Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Historical Accounts of Northern Scotland

Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland by Samuel Johnson. This is a travel narrative of an 83-day journey that Johnson made with his Scottish friend, James Boswell, in 1773. In particular, they cover the islands of the Hebrides.


Burt's Letters by Edmund Burt. This is a collection of letters that Edmund Burt wrote in 1730 from northern Scotland, specifically from Inverness, to acquaintances in London. His accounts include daily life experience from cooking, personal hygiene (the standards of which shocked him), to weddings, funerals, public executions, and witch activities.

Everyday Life on an Old Highland Farm (Parts I and II), by I.F. Grant.


Memoirs of a Highland Lady, an autobiography by Elizabeth Grand of Rothiemurchus (1787-1885).

Friday, July 16, 2010

My First Experience at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

As a native North Carolinian with lots of Scottish ancestry, I've always wanted to attend the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. It was a special weekend to be selling my debut novel, Highland Blessings, as my first experience at the games. To put it into perspective for you, the Highland Games to those with Scottish ancestry is like the Olympics to the rest of the world--and even more with a tradition of culture and history combined.

The first thing I want to tell you is that I had a wonderful time. There was such great hospitality and I have a lot of respect and admiration for the Director, Frank Vance, and his whole team who pulled off a spectacular event--even with stormy weather. The program is excellent and detailed, I'm still reading about the people who were there and those who have made an impact during the early years to make the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games what they have become today. it is full of so much history that this program is a keeper. 

The rains kept me from wearing my 16th century highland gown as I didn't want the hem ruined. Unlike a kilt, my gown reaches the ground. I'll have other opportunities as I hope to attend the Renaissance Festival in October and the Foothill Highland Games in November. 

I sold out of books by 2:30 on Saturday afternoon. Next time, I plan to bring more books! It did give me an opportunity to walk around the games visit with some of our clan tents. We are members of the Fraser, Henderson and MacFarlane Clans. I plan to join Clan Gregor as soon as I can get around to it. I purchased my daughter a Scottish Clan bear and some bagpipe earrings for myself as souvenirs. 

The games are actually held on McRae Meadow with a gorgeous view of Grandfather Mountain in the near distance. Bagpipes played the whole time and I can honestly say I was still hearing bagpipes in my head a couple of days later. The feeling and nostalgia of the Highland Games stays with you for a while and I think that is part of the magic of the event. 

What kind of Games and Entertainment are at the Highland Games?
Competitions range from telephone pole toss (called cabers), bags of hay or (sheafs), Lochaber trump, pipes and drums bands, highland dancing, Scottish country dancing, Grizzly Bike Race, The Bear--a 5-mile foot race, hammer throw, stone toss, weight-bar throw, wrestling, rope tug-of-war. Children even have their own set of competitions and rules.

Track & Field events include: the 100, 220, 400, 880 yard dashes, 1-mile and 2-mile runs, long jump, high jump, triple jump, 26-mile marathon.

You'll experience modern Celtic bands, harpists, parade of tartans, border collies who are trained to herd sheep, fiddle playing, wool weaving, Scottish food and vendors with all kinds of Scottish memorabilia. Individual clan tents surround the outside of the track field where you can get information about the history of your surname an which clan your family line might have belonged to and how to join clans of interest and connections to your ancestry.