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Category: Scotland (Page 1 of 16)

The Fairy Flag Of Clan MacLeod

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Many, many years ago, the Chief of Clan MacLeod was a handsome, intelligent man, and all the young ladies in the area were very attracted to him, but none suited his fancy.
One day, he met a fairy princess, a bean sidhe, one of the Shining Folk. Like all the other females he met, she fell madly in love with him, and he with her.

When the princess appealed to the King of the Fairies, for permission to marry the handsome Chief, he refused, saying that it would only break her heart, as humans soon age and die, and the Shining Folk live forever.

She cried and wept so bitterly that even the great King relented, and agreed that she and the Chief could be hand-fasted for a year and a day. But, at the end of that time, she must return to the land of Fairie and leave behind everything from the human world. She agreed, and soon she and the young MacLeod were married with great ceremony.

No happier time ever existed before or since for the Clan MacLeod, for the Chief and Lady MacLeod were enraptured of each other totally. As you might expect, soon a strapping and handsome son was born to the happy couple, and the rejoicing and celebration by the Clan went on for days. However, the days soon passed and a year and a day were gone in a heartbeat.

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Waulking the Cloth – An Ancient Tradition

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Fulling, milling, or Waulking (in Gaelic luadh) is the technique of finishing the newly-woven cloth by soaking it and thumping it rhythmically to shrink and soften it – all done by hand in the old days. The songs served to keep the rhythm and lighten the work.

Waulking was the final stage in the long, laborious process of producing homespun cloth.

When the cloth comes off the loom it is stiff and harsh, and the weave is quite loose. Waulking thickens and softens it.

The cloth was soaked in what we call “household ammonia” (stale urine!) This useful chemical, known in Gaelic asmaistir, helped make the dyes fast, and to soften the cloth.

Waulking songs in Gaelic Culture

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Important Pictish fort found on Seastack off the coast of Aberdeenshire

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A remote Iron Age fort built by the Picts as a look out post on top of a 20-foot-high sea stack has been uncovered on the coast of Scotland. Archaeologists believe the stronghold, which would have been cut off from the land at high tide, may have been one of a number that lined the east coast of Scotland.

The fort, which was found on top of the Dunnicaer sea stack close to Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, appears to have been built with stone imported from elsewhere in the country. The team from the University of Aberdeen believe the ancient remains could be one of many along the coast south of Stonehaven.

It is the first time an official excavation has been carried out there. Pictish symbol stones were said to be found on the Dunnicaer sea stack by locals in the 19th Century. Until this latest discovery, it was unclear whether the site held other historical remains. The Aberdeen team believe they have found the remains of a house, a fireplace and ramparts.

Who were the Picts? The Tribe who held out in the North

The Picts were a group of tribes who lived north of the Forth and Clyde during the Late Iron Age and Early Medieval period.

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The Legend of Lucky White Heather

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Ossian is the narrator and purported author of a cycle of epic poems published by the Scottish poet James Macpherson from 1760. Macpherson claimed to have collected word-of-mouth material in Scots Gaelic, said to be from ancient sources, and that the work was his translation of that material. Ossian is based on Oisín, son of Finn or Fionn mac Cumhaill, anglicised to Finn McCool, a legendary bard who is a character in Irish mythology.

Contemporary critics were divided in their view of the work’s authenticity, but the consensus since is that Macpherson framed the poems himself, based on old folk tales he had collected, and that “Ossian” is, in the words of Thomas Curley,

“the most successful literary falsehood in modern history.”

But Macpherson’s fame was crowned by his burial among the literary giants in Westminster Abbey, and W.P. Ker, in the Cambridge History of English Literature, observes that “all Macpherson’s craft as a philological imposter would have been nothing without his literary skill.

Why White Heather is Lucky

Here is his tale about why white heather is considered lucky:

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Scottish and Cornish dramas rate high in the Game of TV Clones

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Poldark

Poldark is a British drama television series that was first broadcast on BBC One on 8 March 2015. The eight-part series, based on the first two Poldark novels by Winston Graham, tells the story of Ross Poldark who returns to his Cornish tin mines after spending three years in the army to avoid charges of smuggling, leaving behind his sweetheart Elizabeth. On his return, having fought in the American War of Independence, he finds his father dead, his estate in ruins and Elizabeth engaged to his cousin Francis. In need of help, he takes on a new kitchen maid, Demelza, after rescuing her from a beating, bringing him into conflict with hostile locals.

Read on for more about our Scottish and Cornish dramas…

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Magical, Mystical and Sacred Sites for a day out with myths and legends

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Magical, Mystical and Sacred Sites across the UK

Somerset's Cadbury Castle, Leland's Camelot

Somerset’s Cadbury Castle, Leland’s Camelot

We are proud to bring you an article by Guardian reporter, Kevin Rushby about the many sacred sites within the United Kingdom that you can visit and explore. From Cadair Idris in Wales to St. Nectan’s Glen at Tintagel in Cornwall and from the magical Robin Lythe’s Cave in East Yorkshire to the Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye you will never be short of somewhere mysterious, magical and wondrous to experience the ancient magic of our Sacred Land.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “UK days out with myths and legends” was written by Kevin Rushby, for The Guardian on Tuesday 31st March 2015 10.30 UTC

Magic mountain

Cadair Idris, Snowdonia, Gwynedd (OS Explorer OL23)

The joy of the 893-metre Cadair Idris is that it looks like a proper mountain but is actually a fairly easy walk, guaranteed to make everyone feel tough and strong without too much effort. That’s if you do the Pony Path, at least, which begins at the Ty-Nant car park on the north side of the mountain. The Minffordd and Fox’s paths are a little more demanding, especially the latter.

Legend associates the peak with Arthur, although it could also be a Welsh prince by that name who fought an Irish army here in the seventh century. Either way it is a place of deep magic, prone to visitations by infernal hunting dogs that snaffle you off to the underworld.

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Scotland – Gaelic language school a victim of success

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PUPIL numbers at Glasgow Gaelic School are at an all-time high. But the popularity of the school has landed education bosses with a problem – they cannot find enough fluent Gaelic-speaking teachers. This year the secondary school has around 62 students on the roll but next year that number is set to rise to 100.
Over 70 children will enroll in the primary school next term.

Gaelic Language Schools

Glasgow was the first council to provide a dedicated Gaelic secondary school, recognised nationally as a ground breaking approach.

Margaret Doran, executive director of education and social work, admitted the shortage would hit lessons.

She said:

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5,000 year-old Roundhouse discovered in Scotland

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The remains of a hilltop home believed to be about 5,000 years old have been discovered on the outskirts of Edinburgh, The Scotsman reveals in its report on the 23rd March. The Neolithic roundhouse, found on a site where a quarry is due to be expanded, is one of the oldest prehistoric buildings to be discovered in the capital.

Archaeologists have hailed it as one of the most important finds ever made in Edinburgh because of its age – about the same as Skara Brae in Orkney – and unique location. It is also expected to help fill in a largely unknown chapter in Scottish history, when farming had only recently spread to Britain from Europe.

The site, at Ravelrig Hill, near Dalmahoy, enjoys spectacular views across the Lothians and Fife, including landmarks such as Arthur’s Seat. Experts believe the roundhouse was probably built by one of the first families of farmers to start producing their own food in the area.

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The People of the Kingdom of Dál Riata – Dalriada

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The people of the Kingdom of Dál Riata spoke a Q-Celtic Goidelic language. They lived in Argyll on the West Coast of what is now Scotland from around AD 400.The Gaels of Dalriada are often called ‘the Scots’ as the Romans named the Q-Celtic speaking peoples of Ireland and Argyll ‘the Scotti’ which probably meant ‘pirates’. The Scotti attacked Roman shipping off the west coast.Only twelve miles of sea separates the Mull of Kintyre from Antrim, Ireland. The Gaels of Dál Riata and Antrim traded across the sea routes, intermarried and sometimes fought.

The founding myth of Scotland tells of an Irish King, Fergus Mor, settling Scots from Ireland in Argyll. The English historian Bede wrote that the Irish Scots under Reuda took lands from the Picts. These origin tales influenced later historians but there is no evidence on the ground for an Irish invasion of Argyll.

How were the Gaels of Dalriada and Ireland different?

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The Cailleach, or Hag of Winter by Stuart McHardy

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The Hag of Winter is known in Scotland and Ireland as The Cailleach, of which Cailich is variant, though there are many more stories and place names associated with her in the latter, as was pointed out by the great folklorist Katherine Briggs over fifty years ago.The idea that The Cailleach was imported into Scotland from Ireland is another instance of reality contradicting accepted notions. If the Cailleach did in fact originate in Ireland why do we in Scotland have so many more stories of her?

Her name in Gaelic means the hooded, or veiled one and after Christianity arrived became the accepted term for a nun. This has led to an interesting situation where confusion arises between a figure who was part of ancient Mother Goddess belief and Christian nuns. In ancient belief she was particularly known for spreading the harsh weather of winter and for living on mountain tops.

The Oral Lore of the Cailleach

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