Snow falls in Scotland as winter sets in

A severe weather warning has been issued for eastern parts of Scotland as heavy snow moves across the country. Snow has been falling today , mainly in short showers just enough to disrupt traffic . There was traffic chaos in Falkirk as a 2 mile tailback developed from Laurieston to Brightons . The Met Office said that eastern Scotland, especially the Borders, Angus and Aberdeenshire would have up to 15cm (6in) of snow.Driving conditions in these areas will be hazardous on Tuesday morning. However snow should be confined to higher ground and conditions would ease later.

The west of Scotland should escape the worst of the icy blast, with snow probably turning to sleet and snow.

Scottish Borders Council said that all 74 schools in the region would be closed on Tuesday as a precaution. Snow falls in Scotland did not cause the disruption seen in London and the south of England on Monday. snow pictures

The picture is of Buachaille Etive Mor 43 , 19 by 13 inch giclee print . Paper size 19 by 13 inches , image size 16 by 12 inches. Photograph by David Rankin. Printed on Velvet Fine art paper , 100% cotton rag

Scottish castles crumble under pressure of credit crunch

The National Trust for Scotland has revealed that it made a deficit of £3 million . It runs a number of well-known castles in Scotland including Culzean Castle and Falkland Palace . Culzean Castle is the Trust’s flagship property with over 200,000 vistors a year . The castle features top quality accommodation for a small number of visitors . The deficit means that the Trust is considering closing 12 of its 128 properties in Scotland . It is also looking at selling its headquarters building in Edinburgh’s New Town . Brodick Castle on Arran is not breaking even due to a slump in visitor numbers . Crathes castle in Aberdeenshire is also struggling .

Olympic team design new Forth crossing

The Forth replacement crossing will be designed by the company responsible for the ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium at the Beijing Olympics 2008. Engineering firm Arup was also responsible for the world’s second longest spanning cable-stayed bridge, Stonecutter’s Bridge in Hong Kong.

Jacob was responsible for the design of the recently opened Clackmannanshire Bridge. Drivers using this bridge have complained about the lack of lights on the bridge at night .Public exhibitions for the Forth crossing are starting soon .
The Scottish government are meeting Treasury officials this month to try to work out the best way to finance this multi-million pound project . Transport Scotland is taking the Forth crossing exhibition to the public in exhibitions in 12 different venues .
Transport Scotland engineers and consultants from Jacobs Arup will be there to explain the work undertaken during 2008 to develop the strategy for the new crossing over the Forth .
The Forth Replacement Crossing strategy includes using the existing Forth Road Bridge for public transport vehicles only
The next step in the project is a Parliamentary Bill to be introduced towards the end of 2009.
John Howison, Forth crossing interim project director, said: “This is an exciting project and we and our world class consultants are delighted to be working on it to produce a lasting visual landmark for the Forth.”

“We have warmly welcomed the proposed ‘mono-tower’ design for the new bridge.”
The new bridge design is expected to have the longest central spans in the world for a multi-span cable-stayed bridge.
It will also be the only long span cable-stay bridge in the world to have central crossed cables. These provide enhanced stiffness to the bridge structure, minimising the size of the central tower and creating a slim, elegant appearance. The cables will run along the centre of the bridge.

Melville Castle Hotel redevelopment plans

A Scottish castle hotel is beating the credit crunch with news of a major expansion
Hotel owner Steven McLeod has bought Melville Castle Hotel near Edinburgh and intends to develop it into a five-star spa and event facility.

Melville Castle Hotel is due to open in March after a comprehensive refurbishment with an extra 50 staff .
However, the redevelopment doesn’t stop there and there are plans for a further 120 bedrooms, a luxury spa, a steakhouse, fine dining restaurant and meeting and event facilities for more than 500 guests.

The 33-year-old is in talks with Historic Scotland with the aim of submitting plans for the new venue within the next 18 months. The hotel is set in a 60-acre estate on the banks of the North Esk river.
The new development will create 1500 construction jobs .

Mr McLeod said: “We are facing difficult economic times but it is at times like these we have to stick together.” Guide to best hotels in Scotland

Burns Night at Edinburgh Castle, Stirling and Urquhart Castle

Burns Night is the 25th of January and Historic Scotland have announced details of a unique opportunity to celebrate Burns’ work at Edinburgh Castle.
 Burns fans can celebrate online with free Burns Night ecards .At Edinburgh Castle the Queen Anne and Redcoat cafes will be offering delightful locally-sourced haggis, neeps and tatties. Visitors will also be treated to free haggis tasters.

Stirling Castle will be providing a three-course menu of soup, haggis and desert. And between 11.00am and 1.00pm visitors will have the chance to taste free haggis bites. Copies of some of Burns’ best loved poems: Tam O’Shanter, My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose and To A Mouse will also be on display around the café for visitors to enjoy.
Urquhart Castle will be offering a traditional Burns supper in addition to its normal menu. Visitors will also have the chance to sample a free tipple of Benromach whisky.

All three castles will be serving the Burns supper menu on 24 and 25 January. Edinburgh Castle will be serving from 11.00am to 3.00pm, Stirling Castle from 12.00pm to 2.30pm, Urquhart Castle from 9.30am to 4.00pm.
Historic Scotland is a government agency which looks after 345 outstanding historic properties throughout the country. These include some of Scotland’s leading tourism attractions and most important heritage sites, including Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae.

New Forth Bridge controversy over funding


Forth Bridge

The argument rumbles on about the financing of the new Forth Bridge . Everybody agrees that the new Forth crossing is necessary but no-one can quite work out how it will be financed . First Minister Alex Salmond has complained about the lack of help from Westminster about the biggest ever capital project in Scotland . The projected cost of the bridge is £22 billion . The SNP government maintains that Westminster should provide the finance for the project.
Chancellor Alistair Darling said they can’t have it, with the result that the Treasury can now be portrayed by the Nationalists as the villain of the piece.

Stirling Castle unveils new tapestry

A magnificent tapestry telling a mystical medieval tale is to be unveiled at Stirling Castle. Entitled The Unicorn is Found, it is the largest of a series of seven tapestries being hand woven for the castle and measures 11 foot high by 12 foot wide.

The tapestries project, worth £2 million and due for completion in 2013, involves the creation of new versions of a surviving medieval set belonging to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Much of the funding comes from the Quinque Foundation in the USA.

Chris Watkins, Historic Scotland head of major projects, said: “The unveiling of the new tapestry will be a landmark moment as it means we have past the half-way point in this remarkable project.

“It is the largest of the tapestries being woven and has taken years of work to complete.

“We are proud to be helping keep alive these ancient weaving skills and to be creating new versions of one of the world’s greatest surviving sets of medieval tapestries.

“It is known that a similar set of tapestries once graced the walls of the royal palace at Stirling Castle.

“This is a quite remarkable project because it allows the public to see what these kind of tapestries looked like when they were knew and we are very grateful to the Quinque Foundation for its tremendous support.”

The tapestries will eventually go on permanent display inside the castle’s royal palace which is currently being returned to how it might have looked in the mid-16th century.

Each of the first three completed tapestries measure 3.3 metres by up to 3.8 metres and the public can photograph these tapestries in the Chapel Royal. Highlights of the detail and quality weaving by the West Dean Tapestry Studio and the Stirling Castle Tapestry Studio on these three Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries

Speaking about The Unicorn is Found tapestry arriving at Stirling Castle, Stirling Castle manager,
Gillian MacDonald, said “It is truly magnificent, measuring 11 feet high, and is part of a £2 million project to recreate a series of tapestries like those which hung at the castle when it was a favourite residence of Scotland’s Renaissance kings and queens”.
Free Viewing Of The Unicorn Is Found Tapestry at Stirling Castle

Eilean Donan Castle pictures

Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland , if not the world . This is the story of the castle .

Eilean Donan means Island of Donan ( a religious figure from the 12 th century ).
Eilean Donan was the most important stronghold of Clan MacKenzie from the 13th Century .
In 1719 it was completely destroyed . Robert the Bruce was given refuge in Eilean Donan Castle by John MacKenzie, Second of Kintail when he was being hunted by the English at the begnning of the fourteenth century.

Above the entrance to the castle there is a Gaelic inscription which translates as : As long as there is a MacRae inside, there will never be a Fraser outside. Inside the courtyard is the famous Murchison Stone with an inscription about John Murchison of Auchtertyre who was killed in the Battle of Sherrifmuir in 1715. In the upper floor inside the castle there are six bedrooms named Loch Alsh,Loch Long, Eilean Donan, Ballimore, Loch Duich and Conchra. A panel shows the names of the constables ( guardians ) of the castle

Eilean Donan Castle was originally built in 1220 and owned by the MacKenzies of Kintail. The MacRae Clan who settled in the area came from the Beauly Firth where they had protected the Clan Fraser.They acted as bodyguards to the MacKenzie chiefs.

In 1719 it was held by Spanish Jacobites.
Three English frigates sailed into Loch Duich and bombarded the castle with cannon fire .
There was a direct hit on the castle arsenal and it was left in ruins . The castle them lay totally uninhabited and in ruins for nearly 200 years . In 1911 John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the castle and start work to restore the castle over a period of twenty years at a total cost of a quarter of a million pounds. Local materials were extensively used.
The castle found fame when it was featured in the film Highlander and a James Bond movie. A shot shows Bond driving his car over the bridge from the castle .

Eilean Donan Castle is on an island in the middle of 3 lochs – Loch Alsh , Loch Long and Loch Duich

Due to a change in Scots law it is now possible to get married in a Scottish castle .
The castle is open most of the year and it is run by the Conchra Charitable Trust .
Eilean Donan Castle prints
castle videos
Eilean Donan

Falkirk screensavers

National Mod 2008 has started this week in Falkirk . The Mod is a Gaelic festival of traditional music with a prestigious gold medal for the best in each category . To some ‘The Mod is coming home’ might seem a curious slogan to use as the Mod has never been held in Falkirk before however the slogan arises from the annual Trysts that were held in Falkirk over the centuries where drovers and cattle dealers from all over the Highlands and Islands would converge on the town to buy and sell their livestock. The Mod is Coming Home because the whole concept of the Highland Gathering had originated in Falkirk. To celebrate the Mod , Castle pictures has teamed up with Scottish screensavers to publish a set of photo screensavers of Falkirk. The Falkirk Wheel is a big tourist attraction and one of our new screensavers features the Wheel

Edinburgh Castle pictures

Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s most popular visitor attraction,” Dr Murray said. “More than 1 million visitors are drawn each year by its spectacular location and history. They can see the Crown Jewels, the One O’Clock Gun and the Stone of Destiny as well as the Great Hall, St Margaret’s Chapel, and Mons Meg. “This new exhibition will explore more of the castle’s complex story, with links to Scots-born John Paul Jones – renowned in America as founder of the US Navy  and in Britain for capturing one of the Royal Navy’s warships – and the turbulence of revolutionary Europe at the end of the 1700s.”Edinburgh Castle is a world-class attraction and today’s well-traveled tourists have high expectations.”The vaults at Edinburgh Castle were constructed around 1500 and later used as soldiers’ barrack-rooms and a bakehouse. However they were used for many years as prisons of war from the 1750s into the early 1800s. Graffiti carved into prison doors reveal the names and sentiments of many of the men there, and some of them etched crude drawings of their vessels. One drawing shows a gallows and noose, with the inscription Lord Nord (North) – the British Prime Minister at the time of the American War of Independence. Another shows a ship flying what appears to be the stars and stripes: one of the earliest known depictions of the American flag.