(Noteworthy Fact: The Scottish say the word “wee” a lot to mean, small quantity or amount.)
Last weekend we visited the beautiful city of Edinburgh, pronounced more like Edinboro. The “r” is pronounced like a Spanish single “r”. As hard as I tried to pronounce “Edinboro” correctly, the waiter at Mum’s, a delicious Scottish comfort food restaurant, told me he would not bring my beer until I pronounced the name properly. It was a Scottish beer called, Edinburgh Gold. And obviously my American/Colombian “Edinboro” pronunciation was not cutting it. After several futile attempts I think the friendly waiter gave up and still rewarded me with my beer.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and the second largest city in Scotland, after Glasgow. The first settlements of the city can be traced to where the Edinburgh Castle resides today. In AD 638, the Angles captured what was known as Din Eidyn and renamed it Edinburgh.
The Edinburgh Castle sits on a natural fortress formed by a volcanic plug. A volcanic plug is a rock land formation created by the hardening of volcanic magma. In 1130, the royal castle was built on the rock. Among the first structures built was St. Margaret’s Chapel, one of my favorite buildings on the grounds.
St. Margarets Chapel Alter
It is the only medieval building to have survived the 16th century artillery bombardment during a siege. It is a quaint, small, and cozy chapel that is also the oldest building in Edinburgh. And it is said that all Scotsmen want their daughters to have their wedding at St. Margaret’s Chapel (in case you are unaware, the Scots have the reputation for being thrifty) For more information about Edinburgh castle visit http://www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk/index.htm
Entrance to Edinburgh Castle
The Royal Mile (pronounced mail) is the street that extends between the Edinburgh Castle on the west end and the Hollyrood Palace on the east end. Hollyrood Palace is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland.
We have known Scotland, as the land of “Scotty” from Star Trek, the land of handsome burly men in kilts like Mel Gibson playing William Wallace in Braveheart, and of course the land of single malt and blended Whiskies. It is also the land of castles and palaces, of High Lands and of Low Lands.
In more recent times, Scotland has been known for J.K. Rowling writing the first Harry Potter book in a small cafe called The Elephant House.
The Elephant House – Where JK Rowling began writing the Harry Potter series
It is said that she modeled Hogswart School after a private Edinburgh school.
Hogwarts was inspired by this private school
We climbed Arthur’s Seat, another volcanic peak formation. From there we enjoyed beautiful views of the city.
Climbing Arthur’s Seat
View of Hollyrood Palace from Arthur’s Seat
Views of Edinburgh from the Edinburgh Castle
Scotland was also the home to Deacon Brodie. By day, Deacon Brodie was the model citizen, a cabinet-maker, head of the trade’s guild, and a city counselor.By night, he was a burglar who did this in part for fun of it but also to support his gambling habit. Deacon Brodie was the real life inspiration to writer Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Deacon Brodie’s Tavern
Edinburgh was also the home to Greyfriar’s Bobby. Greyfriar’s Bobby was a Sky Terrier dog who belonged to John Gray, also known as Auld Jock, a constable in the mid 1800’s. Originally, the dog was named just “Bobby” a suitable name for a constable’s watchdog. Bobby and Auld Jock were inseparable until Auld Jock’s death in 1857 of tuberculosis. Auld Jock was buried in the Greyfriar’s Burial Grounds, the cemetery of the Greyfriar’s Kirk (Church). Bobby went on to mourn his master’s death by staying at his grave for 14 years until his own death in 1872. Eventually he became known as Greyfriar’s Bobby.
Greyfriar’s Bobby Burial Site
Over the years, Greyfriar’s Bobby was taken care of and protected by his neighbors and friends. Greyfriar’s Bobby was also buried in the Greyfriar’s Burial Grounds, and friends from around the world visit his grave. http://www.greyfriarsbobby.co.uk/home.html
Edinburgh has its fair share of gruesome stories, like that of the serial killers William Burke and William Hare of the West Port area of Edinburgh. Burke and Hare discovered that they got paid good money for delivering dead bodies to the Edinburgh Medical College for dissection experiments. Initially, they started out as grave robbers but then realized they could just kill people and sell their bodies. Burke and Hare’s accomplices were their partners, Burke’s mistress Helen McDougal and Hare’s wife, Margaret. Margaret ran a lodging house where unsuspecting guests would be lured, drugged, or gotten drunk, and then Burke and Hare would commit the murders. From here comes the term “burking” that means to purposely smother and compress a victim’s chest. Their first victim was in 1828. In total, they killed and sold 17 bodies to their contact at the Medical School, Dr. Robert Knox. Eventually, Burke and Hare were caught. However, since it appeared there was not enough evidence to convict them, Hare was offered immunity from persecution if he confessed everything and agreed to testify against Burke. Burke was found guilty and hung in December 1829. He was then dissected in public at the Edinburgh Medical College.
We spent a day traveling through the Highlands visiting various castles, lochs (lakes), and villages.
Views in the Highlands
Castle turned into time-share units
Highland cows on the pasture
Our first stop was to Stirling Castle located in the center of the town of Stirling. The castle dates back to the 1100’s and its history is linked to famous Scots like William Wallace and Queen Mary of Scots. The Palace located on the grounds of the castle was built in the 1500’s and has been beautifully restored to its Renaissance splendor. One of my favorite buildings of the palace was the Great Hall.
The Great Hall at Stirling Castle
The Great Hall is one of the few buildings to be restored to its original color. The Great hall was used for feasts, dances, and pageantries. For more information about Stirling Castle visit http://www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk/
We drove by the National Wallace Monument honoring William Wallace the Scottish Hero who led the fight for freedom from England and united the clans of Scotland. Mel Gibson plays the role of William Wallace in the movie Braveheart.
National Wallace Monument
We drove by Stirling Bridge where the first battle of Scottish Independence from England was led by William Wallace and Andrew Moray on September 11, 1297. For more on William Wallace visit http://www.nationalwallacemonument.com/index.html
Site of First Scottish Independence War
We also visited Doune Castle where the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed.
“Hamish” the famous Scottish Highland Cow
So as we made our way through the city I discovered a wee of an interest with the Che Guevara. Then again, I think there’s a general global obsession with him since his image appears everywhere. Good topic for a future blog. In brief, he was the Argentinian born to a well-to-do family, medical student turned Marxist revolutionary who ultimately joined Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. Well, somehow The Scottish must feel a connection with him because I found the following t-shirt of El Che wearing a Scottish hat. I also located a Sudanese restaurant called Che and sporting el Che’s image.
Sudanese Che Restaurant
A 3500 bottle collection of Whisky bottles at The Whisky Experience in Edinburgh
That concludes my wee summary of Scotland.