Famous Birthplaces

The NTS looks after some amazing properties and landscapes across Scotland, and therefore, it is unsurprising that we have some fascinating links to some Scottish icons. Here we take a look at a few of our favourite famous connections by exploring the homes of some famous scots.

Firstly, one of the most well known of our properties the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, or RBBM for short.

Robert Burn’s Cottage

Here you have the chance to really immerse yourself in the history of Burns. From the cottage where Burns was born and raised; across the Brig o’ Doon, the setting for his work Tam o’ Shanter; through to the monument raised after his death. The visitor centre is great and home to lots of interesting artefacts, as well as some fun interactive activities for the young, and the young at heart. If you can definitely tag onto a walk down to the cottage as the guides are very knowledgeable and make sure you get a photo with the lovely mouse statue.

If you get the chance you can also stop by JM Barries Birthplace.

JM Barries Writing Desk

This quaint cottage where Barrie was born in 1860 is now a museum dedicated to his life. As the ninth of ten children he longed to be a writer from a young age and his most famous creation, Peter Pan, has probably be read by most people. The house includes family heirlooms such as the silk christening robe used for all the Barrie children as well as artefacts from later in his life, including his original desk from his flat in London.

Nearer us in the north we have Hugh Millers Birthplace on the Black Isle in Cromarty.

Hugh Millers Birthplace

Perhaps not as well known as some of the other men on our list, Hugh Miller was a self-taught folklorist, writer and geologist. His collection of some 6,000 fossils is held by National Museums Scotland with several on show at his birthplace cottage. It is a fascinating journey to discover more about this man who was a pioneering scientist in his day. His advise to ‘Make a right use of your eyes’ encourages everyone to stop and look around them at the beauty of the world we live in.

Finally we turn to Thomas Carlyle’s Birthplace in Ecclefechan.

Carlyle’s Birthplace in Ecclefechan

Born in 1795 Carlyle was one of Scotland most influential writers and thinkers and though his house does not appear much from the outside, inside it holds a wealth of history. First opened to the public in 1881 the house has remained relatively unchanged, and was actually constructed by Carlyle’s own father and uncle who were both stonemasons. Interestingly when Carlyle died he declined the offer of a final resting place in Westminster Abbey, and was instead buried beside his parents in Ecclefechan.

We hope you enjoyed this taster of special homes the NTS looks after. As always please comment, share, like, re-blog and check out more sites at www.nts.org.uk

All the best, K & D

P.S. Here’s a picture of the gorgeous mouse at RBBM

Isn’t he lovely?



Hugh Miller and Culloden

Culloden is such a key part of Scottish, British and indeed world history that you find reference to it cropping up in lots of places. For example, the laird of Brodie Castle had government troops camps on his land before the battle and Fort George at Ardersier was built after the battle to house all the government troops stationed in the Highlands to police the Jacobites.

For this post though we are looking at the story of Hugh Miller’s grandfather that can be found at Hugh Millers Birthplace Museum in Cromarty.

Hugh Miller's Cottage, Cromarty, Ross-shire.
Hugh Miller’s Cottage in Cromarty

Hugh Miller’s grandfather witnessed the Battle of Culloden from the Hill of Cromarty when he was a boy of fourteen. His grandfather told of the day being drizzly and thick, and when he climbed the hill he found many townsfolk already assembled. A little after midday a round white cloud rose from Culloden Moor, and then a second beside it. He recalled hearing the rattle of smaller fire-arms mingled with the roar of artillery. Then after what felt like an exceedingly short space of time the clouds dissipated, and the rattle and roar was replaced with the sharp patter of musketry.

In his recount of these events Miller also talks of another story told to him by a woman who on the day of the battle was tending sheep. She sat listening to the boom of the cannon in terror but was still more scared by the howling of her dog, who sat upright on his haunches the whole time the firing continued, reportedly “looking as if he saw a spirit”.

During his life Miller also spoke with at least two soldiers who fought at Culloden, one on the government side, the other the Jacobite. The first, a forester, accompanied the Government Army to Fort Augustus and spoke of the atrocities he saw, some of which still made his blood boil seventy years later. He talked of scores of cottages in flames, and droves of cattle brought in from Highlanders’ lands. At one point he mentions there must have been about twenty thousand cattle, and groups of drovers from Yorkshire and the south of Scotland used to come in every day to share in the spoil and buy the cattle at greatly reduced prices.

This unique personal account is an amazing recollection that helps bring the story of Culloden to life and we love to hear these special insights that help connect us to the feelings of the people at the time of the battle and share so much more of the story than just facts and figures.

We hope you enjoyed hearing this story and do be sure to check out the excellent Hugh Millers Birthplace in Cromarty if you would like to learn more about this remarkable man. (And yes it is National Trust for Scotland, you can’t blame us for being biased!)

As always like, tweet, follow, share and tell stories of your own because one day they may become fascinating glimpses into history for later generations to enjoy. All the best K & D.