June 2024 Newsletter

The Trail of Blood
A gripping historical murder mystery on The Borders

by Andy Nairn


The Borders don’t get as much attention as the likes of the Highlands or Edinburgh, but they’re a beautiful region, with an incredibly dark history. In particular, they are the home of the reivers: terrifying gangs of robbers and killers who ruled the frontier from the 1300s to the 1600s.

The Trail of Blood is set in that world with the main character based on a real-life French diplomat who was given the thankless task of keeping the peace in 1516. Scotland and England are teetering on the brink of yet another war. So when a torso is found right on the border between the two countries, it threatens to create a bloodbath.

 ”A master story-teller.” The US Review of Books
 ”A must-read for fans of historical fiction everywhere.” Readers’ Favorite

French diplomat, Antoine de Lissieu, is dragged in to investigate and reluctantly takes a band of men to the wild frontier region, only to be shunned by both sides of the divide and plagued by traumatic memories from his past.
As time runs out and the bodies mount up, can Antoine catch the culprits and prevent more carnage – or will his own demons catch up with him?

If you like C.J. Sansom, S.J. Parris and D.V. Bishop, you’ll love this dark and twisty tale, set in a world of outlaws and warlords.

Learn more about the book here.

About the author

A.K. Nairn is the pen name of Andy Nairn, founder of one of the world’s top ad agencies Lucky Generals. His company has created a string of famous Super Bowl spots for Amazon’s Alexa and his business book Go Luck Yourself has been translated all over the world from China to Hungary. But when it came to his fictional debut, Andy looked closer to home, to the Scottish Borders where he grew up. 

In particular, he was fascinated by the reivers: gangs of outlaws who ruled the wild frontier region from 1300-1600. He thought this world would make the perfect setting for a series of murder mysteries, so has launched one, with The Trail of Blood. The hero of the books, Antoine de Lissieu, is based on a real-life French diplomat who was sent to bring order to the region in 1516. The second book in the series will be out in 2025.

“The Red Book of Scotland”

Ron Collins, Curator, Genealogy


Researching Scotland’s Genealogical Heritage

I have had the pleasure over the past few months to work with genealogical researcher Gordon MacGregor on the documentation of the MacLeans of Treshnish.

The Red Book of Scotland is Gordon’s ambitious genealogical blockbuster, begun in 1987, now in its 5th edition spanning 18 volumes, that goes far beyond existing individual clan and family histories.

Synthesizing published sources with meticulous original archival research, it offers a panoramic view of the hundreds of families who administered Scotland’s regions from the medieval era to the modern day.

Laid out with clarity, fully sourced and fully searchable electronically, it allows the user to identify and locate specific individuals, as well as to trace the rise and fall of kindreds — and kindred alliances — down through the centuries.

I strongly encourage you to become familiar with this work.

Learn more here.

Ancestral Songs & Stories of Scotland

Power of the Word and Faery Lore

Dougie MacKay is a native Highland storyteller with a passion for tracking key aspects of ancestral cultures through mythology, lore and story. A professional storyteller for over 12 years, he has been mentored by some of Scotland’s finest seanachies, seeking modern applications for these timeless tales.
Check out his video Power of the Word and Faery Lore, here.

His recent show ‘Animate Lands’ allowed a deep dive into the Fianna cycle, gleaning aspects of the older animistic culture once thriving on these islands. It has been described as ‘a fresh and joyful take on Celtic lore and Scotland’s landscape.’

In his Myth as Medicine course, he explores a cycle of northern myths with a group of students, tracking the treasure within each tale and offering exercises to journey with each story and touch the medicine within.

Click here to find out more about Ancestral Songs & Stories of Scotland

A Video Diary of a “New” Type of Céilidh

A Night to Remember – Burns Night 2024

Hosted by an Alliance of Scots in New England

Since the successful “Not Your Usual Burns’ Night” this past January, we have received many requests to post a video of the events. Thanks to the organizers, we have obtained such a video for your enjoyment – visual proof that a rip-roarin’ time was had by all.

“Not Your Usual Burns’ Night” was a modern take on a Scottish tradition. The gathered raised their glasses and joined together to celebrate Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns. There was lively poetry, song, and dance, as well as ample food and drink. A great time was had by all.

Here is the link to the video of the exciting events.

Planning for the next event is already under way. As they say: watch this space for more information.

[Last year’s amazing collaboration included: Scots in New England, NHSCOT,The Scottish Government in the USA, The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, Scottish Development International, Department for Business and Trade, GREAT Britain & Northern Ireland Campaign, Scottish Financial Enterprise]

“Voices Over the Water”

A Powerful Documentary About Scottish Immigration to the U.S.

A new documentary by filmmakers Guy Perrotta and Jane Ferguson will air on Rhode Island PBS WSBE on June 7, 2024, at 12pm and June 8 at 5pm. A presentation by WNED PBS, distributed through American Public Television, Voices Over the Water explores the struggles and triumphs of Scottish immigrants to the U.S. Voices Over the Water follows the story of Highland emigrants as they arrive in America, speaking a different language with distinctive dress and culture, and explores their contribution to America, and how their culture is celebrated today.

The documentary examines the Scottish diaspora and the ways in which they keep their heritage alive through Highland games, Tartan Day parades, ceilidhs (parties), Burns Nights, clan societies, Caledonian clubs, Scottish country dancing groups, and more. Dressed as colorful, tartan-clad warriors in what is known as Highland dress, this image of the Scotsman is instantly recognizable, often depicted in films, paintings, songs and poems. But what are the origins and the real history of the Highlands of Scotland? Why has the Highlander become the image for the whole of Scotland? And what is the appeal of the Scotsman for many Americans, whether of Scottish descent or not?

This film includes images from the Rhode Island Scottish Highland Festival, residents of Rhode Island and nearby Connecticut who performed with the Mystic Scottish Country Dancers. As the filmmakers have noted, there were a large number of Scottish immigrants working in quarries and textile mills in places such as Central Falls and Pawtucket. John McNiff, Warwick native and former Park Ranger of the Roger Williams National Memorial, said, “My great-great grandmother was from Paisley (Glasgow, Scotland) and settled in Providence. She was looked down upon for her way of speaking.” The story of McNiff’s ancestor seems to correspond with that of Aonghas MacAoidh, a 19th-century Scottish Gaelic resident of Providence who empathized with the plight of the area’s Native inhabitants.

Those interested in seeing a trailer and learning more about Voices Over the Water may visit the documentary website.

Rhode Island PBS (WSBE) – June 7th @ 12pm & June 8th @ 5pm
Connecticut PBS (CPTV Spirit) – June 24th @ 10pm on Spirit

All other New England areas, check your local public television station schedule for dates and times. We will keep you updated when we receive more dates for New England area broadcasts on PBS.

2024 Scottish Festivals & Highland Games In New England

JUNE

Vermont Highland Games June 15, 2024 – Greensboro, VT
No Fame Games June 15, 2024 – Milford, MA
Acadia Festival of Traditional Music & Dance June 23-29, 2024 – Bar Harbor, ME
Festival at Fort 4 Games June 29, 2024 – Charlestown, NH

JULY

Connecticut Piping and Drumming Highland Games July 13, 2024 – Pawcatuck, CT (Deadline to register for pipers & drummers competing is July 6.)
Maine Celtic Celebration July 19-21, 2024 – Belfast, ME
Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival July 20, 2024 – North Hampton, MA

AUGUST

Maine Highland Games & Scottish Festival August 17, 2024, Brunswick, ME
Quechee Games August 24, 2024 – Quechee, VT

SEPTEMBER

Rockport Celtic Festival September 12-15, 2024 – Rockport, MA
New Hampshire Highland Games & Festival September 15-17, 2023 – Lincoln, NH

OCTOBER

Scotland Connecticut Highland Games (new venue) October 13, 2024 – Brooklyn, CT
Explore Highland Games & Festivals in New England

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