The Landscape and History of Scotland: 

 I’ll be using this space to tell some of my stories of Scotland, as well as to provide information both for the Life Long Learning Series I give, and the Distance Education course I teach on this topic.

1. Internet Resources on Scotland
2. Books on Scotland
3. Travelling to Scotland
4. The Landscape of the Hebrides - Layers of History in Scotland

Why Scotland?

I’ve been fascinated with Scotland ever since our first visit there – a few days tacked onto the end of a trip up through England.  I read my first Nigel Tranter novel, about the great Scottish hero ‘Robert the Bruce’ on the plane trip home, and I was hooked!

St. Kilda, Outer Hebrides, abandoned in 1930.

Scottish history is amazing, the landscape is even moreso, and the evidence of that history is scattered across that landscape from one end to the other.  We’ve travelled there 3 times since that first visit nearly 20 years ago, and I just get more interested every trip. 

Fingal's Cave in lava flow, Island of Staffa, Inner Hebrides.

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and St. Andrew’s, among other cities, are fascinating with their old cathedrals and castles, but the highlands and islands hold the most interest for me.  From the rolling hills of the Grampian mountains that loom over Balmoral, through the craggy peaks of Skye and the west coast, to the sparkling islands of the Hebrides, this is simply an incredible country.

Reading about the missionary St. Columba arriving on Iona in 563 A.D., the many ancient battles, the even more ancient stone circles, the clans and the more recent  Jacobites is all compelling history.  But when I read about the ‘clearances’, that’s when my heart breaks with the suffering those ‘cleared’ went through.  They may have included one group of my ancestors.  To think they were among the most successful ‘pioneers’ when they reached this side of the Atlantic is a tribute to the human spirit.

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney.

Most of my ancestors are from Scotland.  Although that’s not why I got interested, this gives a personal connection that reinforces my fascination with the place.  My grandfather was a Scottish missionary to Canada!  Some day I must write more about that!


  1. Wow! Impressive photos - are they yours? Having lived in Scotland I know just how interesting the weather can be. Blue sky can be a rare commodity. I've never visited any of these lovely places but I would really love to. Maybe one day. In the meantime we are planning a trip to northern Italy in March. The weather can be interesting there too.
    If you are interested in the clearances you might try and find a copy of a play called The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black Black Oil. I saw it on television in the 1970s and it made a huge impression on me.

    1. Georgina, yes, all the photos are my own. And yes, we've seen some wild weather; Scotland's horizontal rain makes it tricky for the umbrella! We were told we were only the 2nd of 5 ships that was able to disembark at St. Kilda, it's usually so rough. But fascinating to see!

    2. Lucky you! And our trip to Northern Italy has morphed from a couple of days in Padua, to Vicenza and now we've decided on Zurich instead. The last couple of springs have been very very cold and not the best for looking at architecture. At least Zurich has many indoor things to see.

  2. I knew I shouldn't look at this page. Now not only will I be tempted by those wild images but you gave me research to dig my teeth into too! Reading books about an area help me connect with it and enjoy it more when I get there, or when I get back it helps me put things I saw in perspective. Which reminds me, guess I better look for a few South Carolina books to enjoy before/during my trip at the end of this month!

  3. Ken and I lived in Scotland for 4 years in the 70's and my daughter was born there.
    A beautiful place and weloved it there.

  4. And just ignore or delete my question about books. My mind just saw the ones at the top of the blog.

  5. Here is the link to the play -