The National Trust for Scotland and The Scotsman newspaper have recently concluded a poll of the 'Seven Wonders of Scotland'. Members of the public could vote for a shortlist of 30 things that make Scotland great, or suggest their own. Below are the top seven, with the link to where the other 23 on the shortlist fared (the Scottish Parliament building finished last). Some of these are well-deserved (I do love the Forth Bridge), some not-so (Scotland's light and sky???). But see what you think. I'm currently putting together my own Seven Wonders of Scotland - look out for it sometime later this week...
1. The Forth Bridge
When it was built, the Forth Bridge was regarded as the eighth wonder of the world and it remains one of the most recognisable structures in Scotland. Sir John Fowler and Benjamin Baker's bridge is a testament to robust Victorian engineering and casts a magnificent silhouette across the waters of the Forth.
2. Single malt whisky
The pure water, the clear fresh air and the peat moorlands of Scotland all contribute to the flavours of single malt whisky, the water of life and one of our great offerings to the world. The combination of water, malted barley and yeast result in hundreds of distinctive flavours, from the smoky island malts to the sweet ambrosia of Speyside.
3. Edinburgh Old and New Town
With a stunning natural setting and a magnificent skyline, Edinburgh is a treasury of architectural marvels, from the cobbled labyrinth of the old walled city to the elegant Georgian splendour of the New Town. Every step is paved with history, from the towering achievements of the Enlightenment to the heinous crimes of grave robbers Burke and Hare.
Towering mountains and ever-changing weather characterise the eerie glen, redolent of the ghosts of one of the most bloody episodes in Scottish history. Standing in the depths of the valley, one cannot fail to be overpowered by the landscape and the almost tangible presence of the past.
5. The Prehistoric treasures of Orkney
Within a few windy miles on Orkney is a collection of standing stones which predate Stonehenge and the Pyramids. Maeshowe, the Ring of Brodgar, Stenness and Skara Brae, which are all World Heritage Sites, are potent symbols of the culture which predated and helped create Scotland.
6. The Kilt
Not only is the kilt a national form of dress, which keeps alive the tradition of the clan tartan and identifies Scots at formal gatherings around the world, it is also a design classic. French designer Jean Paul Gaultier is a fan, Vivienne Westwood created a punk version and Howie Nicholsby of Edinburgh has made plain kilts in leather and denim for stars including Vin Diesel and Robbie Williams.
7. The light and sky of Scotland
From the vast skies of Orkney to the cool clear light of the east coast and the blazing pink and orange of the Hebridean sunsets, Scotland's skies present an ever-changing panorama. Writers, poets and artists from the land of mist and mountains have celebrated the transforming beauty and peculiar qualities of Scotland's light.
list in full