Tintin, the subject of 200 million comics sold, was likely based on a real 15-year-old …


In the overcrowded world of fictional characters, there are few faces as adorable as Tintin’s. Unlike Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman, Tintin, the young investigative reporter, is not a household name in America, but he is definitely one of the most beloved figures in Europe.

With no specific magic powers, he is the antithesis of a superhero, but that didn’t prevent him from being widely admired by both children and adults. Charles de Gaulle once declared that Tintin is his only international rival, saying that “nobody notices, because of my height. We are both little fellows who won’t be got at by big fellows.”

Tintin and his fox terrier, Snowy, appeared for the first time on January 10, 1929, in the children’s supplement of the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siecle. What started as the subject of a supplement went on to become a symbol of the 20th century, appearing in an inde­pen­dent comic book, on television, and even on the big screen in Steven Spiel­berg’s animated movie The Adven­tures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

Tintin is one of the most beloved figures in the comic book world.Author: Joi/Flickr-CC By 2.0

Georges Prosper Remi, known by the pen name Hergé, is the man behind the creation of Tintin. With almost no formal training, Hergé began drawing the legendary comic-book character in 1929, but little did he know that by doing so he would give birth to an entire European comics publishing industry.

Tintin and his fox terrier Snowy appeared for the first time in 1929. Author: karrikas/Flickr CC By 2.0

Since 1929, Tintin comics have sold more than 200 million copies, and over the years, this beloved character served as an inspiration for many people and influenced the ways comic book readers perceive the world around them. But what actually inspired Hergé to create the iconic character?

Debate still exists on what exactly inspired Hergé to come up with the snub-nosed teenage reporter, but most people agree that it was a real life person known by the name Palle Huld. It is one of the most original of origin stories in the comic book world.

Less than a year before Tintin made his first appearance, in the children’s supplement of  Le Vingtième Siecle, a 15-year-old Danish Boy Scout named Palle Huld won a competition organized by a Danish newspaper to mark the centennial of Jules Verne.


Palle Huld, during his trip around the world in 1928, almost certainly influenced Hergé to create Tintin.

The winner of the competition would re-enact Phileas Fogg’s voyage from Verne’s famous novel Around the World in Eighty Days. Strangely enough, only teenage boys were allowed to take part in the competition, and the 15-year-old was the perfect match. There was another twist: The winner had to complete the journey within 46 days, without any company and without using planes.

Hundreds of Danish teenagers applied to participate in the competition, and Palle was lucky enough to be chosen. He started his journey on March 1, 1928, from Copenhagen and traveled by rail and steamship through England, Scotland, Canada, Japan, the Soviet Union, Poland, and Germany.

His journey made the headlines at the time and when he arrived in Denmark, he was already a celebrity. Over 20,000 admirers greeted their hero when he came back home.

The next thing he did was write a book about his journey, which was quite popular among his admirers, and published in several languages. That book also came into the hands of a Belgian cartoonist known by the name of Hergé and that same year, when Huld’s book was published, Tintin made his debut.

Huld himself suggested on several occasions that he was the inspiration for Tintin. However, others believe that the inspiration behind the character was actually the French travel photojournalist Robert Sexe, whose journeys were exactly in the same order as Tintin’s first three books.

With no specific superpowers, Tintin is the antithesis of a superhero. Author: Hicham Souilmi CC By 2.0

Nonetheless, true Tintin fans couldn’t care less. For them it is all about the character, a hero they all know and love, representing something that others don’t have: uncompromising vigilance and the need to succeed no matter what the cost.

Tintin proves that a hero doesn’t need to be big or strong, he or she just needs to be tenacious and stubborn enough to do what needs to be done.

By Goran Blazeski


Beautifully carved masks embody the spirits honored by the Yup’ik shamans


 Archaeologists believe that the ancestors of the Yup’ik people originated in Siberia, from where they slowly migrated, settling about 3,000 years ago along the Western Alaskan coastal regions and in the Yukon and Kuskokwim River valleys. Today they number some 25,700, with approximately 24,000 living in the United States (mainly in Alaska) and a further 1,700 living in Siberia.

The name Yup’ik (the plural is Yupiit) is a combination of the word Yuk, for “person” and Pik,meaning “real.” The language, known as Yuk or Yuiit, (some dialects use Cup’ik which refers to both the people and the language) is still spoken by about 75 percent of today’s Yupiit.

Dance mask of tunghat, Southwest Alaska Eskimo, acquired 1915.


Wooden Tuunraq mask. The main motif is the Morse (walrus) head with Eskimo figures on it. 1905, Qissunaq, Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, Harvard University

The Yup’ík people, being semi-nomadic, traditionally followed the seasons, moving in family groups. In the spring, they would travel to their fishing camps where they fished, hunted sea mammals (seals, walrus and–until fairly recently–whales), and collected berries and plants. As the seasons progressed and the weather became untenable, they returned to the village sites and settled down for the duration of the harsh winter. The women lived together in the ena, situated close to the qasgiq, which is the traditional communal house in which the men lived. The qasgiq also served as the center for teaching the young boys survival, hunting, and life skills, and where some of these skills were taught to the girls.

Wooden mask with the seal spirit in the middle, fish in the circle, and the hands are attached to the front and back with tendons, Hooper Bay, Alaska, 1930s

Probably the most important feature of the qasgiq, however, was that it was used as the community center for ceremonies and festivals where singing, dancing, and storytelling took place. It was here that the Yupiit learned and practiced their culture. This building was where the use of masks became a vital, integral part of their belief system.  This idea centered on the acceptance of good and evil spirits, and the assurance that all living creatures experience the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.

Stuttgart, Linden-Museum ceremonial mask (possibly a shaman) of carved wood, around 1910, Inv. No. M 31,739th

Various ceremonies emphasized the different aspects of the relationship between humans, the animals, and the spirit world. The Shaman, an important person in this belief system, was seen as the mediator between the people and the spiritual world. He was there to invoke, through visions, various spirits that would give him guidance. He was also the person who exorcised evil spirits that caused illnesses; the Shaman was responsible for summoning friendly spirits to intervene when evil spirits caused bad occurrences. For all these ceremonies, he used specific masks to enable him to execute his duties correctly.

Wooden mask, fur, feather, leaf and stalks, 57 cm, Kuskokwim Bay, 1930s

The Shaman wore a mask during many traditional rituals in which the relationships that occur between a man and his ancestors, or a man and the animals he relies on for food (life), were re-enforced. Using dances and storytelling, the Shaman, wearing his mask, would represent his own spiritual helpers. During his visit to the spiritual world, these helpers would inform him on the wishes of the game animals, and encourage the animal spirits to return in spring so that they may give their bodies to the hunters. The mask would usually be in the form of a chosen animal–the most popular being wolves, seals, sea birds, or even mythical creatures. Some masks would sport large or goggley eyes, which represented the enhanced spiritual state and vision which the wearer had reached.

All the people were involved in the making of masks, usually under the guidance of the Shaman, for the masks used in the ritual dances were aimed at pleasing the spirits. It is not possible to allocate a meaning to each mask, for often the storyteller would fashion a mask to be used for the enactment of a particular myth or traditional story in which animals or mythical beings took the form of humans. Many of the stories told were of an informative or an instructional nature and dealt with tribal, moral, and ethical mores. Sometimes the story related by the storyteller was of his personal experiences or adventures, and then the mask became a representation of his own beliefs.

It is painted in three colors (red, blue-green, white), with a wooden ring, a seal with a fish in the mouth, a hole with a big thumb as a jewel attached to the body, and feathers. Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas, late 19th century.

Use was made of skilled woodworkers to carve these very interesting, unusual, and often complex masks. They utilized materials readily available to them; wood was the most popularly used medium, but much use was also made of hides (leather), bones, and feathers. Some of these masks even had movable parts. The masks were usually carved, then decorated and painted. Those created from leather or hides were stitched or lashed together and also decorated with items such as stones, feathers, beads, or teeth. They were often painted with red ocher to a shade that would make them look similar to human skin.

Some very small masks were called finger masks and were often carved from bone or tusks. These would be made for wearing on the hands and were used in group dancing. The dancers remained in one position and moved only the upper body and arms in gentle, graceful movements that were accentuated by the finger masks. Masks used in the winter ceremonies were often so large that they required a number of people to hold them up. Some were so massive – to support a variety of theatrical devices – that they had to be hung from the roof.

Alaska Mask Bad spirit of the mountain DMA 1982-81

The masks formed part of the belief in a complicated spiritual life that honored those beings that made life livable for the Yupiit in their harsh homeland. Masks were an important feature in many ceremonies since they, in effect, would “illustrate” the story. Those used by Shamans to facilitate communication between the worlds of human beings, animals, and spirits, were said to have made the unseen spirit world visible. Most of the masks were discarded after use, and that fact, together with normal deterioration of the materials used, means that there are few original Yup’ik masks left today.

While we all know that times move on, it is sad that many of the old traditions have slowly become lost–and so it was with the Yupiit rituals of singing, dancing, and storytelling using these fascinating masks. The skills of mask-making have largely fallen away too. Fortunately, a small number of original Yup’ik masks found their way into collections, and many are on display in museums.

Contemporary stylized ivory single-color mask, ringed with ivory sculpted as a jewel in the circle, on the left with human eyes, musk cattle on the right.

The positive reaction to the public display of these beautiful masks has generated further interest in them as well as in the traditional ceremonies for which they were used. This has resulted in many of the masks being returned to their original homes. Some of the elders still remember many of the stories and dances associated with certain masks, and interest has been renewed in traditional mask-making. Many of these elders still recall that the wearing of masks seemed to engender a spiritual power that breathed life into the stories of the performers and was a way of “making prayer”.

Today, many of the younger Yup’ik people are, for the first time, being made aware of these artistic masks as pieces of their heritage. They have become interested in learning more about the historical traditions of singing and dancing and telling stories – all of which are beginning to have great meaning for them. We may yet see the Yup’ik youth “Making Prayer” once more.

By  Ian Harvey

Follow the Paths of Viking Raiders from Norway to North America

Viking ruins, Jarslhof, Shetland, Scotland
(nyiragongo / iStock)
From 793 to 1066 CE, hearing the words “Viking” or “Norsemen” would put just about anyone on edge. The group was notorious for sailing their longboats into harbors and viciously attacking the people there—stealing all the available loot, taking slaves and killing just about everyone else. But this bad behavior tells only part of the Viking story. “All Vikings were Norsemen, but not all Norsemen were Vikings,” historian and Viking Cruises lecturer Patrick Goodness told “They became Vikings when they went out plundering; they went viking, as a verb.” Eventually, the term morphed into a classification for the entire community.

Both sides of the population, though, were inspired by the same sentiment: to go out and find new land. Some wanted to explore and plunder, but others simply wanted to discover more fertile lands to farm and settle peacefully, moving ever westward from Europe toward North America in search of the perfect spot. They traveled by longboat as the crow flied, settling in several distinct paths we can still track today.

So grab your helmet and shield and hop on a boat—now you can follow one of those paths of Viking Norsemen, from their original settlement in Norway across the Atlantic to their first settlement in North America.


The Oseberg Ship at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo.
The Oseberg Ship at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. (Creative Commons)

Since the beginning of the Viking age, the group of settlers and raiders ruled the western coast of Norway and much of Scandinavia. The Norwegian Vikings were among the most adventurous, sailing and plundering along their path to North America long before Columbus arrived at the continent’s shores. Here, in seaside towns like Bergen and Stavanger, once a major Hanseatic League trading port, the Vikings built their longships that would take them around the world.

What to see: The Bergen Maritime Museum has a selection of Viking longship models, but to see the real thing, head to the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, which has the three best-preserved ships that have been found to date. For a decidedly more modern sight, head a bit south of Stavanger to see three gigantic metal Viking swords sticking up from the shoreline. The monument, unveiled in 1983 by King Olav, commemorates Viking King Harald Fair Hair’s success at uniting the three kingdoms of Norway into one unit.

Shetland Islands, Scotland

Part of the Jarlshof settlement. (Creative Commons)

The Vikings arrived in Shetland around 850, and the Norse influence can still be seen today throughout the area; in fact, 95 percent of the place names in the Shetland Isles are still the original Old Norse names. More than 30 archeological sites on Unst Island alone hold evidence of Viking homes and settlements. Even the dialect of present-day Shetland residents has a healthy sprinkling of Old Norse words leftover from Viking rule. And, depending on who you ask, you may be able to get a ride out to Tingwall Valley, where the Vikings held their parliamentary sessions on a small peninsula in a lake.

For the next 600 years after arrival, Vikings and Norsemen ruled the Shetland Islands. But in the late 1400s (after many Vikings had already sailed on to greener pastures in different countries), Norse rule abruptly ended; the Shetland Islands became officially Scottish as part of a marriage treaty between a Scottish prince and a Danish princess.

What to see: Jarlshof on Mainland Shetland is one of Scotland’s biggest archeological sites, a huge complex documenting more than 4,000 years of settlement on the islands. Not only will visitors find ruins of a Viking longhouse, but they’ll also explore Neolithic homes, Bronze and Iron Age settlements, medieval farmsteads, and a laird’s house from the 1500s. And don’t miss Up Helly Aa in Lerwick, among the largest fire festivals in Europe. Viking descendants follow a Viking longship in a huge procession, all carrying torches, and at the end of the route, the boat is set on fire.

Faroe Islands

The Viking settlement at Kvivik.
The Viking settlement at Kvivik. (Jennifer Billock)

Even though the name for the Faroe Islands themselves, Føroyar, is derived from the Viking Old Norse language, they actually weren’t the first to find the region. “The Islands were founded by Irish monks,” Gunnar, a tour guide on the main island Streymoy, told “Then the Vikings came and suddenly there were no more monks.” The Vikings arrived in the 9th century and quickly established a parliamentary meeting site at the tip of what is now the capital city, Tórshavn.

That spot in the city is now known as Old Town, known worldwide for its red buildings with turf roofs and cobblestone streets. Coincidentally, the Faroese parliament still meets in these buildings, giving Tórshavn the distinction of being the oldest functioning parliament in the world. Don’t miss the Viking-carved compass rose and runes at the end of Old Town’s rocky peninsula, right by the flag pole.

What to see: From the Faroe Islands’ capital Tórshavn, it’s an easy drive to seaside Kvívík, where you can find a 10th-century Viking settlement. The ruins are right in the middle of the village—also one of the oldest villages in the Islands—and contain longhouse and barn foundations. The southern end of the site has been washed away by the sea.


“Sun Voyager,” a sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason, in Reykjavík, Iceland. (tailiwei / iStock)

Vikings settled in Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, in the 800s. They let the gods decide exactly where they should settle by floating a wooden chair across the water from one of the longboats: wherever the chair landed, the city should be. By 900 AD, Goodness said, more than 24,000 people lived there. It was a time of peace for the plundering Vikings.

“Iceland was considered a paradise for the settlers,” Goodness said. “Because of the pillaging and raiding, they started to be met with resistance. You can only maraud a place so many times before people [start] fighting back. The Vikings saw that and thought, people are dying, this isn’t fun anymore. They weren’t really interested in fighting anymore. It was time for them to live peacefully. This was a great period of transition for them in Iceland.”

Today, more than 60 percent of Icelanders are Norse, and the rest are mostly of Scottish or Irish heritage, many of their ancestors having been brought to Iceland as slaves by the Vikings.

What to see: Traces of Viking heritage are all over Iceland—the country even has a Viking trail you can follow—but for a good look, head to the Settlement Museum in downtown Reykjavik. Here, ruins of a Viking settlement are preserved in an underground exhibit. And across the hall from the longhouse, ancient saga manuscripts are also on display.


Hvalsey Church.
Hvalsey Church. (Creative Commons)

In 982, Erik the Red committed a murder in Iceland and was exiled for three years as a result. He sailed off to the west, finding Greenland and spending his time in exile there. During that time, Goodness says, Greenland may actually have been green, covered with forests and vegetation, as the Viking would have landed during the Medieval Warm Period (believed to be about 900 to 1300) when sea ice decreased and crops had longer to grow. After his sentence ended, Erik the Red sailed back to Iceland to convince other settlers to follow him to this new promised land. In 985, he and a fleet of 14 longships arrived to settle the southern and western coasts.

The Vikings continued to live on Greenland for about 500 years. Remains of Erik the Red’s settlement date back to about the year 1000, along with ruins of around 620 farms. At peak population, the Norse numbered around 10,000 people in the country. And then, suddenly, the community vanished with no explanation and no written record explaining why. However, historians have ultimately been able to explain it: “It was too hard to live in Greenland and they got tired of it,” Goodness said. “They thought it was better to leave than stay in such a harsh climate.” Over time, the temperature was getting colder so farms were no longer workable, and the Vikings never learned to effectively hunt the region. The Inuit were inhospitable; fights broke out frequently. At the same time, Norway had been stricken by the plague, so many farmsteads there were left abandoned. A group of the Greenland settlers was known to have headed back to Norway to take over the land, and another sailed onward to Canada.

What to see: Hvalsey Church is the best-preserved Viking ruin in Greenland. Most people choose Qaqortoq as their base for trips to see the church. It appears to have been built around 1300, and only the stone walls remain. Hvalsey has a unique history itself, as well—in 1408, a wedding was held at the church, with many Norse attendees. The written account of that event is the last word that ever came from Greenland’s Viking population.


A workshop at the L'Anse Aux Meadows Viking settlement.
A workshop at the L’Anse Aux Meadows Viking settlement. (Jennifer Billock)

To see the first Viking settlements in North America—found 500 years before Christopher Columbus set foot there—head to L’Anse Aux Meadows. The Vikings first arrived here from Greenland in the late 10th century, led by Leif Erikson. He initially called the land Vinland (though the exact location of Vinland is disputed), because when the Vikings arrived they found grapes and vines. Spurred by Erikson’s success, more than 100 Vikings followed to settle at this spot. Prior to its discovery in the 1960s, this North American settlement was only referenced in two ancient sagas.

What to see: The archaeological site at L’Anse Aux Meadows has two main components: the actual ruins (visitors can stand inside the foundation of Leif Erikson’s own house) and a recreated Viking trading port nearby called Norstead. Here, you’ll see a unique juxtaposition of what life was believed to have been like for the Vikings and what rubble remains today.

From London to Edinburgh: 10 Abbeys, Churches, and Cathedrals You Won’t Want to Miss!

The United Kingdom may be known for its kings and queens, football teams, and fish and chips, but across the British Isles, churches have made a lasting impression on the culture and architecture of the country.

Here are 10 of the finest abbeys, churches, and cathedrals that you can see while visiting the United Kingdom.


1. Marvel at St. Paul’s Cathedral, an impressive example of English Baroque architecture.

From London to Edinburgh: 10 Abbeys, Churches, and Cathedrals You Won’t Want to Miss!

St. Paul’s Cathedral has quite an extensive history. The first version of the church was founded in 604 AD. But due to viking violence and ferocious fires, the church was rebuilt time and time again. Finally, in 1087, the longest-lasting church structure was constructed, and would remain for over 600 years.

By the 17th Century, the church was falling apart. Many architects were brought in to figure out how to best rebuild the church. And then, in 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed most of St. Paul’s. Christopher Wren, England’s most famous architect, created a blueprint of a cathedral with a dazzling dome—the dome that you still see during your visit today. The cathedral famously survived being destroyed in World War II and was a symbol of hope.


2. Witness Westminster Abbey, where queens become queens and royals are wed.

From London to Edinburgh: 10 Abbeys, Churches, and Cathedrals You Won’t Want to Miss!

Arguably the most famous church in the United Kingdom (and maybe the world), Westminster Abbey holds a long history of coronations, jubilee celebrations, and royal weddings. In fact, it has held every coronation since 1066. Many notable people are buried there, including Elizabeth I, Isaac Newton, and Geoffrey Chaucer.

Westminster Abbey regularly holds services and all are welcome. These include choral Evensong at 5pm on weekdays and 3pm on weekends. Tours are given Monday through Saturday, but not on Sundays and religious holidays. However, services on those days are free and open to the public. The newest initiative is Wednesday Lates, where you can tour the Abbey for half-price on Wednesday evening and enjoy a meal in the cafe.


3. Learn about the history of Methodism in Wesley’s Chapel.

From London to Edinburgh: 10 Abbeys, Churches, and Cathedrals You Won’t Want to Miss!

John Wesley was an Anglican minister who had a life-changing experience on May 24, 1738. He described the event in his journal:

“In the evening, I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

As the number of lay-preachers grew, he was required to register them as non-Anglicans in 1787. Wesley’s Chapel was built in 1788, designed by the architect George Dance. It’s an excellent example of Georgian architecture. John Wesley’s home is next door, and is a fascinating place to learn more about Wesley’s life and ministry. Tours also include the
Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, across the street, where you can see graves of non-conformists such as William Blake, Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan and Susannah Wesley.


4. The Round Church of Cambridge is now a Christian Heritage Center.

From London to Edinburgh: 10 Abbeys, Churches, and Cathedrals You Won’t Want to Miss!

One of Cambridge’s most beloved landmarks is now the Round Church, formally known as The Church of the Holy Sepulchre Round Church. It was built in 1130 as a replica of the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem and is one of only four round churches in England.

It houses the Round Church Visitor Centre, which includes a display about Christian history in the UK, an excellent movie (Saints and Scholars), and guided tours of Cambridge.


5. See the church pastored by John Wycliffe, who translated the Bible into English.

From London to Edinburgh: 10 Abbeys, Churches, and Cathedrals You Won’t Want to Miss!

St. Mary’s, the church of John Wycliffe, is in the small town of Lutterworth, north of London. In the 14th Century, John Wycliffe was the first person to translate the Bible into English from Latin. William Tyndale also translated the Bible into English—the difference was that his version was translated from the original Hebrew and Greek.

Wycliffe’s Bible made the Lord’s Word accessible for everyone, not just the scholars and clergy. John Wycliffe trained “poor preachers” who lived a simple life and travelled around the countryside teaching the Word of God to the common folk of England in their own tongue. They were called Lollards.

St. Mary’s is still an active church today and can be toured whenever visiting the Leicestershire region, and groups can have tea and cake if requested in advance.


6. Durham Cathedral is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From London to Edinburgh: 10 Abbeys, Churches, and Cathedrals You Won’t Want to Miss!

No, that’s not Hogwarts you’re looking at (though they did film some scenes here!). It’s Durham Cathedral, an outstanding example of Norman architecture and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Built in 1093 to house the shrine of Cuthbert, Durham Cathedral originally served as a monastery for Benedictine monks. St. Cuthbert had ministered in the Northeast of England and had died on the Island of Lindisfarne. Durham and Lindisfarne make a great tour combination.

The new exhibition experience Open Treasure showcases the Cathedral’s fascinating history and heritage, allowing access to some of the most intact medieval monastic buildings in the UK, including a fourteenth-century Monks’ Dormitory, and a monastic Great Kitchen.

Visitors always enjoy seeing the Lego model of the cathedral, for which £10.9m was raised by purchasing Lego bricks during the 3 years of construction. There are some fun Lego videos sharing the history of the cathedral.


7. Tour one of the finest medieval buildings in Europe—York Minster.

From London to Edinburgh: 10 Abbeys, Churches, and Cathedrals You Won’t Want to Miss!

The earliest form of York Minster was a wooden church, quickly constructed in 627, for the baptism of King Edwin of Northumbria. While it was soon replaced with a stone structure, a fire later destroyed it, and no one knows its exact location.

Around 1080, the Norman Minster was built, but this version was also destroyed, only to be rebuilt in 1472, which began the basis of the structure that can be seen today. The Reformation did alter the structure of the church in some ways, including the destruction of St. William’s shrine.

Over the centuries, the Cathedral went through massive changes, both inside and out. From Protestant to Catholic to Protestant again, the church was ever changing. One thing that never changed—how spectacular of a building it truly is.


8. Iona Abbey catalyzed Christianity’s spread in Scotland.

From London to Edinburgh: 10 Abbeys, Churches, and Cathedrals You Won’t Want to Miss!

Off the northwestern coast of Scotland lies the Isle of Iona. In 563 AD, an Irish monk, St. Columba, came to the island and founded Iona Abbey as a monastery. But beginning in 795, vikings continually attacked the island, murdering monks and destroying the abbey many times over. It is said that the Book of Kells may have been started by the Columban monks, who escaped to Ireland during these attacks.

After the Reformation, the abbey was left in disarray. It wasn’t until 1899, that the ruined abbey was considered as a location for the Church of Scotland. These days, the church exists as a place of worship and popular pilgrimage site.


9. The Church of the Holy Rude isn’t trying to be insultive—”rude” means cross!

From London to Edinburgh: 10 Abbeys, Churches, and Cathedrals You Won’t Want to Miss!

Yes, at first, the name of this church might seem a little… different. But in Scotland, it’s actually quite normal. There’s even “Holyrood” in Edinburgh, meaning “holy cross” as well.

The Church of the Holy Rude was founded in 1129 during the reign of David I. However, this church was almost completely destroyed in 1405 due to a large fire. Over time, it has been rebuilt, with different parts constructed over the many centuries. Scottish coronations have taken place in this church as it is connected to the castle, and it is one of the only churches still in use that has hosted such royal ceremonies. In 1566, the infant James VI was baptized, and John Knox preached the sermon. James VI, son of Mary Queen of Scots, grew up to be James 1 of England, and sponsored the King James Bible.

Interestingly, this church spent many years divided into two parts, East and West. In 1656, the congregation built a huge wall that ran across the width of the church, as a result of an argument between Rev. James Guthrie and his assistant. The church had two congregations led by two priests. In 1936 the dividing wall was finally demolished and the church was restored.


10. St. Giles, in Edinburgh, once was the church home of John Knox.

From London to Edinburgh: 10 Abbeys, Churches, and Cathedrals You Won’t Want to Miss!

One of the city’s most famous landmarks of Edinburgh is St. Giles, situated on the Royal Mile, half-way between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. A church has existed on this spot since 854 and it was officially founded in 1124. The church is named after St. Giles, a hermit in France, who was apparently wounded when a local king shot a deer that Giles had befriended. Deer motifs can be found in the carvings.

Scotland became a Protestant country in August 1560, and John Knox was persuaded to come out of exile to be the minister. He was responsible for removing the medieval altars. The Church of Scotland is presbyterian in government, and St Giles’ Cathedral is often called the Mother Church of World Presbyterianism. There are regular services, including the St. Giles at 6 program of music on Sunday evenings.


24 OCT 2017  Reformation Tours Blog

Scots haggis exports to Canada to resume after 46 years

haggisImage copyrightPA
Image captionHaggis producers have been working on new recipes to get around regulations in Canada and the US

Scotland is to start exporting haggis to Canada for the first time in 46 years, it has been announced.

Canada lifted a ban on imports of red meat from Europe in 2015 but still does not allow imports of offal.

This has left Scottish producers, including Macsween of Edinburgh, working on new haggis recipes to meet local regulations there and in the US.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown welcomed the news during his tour of the US and Canada.

Scottish food and drink exports to Canada are now worth more than £94m, following increases in recent years.

‘Iconic symbol’

James Macsween, managing director of Macsween of Edinburgh, said he was “delighted” that his family’s firm would be the first to sell haggis in Canada for almost 50 years.

He said: “My grandfather, Charlie, would be very proud to see how far we’ve come from his original butcher’s shop in Bruntsfield, which he opened back in 1953.”

Selling haggis in Canada

Simon Bentall
Image captionThe authorities will raid shops to look for illegal imports, according to Simon Bentall

Simon Bentall, at the Scottish Loft in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme he was delighted about the change in the rules.

“We had haggis from the States, which was OK, but it’s not the same is it?

“We pride ourselves in having Scottish stuff; something from the States is not Scottish.”

Simon said there is an established demand for haggis in North America.

“The other day I sent it to California. Two tins of haggis to California.

“Florida once too. Sent a can to Florida. That was last November.”

The regulations can be rigorously enforced. Another shop specialising in imported goods was recently raided by the authorities.

“The Customs check all the time. Not my shop, but a friend has a shop about 20 miles away and he got raided.

“Some of the stuff was thrown away. Probably about £1,000 to £2,000 worth of stuff.”

Mr Brown, who is currently in Toronto promoting Scottish food and drink to Canadian buyers, said haggis was “a truly iconic symbol of Scotland”.

He added: “After waiting 46 years, I’m sure there will be many Canadians and ex-pat Scots looking forward to having Scotland’s national dish at the centre of their table at the next Burns’ supper.

“This development is an indication of the increasing interest in, and love of, Scottish food and drink produce in North America.

“As a government, we have supported Macsween to grow their business and will continue to support Scottish companies in unlocking the significant opportunities to be found in this fast-growing market.”