Showing posts with label st andrews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label st andrews. Show all posts

Saturday 31 July 2021

The Oldest UK Universities

Edinburgh university founded 1583

My younger son was working down near Cambridge as an engineer, when a colleague asked him what kind of degree did he have from a mickey mouse university like Aberdeen anyway? (The cheek and ignorance!)  My English brother-in-law also used to talk of how England subsidized Scotland and that Scots were merely scroungers. I am tired of the English talking Scotland down! Why are we in such negative competition, rather than co-operating? Once Scots were leaders. 

I have visited Aberdeen campus several times and was highly impressed with the historic buildings, it was obvious Aberdeen was one of the worlds oldest universities, established 1495. So I thought I’d look at the UK’s oldest universities. 

What happened to those brave Scots who were leaders in the Empire 1700s, traders, explorers, inventers, innovators, educators, ship builders – when once we were partners? But no more. That all stopped over a century ago. When the British empire was established in the 1700s, they depended on the educated Scots as their bookkeepers, explorers, surveyors, scientists, philosophers, scholars, poets, engineers,. At this time Scotland boasted four leading universities and its population was 1m compared to England at 4m.  

Aberdeen University Kings college founded 1495

My belief is we must look at our Scots history,  which has been rigorously suppressed. Look up the oldest universities UK – (Oxford and Cambridge were initially centres of clerical teachings late 1090s); in the 1400s it was Scottish universities which were 4 leading centres of learning – St Andrews 1410, Glasgow 1451, Aberdeen 1495, Edinburgh 1583. 

It wasn’t until 400 years later, in the 1800s that England set up universities. Manchester 1824, London 1826, Durham 1832.

Surgeons Hall Edinburgh founded 1726
Edinburgh also has one of the world’s leading medical schools. In 2011 I was honoured to attend Edinburgh’s Surgeons hall where my son graduated, and was amazed to discover, not only its long history, but that the Edinburgh medical school is one of the oldest in the world (and the UK) and was established in 1726 during the Scottish enlightenment. Graduates of the medical school have founded medical schools and universities all over the world including 5 out of the 7 Ivy League medical schools Pennsylvania, Yale, Columbia and Harvard. The Scottish Enlightenment was part of a wider European movement, reaching its height in this country between 1750-1800 

Over the past decade I have been researching Scotia’s past and realised ‘Auld Scotia’ led the world with education, reform, philosophy and enlightened though. The great French philosopher and historian Voltaire (1694-1778) said 'We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation'. At this time European thinkers challenged old ideas about almost every aspect of life. They argued that the way forward was to use “reason” when seeking answers to questions. 

Scots founded Americas top universities. I heard Tom Devine discuss the profound influence of Scots on Americans universities. Scots scholars went over to America and founded several centres of learning. Scots Americans were crucially involved in setting up centres of learning and universities there and were some of American’s Founding Fathers. They were profoundly important to the American constitution – such as the Scottish Enlightenment figures and the influence of Scottish Moral Philosophy. Notably Scot John Witherspoon founded Princeton and educated future president James Madison, 28 senators, 49 congressmen and 39 judges.

*Meanwhile in Scotland, (1) St Andrews was the first university founded 1410, Ever to excel.  
 (2) University of Glasgow, founded 1451 as an addition to the city’s cathedral. It boasts numerous notable alumni - economist Adam Smith, inventor, engineer James Watt, actor Gerard Butler, author John Niven, and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.  

 (3) University of Aberdeen (1495) reaches back more than 500 years: Originally founded in 1495 as King’s College, and thus the 5th-oldest university in the UK, it merged in 1860 with Marischal College. Today, the University of Aberdeen regularly ranks among the top 200 universities in the world. Notable alumni include actor Iain Glen (Game of Thrones) and author Ali Smith.  

 (4) University of Edinburgh founded in 1583 – famous scientists studied here: theory of evolution Charles Darwin, statistician Thomas Bayes, famous physicist James Clerk Maxwell.

It wasn’t until 400 years later in the 1800s that England developed their universities (5) University of Manchester founded 1824:   (6) University College London founded 1826 a collegiate federal university that now includes almost 20 colleges. Alumni roster Francis Crick (co-discoverer of the DNA), Ricky Gervais (actor), Coldplay, and Mahatma Gandhi.  (7) Durham University founded(1832)

***The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge had both been founded 1096 as a centres of Theology and training for clerics. University of Oxford 1096 and the University of Cambridge was founded in 1209. This changed with new colleges around the 1400s.

"Americans built their world around the principles of Adam Smith and Thomas Reid of individual interest governed by common sense and a limited need for government.'   Historian Arthur L Herman

Glasgow University founded 1451

Monday 30 November 2020

The Saltire – St Andrews flag

Dates back to 832 AD as Europe oldest flag. The saltire is not a martial symbol of the crowned portcullis of Westminster but rather promotes the saltire as a welcoming symbol for all Scots - whether by birth, choice or family roots. 


The Battle of Athalstaneford, an army of Picts under Angus mac Fergus, King of Alba and aided by the King of Dalraida, Eochaidh, fought a large force of Angle Saxons led by Athelstane. King Angus led prayers and was rewarded by a dramatic appearance of a white saltire on a blue sky.


Since the war there has been renewed interest in Scots history, culture, and symbolism. Our past stories. 

On the AUOB marches thousands of saltires stream along our city streets. For me my identity as Scot is not only about sense of place or past stories, but about democracy. 

Flags can have many meanings.The Union Jack in the 60s was a symbol of Carnaby street and 60s modernity. What matters is the values that underpin our saltire and shaped by the Scottish people – and not our neighbouring country’s think tank. 

The 55th anniversary of the Saltire Memorial 

in 1963 the minster of Athalstaneford had a contact from a Reginwald Livingston who was recently back from India where the Saltire was raised and lowered each day. He was surprised there was no memorial to commemorate the Scottish flag.


He suggested steps for a Saltire memorial. The minister contacted the Earl of Wemyss and donations came worldwide, in 1965 the memorial was completed and unveiled by Lt. General George C Gordon Lennox, Scottish command the Scots guard and the first regiment to carry a saltire into battle. Plus a saltire heritage centre in a restored doocot.


*SCOTTISH FLAG TRUST – is looking for donations for fundraising restore the monument.  Website 


Guy Fawkes

AND who was Guy Fawkes and why do we in Scotland celebrate a failed attempt on another country’s parliament?  Why on earth does Scotland celebrate with fireworks and a bonfire an English plot to blow up its House of Lords in 1605 – this is before the Union of the Two Parliaments. James Stewart VI of Scotland became James I of England at the Union of the Crowns in 1603.


Our new Scotland should instead celebrate our St Andrews on 30th November to remember all those great Scots who stood up for our nation. 


Monday 6 March 2017

Varsity Vocals A acapella Finals

Aberpella, Aberdeen
I recently attended such a high quality concert Varsity Vocals -  ICCA UK quarter finals at the Queens hall Edinburgh. It was clear the commitment, time and effort all the groups had put in –

Cosmopolitan (Leeds), Accidentals, Aberpella, Northern Lights, Alley Cats, Songsmiths, The Other Guys,

By chance I watched Shine’ on BBC  a show of boy bands thrown together by Gary Barlow and the standard of harmony singing, timing, rhythm, presentation, musicianship was dire by comparison.

Three the groups got through to the semi-finals at the New Wimbledon theatre London – Accidentals, St Andrews; Aberpella, Aberdeen; Northern Lights Durham.
Northern Lights (Durham)
Well done to all!

(The winner of the semi- final will attend the final in New York.)

Thursday 10 March 2016

Scottish A Cappella National Championships

Tone Up
The Killers Quinns

enjoyed a fun night at the Scottish A Cappella National Championships St Andrews University on Friday 4th March - with The Accidentals, The Belles, Aberpella, the Killer Quines, The Other Guys, The Hummingbirds, Tone Up, Edinburgh University A Cappella Society
The Belles
The Accidentals

Sunday 22 March 2015

Scottish A Cappella Championships 2015

The Accidentals, A Cappella choir, won the 'Scottish A Cappella Championships' in St Andrews this March. There were great performances by all the choirs and it was wonderful to see and hear all these young people having such a great time!  Choirs taking part included The Other Guys, The Hummingbirds, Aperpella, The Bells, Choral Stimulation. The choirs now go to Birmingham for the National UK Championships in April. PHOTOS -