Scotland's story in 100 objects

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ON hearing that the British Museum, in connection with Radio 4, were compiling a history of the world in 100 objects, we asked historian Michael Fry to come up with a list of 100 significant objects (and people) illustrating Scotland's vivid story. Here are his choices.

&#149 The Lewis Chessmen

SCOTLAND'S history is most often remembered as a dark drama etched out on a stunning landscape by the bloodstained battlefields of Mons Graupius, Bannockburn, Flodden, Culloden and many more. But there was another more constructive side to it, and the surprise is how much evidence of that has survived thousands years of murder, massacre and mayhem.

Scots were also among the pioneers in collecting and preserving materials to illustrate the progress of humanity that, by the time of the Enlightenment in the 18th century, they believed had taken place. They had themselves, after all, gone in a couple of generations from cutting throats in the Highlands and burning witches in the Lowlands to gracious living in the New Town of Edinburgh and mechanising labour at New Lanark. They wanted to mark the change and preserve the memory of it for future generations. This is why Scotland has some of the best museums and art galleries in the world.

1 The standing stones at Callanish date from perhaps 2000BC, not long after the start of human settlement in Scotland.

2 The Cramond Lioness symbolised imperial power at the Roman naval base in the Firth of Forth.

3 The Traprain Treasure, a hoard of late Roman silver, found in a Celtic fortress in East Lothian, dates from the final phase of contact with the Romans in the 5th century.

4 The Aberlemno Stone, in Angus, commemorates the victory of the Pictish King Brude over the Northumbrian King Egfrith in 685.

5 Elizabethan artist John White imagined Picts as noble savages in paintings such as Pictish Man Holding a Human Head.

6 The Hunterston brooch, made in about AD700, is a beautiful example of Celtic metalwork.

7 From the same era is the Monymusk Reliquary, which probably housed relics of St Columba, founder of the monastery on Iona.

8 The Northumbrians were still penetrating Scotland and erected a huge cross at Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire.

9 Kings of Scots were enthroned on the Stone of Scone. Stolen by the English in 1296, it was returned to Edinburgh Castle in 1996.

10 Victorian artist George Cattermole painted a popular image of a plotting Macbeth, King of Scots, immortalised in the play by Shakespeare.

11 The Seton Armorial is an illuminated manuscript of 1591, detailing the heraldry of Scotland's noble families, such as the successor who killed Macbeth in 1057, Malcolm Canmore.

12 St Fillan's Crozier, dating from the 11th century, was constructed around the relics of the Celtic saint. Legend has it that The Bruce requested that his armbone be brought to the Bannockburn battle site.

13 The Lewis Chessmen, discovered buried in a dune in 1831, date from when the Western Isles were Viking territory.

14 Hero-king and saviour of the nation Robert Bruce is commemorated in a statue overlooking the scene of his triumph at the Battle of Bannockburn 1314.

15 Yet his subjects reminded Bruce, in the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, that they would follow him only if he defended their freedom.

16 This was helped along by the cannon called Mons Meg on the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle.

17Independence was also asserted by the Honours of Scotland (the Crown Jewels), dating from the early 16th century.

18 A carved figure of St Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, discovered in Fife, was saved from the holocaust of images at the Reformation.

19 Merchants grew rich and spent money conspicuously on items such as the Galloway mazer, from which Edinburgh's lord provost drank.

20 The favourite Scottish instrument was not the bagpipes but the clarsach, for instance the Lamont harp.

21 Modernity came slowly to an embattled Scotland; the first coin to bear a date, 1539, depicted James V.

22 James V also brought the Renaissance to Scotland and, with the Stirling heads, adorned his favourite palace with art of European quality.

23 The statue of John Knox on The Mound, Edinburgh, celebrates the man who brought the Reformation to Scotland in 1560.

24 Mary, Queen of Scots was renowned for her love of jewellery, left much behind when she fled Scotland in 1567. Some pieces can be seen at her house in Jedburgh.

25 Her tomb, in Westminster Abbey, was erected by her son, James VI and I, once he gained the English throne in 1603.

26 James also encouraged the fine arts back home: the Pitfirrane stirrup cup – a glass goblet he reputedly drank from while mounted on the horse taking him to London to live – was one result.

27 Another fine example is the 1615 watch by David Ramsay, now in the National Museum of Scotland.

28 James was the first Scottish monarch to commission formal portraits of himself by European artists. One of the most famous was painted by the Dutchman de Critz.

29 Royal patronage continued under Charles I, who commissioned a gold flask for his anointment at his coronation in Edinburgh in 1633.

30 The 17th century saw much political repression, and the Maiden, the Scottish version of the guillotine, was in regular use.

31 The Covenanters rose in rebellion and the mask worn by one of their pastors, Sandy Peden, is surely worthy of inclusion here.

32 To terrorise rebellious Lowlanders, the Stewart kings employed Highland clans led by men such as the chief seen in a portrait by Michael Wright.

33 Revenge was wrought on the Highlanders at the Massacre of Glencoe, 1692, its aftermath captured in a stirring Victorian painting by James Hamilton.

34 As the cities of Scotland developed, John Slezer made engravings of them. His images, from Aberdeen to Weymss, are at the National Library and can be seen online.

35 Golf was born in Scotland, so we must include a club and ball.

36 The Scots' biggest problem, incessant war with the English, was solved by the Treaty of Union, 1707.

37 But the Jacobites fought on, often expressing their allegiance in artistic code, in glassware.

38 Economic growth was, meanwhile, fostered by the Scottish banks, which issued banknotes when they had no gold.

39 The Enlightenment produced a new taste for furniture in classic styles, such as a longcase clock with marquetry by a French refugee in Edinburgh, Paul Roumieu.

40 Scots put martial virtue at the service of Britain. The Strathspey Fencibles, among others, banged the drum such as the example at the National Museum of Scotland.

41 The National Archives' collection of military records are the next object, which honours those who served.

42 Bagpipes. Do we really need to elaborate?

43 The rewards could be great – a colonial fortune let the Earl of Dunmore build a folly topped by a giant pineapple in Stirlingshire.

44 The Enlightenment made Scotland an intellectual leader of the western world, led by the philosopher David Hume, whose statue sits outside the High Court in Edinburgh.

45 The impetus was sustained by Adam Smith, who gave birth to economics with The Wealth of Nations.

46 Science advanced in the pioneering chemical experiments of Joseph Black, whose scientific apparatus is preserved in the Playfair collection.

47 James Watt invented an efficient steam engine and, with his partner Matthew Boulton, constructed machines which still impress.

48 The fine arts took on a new lease of life during this period, and there's no finer example than Robert Adam's exquisite plasterwork at Mellerstain House in Berwickshire.

49 It was an era of portraiture, begun by Allan Ramsay with Anne Bayne Ramsay, as seen in the Scottish Portrait Gallery.

50 The most famous image of the age is of the Rev Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch by Sir Henry Raeburn (probably).

51 David Wilkie's Penny Wedding depicts the lives of ordinary people.

52 Artist David Allan gave us paintings of industrial Scotland, like Lead Processing at Leadhills: Smelting the Ore.

53 Before agriculture was mechanised, farmers relied on Clydesdales, represnted by the 1877 horse show medal in Lanark.

54 Highland conditions remain squalid. A typical longhouse on Islay would be representative.

55 The contemporary solution was to turn the Highlands over to sheep. William Shiels's painting of Orkney and Shetland breeds can be seen in the National Museum of Scotland.

56 The tappit hen was a communal vessel whose lid snapped down on the drinker's nose if he guzzled too fast.

57 For the more genteel, there might be the pottery punchbowl with a scene of Port Hopetoun near Edinburgh.

58 One improvement came through the commercial production of marmalade by James Keiller of Dundee in 1797.

59 The popular snack, tablet, was first noted in the household book of Lady Grisell Baillie in the 18th century.

60 Fashionable clothing for the masses became possible only with the growth of a textile industry, especially at Paisley, which became famous for shawls woven in a distinctive pattern. These gave Paisley pattern its name.

61 Crime flourished – in Edinburgh notably in the case of Deacon Brodie, who left us his lantern and skeleton keys.

62 Murder stalked the capital's streets with Burke and Hare. After his execution, Burke's skeleton was preserved at the university.

63 To illustrate the level of danger in these times, let's include the blunderbuss which Sir Walter Scott kept at his home, Abbotsford, in the Borders.

64 Raeburn's iconic portrait of Scott, depicted a man with his share of troubles.

65 No less beloved is Robert Burns, dapper and handsome in a portrait by Alexander Nasmyth.

66 Burns's reputation showed itself in popular artefacts, such as a snuff box illustrated with scenes from Tam o'Shanter.

67 In the 19th century technological change quickened. The Charlotte Dundas steamship sailed the Clyde in 1803.

68 David Octavius Hill's picture shows the opening of the Glasgow and Garnkirk railway in 1831.

69 On the Quay at Leith, a photograph by David Octavius Hill, one of the medium's inventors.

70 The RMS Lusitania, which was built on Clydeside, symbolises Scotland's booming shipbuilding industry.

71 Heavy industry still created scope for output of consumer goods, such as the pennyfarthing in 1884.

72 The BU5 motorcycle engine, by Barr & Stroud, was briefly in production in 1923.

73 Shanks of Arbroath invented the lawnmower about 1850; it was pulled by a pony.

74 Once distilleries were legalised and regulated in 1823, whisky became a commercial product.

75 Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876.

76 Communal laundries, aka steamies, were common urban sights, and every steamie would have included a mangle, invented by a Scot, Robert William Thomson, in 1839

77 The Stevensons of Edinburgh were a dynasty of engineers specialising in lighthouses, such as the one on the Bell Rock.

78 The figure of Robert Louis Stevenson at the Writers Museum in Edinburgh. Seafaring's loss was literature's gain.

79 William McTaggart's depiction of the Coming of St Columba, stands for the way arts flourished amid Victorian prosperity.

80 James Steel erected his equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington at the east end of Princes Street, Edinburgh.

81 The walls of Bellevue Chapel, as painted by Phoebe Traquair.

82 The Thistle Chapel at St Giles' in Edinburgh, which was decorated in superlative neo-medieval style by Robert Lorimer.

83 The Glasgow School of Art, perhaps Charles Rennie Mackintosh's masterpiece.

84 Any list of iconic Scottish objects must include a haggis. The savoury delight has been a staple of Scottish cuisine since the time of Robert Burns.

85 A bolt of Harris tweed makes the list, because this was the original Hebridean hand-woven cloth, which Victorian lairds began marketing to supplement crofters' incomes.

86 Gerald Laing's sculpture of Sherlock Holmes commemorates the fact that his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, was born at Picardy Place in Edinburgh.

87 Ian Hamilton Finlay's Little Sparta may be a place rather than a single object – a sculpture garden in Lanarkshire – but it is included as a stellar example of Scottish artistry and endeavour.

88 In 1946, the first Edinburgh International Festival was born, so let's include one of the original programmes, found in the archives at Glasgow University. Ever since, Edinburgh's been the destination for culture vultures throughout August and early September.

89 The Scottish Cup, the oldest trophy in the game, awarded from 1873, because of the nation's love of football.

90 For couch potatoes there was television, invented by John Logie Baird in 1926.

91 To represent Scotland's contribution to fashion, we must include a dress by Jean Muir, whose influence on haute couture is still felt today.

92 A can of Irn-Bru, for some say the drink "made from girders" is more of a national favourite than whisky.

93 Author/artist John Byrne's portrait of actress Tilda Swinton is a powerful testament to Scotland's myriad contributions to popular culture.

94 And as befits the country that's home to Unesco's City of Literature, we must include samples of modern books by the likes of Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith and Alasdair Gray.

95 Dolly the Sheep surely wins her place as the symbol of Scotland's rich history of scientific innovation.

96 Billy Connolly is one of the greatest in a long line of Scots comics and has his banana boots on display at the People's Palace in Glasgow.

97 Harry Lauder's crooked walking stick was part of his caricature of the Scotsman that was loved abroad, reviled at home.

98 To further represent Scotland's contributions to the film industry, we should include DVDs of films such as Whisky Galore!, I Know Where I'm Going, Local Hero and Gregory's Girl.

99 Scotland's first First Minister, Donald Dewar, is commemorated by Kenny Mackay's statue at the junction of Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow.

100 Mr Dewar was the man behind the Scottish Parliament. Its mace, by Michael Lloyd, bears the motto "Wisdom, Justice, Compassion, Integrity".

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