Travel Tale No. 5 - Volume 3 - SCOTLAND, An Enchanted Land
Part One - Dundee
It would be
impossible to write a travel tale about this beautiful, little country of mine,
with its plethora of rich history in this limited space and time, so I will only
bring you its most salient points to whet your appetite to visit it, if you have
not already done so. One visit to this enchanting country does not seem to be
This will be my first tale in a three-part series
about this country of 30,414 square miles in area, and a population of about
5,116,900. Apart from mainland Scotland, it has over 790 islands, and some are
The kingdom of Scotland was independent until May
1707, when the Acts Union, united it with England, creating the Kingdom of
Britain. Scotland's legal system, however, is different from that of England.
Since the date of this union, Scotland maintained its own culture and national
identity with its distinct education system, Church of Scotland, and
independence of Scots law. However, Scotland is not considered a sovereign state
and does not actively participate in the United Nations or the European Union.
Settlers began arriving in this island 11,000
years ago, and began building their stone houses which are still preserved in
Skara Brae on the Mainland of Orkney. Neolithic burial and ritual sites are
well-preserved in the Northern and Western Isles. Due to the lack of trees they
built their houses with stones which helped keep their history alive.
When the Romans occupied southern and central
Britain, they called it "Britannia." Their occupation of Scotland was no more
than forty years. But this was long enough for them to leave their influence
behind where their laws were concerned, combining their Corpus Juris Civilis,
and mediaeval common law. The Latin for Scotland is "Scotia."
It seems the Scots were too barbaric for even the
Romans so they constructed Hadrian's Wall to keep the tribes away from their
Edward I of England stepped in when in 1286,
after the death of Alexander III, and his grand-daughter Margaret, Maid of
Norway, left the line of Scottish kings broken. He put in John Balliol as a sort
of sub-king, which was not successful so there was an attempt by England to take
control. In the Wars of Scottish Independence William Wallace and Robert de Brus,
Earl of Carrick, opposed such take over and de Brus became king as Robert I, or
"Robert the Bruce." At the triumph over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn
he established the Brus dynasty, and also the independence of the Scots.
"Presented to the citizens of Dundee by the officers and men of the Polish
Army in remembrance of the kindness, hospitality, and good will shown to
them during their stay in the city in the years 1940, 1941, 1942."
A lack of an heir allowed the Stewart dynasty to
emerge and rule Scotland throughout the Middle Ages.
In 1603, James VI, King of Scots, inherited the
throne of England and became James I of England. And in 1707, following English
threats to end trade, the Scots Parliament and the Parliament of England enacted
the twin Acts of Union, thus creating the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Two major Jacobite risings from the Highlands in
1715 and 1745 failed to remove the House of Hanover from the British throne. The
deposed Jacobite Stuarts were popular in the Highlands, especially amongst
Mary Queen of Scots granted this land to the people of the town in 1564,
the cemetery is called The Howff.
Following the Industrial Revolution, Scotland
became one of the most powerful countries in Europe. After WWII, it experienced,
however, an industrial decline. Recently, however, the country has enjoyed
cultural and economic renaissance, mainly thanks to the proceeds from the North
Sea oil and gas and electronics sector, and a resurgent financial services; and
the devolved Scottish Parliament, established by the UK under the Scotland Act
Scots law provides for three types of courts:
civil, criminal and heraldic. The supreme civil court is the Court of Session,
although appeals can be taken to the House of Lords in London. The High Court of
Justiciary is the supreme court. Parliament House, houses both courts in
Edinburgh. The sheriff court is the main criminal and civil court. There are 49
sheriff courts throughout this country. The Court of the Lord Lyon regulates
heraldry in Scotland.
DC Thomson's building,
publisher of The Courier.
DUNDEE, my native city, once known for "jute, jam
and journalism," is the fourth largest city in Scotland with over 150,000
population. The jute mills made many a mill owner very rich, but the last jute
mill closed in the 1970s. The "jam" association is because of Dundee Marmalade
invented by Janet Keiller in 1797, mass produced and exported worldwide.
The "journalism" part refers to DC Thomson & Co.,
publishing firm, founded in 1905, still the largest employer after health and
leisure industries. It publishes children’s comics and magazines, Shout, The
Beano and The Dandy, including the Sunday Post, and The Courier, (in which I
have appeared three times.)
Dundee is located on the River Tay's estuary and
near the North Sea. It is also known as the "City of Discovery," both in honor
of its scientific activities and the RRS Discovery, Robert Falcon Scott's Antartic exploration ship, built and now berthed there.
This fair city houses two universities: the
University of Dundee and University of Abertay. It also harbors the Dundee
Repertory Theatre and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, which plays
regularly at Caird Hall.
Dundee is very near Broughty Ferry with its yacht
club and expensive houses. It is only 20 miles from Perth, the fair city, and
quite near St. Andrews golf course and Carnoustie.
This city has plenty of places of worship,
starting with, Dundee Parish Church, St. Mary's, Steeple Church, St. Paul's
Scottish Episcopal, and St. Andrew's Roman Catholic, where I was baptized. The
Church of Scotland Presbytery consists of 45 congregations. The orthodox
synagogue at Dudhope Park was built in 1970, and there is the Al Kaktoum
Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies, which opened in 2000. The city also has
a Hindu mandir and Sikh gurdwara.
Ninewells Hospital is one of the largest and most
up-to-date in Europe, with an excellent reputation.
While I was there, I used the Queen's Hotel as a
base of operations during my touring as I found its location very desirable for
taking taxis, catching buses from the Seagate Bus Station, and it is only a
couple of blocks away from the railway station.
I also highly recommend Fisher Tours, their buses
are clean, have a toilet, run on time and have very polite drivers. Elderly
Scottish residents travel for free on all these buses, and it is heart warming
to see their senior citizens being treated with such respect as they travel
about enjoying their countryside without any fear for their person.
Dundee has been the birthplace or city of study
for many authors: A.L. Kennedy, Rosamunde Pilcher, Kate Atkinson, Thomas Dick,
Mary Shelley, John Burnside, and yours truly, Alinka Zyrmont.
It also has two professional football teams:
Dundee and Dundee United (my favorite.)
The House of Lindsay, headed by the current Earl
of Crawford and Balcarres, was founded by Sir Walter de Lindsay around 1116. For
more information about our clan, please read: the Lives of the Lindsays by
Alexander William Crawford Lindsay. There are over eighty-four spellings of the
name Lindsay, and my family has volunteered to be part of an international DNA
project. See the Clan Lindsays International web site for further details.
James Chalmers, inventor of adhesive postage stamp, buried here at the
Howff, in front of the main post office in Dundee.
Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet, was born
in Alloway, Ayrshire, in 1759, and died in 1796, at the age of 37, but not
without first living life to the fullest. He was a bit of a bon vivant having
fathered eight illegitimate children by five different women.
(Must have been those cold, damp Scottish nights,
while sipping a glass of wine by the fireplace.) He also liked to drink
In 1786 he published POEMS, CHIEFLY IN THE SCOTTISH DIALECT, some of which were
later to be regarded as classics. The SCOTS MUSICAL MUSEUM, contained the
famous: Auld Lang Syne.
A Red, Red Rose
"O My Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June;
O My Luve's like a melodie
That's sweetly played in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
'Till a' the seas gang dry.
'Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
O I will luve thee still my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only luve,
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.
Robert Burns 1757 - 1796
If you are planning on touring Scotland, please include my birthplace Bonnie
Dundee on your itinerary, you will not be disappointed.
Photos: Alinka Zyrmont