Searching for Roots… A Photo Essay on Southwestern Scotland

Scenic Scotland

Peggy and I explored the southern and southwestern part of Scotland with its rolling hills and green, green pasture lands.


Today I am returning to the Wednesday photographic essay part of my blog. This time I will feature the southwestern area of Scotland with a few photos of Edinburgh thrown in. Peggy and I shared in taking the photographs.


Peggy, Jane, Jim and I wrapped up our narrowboat tour and then hopped on a train bound for Edinburgh, Scotland where we hung out together for a few more days before parting company. Jane and Jim returned to London while Peggy and I rented a car and headed out on a quest. I was eager to see some of the areas my ancestors had come from including the grave of a long dead Presbyterian martyr, John Brown, who had been shot down in the 1600s because he refused to recognize England’s king as God’s representative on earth. The Presbyterians were stubborn that way.

Edinburgh is an impressive city that is very easy to get lost in, or at least get lost trying to get out of!

Edinburg Scotland 1

Edinburg 3

Edinburg 4

Sir Walter Scott’s Memorial.

Edinburg 2

Duke of Wellington

The Duke of Wellington.

The car rental place upgraded us to a Mercedes and wished us good luck on finding our way out of the city.

Peggy and mercedes

Is this woman determined or deranged? And is she really biting the steering wheel? I thought that she was a bit old for a teething ring.

We quickly discovered that there are a lot of sheep in Scotland— big woolly creatures. They like to stand in the middle of the road and refuse to move.

Sheep in Scotland 2

My road

“My road!” Peggy and I were on a great detour (we were lost again) when we came on this sheep blocking the road. I thought I might have to get out of our car and pull a Crocodile Dundee on it. The red marking is to show ownership.

Sheep in Scotland


Scottish sheep

Hungry. The great range wars of the Western United States between cattlemen and sheepmen in the 1800s were partially because sheep like to crop the grass so close to the ground.

Scottish cow

This steer seems to agree about sheep.

Shetland pony

And who knows what this wild Shetland was thinking?  It may have thought we were good for an apple. Or maybe it was a reincarnated ancestor of mine trying to make contact…

We checked out several graveyards. I was, after all, searching for dead people.

Scottish graveyard

These tombstones were so large they could have had books written on them. Wait, they did. Check out the light gray marker on the right.

Peggy and Scotland grave

Peggy demonstrates just how big the tombstones were.   If I am correct in reading her body language, she is saying, “And how many more graveyards are we going to visit today, Curt? Don’t you realize it is raining and cold out here?” (Actually, Peggy is a great sport about visiting graveyards and this might have been one of her ancestors.)

John Brown's grave

The lonely grave of John Brown, the Presbyterian martyr, who would have been a great, great, great, great, great, grandfather of mine, or something like that. My story of John Brown and the Presbyterian Covenanters, as they were known, can be found here.

Castles were also on our itinerary. There are bunches in Scotland. Each lord wanted one to protect himself from the English— or his neighbor. One of my fifth cousins had assured me that the Mekemson family once owned a Scottish Castle, but it was north of Edinburgh.

Scottish castle 4

Old castles are a feature of Scotland. They are well built, but a bit airy.

Scottish castle 2

Scottish castle 1


Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Wonderful whiskers. Nice bouquet.

Peggy in castle

I found a winsome wench in one. Oh wait, that was a fair maiden!

Most of our time was spent admiring the beautiful scenery and fun towns plus visiting with the warm and welcoming people of Scotland.

Scenic river in Scotland

The River Nith in Dumfries.

Scottish broom

Scotch broom

Scotch Broom was everywhere, adding its beautiful yellow to hillsides.

Scene in Scotland

I am a fan of stone walls. Fences don’t get much classier! But imagine the work…

Stone circles in Scotland

Speaking of moving rocks, these boulders were placed here several thousand years ago as part of a sacred site.

Homes in Scotland

Small towns were colorful and clean. Kirkcolm was where my great-grandmother on the Thompson side was from. It’s where we met the Shetland.

Great grandfather's home

And this might have been the home of her father.

Window in Scotland

A fun window with posies.

Flowers in Scotland

And a flower pot built into the front of a building to wrap up today’s post.


FRIDAY’S Blog-a-Book POST: The animal kingdom is kicked off my bed

MONDAY’S Travel Blog POST: A wrap up on the central coast of Washington

WEDNESDAY’S Photo Essay POST: The beauty of Sedona Arizona

55 thoughts on “Searching for Roots… A Photo Essay on Southwestern Scotland

  1. See you come from good stock Curt, my family from my father’s side was from Wigtownshire and I grew up there. It’s the most beautiful place on earth, just might also be the wettest 😉

  2. What an incredible journey, Curt. All that greenery, castles and these lovely animals. Phenomenal.
    I too love graveyards. I don’t know what it is between me and them, I just love them. Every time I go somewhere, I make sure I see at least one. Hubby’s always frowning. Doesn’t get it.

    • Peggy and I view our visits to graveyards as something of a treasure hunt, Bojana, since we are usually looking for dead ancestors, so it becomes fun! The older the graveyard, the more interesting. Of course my growing up next to one and considering it a playground probably influenced me. 🙂 BTW, I ran over to your site and read your tooth piece. Pretty funny— with a little wisdom threw in! I get it. A new dentist looks in my mouth and immediately starts planning his/her next vacation. –Curt

  3. What always amazes me when I see photos from anywhere in the UK, is the architecture, so old, but still standing!! They built to last back then and history isn’t immediately destroyed for the latest fad.

  4. Anybody notice the steering wheel was on the wrong side? Must be one of those reverse negative things. Wait how does that work when there are no negatives??
    Ok Curt beautiful as usual, and makes me want to visit

    McKeachnie…Yeah fells like home

  5. Looks like a fun trip, cemeteries and all! I love the houses in the small towns there all stuck together in a row. Reminds me of places I lived in while in San Francisco.

  6. SSS = simply stunning and splendid… ❤ we visited quaint Scotland and the isle of Skye years ago and we loved them!!! the Scots are FF = formidable folks and many of them speak honourable French… 🙂 how come?… well, they have an inside joke: the Scots, the Irish and the French have always gotten along… why? – 'cause we've all had the same common enemy for centuries – the Brits!!! 😀
    * * *
    N.B. even though you've been American for generations, your ancestors came from "old Europe", thus, roots and origins are extremely important for your own identity!!! 🙂

  7. Scotland is a grand place to visit. The story of John Brown is an interesting one because in 1685 England had a Scottish King. I have never understood why Scots complain so much about the Act of Union!

    • It was as much or more a Presbyterian thing, Andrew. I don’t think they cared who was king if the person claimed he/she was God’s representative on earth! There isn’t much logic when it comes to religious warfare, as we have seen over and over and over! –Curt

    • The pony came flying over the field and came to a screeching halt, Kelly. I had my camera up and was lucky to catch a photo while its hair was still up in the air. Serendipity! 🙂 –Curt

  8. I was wondering if you ever made it to St. Andrews? I was up there for two years at university and love Scotland. The landscape is stunning but looks like weather is par for the course! 😀

  9. Those sheep! That Shetland! Really, a wonderful collection of photos. I especially liked seeing the Scotch broom — such a beautiful flower. Well, and there are those graveyards. There’s nothing like a good graveyard to get the imagination perked up, and stir the curiosity. Once the weather warms a bit, I’m going to spend more time in some of the family cemeteries here in Texas. They’re all over the place, usually off the beaten track, and very small. But there’s a lot of history there.

    • Hard to beat animals and flowers, Linda.
      Peggy and I traveled all over the US several years ago when I was searching for ancestors, Linda, and we had a blast. Many were family graveyards and usually considerable hunting was required to find the people we were searching for. A few times I found myself unburying tombstones. Often we would split up to double our searching capacity. Considering that some of the graves dated all the way back to the 1600s and 1700s, there were lots of challenges, a real treasure hunt! –Curt

  10. Oh I do love this photo/essay of what appears to have been just an incredible adventure. Shetland Pony is so funny. My favorites are the Castles and Towers. So intricate. Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos Curt. – All my best, JoHanna

  11. I have been told that McKeachnie is a Sept of Clan McDonald, more specific, Ranald McDonald. I have not found this spelling of my last name except there are quite a few in Nova Scotia. A conversation with a gentlemen some years ago told me that I needed to go to the Isle of Uist. Hmm that pesky ocean will have to be dealt with.

  12. Still Laughing at the visual of RONALD McDonald of McDonald’s fame with them big yellow shoes… and a kilt. The bonnet atop that Raggedy Andy hair do. Oh My!

    Thanks Curt, and being a Heinz 57 myself, explains both of our warped sense of humor. My sincere apologies to Peggy and the other fine folks that are a part of all this…

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