International Dorothy Dunnett Day – 15th October 2011

The first International Dorothy Dunnett Day will take place on the 15th October. It has special significance as it marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Dorothy’s first book – The Game of Kings – which started The Lymond Chronicles and was responsible for all our wonderful journeys into the history, geography and culture of the Renaissance.

There will be meetings all over the world; in Belgium, Canada, England, Spain and the USA, and of course here in Edinburgh where we’ll be gathering at the Makar’s Court off the Royal Mile, next to the stone that commemorates Dorothy’s life and work. If you’re attending any of the meetings then when you raise your glass (which I hope will contain the best malt whisky that you can find!) to her memory then you’ll be doing so together with many others.

Do enjoy the memories, whether they are of reading the books for the first time, of the first time you communicated with other readers, of any gatherings you may have attended, or, if you were lucky enough to meet her in person, of that warm smile and sparkling wit that she graced us all with. And if you wish to share any of the stories or photos old or new then I’d be more than happy to receive them.

Have a very good day!


Maps maps maps, …and a Dunnett bonus

Today I followed a link from a friend on Twitter to the National Library of Scotland site. The NLS was of course an organisation dear to Dorothy’s heart, and they have proven to be very imaginative in their developments on their website. I’ve mentioned before the old maps that they’ve put online, now they’ve combined their old maps as overlays with Google maps. For instance if you want to see Edinburgh as it was in 1849-53 and compare it with the current views you can go to and zoom in and out as you would with normal Google maps. Of course it’s not Lymond’s time, sadly mapmaking was rather more primitive then, but it’s interesting for those of us who like seeing how the landscape and cityscape have changed.

But then I started to explore a bit more, as I hadn’t had time to spend on the site for quite a while due to moving into my new house a few months ago. And what I found was this – – it may not look much to begin with but try zooming in. (The controls are slightly counter intuitive – click the symbols above and then click the map.) Then zoom in again, and again, and again…

You can go through various layers of different maps but you can get down to detail such as this

Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Palace - click for a larger version

This is Linlithgow Palace and St Michael’s Church from between 1848-72.

Which immediately gave me an idea. As I’ve mentioned in the past you can’t see the site of the old house that belonged to Archie and Robin because it’s been obliterated by the modern Grangemouth oil refinery and I’ve always meant to go and find an old map which had it marked – I knew it was marked because Dorothy used to have an enlarged copy of an old map on her study wall which I saw on one of my visits. So over I swung to the area and zoomed in again. And the result was


Berecrofts - click for a larger version

Interesting that the spelling is slightly different, Bearcroft rather than Berecrofts, but this must be the place, situated just across the river where Lucia died on the night of Nicholas’ fight with Simon in the salt pans. And this isn’t the final level of detail – zoom in a bit more and the layout of the house becomes visible.

Berecrofts Detail

Berecrofts Detail - click for a larger version

I rather think Dorothy would have liked this development. Enjoy exploring!


Suivez Francois!

Starting tomorrow the latest of the big Dunnett gatherings takes place – this time in the romantic city of Paris. With plenty of sites from Queens’ Play and Checkmate it should be a wonderful few days for the  participants who are heading there from various parts of the world.

Sadly I’m not one of them – originally I’d hoped to attend but a combination of business pressure and the process of buying and moving into my new house mean that I’m more than fully committed. A great pity, the prospect of eating French cuisine in some dramatic and historic venues and visits to places like Fontainebleau, not to mention the real point which is of course meeting up again with many old friends and correspondents, was a seductive one. But I guess I’ll have to wait till Istanbul which is planned for 2012.

Some participants are also visiting Bruges as part of an extended trip, thus taking in Niccolo territory as well. Another city I’ve been promising myself a visit to for far too long.

To everyone taking part;  fair skies and fine eating – I’m sure you’ll all enjoy yourselves immensely. And have a glass of wine for me.

Rosslyn Chapel emerges from scaffolding

Anyone who was with us for the DDRA Edinburgh weekend a few years ago when we visited Rosslyn Chapel (thankfully before the Dan Brown inspired increase in visitor numbers) will remember the intricate scaffolding and extra roof which was being used to allow access for restoration and also to help dry out the building after earlier ill-conceived restoration efforts. While it was fascinating to walk around the scaffolding and see the roof carvings up close the broader external views were much disrupted.

Now the chapel, which Dorothy used as a setting in the House of Niccolo, is emerging from its web of steel and can be appreciated in full again. You can read more details about it at the Scotsman site