If visiting the UK and exploring Scotland is one of your top New Year’s resolutions, why not take a trip down memory lane and discover Scotland’s secret history? We’ve looked into the weird and wonderful nooks and crannies of Scotland’s past to bring you some of the most intriguing and curious places and stories that you won’t find in the history books.
Secret Tunnels at Inchindown
Excavated out of solid rock in a hillside near the Invergordon naval base are six bombproof tunnels. They were constructed between 1939 and 1941 to secretly store reserve fuel supplies for British warships. The tanks themselves were long corridor spaces with arched roofs, lined with concrete walls 45cm thick. Despite still being in use during the Falklands War in 1982, the tanks were eventually decommissioned in 2002. Not only are these secret tunnels a must-see for anyone with a predilection for the more unusual sites in Scotland’s secret history, but also for those acoustic scientists with a keen ear for all things record breaking. Recently, a team from Salford University placed a new Guinness World Record for the longest echo in a man-made structure with a gun short reverberation lasting 112 seconds. This beat the previous record of 15 seconds by well, a long shot…
The Britannia Panopticon Music Hall
You might not expect to find the world’s oldest surviving music hall down the street from a queued out Greggs and hidden above the false ceiling of an amusement arcade. But find it you most certainly will. Ta-dah! The Britannia Panopticon in Glasgow is definitely a hidden gem in the search for Scotland’s secret history, with a fascinating and curious story spanning from its opening in 1857 to its rediscovery in 1997 after sixty years of silence, boarded up and forgotten. In its heyday, the Britannia presented the biggest music hall stars of the time. It gave Stan Laurel his first performance. Thanks to the funds raised by trustees and volunteers, the original 1920s stage has now been restored. It hosts a selection of Victorian themed shows. So if you’re keen on all things nostalgic and fancy a jaunt down memory lane, then this is the place for you.
The Treasure of Loch Arkaig
Ok. Bear with us. In the grand scheme of Scotland’s secret history, the treasure of Loch Arkaig, otherwise known as the Jacobite Gold, ranks pretty highly because, well, it’s still a secret….
In 1746, seven caskets of Spanish gold arrived at Arisaig on French ships to support the Jacobite cause. But, by this point, the Jacobites had been defeated. Bonnie Prince Charlie was hotfooting it back to France. One casket had already been stolen. The remaining six were due to be distributed amongst the clan chiefs by the trustworthy Macpherson of Cluny. But he decided to run off with the money instead. He hid in a cave and lived as a fugitive instead. As you do.
The fate of the money remains unclear, and continues to baffle historians. It was reputedly buried at the head of Loch Arkaig. However a recent discovery of an 18th century deathbed confessional from a Jacobite supporter changed this. He revealed that he stole a bag of gold and buried it near Arisaig under a black rock with a tree root springing from it. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history. So, who needs a lottery ticket when all you need to do is arm yourself with a map and metal detector? The Spanish gold could be yours…