Scotland is just like Rome

12 03 2010

I remember being hugely impressed when I first visited Rome
Around every corner there was something interesting and unexpected.

Scotland is like Rome only bigger!

I’m writing this from the train travelling between Edinburgh and Stirling.
First of all is the splendour of Waverley Station. It’s not like any other station I’ve ever seen. It’s just as if someone has put a roof over part of the city. there are roads snaking through and tracks all over the place with small retail towns between the platforms.

Then out to Haymarket with the massive Murrayfield Stadium preparing itself for this weekends Calcutta Cup. As an Englishwoman it is a very strange experience to stand alongside your son as he belts out Flower of Scotland along with what seems like millions of his fellow countrymen!

And next pulling into a very ordinary looking station with a very ordinary looking town to the right of the train but a glance left and there is a huge palace with the most amazing structure on top of the tower. Linlithgow Palace sits just on the edge of the town, looking completely out of place and perfectly at home. It sits oddly against the new town but perfectly in the wider landscape.

On leaving Falkirk – a thoroughly unimpressive place with it’s cooling towers, chimneys, football stadium, tower blocks, supermarkets and concrete factory, there is the surreal structure that is the Falkirk Wheel. Six nodding wheels that lift boats in a wonderfully extravagant fashion up the canal. It is fantastic to see that there is still the capacity to create a wonderful aesthetic in a functional structure. A simple boat lift would have done the job as efficiently but not as splendidly as the Falkirk Wheel. It raises my spirit to think that modern architecture isn’t all glassy office blocks or disposable domes.

(Image reproduced under Creative Commons License –

Approaching Stirling and it is not the castle that catches the eye – although that is a magnificent site sitting as it does upon a single hill looking across the surrounding plains – but the folly that is The Wallace Monument. This huge needle totally dominates the landscape. A single pillar rising up against the backdrop of The Ochils as a permanent reminder not only of William Wallace but of the Victorian love of the spectacular.

And all this on a train journey that has lasted less than an hour and crossed a tiny part of east/central Scotland. And when you also consider that most of the journey afforded views, albeit distant and somewhat spoiled in the foreground by the squat commuter towns of Polmont and Larbert, of snowcapped mountains and is it any wonder that I don’t consider a commute to Edinburgh as work!

And all of Scotland id like this. A mosaic of small towns, a few cities and most with a story revealed by castles, palaces, gardens and monuments.

History around every corner. Scotland is just like Rome only bigger!

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