When it comes to exploring a country’s past, nothing beats an on-the-ground visit to such storied sites as moss-covered ancient ruins, turret-topped castles and grand museums. Scotland in particular checks off all those boxes. But while most of us won’t be hopping on a plane anytime soon, we can still take a gander from home – thanks to a rise in online immersive resources.
Certainly with Scotland and other destinations around the world striving to keep history buffs and armchair travellers , there has never been a better time to digitally globetrot. (And time spent on computers shows promise in , an added bonus.) So in a nod to PARC’s many residents of Scottish heritage, below are a few of that country’s many historic highlights and how you might experience them online.
Step back through the ages
National Museums Scotland (NMS) is your key to a treasure chest of monumental times gone by. Boasting 12 million objects and specimens across five archival properties, the NMS takes particular pride in its comprehensive Scottish History and Archaeology collections. Browse stories, photos, films and games on the people of Scotland including:
- The Galloway Hoard Unearthed just six years ago, this extremely rare find of more than 100 Viking-age objects includes silver jewellery, ingots and a unique gold bird-shaped pin. Such variety points to previously unknown connections between people in Europe and abroad.
- Pistols Belonging to Robert Burns Marvel at the two double-barrelled flintlock pistols once owned by Scotland’s national poet. But as Burns wrote of the weapons, “I trust that with me they shall have the fate of a miser’s gold, to be aft admired but never used.”
- Mary, Queen of Scots Find out what’s fact and what’s fiction in the stories surrounding Scotland’s most famous but controversial figure. Did Mary’s desire to become queen of England ultimately bring about her undoing? Did she once own the gold necklace, locket and pendant that make up the prized Penicuik jewels? And what’s the scoop behind the Queen Mary harp?
- St. Andrew and the Saltire Dive into the symbolism of the Scottish flag, bearing St. Andrew’s saltire or X-shaped cross. And delve into other ways the country’s patron saint has been represented throughout history.
- First World War Paintings, drawings, letters and a volunteer nurse’s autograph book come together to tell the stories behind the Scots who fought in the First World War.
- Tour the National Museum of Scotland The first museum in Scotland to open for online exploration via Google Arts & Culture, the NMS continues to captivate history and art lovers during the global pandemic with glimpses of its permanent galleries and 20,000 objects on display.
- Expand your horizons – Fancy yourself a wee bit of an expert on Scottish history? Then check out the NSM’s other offerings on topics around the world. Learn about the changing face of archeology in Excavating in Egypt, or explore the country’s largest Japanese collection – at 10,000 objects – in Discovering Japan.
(Almost) out and about in Scotland
Dip into more history with VisitScotland, the country’s national tourist board. Its website, including the recently launched COVID-19 section, is packed with ways for you to peruse the past from your living room:
- Scotland VR App Make your way around an interactive map before embarking on 360-degree tours of more than 25 iconic attractions, including the Calanais Standing Stones, Dunnottar Castle and Cairngorms National Park.
- Tour Guide Tales – Take a guided peek at historic hot spots like the 1838 Annandale Distillery and recently refurbished Aberdeen Art Gallery (download the Discover Aberdeen Art Gallery app for an in-depth 2.5-hour virtual tour).
- Scottish Writers & Literature Read up on Scotland’s writers through the centuries and find out where some of their rare works and fascinating personal effects are on display today. The Writers’ Museum alone houses Robert Burns’ writing desk and a first edition of Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Waverley.
- The Real Ceilidh Interactive Experience Join a traditional Scottish gathering called a ceilidh, complete with dances like the Dashing White Sergeant and Strip the Willow.
- Virtual Museum Tours – A list of popular museums includes links to the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum in Dunfermline (view the small weaver’s cottage where the steel tycoon and philanthropist was born) and Glasgow Women’s Library showcasing women’s lives, histories and achievements.
- Ghosts, Myths & Legends Tour Scotland’s eerie side by following in the footsteps of the headless drummer, phantom pipers and – if you dare – the Ghillie Dhu. Or listen to the spine-tingling Tales on Tape, featuring stories from long ago like the Green Lady of Stirling Castle or the Dead Sailors of Sandwood Bay.
A provider of five senior living residences in B.C. Canada, PARC Retirement Living’s top priority is the health and safety of all residents, their families and staff. Check back for more coronavirus updates and tips on PARC’s COVID-19 resources page.