Honoring Our Scottish Heritage: Day Two

Written by: Bana Caskey, Historian General
October 9, 2014

The second day of our DAR tour began early with a visit to the Scottish Parliament where we were welcomed be Fergusson Cochrane, Head of United Kingdom International Relations. The President General presented a proclamation on behalf of the National Society to celebrate the strong ties between Scotland and the United States and to honor the contributions of the Scots to American Independence. Following the presentation, Gordon Stewart, Head of Visitor Services, escorted us on a private tour of Parliament. This very contemporary building is a striking contrast to the architecture of old town Edinburgh. In preparation for our visit, Mr. Stewart researched his family lineage, and he confessed that his ancestors were likely on the British side.

The Scotland Act of 1998 established the first Parliament since 1707. In the Debating Chamber, where meetings of the full Parliament are held, there is symbolic silver and gold mace inscribed "THERE SHALL BE A SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT."

The group had fun counting the numerous Celtic Crosses located throughout the building and learning about the "peep holes" into the Debating Chamber, which are a symbol of the people watching (overseeing) the work of Parliament.

After our visit we took a short bus ride to the National Museum of Scotland, where we were welcomed by Director David Forsyth. The museum’s collection represents everything from Scottish and classical archaeology to applied arts and design; from world cultures and social history to science, technology and the natural world. Our time was too brief to discover all of the many treasures of this fabulous museum. We could have explored there all day!

The group attended a lovely private luncheon at the Royal Overseas Club overlooking Princess Street Gardens and Edinburgh Center. After lunch we were treated to a self-guided tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Our time on board included a delicious tea in the Royal Deck Tearoom. I highly recommend the fruit scones!

We returned to the hotel for a quick change of clothes and then we were back on the bus heading to Newbattle Abbey College in Dalkeith, where we were warmly welcomed by President Ann Southwood and Professor Neil Hargraves. Originally, a medieval monastery, Newbattle Abbey has a 900-year history of welcoming royalty and privileged guests. It was here that discussions were held to draft the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, a letter to Pope John XXII asking him to recognize Scotland's independence and to acknowledge Robert the Bruce as the country's king.

We were pleased to place and dedicate a bronze marker commemorating the Declaration of Arbroath. Professor Hargraves spoke eloquently on the connection between the American Revolution in 1776 and the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, whose words still resonate today.

After dinner and a tour of Newbattle Abbey, we returned to the hotel -- exhausted but thrilled for the opportunity to Honor our Scottish Heritage!

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