My Scottish Heritage

It wasn’t until the end of my trip when I was asked if I had a little Scottish heritage in me. The question came from a driver who was taking us from where we dropped off our car rental to our hotel for the evening. The way he said it sounded as if he asked any tourist that he was in a car with the same question. I am sure he got an answer from many of those people that was the same as my answer, “Yes, I got a little bit of Scottish in me.”

Scotland is one of those countries that becomes a pilgrimage for many people because it tugs on something from within. They can hear the allure of hazy skies, whiskey tastings, history, kilts, highland games, and the occasional fish and chips. It promotes a lifestyle that they have only heard of in the books they have read as children or the stories told to them by an elder generation. They are curious about whether or not they can find a home in a land that was a home to their kin for so long.

Despite the rugged landscape, and the various castles, there is a sense of home that comes with traveling to Scotland. No matter where I went, I was greeted with a warm smile, and a friendly ear. Community was everywhere I looked. People would put down their phones to meet each other at the pub, or spend a day exploring the vast landscape that was offered. It is hard to come out to Scotland, and not fall in love with the land, the history and the people. For that reason, it feels like home.

The history of Scotland is one of rebellion, and national pride. It tells tales of victory, and defeat and how the land and the people were shaped by these moments. It boasts heroes whose exploits have been slightly altered to share national pride in other nations, so they can believe in the same fights that the Scots have fought for generations. It brings together nations under one banner while keeping its unique flavor for who they are and what they believe in. The history of Scotland is a fascinating one, and wherever I went in the country, I would run into a reminder of how rich and powerful that history was.

Scotland does not just offer the world a rich history and wonderful story to tell. It is also one of the hearts for intellectual thought in the world. Many great writers and philosophers have called Scotland, or more specifically Edinburgh, their home. Names such as David Hume, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Robert Burns, and J. K. Rowling all have connections to this great city, and many people from across the globe have been affected by their works in some capacity at some point in their lives.

Scotland’s impact on the world does not only stop at philosophy and literature, but extends into the sciences as well. There were great medical discoveries that came from Scotland including the discovery of the first anesthesia, chloroform. They were also the ones who cloned the first animal, Dolly the sheep. Their contributions to medicine has influenced the common practices so much that we would still be in the dark ages without them.

Scotland may be a small island off in the distance to so many people that they would never consider it a part of their lives, but if they look closer, there is a part of their lives that have been touched by the Scottish. In a way, when that man asked visiting guests whether I had any Scottish heritage, their answer should all be the same. Their is a little bit of the Scottish heritage in all of us. We may not be able to claim a clan as our own, but we can talk about how their history and culture has affected us in some capacity.

I am really glad that I was able to take the trip out to Scotland. It is a beautiful country, and I felt instantly at home in it. I suspect that this would be true for anybody that travels there. It should not be a must see destination for the ones who have a tartan hanging in their closets and they want to see the land where it comes from; rather, it should be for anyone who has ever been enthralled by its literature, learned a lesson from its history, or been saved by its contributions to science. It is everybody’s home.

I hope that someday, you can take the trip to Scotland and have the same kind of experience that I did. It is really worth the pilgramage.

Arthur’s Seat – Edinburgh, Scotland

In the middle of Edinburgh sits a volcano that overlooks the city. It has been a historic part of the city for centuries, and in 1541, King James V made sure that it would always be a feature by building a wall around it. Tourists still flock to this sight, and on any given day you can find many people taking the forty-five minute hike to its summit. I am not sure if they would all make the trek if it wasn’t for the name, Arthur’s Seat, invoking the name of the famous king who has captured the imagination of the people of Great Britain and the world.

Despite the perfect marketing name, on a nice day in Edinburgh, it is worth taking the hike to the top of the mountain. The hills are beautiful, and there are plenty of places along the way where you will want to stop and take a picture. It starts off at a pretty leisurely pace, but as soon as you get off the paved Holyrood Park’s path, it does get pretty steep, and rocky.

Despite this difficulty, it is not that hard, and the view of the city, and the Highlands of Scotland to the North are worth taking the trek to the top. I was lucky enough to get a beautiful day in the middle of April to take the hike, and though it got a little cool with the wind, it wasn’t the bad. There were also not that many other tourists on the path, but I imagine that this gets pretty bad during the summer months during the height of tourist season. I can also imagine that on May 1st, the trek becomes overrun with people, especially early in the morning.

There is a local legend about the seat on the first of May, where young maidens should hike the trail before the sunrise. If they are on the top when the sun reaches over the peak, they are supposed to take the morning dew from the grass and wash their face with it. If they do this, then they were be graced with eternal youthfulness. Even though this is a story filled with superstition, it is still one that attracts many young women every year to make sure that they partake in the ritual.

Even if you are not a young maiden, it is still worth the time to spend an afternoon or early morning on this mountain. The photo opportunities are everywhere, and it is fun to look at the various viewpoints that Arthur’s Seat has to offer. It does make you wonder why it is named after the famous king. There is nothing that makes it look like a seat for a king, and some people suspect that it was the location for the famous castle, Camelot. The more likely explanation is that King James V liked the legend so much that he decided to name the mountain in the middle of the city after him.

Whatever the reason you make it to the top, the legends, the myths, or the exercise, it is a must do if you are in Edinburgh. You will join the other people who make the hike, and spend some time looking over the vast landscape that the vantage point has to offer. Make sure that you make it there if you ever find yourself here.

Until next, thanks for reading.