Drinking, Feasting, Fighting, Wearing Bling - the Celts Come to Town

Detail from the Gundestrup Cauldron, circa 100BC, Denmark.

Images courtesy of the British Museum and the NMS

Celts could be weird and scary. They were mad for the drink and when they had it, you had to watch out for them: they saw things and became aggressive. They were radge fighters, absolutely mental, they dressed up to go into battle and they played great big war horns that made a sound that would scare the living daylights out of you. And they liked bling, loved it actually: gold, bronze, iron, glass, precious stones. They wore chunky jewellery decorated with abstract patterns and symbols. They were skilled at metalwork, leatherwork, pottery and weaving and if something precious was broken, they would mend it - a bronze flagon with a broken handle would get a different handle, or a hole would be fixed with a decorated patch, and made as good as new - better in fact. Oh and they loved parties and feasting; the women were great hosts and they were buried with their special pots and flagons, probably so they could use them for a big after-party on the other side.

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Creativity and Courage: An Exhibition of Women's Art

Catterline in Winter. Joan Eardley. Images Courtesy of the National Galleries of Scotland

 There are many powerful pieces in the current exhibition of Modern Scottish Women’s Art from the late Victorian era to the early 60s and the show casts light on the challenges that women artist faced.

They had to contend with barriers such as the bar on married women’s employment and the misogyny which meant they were not admitted to bodies like the RSA. There was prejudice from families which made it harder to train and caring responsibilities which absorbed their time and emotional energy.

But these were strong women all of whom earned at least a partial living from their endeavours as artists and this exhibition is a rare opportunity to see their often unfairly neglected work.

Read more: Creativity and Courage: An Exhibition of Women's Art

Excerpt from the play 'Union' by Tim Barrow set in 1707

This is an excerpt from a scene which was read at an event at the "Previously..." Scotland's History Festival, on November 19 2015

Set in the magnficent chamber of the Scottish Parliament, the scene features Lord Queensberry, the main proponent of the Treaty of Union and Lord Hamilton, who led the opposition.

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What really happened at "1707: What Really Happened?"

History Festival

The faultlines of Scottish politics go back a long way: historians are still arguing about the Union of Parliaments back in 1707 when the Scottish Parliament voted itself out of existence. For some it was a pragmatic decision; for others it was a grave error. These controversies were argued over afresh at “1707: What Really Happened?” at Scotland’s History Festival last month.

Playwrights Tim Barrow and Jen McGregor read from Tim Barrow’s play “Union’ set in 1707. The scene dramatised the clash over the Treaty of Union between Lord Queensberry who was a main proponent of the measure and steered it through Parliament and Lord Hamilton, who led the opposition to it.  Here is an excerpt from the scene, set in the “magnificent chamber of the Scottish Parliament”.

Read more: What really happened at "1707: What Really Happened?"

The historic 'Yes' vote that changed Scotland.

Jackie Kemp is chairing an event at the History Festival on Thursday November 19 at 7.45. On the panel will be historians Michael Fry, Professor Christopher Whatley, Professor Murray Pittock and dramatists Tim Barrow and Jen McGregor.

1707: What really Happened? November 19, at 28 York Place, Edinburgh. 7.45pm to 9.15pm. Free. Tickets available at

In the run up to the historic vote intense debate raged among “Great & Small, Rich & Poor, Old & Young, Men & Woman”. It was ‘the common discourse and universal concern of all ranks of people.” Hundreds of broadsheets and pamphlets poured onto the streets. Speeches from parliamentary debates were printed. The independence lobby were the noisiest - the mob was against. A key contemporary historian was a Jacobite. But many middle class Protestants and merchants were quietly in favour of the Union of Parliaments in 1707.

Read more: The historic 'Yes' vote that changed Scotland.