Series in which Paul Murton uncovers the history of Scotland’s most famous clans. He begins his journey by exploring his own MacGregor ancestry. In the 17th century this Highland clan reached such heights of infamy that it was outlawed by the State and the name MacGregor became punishable by death.
For almost 400 years the MacDonalds dominated the Highlands and Islands of Scotland but at the end of the 15th century this mighty clan was ripped apart by a bitter family feud. The struggle between father and son had disastrous consequences from which the MacDonalds never recovered.
During the 16th century terrible atrocities were committed as rival Highland clans battled for supremacy. The Age of Feuds and Forays was a high point for Gaelic culture but one stained with blood. One clan in particular flourished during this violent chapter in Scottish history and its name was MacLeod.
There can be few Highland Clans more mired in bloodshed than Clan Campbell. The Campbells combined an understanding of the law with formidable might to become the most powerful and influential clan in the country. But in the middle of the 17th century Scotland was ravaged by a bloody civil war that gave the Campbell’s bitter rivals, the MacDonalds an opportunity to exact revenge. Thousands died as these two mighty Highland Clans battled for supremacy.
Pancake Day is also known as Shrove Tuesday in the UK and takes place on Tuesday 13th February this year. It marks the last day before the Christian festival of Lent which is generally a period of abstinence. It is customary to eat pancakes on this day as pancake recipes used up food that was traditionally given up for Lent such as eggs, milk, butter and sugar.
Wherever you are in the world, join us in making the perfect pancakes with this recipe:
100g plain flour
1. Pour the flour through a sieve into a large mixing bowl and dig a little hole in the centre. Add the eggs into the hole and pour in about 50ml milk. Start whisking the mixture together from the centre and beat until you have a smooth, thick paste. Then, continue to whisk whilst steadily pouring in the rest of the milk until you have a batter that is the same consistency of a relatively thick single cream.
2. Grease the frying pan with some of the butter and heat over a moderate temperature. Then, pour a small part of the mixture over the pan, tilting it to allow the mixture to settle in a thin and even layer. Return the pan to the heat and allow the mixture to cook for around 30 seconds.
3.To cook the pancake on the other side, you can either turn it over carefully with a spatula, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can flip it using the pan (we only recommend this flipping technique for more experienced pancake-makers!). Cook for a futher 30 seconds and you should have the perfect golden pancake! Repeat stages 3 and 4 for each extra pancake. If you follow this recipe, you should have enough mixture to make around 8 pancakes.
4. Add your favourite toppings! For this section, you can add savoury toppings such as ham and cheese for a lunchtime snack or sweet toppings to make a dessert. We love to top our pancakes with lemon and sugar, jam and ice cream or Nutella and strawberries.
St. Andrew’s Day is here, giving us a chance to celebrate and remember the patron saint of Scotland. The date is being marked by a Google Doodle – but who was St Andrew and is today a public holiday for people living in Scotland?
St. Andrew’s Day (or in Scottish Gaelic, ‘Là Naomh Anndrais’) is a bank holiday in Scotland, marking the country’s patron saint. It’s the feast day of Saint Andrew and is celebrated on the 30th November each year. Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, and St. Andrew’s Day is Scotland’s official national day.
Although most commonly associated with Scotland, Saint Andrew is also the patron saint of Greece, Romania and Russia. In Germany, the feast day is celebrated as Andreasnacht (“St. Andrew’s Night“), in Austria with the custom of Andreasgebet (“St. Andrew’s Prayer“), and in Poland as Andrzejki (“Andrews”).
St Andrew’s Day, the perfect excuse to try all the traditional Scottish meals!
For St. Andrew’s Day you’ll certainly see the national flag everywhere. However, do you know the origin of the Scottish flag? According to legend, in 832 A.D. King Óengus II (or King Angus) led the Picts and Scots in battle against the Angles, King Angus and his men were surrounded and he prayed for deliverance. During the night Saint Andrew, who was martyred on a saltire cross, appeared to Angus and assured him of victory. On the following morning, a white saltire against the background of a blue sky appeared to both sides. The Picts and Scots were heartened by this, but the Angles lost confidence and were defeated. This saltire design has been the Scottish flag ever since.
How to say ‘Happy St Andrew’s Day’ in Scottish Gaelic
To really get into the the St Andrew’s Day spirit you should say: Latha fèill Anndrais sona dhut when you want to say it to one person and Latha fèill Anndrais sona dhuibh when you want to wish a Happy St Andrew’s Day to a group of people.
Today is Friday the 13th, and many people will be nervously watching the skies for sudden lightning strikes or falling anvils.
Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition. It occurs when the 13th day of the month in the Gregorian calendar falls on a Friday, which can be the case at least once every year, and up to three times a year. If you are worried about what’s in store this time then you’re not alone. One option is to stay tucked up in bed all day to avoid any potential Friday the 13th bad luck that may come your way or, alternatively, you could ignore the superstitious chatter and embrace it.
Where does our superstition originate from?
Though folklorists claim there is no written evidence for the superstition before the nineteenth century, the date has long been connected to notorious events in history and religion.
Some historians have claimed it was the day on which Eve bit the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, the great flood began and the builders of the Tower of Babel.
According to Catholic belief, one of the most significant events in their religion – the crucifixion of Jesus Christ – took place on a Friday the 13.
In the New Testament there were 13 people present for Jesus’s last supper on Maundy Thursday, the day before Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday.
From the Knights Templar to Dan Brown
On Friday October 13th 1307 Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar.
In his novel Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown cites the 14th century execution of Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay, which took place on Friday the 13th. He cursed the Pope and the King of France, and this spread misfortune down the ages.
Bad things that have happened on Friday 13
In 1976, New Yorker Daz Baxter was apparently so afraid of Friday the 13th he decided the safest place to stay was his bed. Mr Baxter was killed when the floor of his apartment block collapsed that day.
In 2009, the £13.5 million SAW ride at Thorpe Park had its opening premiere, only to be shut down due to a computer programming fault. Spooky.
In 2010, lightning struck a 13-year-old Suffolk boy on Friday 13th at 13:13. Definitely unlucky for him.
During the early 1990s retired bus conductor Bob Renphrey also vowed to stay in bed on the superstitious day after some seriously bad luck. The Welshman has crashed fours cars, fallen into a river and been made redundant on previous Friday the 13ths.
The ‘statistics’ of Friday 13th
There have been various studies released over the years that either prove or disprove the Friday 13 myth.
In 1993 a British Medical Journal study claimed there was a “significant” increase in incidences on a Friday the 13, but the author of the study later confessed it was “a bit of fun” as traditional in the Christmas edition.
Meanwhile, Dutch researchers found you were actually less likely to be injured on Friday 13th. The study hypothesised that people were preventively more careful on the day as a result of the superstition.
Did you know that 70% of the UK’s gin is produced in Scotland?
“Scotland has got a rich heritage of distilling …” according to Isle of Harris Distillery production manager Kenny Maclean. But this doesn’t just apply to our world-renowned single malt Scotch whisky.
Well-known brands such as Gordon’s, Tanqueray and Hendricks are produced here, but there’s also been a surge in the production of small-batch handcrafted artisan gins resulting in a wonderful selection of over 100 gins, produced by over 50 makers, to choose from. Some offer visitor and tasting experiences and some even offer the opportunity to try making your own.
Queuing, tea and talking about the weather. Are us Brits really that predictable? A few UK based Europeans who we spoke to seemed to think so. What’s more, they wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ll say ‘cheers’ to that.