Burns Night: more than haggis, neeps and tatties

WITH Burns Night approaching on Wednesday, Scotland is demonstrating that there’s a lot more to learn about our national bard than haggis, neeps and tatties.

The South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) has created themed driving routes following in the footsteps of Robert Burns and inspired by the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

The 187 mile-long “Burns Trail” takes visitors on a six-day tour from Berwickshire to Dumfries, following in the footsteps of Scotland’s national bard, and taking inspiration from a tour of the Borders the then 28-year-old Burns took in May 1787 with his friend, Robert Ainslie.

Sarah Macdonald, SSDA project leader for stories, who co-designed both trails for the “Scotland Starts Here” promotion, said: “The south of Scotland is absolutely jam-packed with fascinating stories and heritage just waiting to be discovered.

“In developing these two new driving trails, we’ve worked hard with our partners to showcase the stand-out highlights of our region’s connections with both Burns and the Great Tapestry, while weaving in lots of useful recommendations for fantastic places to stay, eat, drink and visit along the way.”

Laings - hidden thistle necklace

Meanwhile, Laings has created a range of jewellery inspired by the Bard and Burns Night.

It includes the “Fabergé Essence 18-carat Rose Gold Bull Thistle Surprise Locket” – which has a thistle hidden inside, echoing Burns’ “Tae a Thistle” – and an “18ct White Gold 1.95ct Ruby and Diamond Ring”, reminiscent of “O my Love is like a red, red rose”.

Other pieces in the range include a “Mikimoto 18ct Yellow Gold Diamond and Akoya Pearl Flower Pendant” that evokes “You seize the flower, its bloom is shed”, and a “Platinum 2.29ct Sapphire and 1.33ct Diamond Ring”, linked to Burns’ “My Bonnie Lass”.

“A necessity for any stylish suit, these sterling silver square red and black enamel diamond cufflinks will ensure you are as suave as any Scottish gentleman,” the company added, invoking “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men”.

Burns Night - Barnbougle Castle

And finally, experts from the University of Glasgow have unearthed details about Burns’ home life after being invited to view the library at Barnbougle Castle in Edinburgh by its owner,
Lord Dalmeny, the chairman of Sotheby’s auction house and the great-grandson of former prime minister Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery and 1st Earl of Midlothian.

Primrose was an avid collector of Burns manuscripts and other documents, and his library included “Burnsiana”, a book of letters, memoranda, and trades bills.

“We are so grateful to the Rosebery family for giving us access to this superb collection and in particular for lending us Burnsiana to delve even further into the materials held within it, ” said Professor Gerard Carruthers, the Francis Hutcheson chair of Scottish literature at the universit.

“The book contains a full set of evidence for Burns’ construction of Ellisland, previously unknown, including quantities of nails, floorboards and door frames.

“Here we have the minutiae of Burns constructing his first family dwelling as an adult, building both a house and a home.”

Don’t miss more news and reviews on Scottish Field’s culture pages.

Plus, read about Hollywood’s obsession with Robert Burns in the February issue of Scottish Field magazine.