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Issue 47 - In the news

Scotland Magazine Issue 47
October 2009


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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In the news

The eyes have it
New pictures suggest that a remote Neolithic island burial mound may contain carvings of human eyes and eyebrows like those recently discovered on Scotland’s oldest human figurine.

The 5,000-year-old 3.5cm tall stone carved figurine was recently found during the Historic Scotland funded excavation at the Links of Noltland prehistoric settlement on the Orkney island of Westray. Its most distinctive features include heavy, curved eyebrows with dots for eyes beneath.

Archaeologists were keen to compare these with seemingly abstract markings on a lintel stone inside the Holm of Papa Westray tomb, on an island to the north east.

Mike Brooks of the Historic Scotland photographic unit has now taken highquality pictures inside the tomb which seem to suggest a link.

Richard Strachan, senior archaeologist with the Historic Scotland cultural resources team, said: “Initial comparisons do show a similarity in use of this eyebrow motif and may point to the possibility that the markings in the cairn are meant to show human eyebrows and eyes, as the style is very similar to the figurine.” Booking in The Edinburgh Bookshop, a new bookshop for the capital, has opened on the vibrant south side of the city. Its owners, hope to continue the legacy of the original Edinburgh Bookshop, which operated in George Street for many years, by bringing back the core values of customer service, wide-ranging stock selection and well-informed staff.

Doggy dreams Do you find it a struggle to leave your trusty four-legged friend at home or at kennels when going on holiday?

If so then Edinburgh hotel, The Bonham now has the perfect solution with its Doggy Dreams package.

The Bonham is a pooch friendly hotel and has recognised the need to offer something for those who don’t want to travel without their faithful companion.

The Doggy Dreams packages, includes a welcome toy and treat, and in room meal prepared by The Bonham’s chefs and their own dog bed. Dog owners will also be offered the Concierge’s information on nearby parks for walks, pet shops and grooming parlours.

The Doggy Dreams package is priced at £170 per room per night and while your pooch is pampered you will receive a night’s luxury accommodation plus a full Scottish Breakfast.

Harping on
What may be the oldest surviving ‘written’ Scottish instrumental music has been identified on a 16th-century carving from Stirling Castle’s royal palace.

The border of one of the Stirling Heads, which used to decorate palace ceilings, has a series of cryptic markings which could be a Renaissance musical composition. If this is the case, as experts believe, the music could have been played on instruments such as harps, viols, fiddles and lutes. However, evidence from Wales from later in the century, suggests that the composition may have part of the home-grown harp tradition.

Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, Michael Russell, said: “The idea that one of them contains Scotland’s earliest ‘written’ instrumental music came as a complete surprise. It will be a fascinating experiment to see if a professional harpist can play a tune from the markings round the head.” Branching out Pupils at Tomintoul Primary School in Moray last Friday used a tree from a local Crown Estate forest to create benches and flower tubs for their playground. The project was the idea of Vicky Hilton, Countryside Manager for The Crown Estate’s Glenlivet Estate.

Vicky said: “We wanted to support the ‘FSC Friday’ event being run by the Forest Stewardship Council, which highlights responsible forestry and that forests and woodlands in the UK and internationally need to be well-managed.

“We wanted the children to understand where the wood they use comes from and why it is important for it to be traceable and sustainable. In this case we were able to take a tree into the school playground and using a mobile sawmill unit process it into planks and stakes, which the pupils then used to make benches, bird boxes and a raised bed for their wildlife garden.” Teacher Jonathon Marshall said: “Using a real tree to make things we need for the school brought it home to the pupils that as consumers we have a responsibility to choose products that we know come from wellmanaged forests.” Trust twitters A list actor Alan Cumming has joined the ranks of the National Trust for Scotland, becoming the charity’s first ever celebrity ambassador. To mark the occasion, Alan will help launch the Trust’s Twitter feed. Scots-born Alan spent his early years in Dunkeld, a town where the Trust has helped to conserve its distinctive townscape through the restoration of 20 houses.

In brief...

An award-winning Scottish seafood restaurant is scaling the heights in its championing of sustainable fishing.

The Captain’s Galley located in Scrabster Harbour, on the northern shores of Caithness, prides itself on sourcing all of its main produce within a 50 mile radius from its own doorstep. Earlier this month the Captain’s Galley – which has already netted a host of impressive accolades since opening in 2002 – received Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification meaning that the restaurant’s customers can now choose certified sustainable Scottish mackerel and herring – identified by the MSC logo on the menu. In the near future, the restaurant also hopes to source from other Scottish fisheries currently under assessment.

With no clocks or watches – how did the medieval brethren at the island abbey of Inchcolm know when to eat, sleep and pray?

The Augustinian canons lived according to a strict routine, and it was essential that everyone in the community did the right thing at the right time.

A new discovery at Inchcolm Abbey, in the Firth of Forth, reveals that the Augustinian canons who once lived on the island measured time using a mass dial. This specialised form of sundial was carved into the south-facing walls of some churches and monastic buildings.

The one at Inchcolm, which has been broken in two, was discovered by Historic Scotland collections registrar Hugh Morrison and medieval stones expert Mary Márkus.

The First Minister of Scotland has launched a photography competition which aims to capture the inspirational qualities of his constituency. Organised by the Banffshire Coast Tourism Partnership, the competition is challenging locals and visitors alike to produce an image that is their ‘Vision of the Banffshire Coast’.

Submissions close on 28th February 2010.

Those interested can download an entry form from

Vows set in stone
Luxury Scottish wedding venue, Comlongon Castle, is now offering couples the chance to make their wedding a part of history by setting an inscribed wedding stone into the castle’s bridal path.

The dark slate stone will be inscribed with the couple’s names and the date of their ceremony. Elegantly updating the romantic tradition of carving a couple’s initials into a tree trunk, these wedding stones are a beautiful way to commemorate a wedding and will last forever.

Wedding carving at Comlongon Castle dates back centuries, with the initials and dates of eight newly married couples to be found engraved in the original castle walls.

Wedding stone ceremonies will take place in the new sandstone Crannag chapel overlooking the landscaped gardens and out towards the Victorian ponds.

A special ceremony has also been written for those wishing to lay a stone when renewing their vows.

Five star fish fryers honoured Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson recently presented a prestigious award to Low's Traditional Fish & Chips in Westhill, which scooped a nationally recognised Seafish Friers Quality Award.

Shop owner David Low, is delighted with the five-star quality award for exceptionally high standards. “This is a tremendous achievement for David Low and his staff,” Provost Howatson said.

In brief...

A series of archaeological surprises has led Historic Scotland to extend this year’s excavation at a Neolithic site on Orkney.

The Links of Noltland attracted international attention with the discovery of Scotland’s earliest human figurine – dating back around 5,000 years.

The area chosen for this year’s dig was thought to contain one building – a fine farmhouse – but up to three more have now been found.

One contains around ten cow’s skulls arranged in what appears to be a ritualistic way, deliberately deposited within its walls with their horns embedded in the ground.

Three times Formula One World Champion and Scottish sporting legend Sir Jackie Stewart OBE has revealed a new display to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his first World Drivers’ Championship in 1969 and the Year of Homecoming 2009.

Sir Jackie Stewart has loaned his 1971 Championship winning Tyrrell 003 Formula One car to National Museums Scotland.

The 1971 Tyrrell 003 has won more Grand Prix races (eight) than any other individual car and will go on display along with Sir Jackie’s 1971 Monaco Grand Prix and German Grand Prix trophies, as well as his famous tartan rimmed helmet.

Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro has announced a new venture with top celebrity chef, Nick Nairn which will see him assume a consultant role for the hotel’s food and beverage offering.

This is the chef’s first venture of this kind.

It will see Nick and the hotel team create and deliver a unique range of eating experiences across the hotel and develop a destination Nick Nairn signature restaurant at the hotel before the end of the year.

The move reflects Hilton’s commitment to delivering the highest quality food and beverage standards across all hotels and its ongoing dedication to improve the overall dining experience.

Doubletree has been transformed by an £12 million refurbishment.