Darly's Political & Satirical History of Scotch Prevalency, 1763


I have obtained recently a copy of Matthias Darly's Political & Satirical History Displaying the Unhappy Influence of Scotch Prevalency in the years 1761, 1762, and 1763. This small volume contains 96 caricatures, most on the subject of the 3rd Earl of Bute who became Prime Minister in 1762. This caused alarm amongst many in England, fearing an influx of Scotsmen taking lucrative English positions. I propose over a long period to add each of these caricatures to a sub-page under "Scotland Mocked", hopefully revealing details of what may seem obscure subject matter. It will take me some time to compile this page, but I think it will be worth it, and I will do it gradually. I have already come across a remarkable construction on the print titled "Sawney Discover'd". Go to the page to see what lies behind the screen.....!


More Engravings from The Duchess: Views of the north-east                             coast of Caithness and Sutherland.


I have recently obtained a copy of Views in Orkney and on the North Eastern Coast of Scotland. Taken in 1805 and Etched in 1807, by the Duchess of Sutherland. The folio volume contains some 43 engravings, which again display her skill as an artist. Whilst they may not be as rare as the 22 engravings of the west and north coast, they are still uncommon (the volume was privately printed, with only 90 copies published). On the page I have just published, I show all the engravings of Caithness and Sutherland. On another, I will publish those of Orkney, for completeness sake.


I have now added the images of Orkney, on another page titled "Orkney by the Duchess."

Another Account; John Lane Buchanan


I have added another "Account", this one by John Lane Buchanan, with details from his Travels to the Western Hebrides from 1782 to 1790, published in 1793. Whilst my main interest is focused on Sutherland and Ross-shire on the mainland of Britain, I was delighted to find such detail in his account of life on the islands, much of which I am sure relates also to life on the mainland.

In addition, I have added a number of illustrations and photos to various categories, including this splendid George Bridgman caricature, which you will find in the 'Highland Types' page.


Geology, and An Account


I wanted to draw your attention to a couple of fine geological prints which I have recently added to the page on Staffa. They are by another Frenchman (the French, of course, were fascinated by the volcanic geology at Staffa), Nicolas Desmarest, and engraved by Ambroise Tardieu in 1827. They are worth looking at if you have an interest in the geology at Staffa: one is a classic view of the columns on the island, and the other somewhere called Ashna Crogs on Mull. I have yet to discover exactly where this is, but it is clearly a distinctive formation.

Update: I have now been advised that what is now called Auchnacraig on the map is in the vicinity of Grass Point on Mull, which lies opposite Kerrera. Thanks to James Westland, a geologist on Mull for this information.

I have also added an account to the Accounts page from a book by Thomas Wilkinson called "Tours to British Mountains" which was published in 1824. Wilkinson was a Quaker, and he made his tour with a fellow-Quaker from Philadelphia, John Pemberton. The author presents a sympathetic, and at times, slightly Romantic view of the Highlands, but there are interesting details here and there, not least concerning agriculture, and agricultural implements.


Royalty in the Highlands: The Balmoral Effect


The Royal association with Balmoral has had a huge effect on the relationship between England and Scotland. I have recently uploaded a page "Royalty in the Highlands" which provides illustrations of this association, up to relatively modern times.

Waiting for Her Majesty. A CDV by Collier & Park, Inverness.


Two Etchings and An Account


This week, I have added another set of details under the 'Accounts' page, this one from the interesting 'Indologist' John Leyden. In addition, I have added a page displaying two etchings by Jackson Simpson, one of Ben Loyal (a distant 'glimpse') and the other of Bettyhill. Dated I guess early 20th century, these are scarce and important images of areas rarely painted by artists at this time.



The Moine Thrust, in all its glory!


I was lucky enough to be in the far north of Scotland when this quarry was discovered. For those of you interested in geology, and have read my page on the Highlands Controversy, I don't think there is a better view of the Moine Thrust than that found in this quarry. If the image excites you as much as it does me, do please contact the North West Highlands Geopark, which looks after all this amazing geology.


                                            Recent Additions:

Travellers' Accounts, Photo Albums and some Loch Sketches


I have been hard at work over the last week or two. I have added two more accounts to the "Travellers' Accounts" pages, one by the Hon. Sarah Murray of Kensington, and the other by Daniel Defoe. The former has written a wonderfully detailed guide, with advice ranging from what carriage to use to what Inns to avoid at all costs. I did refer to her Companion Guide in The Immeasurable Wilds but I did not include anything from Defoe's Tour. 

I have also added some more photos in various categories....

....and I have also added photos from two albums, and some Loch sketches by John Fullwood, a listed English artist.


Various Additions


I have added various images over the past few days, including this fairly rare map by Thomas Taylor, issued in 1715, with a later edition in 1716.

The map includes a number of roads, but Moir, in The Early Maps of Scotland observes that they are shown, "but not with accuracy."

You can find the map on the Maps of Scotland page. As always with my malfunctioning website (caused by having to change servers), if you can't find it, click on the image you can see, and then proceed manually.

Also added, on the 'Oddities' page is this iconic

CDV photo of Queen Victoria and John Brown.....

...... and this wonderful photo (on the House Photos page) from a magic lantern slide of a house on Barra. It appears to rise straight out of the terrain:


Aquatints of Sutherland, by the Duchess, c.1830


I have returned from Edinburgh in a state of triumph, for I have added a most important item to my collection: a set of 22 aquatints by the Duchess of Sutherland titled "Views on the Northern and Western Coasts of Sutherland", published c.1830 by F.C. Lewis. My delight is for two reasons. First, this set is extremely rare, and as I have emphasised on my website, early images of the Far North are extremely rare because of the difficulties of access. Secondly, at a personal level, eight of the images portray most of the coast around the Kyle of Tongue, an area I know particularly well as my parents retired to Talmine in the 1980s. I am hoping to persuade one or two of the museums in the North to display this set as I think it is an important addition to the early images of the region. In the meantime, you can view them on this website, where they form a sub-page to "NW Scotland in Art".

In addition, I have started a new page, "Travellers' Accounts; a Selection", in which I intend to extract details that interest me from specific narratives by visitors to the Far North. Some of these accounts I did not incorporate in my book The Immeasurable Wilds, so the information may be new, and will I hope shed light on what life was like in the Far North in the 18th and 19th centuries. I start with Caledonian Sketches by Sir John Carr, which was published in 1809. He provides a good deal of information regarding what he saw on his travels, though they did not take him further north than Inverness.


A Mystery: Staffa?


I have today added to the page titled "Staffa"  this remarkable photograph. It is a postcard, but there is no indication on the back of location, nor of publisher. It was sold to me by a reputable dealer as being Staffa, and certainly that could well be right. But if we are looking at Fingal's Cave, then the land ascending on the right does not fit the picture as I know it. Also there appears to be a shelving beach, which again I don't expect to see at Staffa. The dealer confirmed to me that he could not be sure of the location. He had suggested Staffa not only because it looked like Staffa, but also because the card came with a number of others, all from nearby locations. They were all dated 1915 or thereabouts. 

What do you think? Any help on this would be much appreciated.

We are off back to Edinburgh next week, where I have my eye on some items in an auction.......


More Items Added 


I have added two more pages to the website over the last few days. One is a collection of 22 sketches, of which 18 are of Scotland.

They are all unsigned, but the locations are noted. The traveller did not go far to the north, but these are beautifully drawn, almost certainly a professional artist. The question is who is it? My guess is William Leighton Leitch, but that is only a guess. What makes the question more intriguing is that it could well be the same artist as he/she who did the drawings in the 1849 sketchbook, also on the website. You will find both as sub-pages under the Scottish Sketchbooks heading, one titled "1849 Sketching Tour" and the other "More Sketches from the same hand?" If you know who the artist might be, do please let me know.

The other page I have added is titled "Evan Baillie of Dochfour Portfolio." It is a sub-page in the "NW Scotland in Art" set. The Baillie family have owned Dochfour House (near Inverness) for some 580 years. There were several Evan Baillies, so it is not clear which one the artist was, but he adds Junior to his name which helps a little in identification. The artwork is not of a staggeringly fine quality, and only three of the nine watercolours are titled. Still, the provenance is interesting, and I think it is a portfolio that should be added to the website.


Various New Items Added


Happy New Year to you! After some Christmas jollities in Edinburgh and a short bout of Covid, I have leapt back into action, adding various items from my collection to the website displays. This interesting postcard, for example of a ferry being summoned by trumpet at Dornie:

I also have bought recently two small sketch books full of drawings of mountain scenery in Scotland. 

Not necessarily great art, but I was pleased to find a selection from Sutherland. Such views are rare by any standards. Please see the sub-page titled "Mountain Sketches" in amongst the "Scottish Sketchbooks."

Then, in the "Scotland Mocked" sub-pages you will find some Scottish Military caricatures, by the Belgian artist Draner. He reflects the usual French fascination with what is worn under the kilt.

Finally, there is a new page titled "Lowland Industry: a painting." This reveals a painting by John Levack that I have recently purchased. It shows a poor family from the country coming into an industrial landscape, either to settle, or to sell their merchandise. They may even be evicted tenants from the Highlands. In my experience, such paintings depicting industry in Scotland (in this case Airdrie) in this way,  with the poverty it caused, are rare.

Kirkwood's Memorial: Concern for the Highlands 1703


I have not been entirely idle since I last added to this blog agenda. I have added a number of images in various categories, and today I have supplied the text of a scarce 'Memorial' to a new page. It is by James Kirkwood, dated 1703, and it shows that there were small pockets of concern for the Highlanders at the start of the 18th century. Kirkwood was keen to establish educational opportunities in the far north, and in the Islands. In this he was not wholly successful, and it was to be a number of years before his wishes came to fulfillment.


Kay's Caricatures


I am in Edinburgh at the moment, but I have found the time (while rain falls outside) to add a page to the 'Scotland Mocked' section on John Kay's wonderful caricatures. Most of them were drawn at the turn of the 18th/19th centuries, and whilst most depict Edinburgh figures, a few originate in the Highlands - for example William MacDonald from Lairg. Such is the quality of them all, however, that I think it worth drawing your attention to them if you don't already know of them. 


Road Tolls in Scotland


Off to Edinburgh again on Thursday, with the prospect of a week in Cardross celebrating my 70th birthday with my family. But I have found time before leaving in which to construct a page on road tolls, which I have added as a sub-page to that titled "Roads to the North." I've said before that roads may not seem a fascinating subject to everyone, but I have found it most interesting in regards to those of the far north. This Road Toll page is another facet of the whole picture, and it takes in Dundonnachie's stand at Dunkeld, which is captured in the above photograph. Perhaps it is time for a similar stand at Dartford??!


A Sunday Letter: A Moral Tale in Hieroglyphics


In homage to Catherine Sinclair, whose Scotland for the Scotch I much enjoyed, and incorporated in my book, I have added a sub-page to the 'Oddities' section which displays a moral tale she published for children in 1862. It is told partly in pictures, a style popular at that time that can be called 'hieroglyphic'. Presumably it encouraged children to read by attracting their attention through the frequent pictures.


King of the Cherokees: a Scottish Caricature


I am very fond of old caricature cartoons. I like the way that they convey history in such a pithy and palatable fashion. So I was delighted to obtain recently this Scottish example with the unlikely dedication to "The King of the Cherokees". I have given it a sub-page to itself in the Scotland Mocked section of my website, though there are others already listed that have similar sentiments: a fear in England of Scottish influence. Researching it has taught me a little about England and the Cherokee tribe, as well as the premiership of Lord Bute.

Random Observations


I have today started a project I have been meaning to embark on for some time. I have lots of snippets that I consider interesting relating to all sorts of aspects of the history of the Highlands. Not all of them have found their way into my book, or other pages on this website, so I intend to add them under the general title "Random Observations." I will put them under various sub-categories such as "Roads", "Geology", "Houses", etc. It will of course be a gradual process. I start off today with two categories: Geological Observations, and Cross-References.

18th Century Palying Cards with Scottish Maps


I have been adding some interesting items recently to this website, none more so than this set of French playing cards. Published c.1750 (the British Museum have a set of similar items which they date 1763), the 14 cards I have make up a full suit. All are on a Scottish theme, with cards II to X depicting a number of towns within various regions, and the Jack, Queen and King, respectively Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh. There is also an extra card of a complete map of Scotland after Nicolas de Poilly. These are very scarce items, a fascinating variation on the classic playing card design.


Watercolours from Algerina Peckover......and Some More Sandbys


I am delighted to have come across this set of watercolours by Algerina Peckover. It appears that she made a trip to the far north-west of Scotland in 1879, and possibly another in 1874, and she has left sketches of the landscape that few had recorded before her. So, for example, on 14th June, 1879 she painted the above image of Ben More Assynt, from Inchnadamph. This is the earliest painted view of the mountain (Conival, actually, if one is going to be precise) that I have seen, though possibly there are sketches by early geologists lying somewhere. The Peckovers were a wealthy banking family based in Wisbech, Lincolnshire who travelled widely. The sketches that were on offer covered all of England, Scotland and Wales. I bought the 12 that depicted the far north-west, and have put them on a page on this website.

I have also added another page of wonderful engravings by Paul Sandby. I have a folder of 56 prints, at least 26 of which are thought to depict Scottish scenes. Not much from the far north, though the oval engraving of the surveying team is among them, but there are some fascinating views, including many of Edinburgh that I think well worth adding to this website. The image above, for example, shows Hamilton Collegiate Church that was later demolished, with Edinburgh Castle in the distance, and buildings on the Royal Mile.This set complements nicely the other page of Sandby's Drawing Book of Figures.


Back from Staffa......

                           and Some Notable Sandbys.


I am now back from my most recent trip to Scotland. Most of it was spent in Edinburgh, but we managed a short spell on Mull, staying with friends. This allowed us to make a visit to Staffa on a lovely day, as you can see from my photos. As with Faujas St Fond, it did not disappoint! We were also left on Lunga, a small island nearby, which allowed us to watch the large colony of Puffins there. They were not at all frightened by our presence - in fact the guide said they welcomed it as we kept their predators away. So there we were, inches from birds that usually keep their distance.

Today, I have added a page on Sandby's First Drawing Book of Figures. I acquired these recently from France, and was pleased to find that I had come across something quite rare. Ann Gunn, in the Catalogue Raisonne of Sandby Prints, states that very few of his Drawing Books exist still intact. Most have been separated and cut out for decoration on walls, etc.

So it makes for an interesting page , especially as many of them may well depict Edinburgh scenes.


Two New Pages: James Loch & Donald Murchison


This week I have added two pages to the website. I have been exploring James Loch's important book An Account of the Improvements on the Estates of the Marquess of Stafford.....which was published in 1820. It was in part an apologia for the Highland clearances, which brings me into a sensitive area. The Duke of Sutherland was of course ultimately responsible for the clearing of the glens  that led to so much bitterness in the 19th century, a pain that is still deeply felt in the far north. But the Duke also contributed a number of improvements in the area that benefitted everyone. I think of the road over the Moine, which saved much hardship for those having to make the journey from Hope to Tongue, a journey so graphically described in the diaries of the Rev. MacDonald of Durness (see page 61 in my book). It is those improvements that I explore this week, in roads and buildings in particular. Loch provides some good maps and town plans that should not be ignored because of the controversial contents of his text.

Less controversial is the page I have added on Donald Murchison, seen here in this marvelous Landseer painting that hangs in the National Gallery of Scotland (this image a PD WikiMedia image). You will find my page as a sub-page to The Highlands Controversy chapter which is in the geological section of the website.

Donald Murchison was one of Sir Roderick's ancestors, an important enough figure in the eyes of the Director General of the Geological Survey to merit commissioning both this painting and a large memorial on the shores of Loch Duich. I found a little more on the story of Donald in Sidelights on Highland History by William Mackay, published in 1925. 


Summer Sailings with Archibald Young


This week I have been exploring Archibald Young's Summer Sailings by an Old Yachtsman. The book was published in 1898, complete with illustrations, some of which were handcoloured. I have chosen extracts from the first chapter in this delightful book in which he visits the very far north.

Re-organisation, Geology and Roads.


I have spent the last day or two re-organising the page index on the website. There are now many more sub-pages, which are grouped together in vague subject category. I hope this makes exploring my website a little easier.

I have also added two pages recently. One is for geologists, a set of Victorian and early 20th century geological images from magic lantern slides, most though not all depicting Scottish scenes. They are of limited interest - I suspect photographers like George Washington Wilson saw an opportunity to recycle photos in his stock under a new title, "Geology"- but I thought they might be of interest to a few. 

Hollowed Dyke, Eigg. A photograph by A.S. Reid. A British Association Geological photo.

The other page that I have added is on the Great North Road, now known as the A9. The SNP has recently caused irritiation in the Highlands by cancelling the promised upgrade to this important road north from Edinburgh. The sections of it vary from single to dual carriageway, which causes frequent accidents. All the more remarkable, then, are photographs such as the one below, showing 'traffic' on the road c.1930!

Two Sketching Tours, in 1849 and 1967


I have added images from two sketching tours to the Highlands. The travels are recorded only in drawings, with no text other than the titles on each image. One is by an anonymous artist, possible a professional, who dates his or her drawings August 1849. The other is by Victor Papworth, an artist based in Devon. He chose to go to Skye in November and December, 1967, though the drawings suggest a warmer season than deep winter. Both are lovely records of their travels. It is unusual to find such a record in the 1960s, recorded not by camera but by pencil and crayon.

More Geology in Scotland


I have just returned from our latest trip north of the border. Most of it was spent in Edinburgh, but I did manage a few days of exciting geology in Ross-shire, where I also took part in a book presentation with fellow authors Pete Harrison and John McLellan. The geology included a trip to a remarkable quarry recently discovered by Pete Harrison, and a short trek along the River Oykel beneath snow-capped Ben More Assynt, as seen in the photo above. On the previous day we had been in Strathcanaird  just north of Ullapool. This was all very much the Moine Thrust region that I write about in The Immeasurable Wilds in the chapter on The Highlands Controversy. I remain essentially an armchair geologist, but when I manage to force myself out of my comfortable seat, I am still amazed and excited by what is pointed out to me in the rocks of the Far North.

(Photo by Pete Harrison)                                          (Photo by Pete Harrison)

Clear  evidence of the thrust in the mylonite rocks of Ross-shire. Even if you have no interest in geology, I can't believe that you would not be impressed by the folding and structural changes within what appears to be such solid material. The force has produced these wave-like folds.

Whilst in Edinburgh, we visited Siccar Point, which describes itself a "arguably the most important geological site in the world." Not everyone, I think, would agree with that, but it undoubtedly has an important place in the history of the science, for it is where James Hutton began to understand the enormity of geological time. He could see that the almost horizontal red sandstone lay in such a way on top of the vertical greywacke rocks that suggested that a geological event had taken place between the two formations. In fact, it was 65 million years of geological activity, the rocks laid down and then eroded before the upper layer of red sandstone was formed

Hutton viewed the scene from a boat, but it is easy to see what geologists call this 'unconformity' without even descending the steep grassy banks down to the shore. In the right-hand photograph, the almost horizontal red sandstone can be seen on the left, with the verticle greywacke rock on the right. I hope Hutton enjoyed the good weather that greeted us on our brief visit.

A small geological knowledge has added so much to my appreciation of the Scottish landscape, especially in the far north. Should you find yourself there, perhaps travelling along the NC500 road route, do please visit the sites found in the North-West Highlands Geopark. Various displays have been laid out along the way, and the enormity of the geological features can be enjoyed over soup or coffee at the Rock Stop Cafe which overlooks the spectacular Lochs Glencoul and Glendhu. I hope to be there myself next month!

(Above) Looking across Loch Glendhu, a shaft of sunlight highlighting one of the thrust planes.

(Left) Looking across Loch Glencoul to the Stack of Glencoul.

Geologists and Sketches.


I am now back in Scotland for ten days, where amongst other things I will be doing a bit more geology under Pete Harrison's expert supervision, and taking part in a presentation at Ullapool Bookshop on the evening of April 11th. Do please introduce yourself if you attend this event. Before heading north I added two new pages to this website: one titled "Some Victorian Geologists", and the other "Still More Scottish Sketches." The former contains images that are not confined to Scotland (the above, for example, shows the discovery of the Stockton Ichthyosaurus), but I thought it worth adding them as Victorian geologists do not feature widely in images online. The latter part of the page shows the men involved in the Highlands Controversy.

The page on "Still More Scottish Sketches" at the moment shows only those by the Surgeon-General Alexander Hunter. I shall be adding more to the page when I return home in the middle of April.

As always the best way to view the images in the slide-show format is to click on one, and then proceed manually. The images displayed in the slide-show are sometimes not complete.

L'Ordonnance Eludee! ou Les Sans Culottes Ecossais.


I am delighted recently to have taken possession of this scarce caricature engraving, from France. I have added it to the 'Scotland Mocked' page, but it merits a page on its own. The cartoon depicts a scene in Britain, with Highlanders claiming they are within the law that demands they wear culottes, or breeches. This is of course a reference to the Act of Proscription, which banned the wearing of kilts after Culloden. In 1807, the Reverend James Hall noted that "The Highlanders, being compelled to lay aside the kilt, or philibeg, after 1745, and to have each man a pair of breeches, though they did not always wear them, but used the old kilt at home, and when they went abroad, carried their breeches, swung over a stick, resting on their shoulders." This is exactly what is depicted here by the man at the table. Others, behind, are wearing their 'culottes' on their head, or on the upper part of their body. The artist has perhaps got his British history a little confused, referring to the "Ordonnance de la Re. Elisabeth", but it is a fine depiction of an aspect of Scotland during the Act of Proscription.

France had its own use of the phrase "sans culottes": it was used to describe the lower orders of the population from 1791. Whether that is what inspired this caricature I can't say. Basset was said to be publishing engravings under the imprint 'Chez Basset' from 1785 - 1819, so it might well be why the caricature was created.

Highland Forts and Barracks


This week I have completed a page on the old Highland fortresses and barracks that were erected by the Hanoverian government in response to the various Jacobite rebellions in the first half of the 18th century. Most are in a ruined state now, some barely visible, but Fort George is the "fort that never fought" and it can still be seen in all its glory near Inverness.

A New Bridge at Brora


My latest page celebrates the opening of the new bridge at Brora in August 1929. I bought a collection of postcard photographs which came from the office of the architect, Sir E. Owen Williams. Perhaps not the most important architectural event of the 20th century in Scotland, nevertheless I thought it worth preserving this set which shows the construction gradually taking place.  The photographs are presented on a slideshow format. As always you can click on the image as it passes if you want to slow it down, or see the full image. You can then proceed manually.

Geology: Amateur and Professional


I have at last finished my rather long page 'Scottish Geology: Amateur and Professional.' I realise that geology is not for everyone, though I hope the wonderful landscape of the far north of Scotland causes everyone to wonder, even just for a moment, what processes formed it. In my research, I have always been pleased to stumble on references to geology or geologists in the accounts of visitors, and it is these I have recoded on this new page, rather than the actual scientific work during the 18th and 19th centuries. I am certainly not a geologist, and would be unable to impress, or mystify you with detailed geological jargon or science. It is a page, therefore, for both the geologist, and the non-geologist.

Shipping, Large and Small. A selection of Victorian photographs.


I am slowly adding a page of photographs of shipping of all sorts. Some of the images can be found in other pages, but Victorian photographers excelled at images of boats, and I thought it worthwhile collecting together a selection on one page.


Good News!


Good news! I continue slowly to get to grips with the new website. I have discovered that I can, after all, add images to the old slide-show pages, and I have already started to add items to a number of pages, such as this attractive view of Ben Eighe. Once I have added all those to the relevant pages, I will turn my thoughts to more articles relating to my book and my interests.


Rowlandson's Caricatures for Boswell's 'Tour of the Hebrides'.

Double-click here to add your own text.


I continue to grapple with the new (to me) loading format provided by one.com, and am getting there slowly. I have discovered that I cannot add images to the slide show pages which I had previously designed on simplesite. However, I can load up slide shows on one.com, and will add images to suitable pages above the old simplesite series. You will find, for example, 5 new photographs at the top of the page 'Mountaineers.'

I have also added a new slide show page, showing the 20 caricatures by Thomas Rowlandson which he drew for an edition of Boswell's Tour of the Hebrides in the 1780s.


Vernon MacAndrew's Photographs of Sutherland and Caithness.


Happy New Year to you all!

I have just added a page of photographs taken by Vernon MacAndrew. They are thought to date from 1919, and show parts of Caithness and Sutherland when he was staying on the Bighouse estate in Halladale. The images include that shown above, an attempt to tempt the salmon by pouring whisky into the waters! An old libation tradition - or a waste of good whisky?.....


George IV's Visit to Edinburgh, 1822

Double-click here to add your own text.


I have just added my first full page since 'migrating' from Simplesite to One.com. It has been a learning experience, but I think I am getting there slowly. My page is on George IV's historic visit to Edinburgh, which led to the creation of a Scottish history we still feed into today, with clans, tartans and traditions that may or may not be authentic. My starting point was the wonderful exhibition put on at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh in 2019, and I thoroughly recommend the booklet Wild and Majestic, Romantic Visions of Scotland which was published to go with the event.

I can't match the excellence of their collection of course, but I have provided on my page some images, mainly from books that were published in the mid-1800s, and that attempt to establish those Highland traditions that the King's visit inspired, and seek out earlier ones. I hope it will be of interest, and if there are gremlins present, they can be put down to my inexperience on the new website builder.

Addendum: Yes, I think there were gremlins, but I hope the whole page is there now!



Greetings to everyone. This is to let you know that I have now been 'migrated' from Simplesite to one.com. I have not disappeared from the face of the earth, but adding and assembling pages on one.com is very much more complicated, and it will take me a while to learn how to use it. But I have more that I want to share with you, such as this wonderful Sobieski image, one of 6 that I managed to obtain recently. So please bear with me - I hope to be back soon!

In the meantime I wish you a Happy Christmas, and All the Best for 2023

Happy Christmas!


28. Nov, 2022


4. Nov, 2022

I have added two shortish pages to the website this week.

20. Oct, 2022


14. Oct, 2022

I have had a busy week compiling an index for The Immeasurable Wilds.

19. Sep, 2022


18. Aug, 2022

Travellers to the Highlands in the 18th and 19th centuries had lots to say about the inns they found ready to serve them.

9. Aug, 2022

I was pleased to come across this recently.

27. Jul, 2022

I made copious notes for my book, The Immeasurable Wilds.

21. Jul, 2022

I have added a page titled "France and Scotland" to the website yesterday, and intend to add more sub-pages on this topic.

12. Jul, 2022


16. Jun, 2022

I have been looking at an 1896 Ordnance Survey map of Tongue (sheet 114).

10. Jun, 2022

Another scarce print turned up today as well, a very rare caricature by Giles Grinagain.

28. May, 2022

I have just posted a photo album page of Highland portraits - images that typify what people thought of as the Highlander: Shepherds, Drovers, Pipers, etc.

21. May, 2022

It has been long in its gestation, but I am delighted to say that my book has now been published, and should be available from all good bookshops from 23rd May.

18. May, 2022

I have just added this image to the page titled in the menu "NW Art part 2.

7. May, 2022

As the number of people travelling increased during the 19th century, so cartoonists increasingly delighted in portraying the essence of the countries visited.

27. Apr, 2022

I have just posted a page on Highland Ponies, the breed of horse that palyed a crucial part in the life and economy of the far north.

20. Apr, 2022

This week I have added a page which displays the whole of John Smart's small book Ye Life and Troubles of Ane Artist in the Highlands of Scotland.

10. Apr, 2022

I have just posted a page on William Donnelly (1847 - 1905).

30. Mar, 2022

This has been a busy week for me, with the arrival of the final proofs of The Immeasurable Wilds from Whittles.

18. Mar, 2022

I have added two new pages to the website in the past few days.

6. Mar, 2022

I have just posted two photo album pages, one with photographs of Sutherland, and the other postcard images of the county.

27. Feb, 2022

As late as the 19th century, visitors to Sutherland were few and far between because of the difficulty of access.

24. Feb, 2022

I have in my collection a letter from General Roy.

12. Feb, 2022

You would be amused to see what useful people women are in the far north.

3. Feb, 2022

I am in awe of the artistic skills displayed during the Victorian era - not just in the professional arena (and Scotland has a fine tradition of its own), bu...

29. Jan, 2022

The proofs of my book now checked and returned to the Publisher, I can get back to, amongst other tasks, downloading more items relating to the far north of ...

15. Jan, 2022

Some time ago, before I was seriously collecting items from the NW of Scotland, I purchased a set of 10 cdvs (Cartes de Visite photographs) which all came fr...

7. Jan, 2022

Elizabeth Grant's Memoirs of a Highland Lady have been a popular book from the time when it was first published in an edition edited by Lady Strachey in 1898.

31. Dec, 2021

Paul Sandby ranks with the finest watercolour artists of the 18th century in Great Britain.

17. Dec, 2021

Whilst scouring the Edinburgh secondhand bookshops for unusual items, I came across a pile of rather tatty-looking music.

13. Dec, 2021

One of the more remarkable accounts of travels in the far north that I have come across was published in 1882, the book titled Nauticus in Scotland.

7. Dec, 2021

I am even less of a botanist than I am a geologist, but I am still able to enjoy the record left by two who visited the far north at different times.

5. Dec, 2021

A charming vignette from a foreign observer of Victorian Britain.

3. Dec, 2021

It is a tribute in particular to the determination of ladies of that time to maintain high fashion standards even when out on the moors!

30. Nov, 2021

This week I have struggled to unravel the gradual emergence of the correct mapping of three 'rocks' which lie in the North Atlantic.

17. Nov, 2021

If anyone was hoping to give my book as a christmas present, I am afraid they are in for a disappointment: publication is delayed until February.

14. Nov, 2021

No one can pass through the north west Highlands without being struck by the landscape.

6. Nov, 2021

I have just uplaoded two more pages, both on Loch Katrine.

23. Oct, 2021

The Herring Trade was a crucial industry in the Highlands of Scotland, bringing much needed employment during the fishing season.

7. Oct, 2021

William Daniell conducted his tour of the entire coast of Great Britain between the years 1814 - 1825.

5. Oct, 2021

The title of my book is a quote from Sir Walter Scott.

14. Nov, 2022

A reminder to you that I am constantly adding new items to my collection, and new images to this website.

29. Oct, 2022


14. Oct, 2022


29. Sep, 2022

My cycling days are over, but I have full admiration for those, on heavy unwieldy machines in the 19th century who toured Scotland in all weathers.

31. Aug, 2022

This week I have added a selection of photographs from an album I have recently obtained.

11. Aug, 2022

One subject I barely mention in my book is smuggling.

4. Aug, 2022

I refer in passing to Drovers in The Immeasurable Wilds, but my notes reveal more about the life of a drover, as revealed in the writings of visitors.

21. Jul, 2022

The above map was issued by Mr.

13. Jul, 2022

The day after my trip down Loch Glendhu, I had the opportunity to climb Corriehabbie.

24. Jun, 2022

I have added a page to my website titled "Wallis Game 1892".

15. Jun, 2022

The image of Romantic Scotland was exploited throughout the Victorian era in a number of ways.

10. Jun, 2022

I've just returned from a week in Edinburgh, where I have toured the bookshops making sure they know of the recent publication of my book, The Immeasurable W...

26. May, 2022

I was delighted to come across two caricatures, both published c.

19. May, 2022

Murdoch Mackenzie's charts of the Orkney Islands published in 1750 under the title Orcades are recognized as some of the finest mapping of the 18th century.

12. May, 2022

This week I have added to the website images taken from magazines like The Graphic and The Illustrated London News.

29. Apr, 2022


22. Apr, 2022

I have just added a page which looks at the postal facilities in the Far North during the 19th century.

12. Apr, 2022

I have a small number of delightful books that show the interest there was in new lands, and new races at the start of the 19th century.

7. Apr, 2022

I have added two pages of Scottish sketches this week, celebrating the talents of amateur artists.

26. Mar, 2022

I have just completed the first part of a page on early guide-books of Scotland.

13. Mar, 2022

As I did with Sutherland, I have just posted two album pages on photographs of Ross-shire.

4. Mar, 2022

I have just added a page on the roads of the Far North.

24. Feb, 2022

A gentle reminder to regular visitors to my website that I periodically add images to pages already set up.

16. Feb, 2022

There are few sights more beautiful than that which greets you as you come over the brow of the hill shortly after passing Ben Arnaboll on the road from Tong...

11. Feb, 2022

I have not climbed Ben Nevis, and was amazed to discover that, for some 30 years, you could find both a bed and refreshment on the summit of Britain's highes...

1. Feb, 2022

I have recently obtained a copy of Isaak Tirion's map of Scotland which I believe was first issued in 1744.

23. Jan, 2022

The proofs of my book have arrived from Whittles, and they have kept me busy over the last few days.

12. Jan, 2022

I have posted today an original account of a short tour to Scotland in 1824.

1. Jan, 2022

The Reverend Charles Cordiner (1746?

23. Dec, 2021

I am posting a short page about a sampler I have.

15. Dec, 2021

I am today adding photos from two interesting small albums that I own.

10. Dec, 2021

The trouble with writing a book of the sort I have written (The Immeasurable Wilds) is that the sources are unlimited.

5. Dec, 2021

I am a great fan of the Victorian Music Sheet, those with illustrated covers.

5. Dec, 2021

Given my name, Alastair James Mackay Mitchell, I have some reason to boast of my Scottish heritage.

2. Dec, 2021

Over the past couple of days, I have been constructing a long page on early geological maps of Scotland.

20. Nov, 2021

Visitors to the Highlands frequently remarked on the number of people - women and children - who as a rule never wore shoes.

16. Nov, 2021

I have posted two pages, today, on Highland Thatched Houses.

13. Nov, 2021

Whilst my interest is mainly in the far north of Scotland, I find I cannot ignore those Scottish tourist destinations that lie further south.

25. Oct, 2021

Alexander Brodie: "the ferries at this time of year frighten me."

8. Oct, 2021

I have been busy uploading images from my collection.

5. Oct, 2021

I hope my book will bring alive the history of an area that until recently has received little attention.

29. Sep, 2021

My research has revealed many more discoveries and images above those that I could include in the book, and I would like to share these with you in this blog