In Scotland with Dale Hubert

Gardenstown, Scotland
Gardenstown, Scotland

This Flat Stanley spent July 2009 in Scotland with Dale Hubert. The first stop was Gardenstown. There is a ruin on the hilltop that was begun in the year 1004 to commemorate a battle between the Vikings and the Picts. viking church

Speaking of the Picts and Scotland, do you know how the the thistle became associated with Scotland? Take a look a this giant thistle and think about this story. A very long time ago, the Vikings were attacking a group of Picts in the night. The Vikings were trying to sneak up on the sleeping Picts, so the Vikings were running barefoot across the countryside. Suddenly a Viking stepped barefoot onto a giant thistle and as he cried out in pain he awakened the Picts and the surprise attack was ruined.thistle

The Picts

Notice the size of the large standing stone behind the mseum guides.
Notice the size of the large standing stone behind the museum guides.

Little is known about the Picts. The Romans called them the Painted People and that’s where the word “Pict” comes from. As you drive through the Sottish countryside you can see Pictish Standing Stones. There are some examples of Standing Stones in Groan House Museum. This is a great place. There’s a video that outlines the history of the Picts, the staff is friendly and helpful and there’s free admission and parking!

Pict stonework often included crosses
Pict stonework often included crosses

Loch NessNessie 5s

Flat Stanley visited perhaps the most famous place in Scotland, Loch Ness. Even though the experts agree that the existence of a monster verges on the impossible, and most of the photos have been proven as fakes and the photographers themselves have admitted to hoaxes, there’s still a bit of magic connected with Scotland’s deepest loch (lake) and people still peer into the misty distances hoping to see Nessie.

Urquhart Castle and Trebuchet

Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle with very thick stone walls
Urquhart Castle with very thick stone walls

Trbuchet ammunition
Trebuchet ammunition
Reconstruction of a Trebuchet

On the shore of Loch Ness is the ancient Urquhart Castle that legend says was begun in the year 565. Much of what exists today has been reconstructed. Nearby is a trebuchet, a siege weapon that used a counterweight of many tons to launch stone balls. Urquhart Castle changed hands many times and was eventually destroyed by placing barrels of gunpowder in the gatehouse and blowing it up so the enemy could never use it. It has since been partially restored as a tourist attraction.

The Lighthouse

Scotland’s first official lighthouse was built on top of a old castle.

Scotland's first official lighthouse was built on top of an old castle.

One the earliest forms of navigation technology was the lighthouse. This was a way for sailors to tell not only how close there were to shore, but which shore they where nearing. They could tell which shore they were close to because each lighthouse had its own signature. The signature was the order of flashes per minute. Sailors could therefore see the flashing light, look at the chart, and know which lighthouse they were nearing.

lighthouse lens 5-s

lighthouse with Kate-s

The lenses were amazing and even now, as they are on display they cast 3D reflections and almost look like holograms. The lighthouse had a giant clockwork mechanism that caused the light to rotate. Large weights made the mechanism work. The lighthouse keeper had to pull up the large weights every half hour so the light would keep turning.

Looking down inside a lighthouse at the spiral stairs. The chains held weights that made the clockwork mechanism rotate the light.
Looking down inside a lighthouse at the spiral stairs. The chains held weights that made the clockwork mechanism rotate the light.

The lighthouse keeper also had to pump the fuel tanks every half hour to keep the pressure up so the flame would keep burning. So he would pull up the weights using a winch, then 15 minutes later he would use a hand pump to pump air into the fuel tank, then 15 minutes later he would have to rewind the clockwork mechanism, and that was his part of his job for the night. He was also expected to record weather conditions such as wind speed, wind direction and temperature. The lighthouse keeper was even required to paint the lighthouse and keep it in good condition. When it was too foggy to see the lighthouse, a foghorn was used. The foghorn had its own signature as well. Before the foghorn was invented, cannons were fired so when sailors heard the signature of the explosions they would have an idea where they were on the sea.

This cannon was used to warn ships in fog that the shore was nearby.
This cannon was used to warn ships in fog that the shore was nearby. A glass lens is beside it.

Battle of Culloden

One of the battles that lives on in the memories of the Scots is Culloden. William led his Hanoverian army against the Prince Charlie’s Jacobites. The Jacobites were Scots who wanted Bonnie Prince Charlie to become king. It seems that everything went wrong for the Jacobites.

Culloden tour guide
John, the tour guide on the fields of Culloden

It all started well, with the Jacobites well-placed on the field of Culloden, waiting for William’s army. They then discovered that William had given his army the day off to celebrate his birthday and the Jacobites had been waiting in the cold and wet for an army that wasn’t going to attack that day. There was much discussion and the Jacobites finally decided they would march all night to where William’s army was celebrating, and launch a surprise attack by first light of the morning. So they set off in the darkness. Unfortunately, after marching most of the night, the Jacobites realized they wouldn’t reach William’s army in time, so had to turn around and head back to Culloden. They set up their positions again but not quite the same as before. In their haste they were badly positioned with boggy wet ground in front of some of them and a stone wall in front of others. They were tired after marching all night and waiting the day before and many of them hadn’t eaten for three or four days. William’s army arrived and set up. There were three lines of men with guns so they could take turns firing. While one line reloaded, the other line fired. William’s army also had more cannons with trained men to fire them. As the Jacobites attacked in the ferocious highland charge, William’s men stayed in place and fired their guns and cannons. Few Jacobites made it across the field to the enemy and those who did break through the enemy’s lines were surrounded and killed. The Jacobites were badly beaten at Culloden and those who were left retreated to Inverness. William’s army followed them to Inverness and made life very miserable for everyone in that town. The Battle of Culloden marked the end the Jacobite uprising. About that time a new flower was introduced and supporters of William named the flower Sweet William. In return, there was a weed with a very bad smell that opponents renamed Stinking Billy. Here’s Flat Stanley on a Stinking Billy plant.

Stinking Billy weed
Stinking Billy weed

Orange and Purple, Googly-Eyed Fellow Travellers

Flat Stanley met some fellow travellers, Orange and Purple at Dunvegan Castle. Orange and Purple were accompanying this very nice couple on their honeymoon. Notice the giant plant leaves in the background.

Purple and Orange, a pair of googly-eyed fellow travellers with Flat Stanley
Purple and Orange, a pair of googly-eyed fellow travellers with Flat Stanley

2 Flat Tires and Flat Stanley near the end of the Scotland Visit

The Scotland Trip didn’t end as well as it began. It could have been much worse, though.flat tire and flat stanley

We were all deflated when I managed to blow the left front and the left back tires while only 18 miles from the end of the trip. I’d driven more than 1800 miles without incident but as a bus passed closely by on the right side, something on the road wrecked both tires on the left side. Fortunately, I was able to drive the car to the nearby Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. There was even a pay phone there, so it appeared help was on the way “within 60 minutes” according to the person at the tire service. But then the restaurant with the payphone closed and the repair truck hadn’t arrived.


Two hours later, there was still no sign of help but fortunately, Park Rangers Caroline and Beverley showed up. They were great! They let us use their mobile phone and kept us company for the next hour awaiting the tire service. They even drove some of our group into the next town. After several more calls, the repair truck finally arrived and the Volvo was hoisted onto the flatbed and driven into Balloch.

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