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Scotland Magazine Issue 42
December 2008


This article is 9 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Across the world they scattered, those brave men, women and children who launched forth from the rugged coasts of Scotland to venture across the seas into the territories of the New World. They were pioneers; they were fugitives from justice; they were missionaries and reformers. In the majority, however, they were simple, honest folk in search of a better life.

Countless thousands of them suffered enormously in their quest, but it was their spirit and determination that helped to build the foundations of North America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The Scots are an enterprising race, but never more so than when abroad. Wherever they found themselves, be it the Americas, Australasia, Africa or mainland Europe, they made their mark. For such a small nation, the pioneering influence of its sons and daughters was truly astonishing, and, as a result, the worldwide dispersal of the Scots throughout the centuries has not only prospered, but created a network of international friendship among their descendants.

Today, there are more than 500 active Scottish Clan and Family Associations registered around the world. Each of these organisations plays an important part in the preservation and celebration of Scottish traditions.

International Gatherings of the Clans have been held in the past, but never on this scale. This, the largest homecoming of Scots in living memory, will take place in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, during the weekend of 25th July 2009. The largest ever Highland Games, which will host the World Heavy Athletic Championships, is scheduled to take place within the inspiring surroundings of Edinburgh’s Royal Park under the patronage of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Rothesay, or as he is perhaps better known, the Prince of Wales.

At the heart of the weekend there will be a Grand Clan Parade stepping out from Holyrood Park to the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, followed by a spellbinding Historical Clan Pageant. Edinburgh will have seen nothing like this since it was occupied by Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s Jacobite army in 1745, or the colourful visit of King George IV in 1822, an event that was orchestrated by that great Scottish novelist, Sir Walter Scott.

The Gathering 2009 is the culmination of several years of worldwide research and negotiation by the Lord Sempill, Chief of Clan Sempill, who is also a leading force among the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs. To this end, Jamie Sempill has been travelling the international Highland games circuit recruiting friends and acting as an an ambassador for Scotland. On thee consecutive weekends, for example, he attended Highland gatherings on three separate continents – Australia, the USA, and Scotland – the highlight of which was his nomination as Chief of the Aberdeen Games in New South Wales.

As part of VisitScotland’s Homecoming Scotland strategy for next year, the Gathering 2009 is seen as the ideal culmination, or starting off point, for everyone of Scottish descent in search of the locations from whence their ancestors came. North, South, East or West, Scotland awaits you.

What better opportunity could there possibly be to experience Scottish hospitality at its most colourfully vibrant and best?