« Previous | Main | Next »

The Scots; A Genetic Journey, episode 3

Post categories:

Alan Braidwood Alan Braidwood | 14:12 UK time, Tuesday, 1 March 2011

To support episode 3 of the programme Alistair Moffat, Tim Clarkson and John Harrison have written the articles below for the blog, which they wrote at the time of recording last year.

Alistair Moffat
To Dumbarton Rock on Tuesday 26th October in a gale! Martin the sound engineer did a superb job, even hanging on to the metal wire attached to a flagpost at one point to stop it rattling while all the time recording an interview right at the top of the rock in high winds and sleet. I think Martin may be made of wire.

Martin the sound engineer hanging on to the metal wire attached to a flagpost at one point to stop it rattling!

Martin the sound engineer hanging on to the metal wire attached to a flagpost at one point to stop it rattling!

Talked to Tim Clarkson about the Old Welsh speaking kingdoms of southern Scotland. One was based on Dumbarton Rock and as Strathclyde, it lasted 1,000 years. The Rock itself is amazing, even or maybe especially in a gale. Real Harry Potter location. Supporters of Dumbarton FC get a birds-eye view as the stadium is at the foot of the Rock.

Alistair Moffat on Dumbarton Rock

Alistair Moffat on Dumbarton Rock

Stirling - John Harrison, written 28 Oct 2010
Stirling Castle sits on quite a high rock looking out over a plain. The Highlands can be seen to the north, some 15 miles or so away. Closer to hand are lower ranges of hills, the Touch Hills to the west and the Ochils to the east, with the 'Stirling Gap' between. Key to Stirling's importance is that major east-west and north-south routes pass through the gap.

Equally important, for centuries Stirling was the lowest possible bridging point of the River Forth. So, whilst a small merchant or traveller could cross the river by ford or small boat further upstream, armies had few choices but to cross at Stirling. The Battle of Stirling Bridge (1297) was just the most obvious of many struggles for control of the river crossing.

Its strategic importance probably influenced the choice of Stirling as a royal residence from at least the 12th century. The area was surrounded by some good farmland and the communications (there was a harbour as well as all those roads) made it a good trading spot, able to support a viable urban population. And the factors that made Stirling strategically important are still those which give it such cracking views, the castle still broods over the landscape and the main routes from Central Scotland to the Highlands and to Perth and the north-east still whisk people and goods through the Stirling Gap.

Photographs taken at Stirling Castle

Photographs taken at Stirling Castle

Tim Clarkson - Dumbarton
When Alistair Moffat invited me to Dumbarton Castle to talk about the Strathclyde Britons my first thought was: What an excellent location! I had not previously got to the top of the Rock, so I was looking forward to it. As the day of recording drew nearer I imagined standing on the summit, under a clear autumn sky, enjoying panoramic views of the landscape: the Erskine Bridge, the wide waters of the Firth, mighty Ben Lomond on the northern horizon. Well, it didn't quite turn out like that. The four of us - Alistair, producer Amanda, soundman Martin and myself - did manage to get to the top, but no pleasant autumn sunshine awaited us. In every direction our view was obscured by mist and rain. A relentless breeze swept our voices away across the Clyde. Still, it was fun to see how long the audio equipment (and ourselves) could endure such adverse weather. I think we rose to the challenge rather well. And afterwards, when we returned to our cars, it felt like the end of quite an adventure.

The Scots; A Genetic Journey is on BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesdays, 1530-1600


  • No comments to display yet.

More from this blog...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.