Daily Archives: October 21, 2014

Top 10 Geological Sites in the UK Include Glencoe, Staffa, and Assynt in Scotland

Members of the public chose the sites they felt had most shaped the heritage of the United Kingdom.

Adventurous: Staffa in the Inner Hebrides, a volcanic island
Staffa, an island of the Inner Hebrides

The sites were among the “geosites” —  places that highlight the importance of geology to human civilization, such as a beautiful landscape, a museum, or historical historical site — chosen by the Geological Society of London that were celebrated as part of UK Earth Science Week (October 13-19). The top 10 list was selected by 1,200 members of the public from the Geological Society’s list of 100 geocites in the UK and Ireland.


The list is divided into ten categories, including landscape, sites of scientific importance, and human habitations. Glencoe was selected in the “Fire and Ice” category, Staffa in the “Adventurous” category, and Assynt in the “Landscape” category.


To view photos of all ten locations, click here.

“Pipes of Christmas” Concerts Return for 16th Season

One of ASF’s favorite holiday traditions, The Pipes of Christmas Concert, will take place this year on Saturday, December 20 at 2 PM and 7 PM at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York and on Sunday, December 21 at 2 PM at the Central Presbyterian Church in Summit, New Jersey. Tickets are now on sale for the 16th season of the concert series.

Pipes of Christmas

The  wonderful sound of bagpiped Christmas music will be accompanied by Celtic literature readings from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Featured performers will include James Robinson from the film Braveheart, New England fiddle champion Paul Woodiel, “Riverdance” piper and flutist Christopher Layer, Gaelic Mod champion harpist Jennifer Port, and the Pipe Major Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Pipe Band.

Produced by the Clan Currie Society, proceeds from the concert series will donate to a music scholarship program that helps support organizations such as the National Piping Centre and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The concert series is sure to be a festive way to celebrate the season in true Scottish style.

To order tickets, visit the Pipes of Christmas homepage here.

If you can not attend the concert series, a CD is available featuring the Best of the Pipes of Christmas. To purchase, click here.

Third Annual Book Week Scotland this November

From November 24-30, hundreds of free literary events will take place across Scotland.


Led by the Scottish Book Trust, the third annual Book Week will feature readings with acclaimed Scottish authors including James RobinsonChristopher Brookmyre, Caro Ramsay, Maggie Craig, and many others. Literary festivities, including many historically-inspired events, musical events, and events for Gaelic speakers, will take place throughout the country, and many copies of free books will be distributed at Scottish libraries and bookshops.

150,000 free copies of the short story and poem collection Scotland’s Stories From Home will be distributed throughout the week, and every 5-6 year old in the country will be given three free books from the shortlist for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2015.

To peruse the schedule of events and find out which ones are taking place near you, click here.

Edinburgh Castle has a Record-Breaking Summer

The castle is Scotland’s top paid-for tourist attraction.

Edinburgh CastleEdinburgh Castle

Between June and September 2014, Edinburgh Castle had a record-breaking 767,566 visitors, a 3% increase since last summer.

Other Historic Scotland sites also saw great rises in visitor numbers this summer. Skara Brae and Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces in Orkney both had 11% increases; Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle also had record-breaking numbers of visitors.

All in all, over 2.1 million people visited a Historic Scotland site between June and September of 2014, a 4% increase in the previous record.

Fiona Hyslop, Culture Secretary, commented, “2014 was a memorable summer for Scotland – with an influx of visitors to events such as the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup as well as a whole host of Homecoming related events taking place up and down the country. Our heritage sites played a key role within this and continue to be a constant and hugely important asset at the heart of our tourism and cultural make-up.”

Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness

To read more, click here.

Millennium-Old Viking Treasure Hoard Discovered in Scotland

Experts say the discovery of Viking gold and silver artifacts could be the most significant in Scotland’s history.

An early medieval cross, part of a hoard of Viking treasure which has been unearthed by metal-detecting enthusiast Derek McLennan in one of the most significant finds of its kind ever made in Scotland.
A silver early-medieval cross, one of the findings unearthed in the impressive treasure hoard

In September, Derek McLennan, a retired businessman, discovered 100 gold and silver items in a field with a metal detector in Dumfriesshire, southwest Scotland.  The items turned out to be Viking artifacts over a thousand years old.

Among the items discovered is a solid silver cross, presumably from the 9th or 10th century, a silver pot of western European origin, a rare silver cup from the Holy Roman Empire, a gold bird pin, and several other objects. The collection is the largest to be found in Scotland since the late 1800s and could be worth over £1,000,000.

In a statement, Scotland’s Treasure Trove unit said, “Experts have begun to examine the finds, but it is already clear that this is one of the most significant Viking hoards ever discovered in Scotland.”

The head of the unit, Stuart Campbell, added, “What makes this find so significant is the range of material from different countries and cultures. This was material that was buried for safekeeping, almost like a safety deposit box that was never claimed.”

Mr. McLennan is no novice to treasure hunting; last year, he and a friend uncovered approximately 300 medieval coins in the same area of the country.

Caerlaverock Castle in Caerlaverock, Scotland, near the site where the Viking artifacts were discovered in September 2014

For more information on the discovery, click here.