Scotland has a population of 5 million, with about 700,000 people living in the capital, Edinburgh (the ending is pronounced "burruh"). Edinburgh lies in the southern part of the country - the lowlands. My tour did not go into the northern highlands of the country, which is just as well. I may not have been welcome there. Something about the Campbell Clan engaging in a wee bit of treachery directed against the MacDonalds in 1692. While in Scotland, I was devastated to learn that our clan chieftain, The Duke of Argyle had recently died. By the way, do not ever call a resident of Scotland "Scotch." That is a whiskey. The people who live in Scotland are "Scots," and things pertaining to the country are "Scottish."
The history of Scotland is not vastly different than that of the other countries in this region. The Celts were among the early settlers, and Scottish Gaelic is somewhat similar to Irish Gaelic. Then the Romans came. Then the English kings seized power. Sound familiar? This brings us to the movie "Braveheart." I was horrified to learn that William Wallace didn't look like Mel Gibson at all, and that Robert the Bruce actually had a more interesting life than Wallace. Oh well. Scotland finally achieved a measure of self-rule only in 1997, for the first time since the 18th century.
Some famous Scots include Alexander Graham Bell, Sean Connery, Robert Burns and John Paul Jones (he was born there).
Here is a good Web site for those who want to know more about Scottish history.
Our first stop in Scotland was at Holyrood Castle, which is still an official residence of the Royal Family. Mary, Queen of Scots once lived here, and here is where Sean Connery recently was knighted by Queen Elizabeth. The photos show a rustic scene along the way, then the interior courtyard and the exit from the castle. The third picture is the ruins of an adjacent abbey, and finally, a coach which is on display in the castle grounds.
Then, once we arrived in the city, we toured Edinburgh Castle, the home of Scottish kings. Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth here to James I, who succeeded Elizabeth I to the English throne. Here on display are some of the Crown Jewels of Scotland. Within its walls stands the 900-year old St. Mary's Chapel, built by the Normans. The curious may be interested in seeing the Witches Well, where ladies suspected of witchcraft were dispatched many years ago. The beginnings of the castle were first constructed in the 11th Century, and it has been added to over the years. Our group stayed at the Roxburghe hotel.
Here are some pictures I took. The last shows Edinburgh far below.
I did not take any photos in Edinburgh itself, although we spent two days there. Frankly, this is just another rather plain looking industrial city. (I hope no residents of Edinburgh read this page.) It is rather nice, as big cities go, with some wide streets and pretty parks. I walked around quite a bit the second afternoon. The people are friendly too. A group of young ladies spotted me reading the menu posted in a restaurant window and invited me to join them inside. I turned them down. The place looked a bit too lively for my tastes.
We headed for England the next morning, but before leaving Scotland, we stopped at Floors Castle, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe. Here are some pictures I took of the Castle and its grounds.
Sadly, that's it for Scotland. We really didn't see that much of the country that makes up a third of Great Britain. Maybe someday I will go back and see the highlands too. That is, if I change my name.