.jump-link{ display:none }

Monday, 1 April 2013

A-Z Challenge: : A is for Alnwick, ,Arran, Argyll & Austria

In this new A-Z Challenge, my theme is SENSE OF PLACE where I will be:
  • Featuring places connected with my own family history.
  • Highlighting places with happy memories.
  • Shining the spotlight on place names that appeal.
  • Linking my interests in history, travel and photography.  

Join me on the start of this journey from A-Z.  
A is for

ARCHIVES  - I had to include this under A-Z of places, as I used to work in the Heritage Hub, Hawick, home of the Scottish Borders Archive Service. Archives are the bed rock of our family history research and it can lead us on a journey of Adventure exploring the unique records and touching pages that record details of our ancestors in their lifetime, whether it be in a poor law entry, a school record, or a will.   Here is the signature of my g.g.g. grandfather on his will. 

ALNWICK, a small market town  in north Northumberland, was the home of my husband's Hawkyard ancestors.   Alnwick Castle, was the scene of many a English-Scottish raid and since 1309  has been the seat of the most powerful of Northern barons, the Percy family, Earls and later Dukes of Northumberland (recollections of  of Shakespeare's Harry "Hotspur" Percy).  The Castle  is now best known for a different kind of scene - as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.  

In 1861, widow, 73 year old Catherine Hawkyard was the  lodging house keeper at Turk's Head Yard, Bondgate, with her two sons and 14 lodgers,  including an Irish chemist by the colourful  name of  Benjamin Clutterbuck, some Ag. Labs and five musicians from Germany.  (I see some blog story emerging here!)  The Hawkyard name is so strong sounding and distinctive, it is on my list for further research.  A cursory internet search revealed that Hawkyards predominated in Yorkshire.

Approaching Brocick on the Isle of Arran,
with Goatfell in the backgorund.

ARRAN - I first visited the Isle of Arran when I was 12 years old and was captivated by the romance of this island, an hour's sail  off the Ayrshire coast of Scotland. At 19 miles  long and 10 miles wide,  It is ofen called "Scotland in Miniature"  and abounds in some wonderful place names such as Lamlash, Blackwaterfoot, Lochranza, Siddery, Torbeg, Corriecravie, Whiting Bay, and Knochenkelly.    I worked there one summer as a student, hiring a bike to explore more of the island.  On my last visit we took the bus that travels the circular  route hugging the coastline -   a fantastic ride on what is now a much busier and scarier road - winding, twisty and hilly, but with marvellous views.  Definitely a place to return to!  

The distinctive sight  of the Cal Mac ferry
ARGYLL  is another  part of western Scotland that is full of happy memories, with the bustling ferry port of Oban, gateway to the Isles in the Inner Hebrides - Mull, Iona,  Coll, Tiree, Colonsay, islay and Jura. Landscape, history and heritage combine in a region that has inspired writers, artists  and composers down the centuries.  More memories to follow on this A-Z journey.

AUSTRIA - lakes and mountains,  chalet with geraniums abounding  on  baconies,   painted murals on houses,  red and white banners on public buildings, artistic shop signs,  the beautiful white churches,   impressive imperial palaces, monuments, and statues, pride in the national dress, the cleanliness of the streets and countryside,  the wonderful "Konditorei"  with their delicious cakes and pastries - all snapshot memories of many holidays in the country.   

Church with the "Zwiebal Turm" (onion dome) at St. Gilgen, near Salzburg

PLACE NAMES THAT APPEAL   - I love the way some names roll off the tongue and others immediately present an evoctive image.  Applegarth and Applethwaite in the north of England and Appletreehall in the Scottish Borders  bring an image of rosy cheeked women outside a cottage garden with trees full of blossom - shades of romantic fiction I know!   Scotland abounds with place names such as Auchenshuggle, Auchtermuchty, Ardnamurchan, Achiltibui, and Auchnatteroch. (Achadh" is the Scottish Gaelic for field and "ch" is pronounced as the "ch" in loch.)

Thank you for staying on this journey into Toponymy (the study of place names). 

Join me on the next stage for a basketful of B's

Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserve



  1. So many great places but what about Australia? lol.

    Seriously, I would like to find out more about using the Scottish Archives. I use Scotlands People for my Scottish research. Should I be writing to the Scottish Archives to obtain additional information?

  2. Hello, ScotSue! There are some *beautiful* pics in your post. I am full of admiration! I have started my genealogical journey again in the A-Z Challenge and it is proving more enjoyable than challenging. I just love the combination!

  3. I would enjoy reading more about the inn in ALNWICK. The names are so interesting and also the occupations.

  4. What a lovely post about such beautiful places. Thanks for sharing.

  5. The Alnwick area features in my family history (Atkinson family). I didn't know about Alnwick Castle and Hogworts - thanks for that interesting piece if trivia :)

  6. Hi.. I'm from the AtoZ Challenge and its a pleasure to read your blog.
    Bhavya from Just Another Blog

  7. Is it true that people are stoned for daring to wear plain white socks out in public in Argyll?

  8. Great places Susan and Alnwick and Argyll are in my family tree. Love the Scottish highlands and islands in general. Your names, personal and places, were just classic, and like Kristin I'd love to read more about the Hawkyards & Mr Clutterbuck (!!).

  9. Thank you to everyone for their kind comments. It was an enjoyable post to write and to come up with some interesting facts to start off this new A-Z challenge. I might have been a bit ambitious with my theme, but watch this space to see how I keep up with the hectic pace! To Jerry - I have never heard of that "white socks" story!


Thank you for your comment which will appear on screen after moderation.