Douglas MacQueen's blog

Cailleach the great Gaelic Goddess of Winter

In Gaelic mythology (Irish, Scottish and Manx) Cailleach is a creation goddess. She is commonly known as the Cailleach Bhéara and in Scotland also as Beira, Queen of Winter.  In partnership with the goddess Brìghde, they rule the seasons. Cailleach governs the winter months between Samhainn (1 November ) and Bealltainn (1 May), while Brìghde rules the summer months between Bealltainn and Samhainn. It is said that Cailleach carries a staff that freezes the ground.

Scotland's Loch Ness Monster has a busy year

In 2017 the Loch Ness Monster has had more official sightings than any other year this century. The most recent sighting was on 2 November 2017. Dr Jo Knight from Lancaster University and her nine-year-old son photographed  what appears to be a fin or similar at 11.25 am from a cruise boat on a visit to the Loch.

Commemorations to take place in Scotland celebrating achievements of Dr Elsie Inglis

This month Elsie Inglis (16 August 1864 – 26 November 1917) will be honoured for her achievements during World War One at events planned by the Scottish Commemorations Panel. Elsie Inglis was an innovative Scottish doctor, suffragist, and founder of the Scottish Women's Hospitals. The centenary of the death and funeral of Dr Elsie Inglis will be marked on 26 and 29 November respectively in Edinburgh. There will be an Act of Remembrance at Dean Cemetery on 26 November and a Service of Thanksgiving at St Giles Cathedral on 29 November, where there is a plaque to commemorate her work. 

Toy pirate ship launched from Scotland continues on its remarkable journey

Peterhead (Scottish Gaelic: Ceann Phàdraig) is a town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Peterhead was founded by fishermen and became a significant fishing and trading port. Given its history it was an appropriate place for the launch of another ship at the end of May 2017. This time it was a toy Playmobil pirate ship launched by two brothers Ollie and Harry Ferguson, aged eight and five. It carries a message asking anyone who finds the boat, named Adventure, to put it back into the sea.  

The Gunpowder Plot to kill King James

November 5th is commemorated by some in Britain as the date of the so-called Gunpowder Plot. Traditionally it is the date when bonfires, with an effigy of Guy Fawkes on top, are lit and this is accompanied by fireworks.  Guy Fawkes (April 1570 – 31 January 1606), also known as Guido Fawkes, was a member of a group of English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. They planned to assassinate King James I, (James VI of Scotland) and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne.

Fairy Pools community land acquisition on Skye and need for long term tourism strategy

On the Isle of Skye (Scottish Gaelic: An t-Eilean Sgitheanach), the belief in the existence of fairies, or “the little people,” goes back to prehistoric times. Something that they share with some other Celtic peoples. A number of places on Skye are associated with this local legend. Locations like naturally occurring pools typically under waterfalls are seen as a favoured site for the little people to gather.

Scottish island of Sanday in the Inner Hebrides to get its first road

The small Scottish Hebridean island of Sanday (Scottish Gaelic: Sandaigh) is to get its first road. When built it will replace a track that gets covered by water at high tide. The road will be a mile and a half long. Sanday is connected by a bridge to the larger neighbouring Isle of Canna. The Isle of Canna Community Development Trust is helping with a crowdfunding campaign to raise more than £31,400 to pay for the construction of the road.

Ancient Pictish carving found during work on Scottish road building project

A large Pictish stone carving has been uncovered during a road building project in Pertnshire (Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt) in Scotland. The carving features a walking figure with a distinctive hairstyle and holding a spear.  The weapon is typical of spears used in the mid first millennium AD. Contractors stopped works in the area to allow archaeologists from Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust and Culture Perth & Kinross to inspect the stone and the site of its discovery.

Mysterious face that looks down from the bell tower of St Salvator's Chapel

The University of St Andrews is the oldest university in Scotland and was founded between 1410 and 1413. It is in the town of St Andrews (Scottish Gaelic: Cill Rìmhinn) which on the northeast coast of the historic county of Fife (Fìobha). The university occupies historic and modern buildings located throughout the town, including St Salvator's Chapel. Noted as a rare and beautiful example of Late Gothic architecture it was founded in 1450 as a part of Bishop James Kennedy's College of the Holy Saviour. The University has two collegiate chapels.

Ghostly portrait of Mary Queen of Scots emerges from 16th Century painting

A unfinished portrait believed to be of Mary, Queen of Scots has been found beneath a 16th Century painting. The hidden drawing was discovered by conservator Dr Caroline Rae from the Courtauld Institute. An X-ray revealed the image underneath the 1589 portrait of Sir John Maitland, Lord Chancellor of Scotland, painted by Dutch portrait artist Adrian Vanson for Mary's son King James VI, two years after she was executed. The Maitland painting is part of a National Trust collection and went on display this weekend at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

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