The Day of the Pine Marten


Wench karen Bullock:Flickr  CC BY-NC 2

photocredit karen Bullock

Joanna here, to say a few words about pine martens and wish them well in their endeavors.

I’m not talking about the American pine marten, fine fellow though he may be, but about the European pine marten. Specifically, the European pine marten in the British isles.

They belong to the same family as otters, weasels, stoats, and polecats. They have the same long sinuous body, the same taste for small animals, and the same tendency to be held in disliked by chicken farmers. It is no accident that “weasel” and “polecat” are not terms of affection.

Martens are native to the British Isles. Original inhabitants, if you would.

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Pine MartenNicola here. Today I’m talking about an eccentric museum in the Scottish Highlands, a ruined castle, a monument and… The “Harry Potter” train! The thing that unites them all is the Jacobites.

A couple of weeks ago, like Bonnie Prince Charlie, I made my way to the Scottish Highlands and enjoyed following in his footsteps around many of the places with connections to the Jacobite cause. (I also enjoyed seeing the wildlife, especially the pine marten in the picture which visited the bird table at the place we were staying!) I’ve always had a soft spot for the Stuart dynasty. Their political judgement might have been wayward but there is something dashing and romantic about their struggles again the Hanoverians. Like so many lost causes they appeal to the heart not the head.

The Jacobites aimed to restore the Roman Catholic King James VII and II, and his heirs, to the thrones of Scotland, England and Ireland. Jacobites rebelled against the British government a number of times between 1688 and 1745. There was support for the Stuart Monarchy all over the country but most particularly in the West Highlands of Scotland where some of the clans had strong Roman Catholic affiliations.   The story of Bonnie Prince Charlie has become inextricably linked with the Highlands and the Scottish clans but also with tins of shortbread, mugs and… trains.

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