Best Cultural Experiences Of Scotland
Let Locals Share the Stories of their Home, Culture & Identity! Dive in!
Contemplating a trip to Bonnie Scotland? Here's BCD's overview of the country's cultural highlights, followed by a collection of articles, interviews and video that offer in-depth insights and recommendations on places to go and people to meet!
Scotland is a wee county with Big Sky vistas, a grand history filled with inspiration and intrigue, and a rich cultural heritage encompassing Celts, castles and kilts, as well as Picts, pottery and poetry!
If you are an armchair archaeologist who appreciates the mystery and ingenuity of ancient architecture and lifestyles, Scotland offers a tremendous breadth of sites to explore. The Bronze Age Clava Cairns, Neolithic Grey Cairns of Camster, and the reconstruction of a 2,500 year-old loch dwelling at the Scottish Crannog Centre are but a few of the Scottish monuments that inspire curiosity and wonder about the daily lives of their long-ago residents. The Iona Abbey, on the Isle of Iona on the country's west coast, was the birthplace of Christianity on Scotland, founded by St. Columba in 563 A.D.; its remains a peaceful and contemplative destination for both pilgrims and tourists today.
Scotland also has a wealth of intangible cultural heritage that lives on today and is accessible to be experienced. In the northernmost village of the Scottish Highlands, behold the choreography of border collies expertly herding sheep under the direction their trainer. On the island of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides, interact with the landscape by getting a lesson in cutting peat by a local on land that has been in his family for 11 generations. In Edinburgh, be enthralled with the power of spoken folklore at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. In Inveraray, meet the chief of the Clan Campbell and tour Inveraray Castle, his ancestral home.
See below to access BCD's collection of stories and Q & As, which are sure to fire your imagination and give you ideas for your trip!
One of BCD's guiding ideals is the power of listening--to ourselves, to others and to the Universe. In the tiny village of Ullapool on Loch Broom in the Scottish Highlands, locals share stories of powerful instances of serendipity. Meet Collen & Richard Lindsay, co-owners of West House, who describe the happy accident behind their B & B & launching the Ullapool Guitar Festival. Be amazed by the incredible story of Polly Hoad, owner of textile shop Unlimited Colour, who weaves a story of devastation, miracles & paying it forward. Be reminded of the power of chance encounters!
Scotland is a country blessed with some of the best scenery on earth—majestic mountains, enchanting lochs, mysterious castles—and every bend in its roads has its own spell-binding lore. While you are sure to find your own favorite vistas, BCD shares what we consider the ten best view of Scotland--some are universally agreed-upon and others are off-the beaten path! Among our picks are locales enjoyed by wily Highlands cattle rustler and folk hero Rob Roy and Queen Victoria, whose passion for Scotland is said to have inspired the tourism industry here in the 19th century.
Scotland's Inner Hebrides Isles of Mull & Iona are places of pilgrimage for both history and nature lovers for good reason. Reached by ferry from Oban, these sister islands offer a microcosm of Scotland's story, from Bronze Age cairns to the ruins of ancient Iona Abbey to Duart Castle, fought over by two clans. Mull is now nick-named 'Eagle Island' but only after the regal birds were reintroduced from extinction after persecution; the colorful Puffin, on the other hand, is a much-loved seabird who returns here each summer from the Arctic to breed. As always, let BCD inform and educate you on the cultural highlights of a destination before you travel!
The reasons to travel are many & varied. One of those is to reconnect with a sense of awe & wonder at the world, and to be reinvigorated when life's inevitable challenges have sapped us of our joie de vivre. In this account, Scotland's Loch na Keal on the Isle of Mull and a daily dose of rainbows provide much-welcome brushes with the Divine and rejuvenation. Learn why the word 'Wow' was invented in Scotland!
Join BCD for a virtual tour of the geological & cultural wonders of Scotland's Isle of Skye, including Kilt Rock, MacLeod’s Tables, Three Chimney's Restaurant & Neist Point. Learn the lore & legends behind some of Skye's most distinctive landmarks. Get a local's view of the landscape from the co-owner of award-winning Three Chimneys Restaurant. Behold the breathtaking sight of Neist Point Lighthouse and discover its connection with Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde! Be reminded of the exhilarating freedom that travel offers!
Have you ever sang to meditate? Experience the soul-moving power of singing meditation at the Findhorn spiritual community and eco-village on Scotland’s Moray Firth coast. Within the walls of its Nature Sanctuary, the power of sound, intention and prayer reverberate. The building itself was made with whimsical and wonderful acoustics that helps the daily meditation sound so loud and perfect. Connect with the members of the Findhorn community & let them share their stories of their Taize practice.
Roam the open fields of Scotland and see the beautiful country as the locals do. If you're thinking of traveling to Scotland let BCD offer you a preview of the majestic Scottish Highland's scenery and landscape with an invigorating video slide show, accompanied by the sounds of a traditional rousing bagpipe! Be humbled by the deep valley of Glen Coe, surrounded by the soaring splendor of the “Three Sisters”! Enjoy views of Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle from a Jacobite cruise! Be spellbound by Skye's landmarks like Macleod's Tables, Kilt Rock & Neist Point Lighthouse. Be moved by stunning images of one of the world’s most breathtaking cultural landscapes!
Are you an armchair archaeologist intrigued by ancient architecture? Then two must-see Bronze Age sites in Scottish Highlands are Clava Cairns on the River Nairn and the Grey Cairns of Camster. These mysterious ancient stone structures are sure to inspire questions & conjecture about the Neolithic residents who built them. Resting place? Astronomical observatory? Place of fertility rituals? Let local amatuer sleuth Dougie Scott and Historic Scotland expert Dr. Kirsty Owen share their theories on the origins and purposes of these moody and intriguing dimensions of the Scottish cultural landscape!
Be transported back in time by the community at the Scottish Crannog Centre. Take in the authentic reconstructions of ancient loch-dwellings that every year play host to an Iron Age Halloween pagan ritual. Meet archaeologist Barrie Andrian & get a tutorial on crannogs & the history of life on the lochs of Scotland’s Highland Perthshire. Join in the Crannog’s Centre’s raucous celebration of the Gaelic Festival of Samhain! BCD's insightful reporting gives you the lay of the cultural landscape in a way no other site does.
Beannachdan! Interested in languages? BCD explores the re-emergence of popularity of two indigenous Scottish languages that had been scorned for centuries: Scots & Gaelic. Meet Scottish writer Gilbert Summers & Glasgow Gaelic School head teacher Donalda McComb, who recount changes in attitude toward the Scots and Gaelic languages in their lifetimes. Let BCD's access to and relationships with local people inform your travels & ensure authentic encounters.
Meet His Grace Torquhil Ian Campbell, who shares the dual ancestral roles of Duke of Argyll and Chief of Scotland’s Clan Campbell. In this revealing interview, the figurehead of the world’s Campbell descendants explores the extended family’s ancestral heritage, offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Inveraray Castle & shares his views of themes of belonging, individuality, and the role of Scottish clan chief in 21st century. BCD informs your travel by bringing cultural heritage to life with compelling human interest profiles.
Travelling to Scotland and want to be sure to experience the best of the country’s famed lochs? With over 31,000 lochs scattered around Scotland it's no wonder that they hold such a powerful place in Scottish folklore and history. Let BCD take you through the ten most gorgeous and culturally significant of these magnificent bodies of water. BCD's guides Johanna Campbell and Gilbert Summers give us poetic commentary on the merits of these stunning stars of the Scottish landscape. Be sure to tell us which is your favorite!
Ever wonder how people of various backgrounds from different parts of the world end up in the same place? The remote village of Durness in Scotland’s northwest corner is called home by both local crofters & artists, who all have a potent connection with the area’s spectacular beauty. Learn about Scottish crofting heritage and lifestyle from Martin Mackay. Let Ishbel MacDonald share the inspiration she finds in Durness’ ‘layers of history’. Learn from Ludo Van Muysen about the energy of Durness’ storms and sea. See Durness’ fast-changing light show and green misty valleys through the eyes of Nicola Poole.
Ever heard of Puffin Therapy? Meet Skipper Iain Morrison, who coined the term, and hear the story behind it! Let Iain guide you through the islands of the Inner Hebrides, which offer encounters with Orcas and Sea Eagles, as well as the adorable Puffins! Get Iain’s take on the distinct personalities of each island and a glimpse of life growing up on the Isle of Mull. BCD gives you the lay of the cultural landscape in a way no other site does, connect with Scotland's Inner Hebrides islands.
Are you a fan of storytelling? Then sit back and let Donald Smith regale you with colorful and thought-provoking anecdotes that illustrate the power of one of mankind’s most ancient traditions. Donald is the Director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre located in Edinburgh; in this lively Q&A, he discusses themes of memory, identity and connecting with ourselves, others and the environment. Donald delves into how Scottish identity is linked to landscape & the power of place, and looks at what two preeminent Scottish storytellers, Robert Louis Stevenson and John Knox, teach us about the duality of human nature.
Are there certain smells that conjures up “home” for you? Let Donald MacPhee, a crofter on the Isle of Benbecula in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, give you the story behind the beloved scent of a good peat fire. Donald took BCD into the peat bogs to share the history, traditions & techniques of harvesting this age-old eco heating source. Donald’s tutorial gives context and meaning for an iconic tradition--he is the kind of storyteller BCD is passionate about presenting to travelers!