Scotland 2010:  Landscape, Rocks and Culture: A Study Tour in Scotland

Summer 2010  |  May 15 to June 12  |  Stephen Duguid

COURSE OUTLINE

People who undertake educational travel are often on quite individual quests, exploring family or heritage issues or attracted to particular aspects or features of the culture or locale being visited.  The course of study in such ventures must, therefore, be flexible enough to meet these individual needs as well as provide some common intellectual and aesthetic ground which the group can share.

In our travels in Scotland this May and June the assigned readings and the seminars based on those readings will provide this common ground. We are going to focus on the issue of identity within a devolved Scotland by exploring four of the more important stories that modern Scots look to in their post 1997 referendum efforts to create a national identity: (a) the Celtic heritage of Scottish Kings; (b) the Covenanters and the Killing Times;   (c) the Jacobite rebellion and the Highlands; (d) the 18th century Scottish Enlightenment.

1. In the first week and a half we will explore Scotland’s Celtic past and  assess its impact on the ways in which contemporary Scots imagine their nation.  On Islay we will catch a glimpse of some ancient sites, read about the early medieval era of the “Lord of the Isles” and the impact of the transition on Islay and other parts of the Western Highlands from rule by the MacDonalds, McNeals, MacRaes and other ancient clans to the more “modern” era of control of the regionb by Clan Campbell.  When we move to Druidaig Lodge we will get an even more striking set of images from the Celtic era via the several stone brochs, burial cairns and stone circles in the area.  Later still we will see evidence of the Celtic “Stone Age” era in the many stone circles in Aberdeenshire and the Iron Age hill fort atop Bennachie. On Islay we stay for four nights in lodges attached to the Machrie Hotel and Golf resort (www.machrie.com/index.html).  These are self-catering lodges, so we will be preparing group meals and (whatever the weather!) sight-seeing during the day.  This is the truly Celtic/Norse part of the course plus, of course, the ultimate scotch experience.  Each lodge has two twin bedded rooms, living room, kitchen, etc.

2. Much of our second and third week will shift to examining the Jacobite era in the 18th century, with Sir Walter Scott’sWaverley being our guide along with Johnson and Boswell’s assessment of the region in the years after 1745.  In addition to the readings we will visit Culloden and examine some of the means by which the English “pacified” the Highlands after 1745, particularly by visiting Fort George just outside Inverness at the English barracks at Ruthven and Glenelg. We will be staying at Druidaig Lodge, the Edwardian private home of a branch of the McRae family.  Nestled right on Loch Duich and within sight of the famous Eilan Donan castle, we have the Lodge and its 10,000 acres to ourselves for a week. (www.lhhscotland.com/property?id=164)  From the Lodge we'll travel to Skye, to Inverness and Fort George and then north to the Black Isle and Sutherland to do some geological exploring and crawl round some stone age ruins. During this week we will be preparing evening meals at the Lodge.

3. In our third week we will begin discussing the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th and early 19th centuries, reflecting on Scott himself who was a product of this Enlightenment, but also discuss some of the scientific advances of the era by reading about the geologist Hugh Miller.  Much of our discussion here, however, will be exploring the linkage between the religious history of 17th century Scotland and the era of Enlightenment that followed.  Often seen as at odds, many Scottish historians today see the Covenanters and other Presbyterian groups as central to creating the conditions for the Enlightenment that followed.  We will be staying at Black Hills Estate near Elgin. (www.blackhills.co.uk/)  Here we have four houses grouped fairly close together on a large estate with one of the most beautiful wild gardens I've seen (esp. the rhododendrons!)  Each house will help host dinners for the group during the week and there will be several day trips toward Aberdeenshire ("Castle Country").

4. In our final week we will visit the real centre of the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century, Edinburgh, where we have accommodation at the University of Edinburgh. We then travel on to what became a focal point for the further development of enlightened thought, the English Lake District  where we will read some of the poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge.

Cost of trip inclusive of meals, accommodation, admissions and local travel is $3800/person – mix of single and shared accommodation.