Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Aberlemno Stones

The Pictish stones of Anerlemno are stones that were included between the 7th and 9th century AD. They are very near their original discovered positions, but are still accessible to the public on the side of the road (B193 outside of Forfar).

The Picts were absorbed by the Irish clan, Scots, long ago. The Romans built Hadrians Wall to basically "wall" the Picts in. The Picts were the ones who painted themselves blue with symbols and such. Think Merlin. No wonder Scotland has so much magic!

Aberlemno 1 is called "The Serpents Stone". At the top is a snake and near the bottom is a mirror and comb. No one really knows what these mean at all, not a clue!

Aberlemno 2 is found in a Kirkyard down the road. It's a gorgeous Celtic cross. The center symbol is a Celtic spiral design and the arms are Celtic know symbols. Some of the knot patterns are akin to the Book of Kells! On the back is a battle scene, with horses and men in helmets. Barbarous!

Aberlemno 3 shows a cross with angels kneeling, reading from books! The back is a hunting scene. 

Aberlemno 4 is actually in the McManus museum in Dundee. We did it spend much time in Dundee aside from at the hostel and the Law, so we didn't get to see this stone. Aberlemno 5 is really difficult to make out and has said to be a fake, but it still stands. 

These stones were pretty fascinating, given how d they are. Here is the description on the side of the road. 

There is a small visitor's center that has a bathroom just across the street from the stones. It was a perfectly, strategically placed bathroom and I was super appreciative! The small "town" of Aberlemno was quite sweet little town, and difficult to find. If you drive too fast down the tiny road, you'll miss it! I'm so glad we didn't. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

St. Andrews

My first impression of St. Andrews is that is was windy and cold. Much like the rest of Scotland. But it is totally beautiful, also much like the rest of Scotland. 

We traveled down the main shopping road and straight out to the old cathedral, which was in ruins but still breathtaking. The ruined cathedral sits within a massive graveyard with grave stones and names long worn away. It was awesome to witness something SO OLD. Even though the cathedral was worn away, you could still see the cloister posts and just imagine how massive the original cathedral was. Robert the Bruce christened the cathedral back in the 1300's. However, the Augustine monks first established the area in the 900's. That is OLD! 

The ruins of the old cathedral and grounds have been used to build walls, bridges and even docks. The dock that stands now is a replacement of one destroyed by a storm back in 1651 and it was built of the ruin's stones. The whole area is magnificent and is right next to the university and old golf course. 

These are the remnants of the former castle. 

We also went to the Old Golf Course in St. Andrews, where golf is practically a religion. Aaron nor I are golfers but I can appreciate history when I see it. 

Just as in every town, there is a lovely fountain or sculpture that usually marks the center of town. Aaron was able to get some vegan lunch and I had fish and chips at a pub. Fortunately the pub had cask ales, which I am in love with right now! 

If you want to see the cathedral how it used to be, take a look at this video here!

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Luss was a random discovery, but I'm so glad we went. My friend from college told me that Luss was a must see but I hadn't researched it before I left. When we arrived at Loch Lomond, I saw it close on the map and made it a priority for the day. We explored Luss and then ate at teeny tiny cafe in the town. Ashlin and I learned very quickly how much the Scottish love their mayonnaise and cream. Other than the food, the town was lovely.

We planned on going to Lock Lomond, Luss, and then around the Loch and
back to Glasgow. The drive around the Loch was absolutely amazing. We
found a few lookout spots where the mists met the mountains and it
rained every other minute. It was beautiful, as you'll see below.

Loch Lommond

Loch Lomond

On our first day in the Scotland area we went straight to Loch Lomond.
Loch Lomond is the longest loch in Scotland and the widest at 5 miles across. Yes, miles! We learned early on after getting the car that Scotland uses miles per hour and measures everything in feet and inches just like the USA.

We decided on a cruise of the Loch and then a stroll through the grounds. It was breathtakingly beautiful. We learned quite early as well that Scotland is cold! It gets to about 65 on a good day and in the 40s and 50s at night. I could've used a few more pairs of pants in my backpack.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Edinburgh Castle

We visited Edinburgh Castle today and got a slap in the face by some history. I had researched quite a bit of the Scottish/English monarchy before I got here, but I've learned SO much on this trip. Seeing Westminster Abbey, Stirling Castle, and Edinburgh Castle really solidified some gaps for me about Mary, Queen of Scots. You really need to research the royal family tree, it's nuts! 

The national animal of Scotland is the Unicorn! THE UNICORN! I knew I was drawn to Scotland, this just solidified it. Notice the rose and the thistle intertwined at the bottom. That represents the first peace between England and Scotland when James VI (Stewart) married Margaret Tudor (Henry the VIII's big sister). The thistle represents the Stuarts and the red rose is the Tudor Rose. The Lion in Gold is the Royal Standard of Scotland. James and Magaret are Mary Queen of Scots parents. 

Then there is the freaking awesome unicorns!!! I can't get over it, seriously. 

 This is the Great Hall in the Edinburgh Castle. It was built for King James IV the old way, with a hammer and wooden pegs! Every part of the roof was engraved with Viking carvings too. It also housed a ton of old Scottish weapons. 

Edinburgh has quite a bit of history, obviously, and then that also ties to my love of the Outlander Series. If you read book 2, Dragonfly in Amber, Charles II has a different ring to your ears. Here's the official portrait Bonnie Prince Charlie for your amusement. 

All in all, it was a fantastic day in Scotland and a wonderful nerdy day for me and the crew.