Wednesday 30 September 2015

Celts: Arts and Identity

The first major exhibition in 40 years of the Art, History and Culture of the Celts. The National Museum of Scotland in collaboration with the British Museum London – tells the story of the Celts over 2,500 years.
 Now at the British museum and from March 2016 at the National museum Scotland.

In 2009, four gold torcs were found at Blair Drummond Stirling by David Booth (first tiw with metal detector!). The four torcs made between 300 and 100 BC show connections across Iron Age Europe – two are spirally ribbons, characteristics of Scotland and Ireland. The other two show French and Mediterranean style. The word Celtic still resonates today in politics, religion and identity.

The Celts were people in Iron Age and Medieval Europe who spoke Celtic languages and had cultural similarities. Celtic culture diversified into that of the Gaels (Irish, Scottish and Manx) and the Brythonic Celts (Welsh, Cornish, and Bretons) of the medieval and modern periods. During the Renaissance, 1700, it was used to describe the cultures of Brittany, Ireland, Scotland.
Notably here in Glasgow for the biggest world folk festival Celtic Connections. (no mention on the museum’s site). Where have all these exhibits been hiding all these years – in museum basements?

The British museum states the Celts are not one genetic race – I am not sure I understand what they mean? Were the Vikings or Romans one genetic race? For me it is more about sense of place, culture, heritage and history. 

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Kilmartin Glen

Stone structures Kilmartin Glen
I have just been reading about the stone age cathedral at Brodgar of Ness - a site recently found in Orkney of an ancient temple older than Stonehenge or the Pyramids and the largest Neolithic stone structures in Britain. Over 10,000 people attended great ceremonies here. I was amazed to learn about! Historian McHardy claims that civilization as we know it, did not begin in the south and then travel northwards.

And also of the stone structures at Kilmartin Glen in Stuart Hardy's 'Scotland Future History'. I have some images of 'Kilmartin Glen' from a few years ago. I had no idea the significance of them - having learnt all about the Tudors doing my higher History in Edinburgh!

Scotland's history is changing. What pasture of the Scottish past should we pass on to future generations?

McHardy suggests we should stop all this teaching of Roman empire building, encouraged by the elite to perpetuate myths of superiority, and start to look at other stories of working together instead. The most successful and happiest countries are not those that subjugate and keep down-trodden one segment of society, as if the pie is too small to be shared.

"There is a subject called British history, but as far as I can discover it consists of English history, with an occasional side-glance at Scotland at times when Scotland crossed England's path. This is a society devoted to the study and furtherance of Scottish history, and it seems a little odd to me that this educational policy should still prevail. It is calculated to condition the Scottish mind into turning instinctively towards London with the submission of the Moslem turning towards Mecca."  Lord Cooper, President of the court of Session, to the Scottish history Society 1948.

My blog here on Hardy's 'Scotland's Future History' -

Monday 28 September 2015

Edinburgh International Book festival 2015

Iain MacWhirter
At EIBF; Edinburgh International book festival 2015
‘Around the world’ brochure and Trading Stories. ‘We would be a much poorer culture had those wayfarers not persisted in gazing beyond the next horizon.’
This year I met a personal hero of mine, the incomparable Nicola Sturgeon. She seems more approachable than Salmond and since she took over as first minister last year has achieved unparalleled popularity from the public. On the road for the Referendum she took time to listen - a crucial skill for a successful politician. At the same time she has a clear vision for where she sees the future for Scotland. At EIBF she interviewed the crime writer Val McDermid. 

Nicola Sturgeon and Val McDermid
 I went to interesting talks by the Scottish authors Robert Crawford on the young American poet TS Eliot -

and Iain MacWhirter on his book 'Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster won a Referendum but Lost Scotland.'  Blog to follow. 
Alan Cumming
Ian Rankin
The famous Scottish actor Alan Cumming attended a photo call. He has written a autobiography titled Not my Fathers Son. I also met the well known Scottish actor Brian Cox that evening. 
Other famous writers attending EIBF included – Greg Proops, Celia Imrie, Terry Waite, Helen Lederer.

Celia Imrie
Some of the outstanding woman writers at EIBF included – Elif Shafak, Liz Lochead,, Phillappa Gregory, Val McDermid, Antonia Frazer, Ali Smith, Lesley Riddoch, Margaret Atwood, Shami Chakrabarti.   
Chtristobel Kent
Lucy Ribchester
Shami Chakrabarti

The festival is also a platform for new writers - Lucy Ribchester, Oscar Coop-Phane, Neil Zink,

While I didn't manage as many talks as I would wish to - I purchase the books that interest me. I am always inspired by the book festival.
Tom Holland

Stuart McHardy - Scotland's Future History
Iain MacWhirter – Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster won the Referendum but lost Scotland
Martin Kemp – Art In History. How art is connected to history.
Shami Chakrabarti. -  On Liberty
Marianne  Liner – Sacred Scotland
Simon Armitage
Oscar Coop-Phane
Terry Waite
 *Music EIBF. At the Jura Unbound there were several music evenings. 
 I met the Scottish SAY award winner 2015 Kathryn Joseph. Her old piano was being carefully lifted in the side gate. She was the headline for Vic Galloway’s music evening at Jura Unbound.
Michael Hofmaa, Stories without Borders. (poet, translator and essayists). Does it matter where stories originate from?
 Sadly this year I was busy with personal events, and also unwell, so I wasn’t able to attend as much as I would have liked to.
Charlotte Higgins
Richard Havers
Nell Zink
Kevin Mayer 
It is not what you see but what one makes others see.