Gaelic, it is sad to say, remains a minor language in Scotland today. There was a time when those living in Gaelic regions in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland would have spoken no English but it is not the case now. The majority of folk in Gaelic-speaking regions are bilingual and more often than not would use English in a professional and official capacity, limiting their use of Gaelic to personal relationships. Even in places like the Isle of Skye and the Hebrides, where the majority of the population would be Gaelic speakers, English is also spoken. In 2005 it was estimated that there were 70,000 native Gaelic speakers in Scotland, mainly in the north-west of the country. Hopefully that number has risen in the last 6 years but it is nothing compared to what the numbers were in the past. How did the Gaelic community come to be so small in the first place? Continue reading
The name bean-nighe or “washer woman” seems harmless enough but this was one woman no one wanted to meet. A cousin of the banshee in Irish folktales, this creature heralded death. Banshees would scream before a person was about to die. More often than not these people heard the wail and died of fright. In Scotland, similar creatures known as caoineags (‘weepers’) wailed before catastrophe. These beings were usually associated with particular clans in Scotland. For example, members of the MacDonald clan heard their caoineag wailing the night before the Massacre of Glencoe. They heeded her warning and hid, thus surviving the slaughter. Continue reading
Baobhan Sith were among the deadliest of Scotland’s mythical creatures. Related to sirens, these beautiful women were able to entrance men, making it easier to prey on them. Although these creatures looked like women they were actually female demons. They sucked the blood of their victims though not in the same way as vampires. These creatures quite literally drained a body dry and sucked the entire life force out of their victims, leaving behind a shriveled and horrifying corpse. Continue reading
With a huge array of artists spread across the 3 Harbours Festival, there was no shortage of talent in the area. Among the artists with exhibitions in Cockenzie Power Station was local resident Wendy McCarroll Sandeman. Originally from Ireland, Wendy has a studio in Coburg House in Leith as well as working from her home in Cockenzie.
The environment was the dominant theme of Wendy’s display at this year’s exhibition. “I’ve been very concerned about the area because it’s actually a conservation area,” Wendy explains. “But because it’s a bit off the beaten track people don’t take as much care of it as they should”. Cockenzie and Port Seton also has some listed buildings and Wendy is concerned that the place might be disappearing a little bit. But she also feels the positive impact of events like the Festival on the community. Continue reading
Genevieve Bicknell is one of the young artists who took part in this year’s 3 Harbours Festival in East Lothian. Her exhibition was on display at the Cockenzie Power station, along with several other artists from the area. Genevieve is very positive on being part of the festival. “It’s a great chance to meet other artists”, she says. “It’s a really good way of being with others, seeing what they do and also having somewhere for your work to be seen by anyone else”. Continue reading
Uncovering Scotland aims at offering an alternative view of the land of the Scots. Taking a step away from the traditional stereotypes of the haggis-eating kilt-wearing bagpiper, this multimedia site highlights some of the lesser known aspects of Scottish culture and traditions.
Robert the Bruce and William Wallace are two names synonymous with Scottish history but what of the country’s unsung heroes? Scotch is a favourite tipple worldwide but what’s behind the history of whisky distilling? William Shakespeare’s Macbeth helped to establish Scotland’s reputation as a breeding ground for witchcraft and the supernatural but what are the lesser-known ghost stories of the land? Take the opportunity to learn about some of the mythical creatures in Scottish folklore which don’t always make the fairytales.
Also featured are some of the hidden gems in Scotland’s music and festival culture which sometimes get over shadowed by bigger events. With original interviews, podcasts and video footage discover something about Scotland you never knew before…