What “Simply Scottish” Means

The official logo of Simply Scottish, with a stane dyke wall in the background.
The official artwork for Simply Scottish, featuring a stane dyke wall in the background.

Could there be anything more simply Scottish than a dry stane dyke? Found all over Scotland and elsewhere in the British Isles, these walls are made of large stones held together without the use of mortar by the compressional force of each interlocking stone. You’ll find them lining driveways, forming boundary walls between fields, and standing as retaining walls in towns and villages. When we re-launched Simply Scottish as a podcast in 2011, we chose the image of a stane dyke wall in the Scottish countryside as the backdrop for our official podcast artwork.

A number of things could visually symbolize the words “simply Scottish.” For me, it’s my mother, Samantha. Her personality and character embodied a number of qualities I deem to be simply Scottish: an unshakable belief in God, loyalty to family, an adventurous spirit, unselfish kindness, a no-nonsense attitude, thriftiness, and a healthy dose of humor. She traveled the world and had a 40-year career as a teacher. Her students and friends loved her for these virtues. And I am largely who I am because of her influence.

Some years ago, when Simply Scottish was a radio show airing on various public radio stations in the U.S. and Canada, we commissioned Vincent Rooney, an artist in Scotland, to create a painting called “Simply Scottish.”

Simply Scottish, a painting by Scottish artist Vincent Rooney
Simply Scottish, a painting by Scottish artist Vincent Rooney

He painted a small cottage by a burn, nestled at the foot of rolling Scottish hills. The artwork still hangs in the bedroom of my father, my co-host on Simply Scottish during the initial years of its production.

When my father and I chose the name for our show, we did so not only because it employs the memory-enhancing technique of alliteration, but because we wanted to get to the heart of Scotland and being Scottish, past all the hype, stereotype, assumption, and misunderstanding. We want to present Scotland simply and earnestly. We want to let the country’s beauty speak for itself and allow the friendliness and authenticity of Scotland’s people send its own invitation. In true Scottish fashion, we don’t want to boast. We want to welcome people to our land, because we know they will grow to love it and appreciate it in their own fashion and in their own time. And those who are Scottish by birth or who live there will gain new appreciation and insight about this small but mighty nation.

So what do you think embodies the phrase “simply Scottish?” It could be an object, a place, a person, an event, a sound, a taste, or a smell. It won’t be the only thing, but to you, and perhaps to many others, it communicates “simply Scottish.” Beyond hype or stereotype, it is pure and powerful. It is Scotland, distilled.

Send me your ideas.

One Comment Add yours

  1. andy1wishart says:

    I brought my Mum down from Scotland to have a wee holiday at my new house in England. A week later I drove her back North and she asked if we could visit my auntie’s house in Lanarkshire on the way home.Aunt Margaret was pleased to see us and hear about my mother’s visit South of the Border. My aunt soon got busy with the tea ceremony. Table cloth onto the dining table, sandwiches, scones and cakes appeared. Mum then told her we had been invited to a friend’s house for tea one day. Aunt Margaret cocked her head to one side, looked hard at my Mum, shook her head in disbelief and asked,”Just tea, is that all they offered you in England, no scones, biscuits or anything else?”

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