Historic Scotland has just released figures showing that several of Scotland’s historic attractions have had a visitor increase in 2009 as compared with 2008.
Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle were the leaders, with each seeing nearly 7% growth in visitor numbers from a year ago. However, Skara Brae, Iona Abbey and Fort William all saw gains as well.
The combination of the Year of Homecoming and a weak Pound meant that Scotland in the summer of 2009 was an ideal destination for Europeans.
The top 10 attractions for Historic Scotland saw increases across the board and double-digit improvements the norm. This impressive growth cannot be understated, particularly in a dampened economy, where tourist spending was seriously curtailed.
Top 10 List
St Andrews Castle
Contrary to Hollywood portrayals, Highland warriors did not fight with large two-handed swords, nor did they us the immense Lochaber Axe portrayed in museums and photographs today. Though making a wonderful cinematic experience, the facts bear little resemblance to their movie-based counterparts.
The Lochaber Axe was a weapon first used in the late 16th Century, and which gained notoriety through famous battles such as the Battle of Aldearn in 1645, Battle of Bothwell Bridge in 1690, Battle of Dunbar in 1650, Battle of Inverlochy in 1645 and the Battle of Kilsyth in 1645. Its name is a composite of Lochaber, and axe. It was widely employed up until the advent of firearms.
Lochaber, from the Gaelic Loch Abar, is a region in the West Highlands of Scotland. The large and rather sparsely populated region surrounds Fort William, and has been home to various Highland Clans throughout the past millennium.
An axe, generally used for splitting wood, cutting it, and further shaping it, is composed of a head and a handle, or helve. Axes are often portrayed in and around tombs and religious facilities, having special significance in heraldry and religion. Axes were originally used in farming and modified in many ways to function as weapons, including some with two opposite cutting edges and others a single edge attached to long poles.
The Lochaber Axe was the primary weapon of Scottish Highlanders, particularly when facing cavalry. Knowing they were on foot, and would be in combat against armoured, mounted enemies, the Highlanders knew they needed a weapon which could effectively combat those three components. Clan warriors needed a way to dismount a rider and be able to penetrate armour to defeat the enemy.
How it was constructed
The four key components of the Lochaber Axe include the shaft, or helve, a fine pointed spear tip on one end, and a blade with hook its opposite side. The spear tip could penetrate chain armour, something a blade would otherwise be fairly useless against. Rarely seen in photographs and museum pieces, this spear tip was a critical component of many designs, oft overlooked by historians.
The blade edge, typically a crescent, 12 to 18 inches in length, was effective against unarmoured troops, weak areas in an armoured opponent, and for disabling horses, thus turning its rider into a foot soldier. In many incarnations of the Lochaber Axe, the blade tip was very pointy, thus obviating the need for a spear tip on the opposite end. When not used against the horse itself, the blade was effective at cutting and slashing the legs of the rider, rendering him incapacitated.
The hook backing to the blade had two purposes. In the event of a siege, it could be used to scale walls. However, its most common employment was to dismount cavalry. As a rider approached, the Highlander would step back, hook the rider, pull him off the mount, and once on the ground slice with the blade.
The shaft, incorrectly reported by many sources, was in fact not 7 or 8 feet in length. As some historians have pointed out, the weapon would have been to large and unwieldy to be effective in combat, particularly when used by a man of 5 feet in height. Highlanders were not 7 feet tall, resembling Conan, Goliath, or other gargantuan heroes. Instead, they were slight, quick, and hardy. The warriors needed a weapon that could make use of their dexterity, and to do so it needed to fit their size. The average Lochaber Axe had a shaft of 4 to 5.5 feet in length.
Any depiction of a Lochaber Axe having a 7 foot shaft is either grossly incorrect or represents a ceremonial weapon, never intended for combat. The shaft itself was typically made of ash or other durable wood and the girth of a pitchfork, for easy grip and handling.
The Highlander weapon of choice, the Lochaber Axe, was a truly formidable weapon, enjoying great popularity in the 17th Century, and though much smaller than modern representations, was an important part of Clan warfare in its day.
Featured Bed and Breakfast listings in and around Fort William
Featured – Tigh-a-Ghlinne bed and breakfast, close by the town of Fort William, with marvelous views of the Caledonian Canal and Ben Nevis, has all the comforts needed by the weary traveller. Not only is this delightful bungalow set in a rural location, but is also close by for a restaurant and pub.
email: email@example.com – Tel: 01397 712578 – to visit this site, click the picture
Double, twin and en-suite facilities, breakfast in either the dining room, kitchen or, weather permitting, the breakfast-decked area. Use of kitchen, a guest lounge with books, hifi, dvd player and wifi is included.
Fantastic hospitality! How all B&Bs should be! See you on our next trip to Scotland.
Address: North Road, Fort William, PH33 6TQ
Featured – Inverlochy Villas, being the Fort William B&B closest to Ben Nevis, offers spectacular view and remarkable amenities including breakfast in bed. Reasonable rates, and first class service.
We recommend spending some time with hosts John and Adrian, who have a good many stories to share about the local area, recommended sites to visit, and those to avoid. Make your stay complete with a complimentary nightcap, a lovely whisky from the nearby Ben Nevis Distillery.
loved the breakfast in bed, really felt spoilt this trip to Scotland, will be back!
Address: Station Road, Corpach, Fort William, PH33 7JH
Featured – Gorgeous 3-Star B and B in Fort William! Kildonan is just 3 minutes from train station, bus stop, and major attractions, yet off the main roads for peace and quiet as well.
Be sure to check out the website for great offers, photos of the rooms and common areas, and contact information for Kildonan Fort William Bed and Breakfast.
fabulous attentive hosts, very clean and neat accommodation.
Bracarina Bed and Breakfast
Address: Bracarina, Mallaig, PH40 4PE
no reviews yet
Fassfern Bed and Breakfast
Address: Achintore Road-Gordon Square, Fort William, PH33 6RQ
Fassfern Bed and Breakfast is a lovely Victorian stone villa just a couple of minutes walk from the heart of Fort William. All rooms are en-suite and priced very competitively considering the splendid views of Loch Linnhe and the Ardgour Hills.
no reviews yet
Forest View B&B
Address: 24 Wades Road, Kinlochleven, PH50 4QX
Tel: 01855 831302
no reviews yet
Glen Albyn Lodge
Address: Glen Albyn Lodge, Invergarry, PH35 4HL
An outstanding Bed and Breakfast Home – Located in Invergarry “The Heart of The Highlands” – The perfect tour base for seeing all that is best in The Highlands.
no reviews yet
Address: Riverside Road, Kinlochleven, PH50 4QH
Tel: 01855 831777
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Searching for the perfect place to stay near Fort William? Our Lochaber Accommodation directory provides a listing of all the places to stay. These include Bed and Breakfasts, Camping, Caravans, Guest Houses, Hostels, Hotels, and Residential Care Homes.
INFO….. ADD ME – f your business isn’t listed, but does serve the Lochaber Region, or if you would like to get listed here, then please use the ADD ME link and we will be glad to assist.
Places to stay in Lochaber range from a Spartan mom and pop guest house, to four star hotels, generally being priced accordingly. Fort William area accommodations are plentiful, though booking early is recommended, as tourist season is quite busy.
Things to do …. When coming to the Highlands of Scotland, there are a great many reasons to stay in Fort William. Being central to many of the popular sites is just one good reason. All within a short drive include the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, Ben Nevis, Neptune’s Staircase, Mallaig, Morar, Harry Potter’s Hogarwarts Express, the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and much much more.
Where to stay .... Nearly all Fort William Bed Breakfast accommodation offers a taste of what the Highlands are all about. See the Bed and Breakfast, Hotels, Self-catering and Hostels pages. Hosts are frequently long time residents of the area, with delightful insights and stories about what is happening in the area, and reflect the personality of the region.
Fort William is strategically located in the Western Highlands of Scotland, approximately half-way between Glasgow and Inverness. It is small enough of a town to not suffer the big city traffic and issues, while large enough to have plenty of shopping and choices for dining and accommodation.
Bed and Breakfast choices located in Lochaber, either in or near Fort William, and are definitely worthy of consideration in making accommodation choices.