Category Archives: Historic Scotland

Susan Rae: Leith Walk and Hawick Riding

Susan Rae Leith WalkComfy in Susan Rae’s tiny sitting-room, in her flat at the top of Shrubhill, with a cup of tea, I ask her “So why did you move to Edinburgh from the Borders?” I knew she’d moved here seven years ago.

An American once told me, exasperated, “When I ask why you guys always say ‘Well, four hundred years ago – ‘”

This is of course quite untrue. Sometimes, it’s five hundred years ago.
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Filed under Elections, Historic Scotland, Politics, Scottish Politics, Women

A sense of history

Walking through Pilrig Park with an American friend on the 5th of November, with fireworks going off all around us, she wanted to know “Why tonight?” In the US, of course, they associate fireworks with 4th July, not late autumn. Shorter nights, but warmer ones.

About four hundred years ago,” I said, and she interrupted me.

“I might have known! Everything’s always ‘about four hundred years ago’ with you guys!”

“No, no,” I said. “Sometimes it’s ‘about seven hundred years ago‘”.
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2012 Living Statues

The 2012 International Women’s Day Living Statues event, outside City Chambers, was within two minutes walk (or less) of at least five of the 200+ statues of men that Edinburgh City Council has, over the centuries, caused to be set up in our streets. (These five are: Adam Smith, Charles II, David Hume, Alexander the Great, and James Braidwood. But anywhere in the city centre you can find statues of men: but only two of women.)

The 2012 Women In Stone
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Mobile Statue Hit Squad of Edinburgh

Not counting the weeks between 15th May and 23rd July 2006, all of the public statues in Edinburgh but two are of women. (Queen Victoria stands at the foot of Leith Walk, and an unnamed South African woman stands in Festival Square.)

There is no statue of Margaret of Wessex, who dis-established the Celtic church of Scotland and established the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, for which Pope Innocent IV made her a saint in 1250. (There is a stained-glass window in her chapel in Edinburgh Castle, but no statue.)

There is no statue of Mary Queen of Scots, despite her being probably the most famous monarch Scotland ever had, and the only one children reliably remember – though oral history via children’s games can get a tad confused.

There is no statue of any of the Maries who have been Queen of Scots – not even Mary of Guise, who was Queen Regent of Scotland from 1554–60 and who in Henry VIII’s war of rough wooing (1543-1549, Henry’s war on Scotland to get possession of the young Queen Mary to marry her to his son Edward – a marriage which if it had taken place would have left Mary widowed and in the power of the English court in 1553) took such a part that The Complaynt of Scotland said “her courage and virtue exceeded those of the ancient heroines Tomyris, Semiramis and Penthesilea.”

There is no statue of Margaret of Denmark, the Queen Consort of Scotland from 1469 to 1486, though the dowry she brought to her marriage was Orkney and Shetland. She is the woman responsible for so much North Sea oil being in Scottish waters. You’d think the SNP or the oil industry – or both – would have set up a statue to her sometime since the 1970s.

There are statues of Hume and Adams in the High Street, and John Knox in St Giles, but none yet to Elsie Inglis Continue reading

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Edinburgh Farmer’s Market from Edinburgh Castle

On Saturday I went to the farmer’s market.

Except first, I went to the Castle.

I’m a member of Historic Scotland, which means that I can get into Edinburgh Castle for free. And I’d noticed last time we were wandering round the Castle, that from the Western Esplanade, which you reach from the courtyard with the statue of General Haig on his horse (by the War Museum), you get a very good view of Castle Terrace.
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Filed under About Food, Historic Scotland