There are many ways that people become captivated by the Scottish Highlands and its heritage: some people find out through DNA tests or family trees that they have Highland ancestors; some people have been dazzled by the music of the fiddle or bagpipe; some people are enamored by novels, films or television series such as Outlander; others have been raised by their family itself with an awareness of their Highland heritage.
Whatever reasons you have for being drawn into understanding, celebrating, and engaging in these traditions, you may want to understand them in depth, beyond what the costumes and parades portray. It is for this reason that I’ve created a new, introductory-level course for Hidden Glen Folk School of Scottish Heritage: many people want to go beyond the merely ornamental and symbolic, and get to know this heritage in its sophisticated beauty and nuance, as a real culture with real people in a real place. Even though there are plenty of sources to tell us about the lived experiences of Scottish Highlanders, expertise in these matters is quite hard to find.
In the many years that I’ve teaching and giving presentations, I’ve noticed a number of common questions about the way of life of Scottish Highlanders during the clan era. These are at the core of what we’ll be discussing in the course:
- What do the terms “Celt(ic),” “Scot(tish),” “Gael(ic)” mean and what are the differences between them?
- How did the division between the Highlands and Lowlands emerge in Scotland?
- Where do Highland surnames come from and what do they mean?
- How did the clan system really work? What social roles did people occupy in the clan system?
- What stories did people tell about the origins of clans and how should we interpret them today?
- How did Highlanders provide food, shelter, and clothing for themselves?
- What did Highlanders do to commemorate birth, marriage, and death?
As a bonus to learners of Scottish Gaelic – including the thousands using DuoLingo – the coursepack includes a glossary of Gaelic terms relevant for the concepts discussed each week.
Come and join other participants from around the world in these online learning sessions! See details about the course at this link.