Gruffudd ap Cynan of Gwynedd, a powerful Celtic king of Wales. At some point during his reign, between 1107 and 1114, Alexander also married Henry’s illegitimate daughter, Sybillia de Normandy, a woman with both Viking and Cornish heritage. Henry was thus Alexander’s father-in-law, a distinction which may have influenced Alexander’s decision to fight on behalf of an English king.

Many Scottish chieftains had cause to despise Alexander, and there was no love lost between the Celtic Highlanders and the Anglo-Saxon influenced king.  Malcolm III, Alexander’s father, had wrested control of Scotland from King Mac Bethad mac Findlaích, better known by his Anglicized name, MacBeth–yes, THAT MacBeth,  title character in “the Scottish Play ” by Will Shakespeare.   MacBeth himself is a subject for another post, but let me quickly note that the play, while based on the historical MacBeth, is not an accurate account of either the man or his reign as the last Celtic King of Scotland.  That’s a good thing for Scottish history fans–trust me.

When men (not clearly identified in historical sources) from the Gaelic-speaking earldom of Moray (Moireabh in Scots Gaelic, pronounced Murray), in the northeastern Highlands of Scotland, attacked Alexander at his court in Invergowrie, he quickly pursued them north.  He was known for his fiery, energetic temper and  he ruthlessly quelled the nascent Celtic rebellion.  As a result of his actions against the Highlanders, he was nicknamed Alexander the Fierce, a fitting appellation for a warrior king of Scotland.

 

The reverse of the seal of Alexander I, enhanced as a 19th-century steel engraving.  Image

The reverse of the seal of Alexander I, enhanced as a 19th-century steel engraving.  Image

Alexander and Sybillia never had any children.   She died (the cause is unrecorded) in July 1122, on the tiny island of Eilean nam Ban (Eilean nan Bannoamh: “Isle of the female saints”) in Loch Tay, and Alexander founded a priory on the island in her memory.  She was buried in Dunfermline Abbey, Fife.  Alexander did not remarry.

Alexander did have an illegitmate son, Malcolm (Medieval Gaelic: Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair or Máel Coluim mac Alasdair) who challenged his uncle, David I, for the Scottish throne after Alexander’s death.  Malcolm is a relatively obscure figure, mostly due to the scarcity of source material, which appears only in pro-David,  English sources.   I could find no source that identified Malcolm’s mother or her connection to Alexander.

The end of Alexander’s seventeen year reign as King of Scotland came on April 27, 1124, when he died at Stirling.  He was 46 years old.

In addition to the continuation of his mother’s reforms of the Celtic Church in Scotland and his own devout support of the Church, Alexander is remembered for his reforms amongst the governing civil authorities of the day.  He continued the changes begun in his predecessor’s reign, bringing most of Scotland into conformity with the types of high offices used in England:

  “…the whole of Scotland, with the exception of what had formed the kingdom of Thorfinn (during the Norwegian conquest consisting of the Orkneys, the Hebrides, and a large portion of the Highlands), exhibited the exact counterpart of Saxon England, with its earls, thanes, and sheriffs, while the rest of the country remained in the possession of the Gaelic Maormors, who yielded so far to Saxon influence as to assume the Saxon title of earl.”

History of Highlanders, Their Origin, History and Antiquities, Vol I, p.128, by William F. Skene, 1837

 

 

Alexander also encouraged Scottish trade with other countries, even distant and exotic Asian lands.  His court, like that that of his father’s, was a far stretch from the “barbarous” courts of early Scottish kings and chieftains.   Alexander dressed in silks, jewels and finery from around the world, and members of the Scottish nobility followed suit.  More trading with foreign lands led to a need for more royal coinage. Some of the oldest Scottish coinage dates to Alexander’s reign, when commerce began to flourish along Scotland’s coasts and border areas. The silver pennies of Alexander I are some of the most ancient coins and are extremely rare.

Can we conclude that Alexander the Fierce was an important ruler of medieval Scotland, worthy of remembrance?  Scholars generally seem to view his reign favorably, especially the religious and secular changes he brought about in Scotland.   His granting of Scottish border lands in the south to his younger brother David, however, and Alexander’s swift and harsh reprisal against Highland challenge to his authority over the northern portion of Scotland should be noted.  The historic disjunction of these two parts of Scotland aided David’s relatively bloodless transition as successor,  but it further deepened the division between the Celtic, Gaelic-speaking Highlanders and the Anglo-Saxon, English-speaking Lowland Scots,who made up the majority of the noble rulers of Scotland.  Highland Scotland continued to resist  the degradation of their Celtic heritage, while the rest of the country continued on their course towards English allegiances, lifestyles and, ultimately, English rule.

So, Scottish history buffs, I say keep Alexander I in your to-be-studied pile, but remember that this medieval king is not on a level with truly famous Scotsmen such as William Wallace, Rob Roy or Robert the Bruce.  I give Alexander credit for fierceness, but he sadly lacks in heroic qualities–Hollywood won’t be making an epic based on this historical Scotsman.

Sources:

www.britroyals.com

The Scottish Nation: Alexander (ElectricScotland.com)

www.wikipedia.com

Story of Scotland, Chapter Five: Scotland Under MacBeth Successors, by Robert Gunn

 

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The Mark Of The Scots

Nov 2, 2013 by

The Mark of the Scot

The Mark of the Scot

For that is the mark of the Scots of all classes:
that he stands in an attitude towards the past unthinkable to Englishmen,
and remembers and cherishes the
memory of his forebears, good or bad;
and there burns alive in him
a sense of identity with the dead
even to the twentieth generation.

Robert Louis Stevenson

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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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