[Editor's Note: the following is a guest post from David McNicoll of Highland Experience Scotland which specializes in heritage travel in Scotland.]
There is something very cathartic about walking in the footsteps of your ancestors; a sense of enjoying the collective memory of their time, and being part of the continuum. Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish author once said that the Scots carry the past with them in a way that few others could understand; and it’s very true. This is very Celtic trait, and we’ve taken it to the far corners of the globe. The homing beacon is, however, a strong instinct – the desire to know where we came from, and to understand the lives and the world our forefathers inhabited is part of that psyche.
Scotland is a patchwork nation, from the Borderlands to the Viking north, from the Industrial Midlands to the Gaelic west: a varied and disparate people, but all strands in the tartan weave that makes us unique. So, whether your ancestors built the great ships in Glasgow, gutted herring on the quays of Aberdeen, wove the Jute that made Dundee rich or ploughed the heathland until it bloomed, they are part of the nation’s story, the very fabric of her tale. Ancestral research is more, much more than a family tree and a portfolio of certificates: it’s about real people; their lives, the world they lived in, loved ones, and the way they departed. The records and census reports are the beginning of the trail, the start of the adventure that will lead you to discover the past, and bring it to life.
For too long family heritage tourism has laboured among the minutia of birth certificates, grave rubbings and dusty maps. It should be an adventure, like jumping into a time-machine and seeing the world through the eyes of your forebears. This is what we try to do. Every genealogy tells a story and plays a part in the making of Scotland. Today, ancestral tourism is about understanding the past, following in footsteps and bringing to life not only individuals but the world around them. Nostalgia tugs hard at the Celtic heartstrings, and we aim to create a vacation package that allows you both to examine old documents and see where your forebears lived, but also to reconstruct the time they lived and worked in, and perhaps lead you to understand why they left Scotland behind.
For more info please visit http://www.highlandexperience-usa.com.
Photo: East Lomond Hill, Scotland via Wikimedia Commons used under Creative Commons License 3.0.
©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee