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Issue 85 - Scotland's Big Heart

Scotland Magazine Issue 85
February 2016


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Scotland's Big Heart

Roddy Martine praises Midlothian

With its Port of Leith serving as a harbour for trading routes to and from the Baltic and Low Countries, it was Edinburgh's strategic position on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth, that forged its capital status. In medieval times, the majority of visitors to Scotland travelled by boat and the inhabitants of the hinterland largely felt safe from unwanted intrusion. When invading armies marched overland from the south and reached Midlothian, they were confronted by a natural buffer zone of seven hills dominated by a formidable castle on a rock and a 12 mile coastal access into the North Sea. The Romans may have built a fort at Cramond, but they eventually withdrew to build walls to keep the early Celts/Picts/Scots at a distance.

In this issue, the city of Edinburgh is explored under the guidance of Charles Douglas handing over to Ian Gardner, director of the Rosslyn Chapel Trust, who is ideally positioned to reveal the perhaps lesser known attractions of Midlothian. As the seat of Scottish government before the 1707 Act of Union; the birthplace of 18th Century Scottish Enlightenment and from 1998, the home of a devolved Scottish Parliament, the region, once known as Edinburghshire, reverberates with history, both ancient and in the making. Take, for example, Borthwick Castle, our featured historic mansion at Middleton where Mary Queen of Scots fled with her lover Lord Bothwell for safety in 1567.

Also in this issue, John Hannavy celebrates Scotland's six UNESCO World Heritage Sites – St Kilda; the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh; Neolithic Orkney; New Lanark; the Antonine Wall, and The Forth (Rail) Bridge. For those who are planning some Spring or Summer hillwalking, Keith Fergus recommends his favourite easy summits from Galloway to Lochaber.

To emphasise that civil disobedience is not a modern phenomena, James Irvine Robertson recalls the Lords of Inobedience who disrupted the streets of Edinburgh in the 16th Century, and he also pays a visit to the noble House of Hamilton. The television broadcaster Sheena McDonald sets off on a bird watching holiday to Shetland, and our Artist in Residence is Fiona Grant Robertson who for the past two years has been working at Newhailes, the splendid National Trust for Scotland neo-palladian villa near Musselburgh which was once home to a branch of the distinguished Dalrymple family.

I should also draw the attention of readers to our annual Photo Competition. Your response last year can only be described as spectacular and I very much hope that this time you will again excel yourselves.