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Archive for scotland

Monuments to the Horse

By Linda Tancs

Two Clydesdales served as real life models for The Kelpies, a pair of steel behemoth equines honoring horses and their contribution to society. Presiding next to a new extension to the Forth and Clyde Canal in Falkirk, Scotland, the world’s largest equine sculptures represent an impressive feat of engineering completed in just 90 days in 2013. Nearly 100 feet high, each horse weighs 360 tons and is adorned with 928 unique stainless steel skin-plates. The best way to experience The Kelpies is by a 30-minute guided tour that takes you inside a structure. The site is accessible via road, bus, rail or boat with easy rail/bus transits from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Falkirk High.

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A Celebration of Scottish History

By Linda Tancs

For over 150 years, Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland has been telling the story of Scotland from prehistoric times to the present day. It also follows the Scots whose ideas, innovations and leadership took them across the world. Likewise, world cultures are represented as is the history of the planet from meteorites to monsters of the deep. The multi-disciplinary venue on Chambers Street continues to grow, with 10 new Science and Technology and Art and Design galleries opening last year and new Ancient Egypt and East Asia galleries planned for 2018.

Pomp in Edinburgh

By Linda Tancs

From its early days, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been an international favorite, with 70 percent of its attendants coming from outside Scotland and half of that percentage from overseas. The word “tattoo” comes from the closing-time cry in the inns in the Low Countries during the 17th and 18th centuries—“Doe den tap toe” (“Turn off the taps”). The event is a musical extravaganza set amidst the backdrop of Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle. From the bleacher seats you’ll experience the sights and sounds of dragoon guards, cavalry bands, royal regiments and international dancers and drum corps. This year’s event takes place from August 5 to August 27.

Glasgow’s Catacombs

By Linda Tancs

In Glasgow, Scotland, the catacombs aren’t the usual subterranean ossuary, the likes of which you’ll find in Paris. It might feel just as spooky, though, except for the new steak and gin restaurant gracing the brick vaults. We’re talking about Glasgow Central, the busiest train station in Scotland and the second busiest outside London. You can tour the entire station—from its iconic roof (with 48,000 imposing panes of glass) to its boiler rooms and tunnels and, yes, the catacombs. This is a unique guided tour of the operational areas of a hallmark of Victorian engineering. Wear sensible shoes and dress for the weather.

A Classic Combination in Scotland

By Linda Tancs

Scotland’s Dumfries House is an all-around classic, inside and out.  Set amidst 2,000 rustic acres in Ayrshire, the 18th century country house is a neoclassical gem designed by Robert Adam, one of the most important British architects of his day.  Inside, the house enjoys the distinction of holding one of the largest collections of Chippendale furniture in the world, a classic by any standard.  A royal restoration begun in 2007 saved the property from an uncertain future.

Shetland’s Ancient Capital

By Linda Tancs

On the southern peninsula of Mainland, Shetland, you’ll find its ancient capital, Scalloway.  Derived from Old Norse meaning “bay of the huts,” the picturesque village with Viking roots can trace its habitation back to the Bronze Age.  Its breathtaking view is punctuated at the Scord, an approach by road that encompasses the harbor, the castle, a bridge and some islets.  The four-story castle dominates the village and is probably one of the only fortified structures that a visitor can see by obtaining a key from the local hotel.

The Land of the Picts

By Linda Tancs

The county of Angus in Scotland has been dubbed the “birthplace for Scotland,” a site where the Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320 at Arbroath Abbey during the Wars of Independence.  It’s also a county rich in Pictish history.  Over 2000 years ago Scotland was roamed by warrior Pictish tribes, a source of irritation for the Romans who erected Hadrian’s Wall in northern England to keep them out.  You can learn more about Scotland’s ancient past at Pictavia in Haughmuir, an all-weather museum sporting interactive exhibits and artifacts exploring the life and times of this mysterious people.  From there, set out on the Pictish Trail, where stone relics bear silent witness to the tribes’ lifestyle, education and culture.  Reputedly, one out of every 10 Scots is descended from the Picts.  Are you one of them?

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