Dec 17 2009

£2.7 million for Gaelic education

Pic: MOD Falkirk
Gaelic is a unique vehicle for passing Scottish understanding from one generation to the next, First Minister Alex Salmond said on the 10th October as he prepared to formally launch the Royal National Mod 2008 in Falkirk on that evening. The Scottish Government announced their support for the Gaelic language.

The Mod is Scotland’s premier Gaelic festival, celebrating Gaelic language and culture, which will today be strengthened with the announcement of more than £2.7 million funding for a range of Gaelic education measures.

The First Minister used his address to announce:

  • Support for a Gaelic Parents Advocacy Scheme to promote Gaelic education and provide support for parents
  • £2.6 million to assist local authorities with the renovation and construction of dedicated Gaelic schools in the next two financial years
  • Extended funding for the Gaelic Teacher Recruitment Officer based at Bord na Gaidhlig
  • £70,000 to support a Youth Scheme that will create employment opportunities for young Gaelic-speakers

Looking forward to the official launch the First Minister said:

The Gaelic language is a vital way of seeing and understanding Scotland. It contains the symbols and metaphors, stories and landscapes, that help define Scotland’s unique culture and history. As an essential part of our life, lore and language – Gaelic provides a valuable vehicle for passing Scottish understanding from one generation to the next.

That is why the Scottish Government is committed to promoting Gaelic education, and why I’m delighted to announce more than #2.7 million of funding to support the development of this strand of our cultural matrix. This money will help young learners by supporting parents, schools, teaching and youth training.

This year’s Mod provides a vibrant example of the enjoyment that can be found in Gaelic learning, with people of all ages competing across a range of disciplines including Gaelic Music and Song, Highland Dancing, Instrumental, Drama, Sport and Literature. Tonight’s launch gives a taste of the talent on show.

For talented Gaelic-speakers this is an exciting time, with a newly launched Gaelic language channel BBC Alba, the Fàs Centre established at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig to attract and support cultural enterprises, and a Gaelic Language Plan being developed. There should be no limit to the ambitions of modern Gaels.

With Scotland’s Year of Homecoming fast approaching, I hope we can harness some of our Gaelic ambition to encourage even more people to travel to join us in Oban for our Homecoming Mod in 2009. As an opportunity for Gaels and non-Gaels to renew old friendships as well as forging new ones – the Mod is the perfect way to reconnect with Scotland, in any language.

The Mod is organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach (The Highland Association) which was founded in Oban in 1891 and which has HM The Queen as its Patron.

Attending the Mod opening ceremony will be President of Comunn Gaidhealach John Macleod, National Mod Convener Janet Macdonald, Falkirk Provost Pat Reid, Convener of the Mod 2008 Local Committee Angus MacDonald, and Deputy Premier of the Legislature of Nova Scotia Angus MacIsaac.


The Mod

Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail was first held in Oban in 1892. It is the Scottish Gaelic community’s annual festival celebrating their language and culture, and is mostly competition-based. An 8-day festival with a strong language emphasis, it attracts around 1200 competitors, focussing on junior competitions at the beginning of the week and adult events at the end of the week, culminating in the awarding of Gold Medals (Non-trad and trad) for solo singers and the Lovat & Tullibardine trophy for the top choir. The current Bàrd (Martin MacIntyre) is serving a 3-yr term of office. The Mòd is comparable to the Welsh National Eisteddfod. In the course of the week, around 20,000 people attend the Mòd and it is estimated to bring up to £2m in economic benefit to the host area, at an off-peak period in the tourist season. Future Mòds will be in Oban (2009), Caithness (2010) and Stornoway (2011). The host area for 2012 will be announced at this year’s event.


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Aug 26 2009

Archaeologists unearth Black Spout nobles

Pic: BBC
Archaeologists and volunteers working at a Perthshire forest claim to have uncovered a “very exciting” find.

Excavations have revealed a stone entrance to the Black Spout enclosure, which workers believe indicates an important local person lived there.

Radiocarbon dating has also shown the site dates back to about 200 BC – it was originally though such homesteads were from the early centuries AD.

It is thought a large extended family would have lived there. Continue Reading »

Originally posted 2008-06-27 08:35:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Jul 29 2009

Bid To Save Scottish Jewel Of The Iron Age

Pic: Dun Dornagill Broch by orionforumpics tells us: Discovered only 13 years ago, the remarkably preserved ancient settlement at Old Scatness on Shetland (Scotland) forced experts to completely rewrite the history of Iron Age Britain. Old Scatness Broch, a mile from Sumburgh Head, was a pristine time capsule which enabled archaeologists to date the chronology of an Iron Age site in northern Europe with unprecedented accuracy. It has now been revealed that ambitious plans are being championed by the Shetland Amenity Trust to turn Old Scatness into a world-class heritage centre in a boost for the tourism industry on the islands.

The site is currently open to the public for a only limited season and large parts have to be covered up during the winter to protect it from the elements. But the trust aims to transform the settlement into a year-round visitor attraction with the addition of a dome-shaped building with a grass roof. Jimmy Moncrieff, the general manager of the amenity trust, said:

“This project could be huge for Shetland. There is nothing else like it anywhere in Britain; Old Scatness is the best preserved Iron Age village in Europe and the jewel in the crown of archaeological Shetland.”

Continue Reading »

Originally posted 2009-02-05 05:58:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Jun 22 2009

The Bone Caves are a window on the past

Pic: BBC

The four Bone Caves of Inchnadamph in the north west Highlands, which are protected by SNH, contained a physical record of Scotland’s ancient beasts, reports the BBC. They are a window in to the past, according to Alex Scott, an officer with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Since the late 1800s remains have been excavated from the underground complex.

Last week an almost complete skeleton, recovered over a period of years by cavers, was confirmed as that of a large male brown bear (see our earlier post).

It joined a long list of creatures whose remains have been retrieved from the darkness. They include bones from a polar bear, lemming, arctic fox, reindeer, tundra vole and wolf. Some may have been washed into the caves during Ice Age floods.

Most exciting

The polar bear skull found in 1927, and held in the collections of the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, continues to fascinate scientists. Believed to the only remains of its kind found in Britain, a sample was taken last year for DNA analysis.
Ireland-based genetics expert Ceiridwen Edwards had hoped to compare the DNA of the animal found in a cave in Scotland with that of modern polar bears.

However, she said there was not enough DNA left in the sample for an analysis to be done. According to SNH’s leaflet on the Bone Caves, one of the most exciting finds was the skull of a Northern lynx dated at about 1,770 years old and also found in 1927.

The caves were also a burial site and the bones of four people found there have been radiocarbon-dated to being between 4,515 and 4,720 years old.

The recovery of the newly-confirmed brown bear was a painstaking process. Caving club, Grampian Speleological Group, retrieved the first pieces of bone in 1995. Cave divers then spent the next 12 years wriggling through narrow spaces and moving soil to unblock entrances in their effort to recover all they could.

Their efforts have paid off with another valuable addition to the record of Scotland’s long gone residents.

You can read the full article on the BBC website

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Jun 20 2009

Rare fishing dialect from Scotland recorded

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A dialect known and used by a dwindling number of people in Cromarty has been recorded in a new booklet reports the BBC. Researcher Janine Donald, from Highland Council’s history and culture website Am Baile, has compiled a booklet of words and phrases.

The initiative is part of an effort by Am Baile to preserve the community’s fisherfolk dialect.

The 40-page publication also has weather lore, biblical expressions and local tales and customs.

Included is the word "tumblers" for dolphins and harbour porpoises and phrases such as "At now kucka" for a friendly greeting. Continue Reading »

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Jun 18 2009

Brown Bear bones found in Scottish Cave

Brown Bear Bones
Pic: Grampian Speleological Group

The BBC reports that an almost complete skeleton recovered after years of work from a cave in the Scottish Highlands has been confirmed as that of a male brown bear. The pieces of bone were recovered by cavers exploring a network of caves at Inchnadamph in Sutherland. Previously the remains of a polar bear were found at the site.

The National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh said tests have established the most recent bones found were those from a brown bear.

The first pieces were discovered in 1995 by cavers exploring a network of caves at Inchnadamph in Sutherland.

But it was only last year that caving club, Grampian Speleological Group, reached some of the final fragments. Continue Reading »

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Jun 06 2009

Merlin was born and bred in Glasgow, Scotland

Merlin The BBC reports that the legendary wizard Merlin has been added to a list of famous Glaswegians, it has emerged. The council included the wizard, who featured in Arthurian legend, on a list of well-known figures from the city. A council spokeswoman admitted that like most mythical figures, it was difficult to trace Merlin’s origins. But she said the wizard had been added to its website list after an amateur historian suggested Merlin had lived in the Partick area of the city.

He joins Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and comedian Billy Connolly on the list of famous characters, both real and fictional.

‘Glorious history’

Merlin has his very own category on the list – filed under wizard.

The council spokeswoman said:

Recently an amateur historian has pointed to the fact that the legendary Merlin lived a ‘comfortable life’, with his wife Gwendolyn, in Partick, not Camelot and I’m sure most Glaswegians think that’s just magic.

Tradition has it that King Arthur’s magician was either English or Welsh.

But in the book Finding Merlin: The Truth Behind the Legend, author Adam Ardrey claimed he actually hailed from Scotland. [Amazon]

Mr Ardrey, who spent six years researching the subject, told a newspaper he believed the wizard had lived in Partick “where the River Kelvin meets the Clyde”.

He told the paper:

I am thrilled that Glasgow has recognised Merlin as a Glaswegian and that almost 1,400 years after his death he can take an official place in Glasgow’s glorious history.

Read the original article at the BBC site.

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May 23 2009

Bronze Age Sweat Lodge or Sauna Saved

Burnt Mound at Cruester
A Bronze Age structure thought to have been used as a sauna has been saved from destruction by the sea after a team of archaeologists moved the entire find to a safer location reports the

The building, which dates from between 1500BC and 1200BC, was unearthed on the Shetland island of Bressay eight years ago. It was found in the heart of the Burnt Mound at Cruester, a Bronze Age site on the coast of Bressay facing Lerwick.

But earlier in the summer of 2008, because of the increased threat of coastal erosion, local historians joined archaeologists to launch a campaign to save the building and to move it somewhere safer. A third of the mound had already been lost to sea erosion.

The central structure was carefully dismantled and each stone numbered before being moved to a site a mile way next to Bressay Heritage Centre. Continue Reading »

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May 02 2009

Stone-age Ideal Homes Exhibition in Skara Brae

Pic: BBC
The BBC reports that visitors to the Neolithic village of Skara Brae on Orkney will be offered a glimpse inside the ancient homes for the first time on Saturday 18th April. The 5,000-year-old buildings can normally only be viewed from paths around the site, to aid preservation.

The tours, arranged to mark World Heritage Day, will visit the settlement’s workshop, main passageway, and three of its ten houses.

Elaine Clarke, of the ranger service, said:

This is a rare opportunity to go inside the houses which were built by these early farmers.

To get close to the fires where they cooked, the beds where they slept and the shelves where they stored their precious items.

She said the chance to view mysterious carvings on the internal walls of the complex would be a highlight of the tour. The meaning of the etchings, comprised of lines and geometric shapes, remains unknown.

Read the full story at the BBC.

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Mar 23 2009

Horns of Power: Who is the Celtic God with horns exactly?

Horns of Power

Pic: Avalonia
In our last Show, the Spring Equinox 2009 Holiday Special we brought you an abridged version of the Sorita D’Este section entitled The Witch God Cernunnos from the book Horns of Power. This book is packed full of articles about the different forms of the old Celtic Horned God and is well worth a read and discussing here further. Not only are there essays on most of the Horned mythological survivals (including some female ones!) but there are also some modern experiences recorded with these Gods. The book is published by Avalonia books - so let’s find out what they can tell us about it.

The raw, ancient and primordial force symbolised by horns has long had associations with mystery, magick and power. Our ancestors often envisaged their gods as anthropomorphic beings who encapsulated this wild essence. Today the gods of the bull, the ram, goat and stag still hold tremendous power and are invoked at rituals by a new priesthood who continue to seek the wildness of nature and the inspiration that it holds. These deities transcend the safe and known boundaries of human structure, sometimes even luring us across the threshold of the known into the unknown worlds.

This unique anthology brings together the work of more than twenty dedicated scholars with that of modern day mystics. Through their written and artistic contributions they illustrate some of the many manifestations of the Horned God.

A true cornucopia of both insightful and well researched essays takes us from the well known Celtic Cernunnos and the legend of Herne the Hunter, to the goat-footed Greek Pan, the lesser known Slavic Veles and Egyptian Khnum. Horned serpents, unicorns, the tale of the Battle of the Bulls in the Irish Táin Bó Cúailnge, the Welsh Gwyn Ap Nudd and the faery Puck are all also considered.

Then a wild hunt as we journey with the mystics who share their own experiences of the gods of the wildwood and untamed beasts. Each story is as different as the person who experienced it – and each illustrating in its own unique way a Horned God who is wild, unpredictable, loving – and at heart a trickster. For those who wish to dare a bit more than others, visionary meditation journeys to explore the mysteries of Cernunnos and Gwyn Ap Nudd are included.

Horns of power would of course be nothing without the horns of beauty of the feminine divine, and in the final section of this anthology the reader is presented with essays exploring horned goddesses.

Whether through the mysteries of their existence, the vast scope of their influence or the endurance of their survival through to the modern day, each contributor provides a window into the wonders and magick of the enduring Horned God.


The Witch God Cernunnos By Sorita d’Este
Herne: The Royal Hunter By Hortus St Michael
Hero Lord of Annwfn By Gareth Gerrard
Pan: The Hidden All By David Rankine
Veles in Slavic Myth By Kim Huggens
Romano-Celtic Horns By Zachary Yardley
The Horned Serpent By Frater Nechesh
Battle of the Bulls By Dafydd ap Bran
Puck: Forgotten Devil God? By Beth Raven
The Potter from the Nile By Sorita d’Este
Horns From Egypt By Phil Lightwood-Jones
Horn of the Unicorn By Janet Nancy James
Stag & Unicorn (From the Book of Lambspring)


Horn at Dawn By Rhys Chisnall
The Song of Amergin (Irish Poem)
Light in the Earth By John Canard
The Horned One Rises By Peter J. Jaynes
My Bearded Man By Thea Faye
A Small Mouse By Magin
Encounters In the Woods By Harry Barron
A Quest For Horns By Stephen Blake
Dancing with Bulls By Zagreus
Journey With Gwynn ap Nudd By Gareth Gerrard
Hymn to Amen-Ra (Ancient Egyptian Hymn)
Journey to the Mound By Giulia Liani
The Fire Horns By Lupus


Luna’s Shining Horns By Giulia Laini
Ode to the Horned Goddess By Nina Falaise
Goddess Horns in the PGM (Greek Magical Papyri) By Sorita d’Este
In Pursuit of the Horned Goddess Elen By Jenny Sumaya


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