Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

CatsWhiskersTours provide unique tour experiences tailored to suit you. Call +44 (0) 141 638 5500

Paps of Jura from Port Askaig, Islay, Scotland.

This evening, I am focusing on a group of three mountains in the Southern Inner Hebrides, off Scotland’s West Coast which are collectively known as the Paps of Jura.These three distinctive mountains are:

  • Beinn an Oir, 2576 feet.
  • Beinn Shiantaidh, 2477 feet
  • Beinn a Chaolais, 2407 feet.

In common with most of the island of Jura, the mountains are comprised of Dalradian Quartzite.

View from Caol Ila Distillery, Islay

Jura is:

  • Located N.E.of the ‘whisky island’ of Islay and separated from Islay by a small stretch of water.
  • Lightly populated with 200 inhabitants- and 5000 deer.
  • Famous for its sole whisky distillery and being the location where George Orwell retreated to write his famous novel, 1984.

The images shown herein were taken from Islay.

Paps of Jura

This evening, I am posting an update on my blog post from June 18th 2017.

As will be noted from bullet point five in the narrative below, there was speculation that the headless corpse in the crypt of Wardlaw Mausoleum near Inverness was the remains of the 11th Lord Lovat, aka the ‘Old Fox’ who was executed for treason in 1747. This is of great interest to ‘Outlander’ fans because the clan chief is the grandfather of the fictional Jamie Fraser.

Following a scientific analysis of the remains by Professor Dame Sue Black, a forensic anthropologist, the remains have been determined to be those of a woman in her twenties or thirties. DNA testing will determine if the female is related to a member of the Fraser family.

Thus, the scientific investigation has resolved one mystery but created another, i.e. what was the rationale for placing the particular female’s body inside an anonymous coffin? Curiouser and curiouser!

Wardlaw Mausoleum

This evening, I am posting information on the Wardlaw Mausoleum near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

Summary facts and information:

  • Located at Kirkhill, about 8 miles west of Inverness and near to Beauly.
  • Built 1634 as burial place of Lord Lovats, Lovat Clan Chiefs.
  • Tower added 1722.
  • Has become a minor attraction due to connection with the ‘Outlander’ series.
  • Beneath the floor is a crypt containing Lovat coffins one of which may contain the headless skeleton of ‘Simon the Fox’, 11th Lord Lovat, who was executed in London in 1747 for fighting with the Jacobite army at Culloden in 1746, an act deemed treasonable. Scientific examination is underway to determine the identity of the headless skeleton.
  • The Mausoleum is in good condition, having benefited from a recent restoration project.

Coffins at Wardlaw Mausoleum. Blue tarpaulin covers coffin which may contain body of ‘Simon the Fox’.

Opening the crypt.

Inside Giffnock Synagogue, Glasgow.

Background History

Early migrants came from Holland and Germany with an upsurge post 1860 from Russia and Poland. The current Jewish population of Scotland is about 7,000 with most concentrated around Glasgow and Edinburgh. Garnethill is a prominent synagogue in Glasgow and Scotland’s oldest.

The bulk of the current Jewish population are descended from late 19th century  migrants from Europe who may have originally been destined for the U.S.A. At the time Scotland was a transit point and for various reasons an element of the migrants did not continue on across the Atlantic. By 1914 the ( Jewish) populations of Glasgow and Edinburgh were 12000 and 1500 respectively. Other communities could be found in Greenock, Ayr, Falkirk, Inverness, Dundee and Dunfermline.

The early migrants were very poor and tended to concentrate in and around the Gorbals area  (of Glasgow).  They focused on production and merchandising of goods, e.g. shop-keeping, tailoring, footwear and furniture. In due course, access to higher education provided an escape route from the ghettos and today the Gorbals has a negligible Jewish population.

Many of the descendants of the Gorbals population moved a few miles south, to the Glasgow suburb of Giffnock where a synagogue was built in 1934 and subsequently replaced with the current building in 1968 which features in this post.

Summary information on Giffnock Synagogue and connected buildings.

  • The synagogue is orientated towards Jerusalem.
  • The ark contains the Torah scrolls, which are  handwritten and contain the five books of Moses.
  • Hosts Jewish social and educational organisations.
  • The impressive stained glass windows were commissioned by John Clark and were originally made for Queen Park Synagogue which closed due to population migration. These windows represent the Jewish year-festivals, holy days and other events.
  • In front of the ark hangs the ‘Neir Tamid’, the ever-lasting light which is never extinguished.
  • The pulpit in front of the ark is used for delivering sermons by the rabbi or visiting dignitaries.

Whenever possible I include this synagogue in Jewish themed tours of Glasgow. There is a Jewish restaurant nearby where Jewish tartan can be obtained.

Stained glass at Giffnock Synagogue.

Stained glass at Giffnock Synagogue.

Exterior view of Giffnock Synagogue