- Written by Iain Hamilton, Head of Creative Industries, Highland and Islands Enterprise
January is always a pretty miserable time of year, so I didn’t expect there to be too much to go in the blog this time around. I was wrong though, from an Island Jurassic Park (ok that is stretching a point) to the Northern Lights, a few things have caught my attention once again.
To kick off, I am going to take you back to St Kilda. For a small group of Islands, 110 miles from the Scottish mainland, it does seem to crop up quite regularly! This time, St Kilda - home of giant meat-eating field mice! There is no way I could miss this one out. On the mainland, field mice eat nuts, berries seeds and insects. On St Kilda, they are a much tougher breed. Thought to have arrived with the Vikings, scientists have discovered that the field mice have adapted to the cold conditions and are now twice the size of their mainland cousins, and have been found to eat seabirds and even scavenge meat of dead sheep.
It’s not just mice that have made a mark for size and strength though. The Easter Ross town of Invergordon has changed the signs as you enter, to tell visitors that this is the home town of the Stoltman Brothers, World, European and UK’s strongest men. Tom was crowned World’s strongest man in 2021, and his younger brother Luke, Europe’s strongest man. Invergordon, a deep water port, was the site of a British navy station and was a home to US navy during WWII. It’s navy links though are probably best remembered for the Invergordon Mutiny in 1931, when several ships crews mutinied over threatened pay cuts. Two of the ringleaders of the mutiny went on to interesting careers. Len Wincott defected to the USSR in 1934, survived the siege of Leningrad and was eventually sent to a Gulag in 1946 as a British spy. Fred Copeman commanded the British battalion of the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. The port still has a large number of visitors annually because of the many cruise ships that dock there.
A charity has revealed digital images of a proposed rebuild of a Broch in Caithness. Brochs are Iron age, hollow walled stone towers that are found in the North of Scotland. The round towers were typically up to 12 meters tall, up to 15 meters in diameter and with 3 meter thick walls with rooms or cells within the walls. The Broch’s were originally thought to have been early castle’s but are now thought to have been used as a defensive structure for local communities. The Charity hopes to begin construction of a Broch in 2023, nd would be the first to be built in 2000 years.
Its also great seeing Highlands and Islands businesses being featured and recognised. Highland designer maker, Iseabal Hendry, has her beautiful leather bags, created as a collaboration with Fife Arms Hotel highlighted in a Valentine gifts article in Elite Traveller; Inverness PR agency, Muckle Media, is the first in Scotland to receive the BCorp status for its ongoing environmental and social practices; Inverness Fiddler, Bruce MacGregor blogs about his new album and his upcoming gig at Celtic Connections and Isle of Jura’s own renowned composer and producer, Giles Perring, doing the sound design for a new drama at Chichester Festival Theatre
Finally, another reason to look north – as if it was needed. The BBC carried an article about Northern Lights Hunters, people prepared to stand out and freeze to catch sight of the Aurora Borealis. Caused by geomagnetic storms from the sun, the cold clear nights of a Highland winter are the perfect location to see this incredible light display.