The "Steeple" in Inverness originally was used to house the town records. It also contained jail and a dungeon. The entrance to the jail was at the Church Street East side of the building. The dungeon space, although not open to the public, is still there.

  There has been a jewelry shop in this location for 30 to 35 years (previously it was a tobacconist shop). The current shop belongs to Ms. Shona Fraser, a most charming woman born and raised on the nearby Black Isle.

  The shop although small, is an amazing space with everything well organized. A small flight of stairs winds its way up to a higher level in the Steeple. Despite its small size, the tiny shop has a wide selection of jewelry and other interesting items. The stock is variable with a good range of Gold and Silver Celtic Jewelry as well as "Rennie MacKintosh" designs and as the inventory is forever changing so you should visit more than once.

  In my endless quest to find small unbreakable objects for gifts to take home, I found some wonderful small boxes in the shape of curling stones! And with Christmas just around the corner, the shop is an interesting building to visit and a great place to find that Special gifts you have been looking for.

  Click here for a slide show of The Steeple and the Steeple Jewelers in Inverness.






  Scots have settled in virtually every part of the globe and have often named places in their new countries after places in their native land. While traveling in Texas in June, one of our editors spotted a Scotland - somewhat smaller perhaps than the original, but none the less there.

  If any of you have signs of any "Scottish" places outside of Scotland, let us know! We'd love to print them here.


(Click on picture for a larger image)



  Click here for a slide show of postmarks from "Scotland U.S.A.


by Vernon Baxter


By Alistair MacLeod
Vintage Press - Random House

  Alistair MacLeod was born in 1936 and raised in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He has published two collections of stories and one novel, No Great Mischief, which has become an international best seller. His latest offering is a collection of short stories written in the period between 1968 and 1999.

  The book is entitled Island as the majority of stories are either set in or about Cape Breton, MacLeods home town. Island is a collection of stories that are steeped in Scottish heritage. MacLeods family, and indeed his village, are descendants of the Scots who chose Canada not America or Australia during the Highland clearances and MacLeods writings are a fascinating insight as to the importance of heritage and tradition in a community.

  The book is another reminder of the impact Scotland and the Scots have had on the western world. While the communities of Nova Scotia left Scotland a long time ago, in parts they represent what may be loosely phrased as a purer Scotland. By nature ex-patriot communities try to maintain a close connection with their roots and this almost creates a situation where elements of culture become sacred and remain strong and unspoilt. This is evident in the communities portrayed in Island.

  MacLeod writes about a primal, natural world where men work hard and women raise families. The men in the stories are fishermen, miners, smallholders, loggers, lighthouse keepers, migrant workers who work tirelessly and with great nobility against an unforgiving, harsh land. The author, like extracting coal from a mine, evokes the Scottish affinity with the land, with manual labour and with powerful and awkward emotion both brutally and effectively.

  The stories are primarily concerned with the continuity of generations in the face of transition. He recognises the irony that this ancient, traditional world of life on the land is being brought to an end by human endeavour and it almost feels like he is recording mans relationship with his surroundings for posterity. As the world so dear to him is dying he is bringing it to life with an intense and poetic vitality.

  While MacLeods writing is regional and his influences strongly specific the stories in a holistic sense are universal. They deal with change, heritage, the land, family relationships but above all they deal with love and loss.