by Peter Thomson
Quhit’ll ye dae wi yon herrins heids?
Quhit’ll ye dae wi yon herrins heids?
We’ll makkit thon in tae laifs o breid
An aa manner o things.
So starts a song sung by the gutting gangs of the NE of Scotland in times when the silver darlings swam in shoals up to 30 miles long as they migrated around the Scottish coast.  The song itself is a nonsense song.  The lassies who sang it did so to help while away the hours of repetitive work gutting, salting and packing herring.

On 27th March, the last Sunday of the month, the ten yearly national census will take place.  Collecting accurate and up to date statistical information about every aspect of Scottish life allows government organisations to plan and fund services accurately, as the census will tell them vital information such as how many elderly people there are, or where there is an increase in number of young people.

For a number of decades, the census has included a question about the ability to speak or understand Gaelic.  The census figures for the Gaelic language have been vital in ensuring that efforts to revive and maintain the language are effectively targeted.  This year, for the very first time, the census will also include a similar question asking about the ability to speak or understand the Lowland Scots language.  As we’ve often reminded Newsnet Scotland readers, the British government officially recognises Scots as a distinct language requiring protection under the terms of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

by Martha Mosson

Legend has it that King Alexander III of Scotland adopted the thistle as his royal emblem in 1263 after the Scottish victory at the Battle of Largs.  Scotland was at war with Norway.  The Norwegians had, rather inconsiderately, captured the Hebrides and the Scots wanted them back.  King Haakon of Norway sent a fleet of ships carrying an army which landed one night on the beach close to the town of Largs in Ayrshire where King Alexander’s army had gathered.  The Scottish army lay asleep, as Scots tend to do after spending the day at the beach, and Haakon hoped to sneak up on them unawares and catch them napping.