Saturday, 27 March 2010


Mary, Queen of Scots, in an 1885 engraving
Mary Queen of Scots

The most talked about Queen in British History was Scottish Queen Mary, Born in 1542 and died in 1567.
Mary was brought up in France  but by birthright was the rightful Queen to the Scottish throne although England at this time did not recognize Scottish rule she could very well have been the Queen of England as well, she was thought to be quite human for Royalty at that time, she had a passion for people.
Mary was crowned after her Father James IV had passed away just as Mary was still in her infancy.
Henry the VIII of England and Henry the second of France acknowledged the rights of the Scottish throne and tried to get Mary to marry one of their sons when she was of age at that time it was believed to be 13 upwards a girl was able to marry.

Saturday, 20 March 2010


Edinburgh has a huge coastline stretching from the Forth road and rail Bridges to the outskirts of Edinburgh, a particular place I was familiar with as a lad was called "cramond" initially a small village was built there, rather like a fishing community housing some old houses and a small port people use these days for sailing.
We visited cramond a lot when we were younger, it was an adventure playground if you like for young people exploring especially in the summer and as I have discussed before this was an entry to walk to "cramond Island"
As well as the river Almond, flowing there was also a small waterfall which fascinated us, the river was quite wide and no one dared brave going in, one thing the water was freezing and secondly it was quite powerful so you could be easily swept away if not careful.
Cramond © Ian Dick
Cramond Village

Sunday, 14 March 2010


Today friends we venture into the dark World of Ghosts, some believe, some do not, but sometimes there are no explanations into the phenomenon.
Edinburgh like all major Historic Cities had its moments, imagine the buildings hundreds of Years old, all have a story to tell, this particular story centres around the High Street area of the Town.
City Cross was famous for all sorts of important and Royal proclamations, including the Coronation of our present Queen Elizabeth in 1954.
Almost 400 years earlier another famous announcement was made this time it was an event predicted before it actually happened.
On an August evening in 1513 a Merchant named Richard Lawson was taking in the air on the first floor Gallery of the House when he saw a ghostly Herald appear at the cross. This Herald proceeded to announce the name of men who were soon to meet violent deaths!
The list began with James the IV followed by the crème of Scottish Society and also Richards name was proclaimed.

After hearing his own name mentioned he fell to his knees in a transfixed state.
Even after hearing his prediction Richard still marched South following his King.In 1512 King Henry VIII attacked France,the French had persuaded the Scots to invade England from the North were James the IV had assembled one of the biggest Scottish Armies ever in the history of Scotland.
He had at least 35,000 men to invade England,
The English army was lead by the Earl of Surrey,they clashed in September 1513 at Flodden field. The Scots were massacred,The King was hacked to pieces,along with 15 lowland Earls,70 Barons and hundreds of Knights.

Ten Thousand perished some families almost ceased to exist, Edinburgh's Lord Provost Sir Alexander Lauder was also slain beside many of the Cities brave Citizens.
Of the list read by the Herald only Richard Lawson survived!, he told his story to Lindsay of Pitscottie a Scottish Historian,not averse to the odd ghost story,The account of Lindsay's findings has been told for over 400 years, The Ghostly Herald was never seen again !

Saturday, 13 March 2010


Calton Hill in Edinburgh is a famous landmark, set directly in the City Centre. Housed on this hill is an Athenian Acropolis , unfinished project started in the early 1800,s it is titled the "National Monument"
It was just after Napoleons defeat copied after the sculpture in Athens. This was to commemorate the dead from the Napoleonic wars.

As always with such a major project they ran out of money before it was completed, hence why it was nicknamed "Edinburgh's" shame? cannot understand why because even unfinished it is beautiful.
In my younger days we used this place as an adventure playground, It is approximately five minutes a way from were I used to live when I lived in Edinburgh.
We used to grab cardboard boxes, yes you heard right folks lol cardboard boxes, we used them to slide down Calton Hill, the grass was so shiny that it enabled you to slide down very fast this was cool.
From the top of Calton hill you get excellent views of the City, Arthurs Seat and Salisbury crags, as well as the Main City Centre Princess street.
Also housed on top of Calton Hill is a very old Observatory which is now called "Camera Obscura" for lovers of stargazing this is the place to visit. There is also a Monument of Admiral Nelson who led the British troops to victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, in 1805, it was said that ships set their navigation with the special chronometer fitted on the monument .
Mostly these days Calton Hill is a Venue for the Edinburgh Festival Grand fireworks display which is a superb array of lights and bangs lol.

Sunday, 7 March 2010


We are all aware that Witchcraft was very real in the early Centuries in England, Women were either drowned or burnt to the stake after being accused of being a Witch, the funny thing was (not for them off course) if they died they were "innocent" if they survived after being dunked they were Witches? obviously a very real and terrifying ordeal for everyone around that period.It got to the stage that if one person did not like the other they were reported as being a Witch and were subjected to these bazaar tortures so it must have been pretty awful worrying if you were going to be next!
Surprising to me it happened in Scotland and here are my discoveries on Witchcraft in Scotland .

Between 1479 and 1722 more than 4000 men and women were burnt as Witches in Scotland, of that number 300 were executed on Castlehill in Edinburgh, during the reign of James IV of Scotland.
In this period Witchcraft was evident all over the World it seemed like an epidemic had happened and the World had to be rid of those people, it culminated from religious reformation worldwide.
In 1640 The Scott's Assembly warned Ministers to be careful of people being "charmed" and taken in.
People were accused of being under the "Devils spell" willingly while satisfying their own wicked ways. identified trying to establish if the individual made a pact with the devil. As always the people accused were poor, disliked, and never received a fair trial,(what's new) 

Witch Hunters were employed to "rake out the witches" to be subjected to the tortures which lay ahead.
Torture was used in Scotland, however unlike the English the authorities in Scotland accepted  a confession under torture,( tell me who wouldn't have admitted it under that pain?)
One way of identifying if they were witches was if they had the devils mark, usually moles, scars or other skin blemishes all humans have on their body, there were supposedly made by the devils teeth?
Pins were used by the Witchfinder, if the blemishes produced no pain after being pricked or did not bleed, then they were the devils mark!

The Witch Hunters were paid on commision so needles to say many people innocent or not were murdered for them to gain money.
In the late 1700's an elderly lady who was eccentric was tried for being a witch in Edinburgh, very near to were Princess Street Gardens are now, this formed part of the defences for Edinburgh in the early 1400's
This old lady would be found muttering to herself, and acting strange around people therefore someone in their wisdom thought she must be a witch! she was trussed up by toes and fingers, dunked into the loch and as I said earlier if she drowned she was innocent? if she floated she was guilty? air pockets in her gown made her float to the top of the Loch hence it was discovered she was indeed a witch? she was carried back up to Edinburgh Castle, strangled then burnt to the stake as so many people before her?

After a few Years when only the poor were deemed witches it climbed the higher classes, then Royalty was involved,in 1590 the Berwick witches story included sorcery, politics and treason.
When the Bailie of Tranent accused a female servant of witchcraft it all kicked off, he personally tortured her with thumbscrews after it was discovered she had the "devils mark"  naturally the pain made her confess however she implicated many others, amongst the accused were a doctor, a Lords daughter , a teacher and a midwife.
Also implicated were Royal claims to the throne, he was arrested put into prison but managed to escape, only to be caught again. Tortured he still did not admit to being a witch and claimed his innocence throughout his ordeal., this was put down to heavy influence by the devil himself.
Burning on the stake the Teacher still professed his innocence. All of the people implicated were put to death regardless of innocence being proved.

BESSIE DUNLOP  tried for witchcraft in 1756 accused of having  a meeting with a man who died 29 years previous?

ISOBEL YOUNG  burnt to the stake in 1600 for making people ill???

JAMES YOUNG  accused in 1608 of  meeting the devil and casting a spell on a farmers crops?

Can you imagine, what would happen nowadays? blemishes on the skin means u are in league with the devil, lol im having plastic surgery, it goes to show, Humans are fearful of the paranormal and in the above cases it went to the extreme.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


As we are all aware, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde were fictitious Characters by Scottish Born, Robert Louis Stevenson who also wrote the famous book Treasure Island, a childhood favourite of mine and a game we played in the woods at the beach at Cramond in the early Seventies.
But the question is, who did Stevenson base the Jekyll character on? well it was another man from Edinburgh called Deacon Brodie.
Deacon Brodie came from a well respected Edinburgh family, his Father was a high earner making fine cabinets and was a deacon in the incorporated rights of carpenters and other tradesmen, as well as a member of the Town council.
Young Deacon was to follow in his Fathers footsteps and end up the Deacon himself in 1781. When Deacons father died he was left a massive fortune as well as his family home in the Lawn Market in the Centre of Edinburgh.
Deacon Brodie rubbed shoulders with all Edinburghs elite and became a member of the exclusive Cape Club a high Society Club in Edinburgh.