|The A to Z of Scottish Places: Gazetteer M|
The A to Z of Scottish Places: M
M is for...
... Mainland, Orkney
Orkney is a group of about 70 islands twenty miles north of the Scottish mainland. Close to thirty of these are inhabited with the largest being named Mainland. The stone age village of Skara Brae is in remarkable condition and points to a settlement that lasted 250 years. The first historic settlers were the Picts although they were succeeded by Norsemen. The islands became part of Scotland in 1468 as part of the dowry given to James III when he married Margaret, daughter of King Christian the I of Norway. The islands are mostly treeless and have good arable land. The main towns are Kirkwall and Stromness.
... Loch Morar
Almost the deepest hollow in Europe, Loch Morar is deeper than the atlantic shelf off the mainland, and like that other deep loch is reputed to have its own monster, Morag. There are no roads round the loch but a good view of it and the equally hidden Loch Nevis can be gained from the summit of Carn a'Ghobhair which rises 1794 feet to the east of Mallaig. An island on the loch once held an 18th century Catholic college. In 1746, Prince Charles Edward Stewart wandered the shores of the loch after his defeat at Culloden and one of his followers, Lord Lovat, was captured on one the loch's islands, and later beheaded.
Taking its name from a pre-Reformation healing well dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Motherwell was an agricultural centre until coal and iron deposits were discovered in the area. In 1871 David Colville founded the Dalzell Iron Works which later turned to steel production and by the first world war was the largest steel works in Britain. The closure of the works in the late 1980s left not only a large gap in the landscape but also in the employment of Motherwell and neighbouring Wishaw which since 1920 have formed a single burgh. Population figures have fallen quickly and so far recovery has been slow.
Known as the "honest toun" and famous for its mussels for over 800 years, Musselburgh is now mostly a dormitory town for nearby Edinburgh. In the 16th century the town was burned twice by the English and the Battle of Pinkie fought nearby in 1547 was a defeat for the Scots. The Chapel of Loretto and its hermitage were also destroyed twice and the stones were used instead to build the Tolbooth in 1590. James IV is said to have played golf here in 1504 and the local golf club, founded in 1774, once offered a prize of a "creel and shawl" to the best player from amongst the local fishwives. There is evidence that the port of Musselburgh was important in the days of the Romans.