Peebles and Santa Claus

The Cross Kirk played an important role for the people of Peebles in the past. Not anymore. The ruin suggests a massive and castle-like construction, an atmosphere of war rather than prayer seems to surround it. This was once a monastery, one of many that flourished in Scotland’s South in the Middle Ages and then... Continue Reading →

death makes no distinction

If you mention the name Carstairs every Scotsman will think of one thing: the State Hospital, the high-security prison for the criminally insane. It is part of the NHS and treats patients from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Carstairs' reputation is powerful; murderers whose actions have terrified the nation, are kept just a few miles outside... Continue Reading →

kirk o’ the forest

They called it "the forest", plain and simple, there was never another one that size and importance. The Ettrick forest is extraordinary in the history of Scotland, its worth was political, biological and geographical. When one spoke of the forest, everyone knew which one was meant. There was only one of these dimensions; it reached... Continue Reading →

names and nemesis

Yarrow kirkyard Names locate people, especially in Scotland. Many of the big names are names from the Highlands, like MacDonald. In the south of Scotland, the picture looks different, other surnames established: Armstrong, Scott, Maxwell, for example. All over Scotland nicknames were given generously and just like in the Highlands, each Border clan has a... Continue Reading →

the shepherd and the poet

James Hogg was one of Scotland’s major writers and is (especially in the Scottish Borders) a celebrated author of poetry, essays and novels, his books belong to the curriculum in the upper grades at schools and literature courses of universities. But internationally he is far less known as Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns or Robert... Continue Reading →

seven slain brothers

The Douglas clan was a powerful one in ancient Scotland, respected and sometimes feared. Mothers would use the name to pressure their children: Be good or the black Douglas will get you. They were called Black Douglas, for their inclination as well as their complexion; they were a rather dark-skinned family. One of the many... Continue Reading →

eight funeral services

Carluke cemetery Carluke can boast of having been useful in World War II like no other town in Lanarkshire. Since the entire town at that time was on one side of the railroad, it was easy to identify it from the air and used as a turning point for pilots on their training flights before... Continue Reading →

the Lockhart blunder

Carnwath cemetery Carnwath is home to the Lockhart family. Sir George Lockhart was a passionate Jacobite and a strong advocate of Scottish independence. Like his father, he died a violent death when he was killed in 1731. His father had been killed by John Chiesely of Kersewell after trying to mediate between his friend and... Continue Reading →

Campbell in Kilmartin

Many impressive gravestones are on display in Kilmartin graveyard, not to mention the famous crosses. But Kilmartin is also worth a closer look, one that takes you further back in history. There is one name that pops up on many of the gravestones is Campbell and the Campbells have a long and eventful history. If there... Continue Reading →

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