Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

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Diplomatic Immunity
two-part story
Music: William Byrd
Sir James Melville eavesdrops on Queen Elizabeth I’s music practice, and incurs Her Majesty’s displeasure.
By Sir James Melville
(1535–1617)

THE same day after dinner, my Lord of Hunsden drew me up to a quiet gallery that I might hear some music (but he said he durst not avow it), where I might hear the Queen play upon the virginals.

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Six Posts
Black Agnes Dunbar
When Edward III sent the Earl of Salisbury to take her absent husband’s castle, Agnes brushed his attack aside - literally.

IN 1338, King Edward III of England saw a chance to put his own man, Edward Balliol, on the Scottish throne.

So he sent the Earl of Salisbury to lay siege to Dunbar Castle on the Scottish border, while the Earl of Dunbar, Patrick, was away in France.

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Fiddler Tam
Music: Thomas Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie
An 18th century bon viveur and virtuoso violinist, Thomas Erskine is currently being ‘rediscovered’ by the classical music industry.
Music by
Thomas Erskine, Earl of Kellie

AS a young man of twenty Thomas Erskine, Sixth Earl of Kellie, was passionate about music, but scarcely able to tune his own violin.

A four-year visit to Joseph Stamitz in Mannheim changed all that.

On his return in 1756, his new-found virtuosity earned him the nickname ‘Fiddler Tam’.

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The Tragedy of Macbeth
two-part story
Music: Sir Arthur Sullivan; Richard Strauss
Macbeth becomes wound in spells, and finds that one murder leads to another.
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

JUST before Edward the Confessor came to the English throne, two Scottish generals, Macbeth and Banquo, saved the throne of their king Duncan by repulsing a Danish invasion.

On their way home, three witches accosted them. They told Macbeth that he would one day be a king, and Banquo that he would be a father of kings.

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The Battle of Neville’s Cross
Music: Charles Avison
Ralph Neville spoiled David of Scotland’s alliance with France in the Hundred Years’ War

FOLLOWING a heavy defeat at the Battle of Crécy on the 26th of August, 1346, King Philip VI of France appealed to the Scottish King David II to honour the ‘Auld Alliance’, and help him by harassing England from the north.

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Brahms: Three Intermezzi Op. 117
A Scottish widow’s lullaby for her fatherless child inspired his music, but Brahms’s message struck closer to home.

JOHANNES Brahms’s Three Intermezzi, composed in 1892, were inspired by the Border Ballad Lady Anne Bothwell’s Lament, in which a bitter young mother tells her uncomprehending son how his father left them, on the very day his child was born, to die in a pointless war.

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The Ladder with Twenty-Four Rungs
Music: Thomas Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie
The Duke of Argyll was pleasantly surprised to find one of his gardeners reading a learned book of mathematics - in Latin.

THE Duke of Argyll was puzzled one day to find a copy of Newton’s recently-published ‘Principia’ lying on the grass. He summoned a passing gardener, an eighteen-year-old named Edward Stone, and instructed him to return the wandering book to his library.

Edward, however, replied that it was his own personal copy.

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All Posts
Tagged Scottish History (12 posts)
page 1
1 Diplomatic Immunity
By Sir James Melville
(1535–1617)
Sir James Melville eavesdrops on Queen Elizabeth I’s music practice, and incurs Her Majesty’s displeasure.
2 Mary Queen of Scots
Henry VII’s great-granddaughter Mary never grasped that even royalty must win the people’s respect.
3 Flodden Edge
The Scots paid a heavy price for honouring their ‘Auld Alliance’ with France.
4 The Jacobite Rebellions
Loyal subjects of King James II continued to fight his corner after he, and any real hope of success, had gone.
5 The Battle of Glen Shiel
King Philip V of Spain sent a second Spanish Armada against Britain, but it suffered much the same fate as the first.
6 The Tragedy of Macbeth
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Macbeth becomes wound in spells, and finds that one murder leads to another.
page 2
7 The Law of the Innocents
St Adamnán worked tirelessly to secure protection, rights and dignity for the women of Ireland.
8 Brahms: Three Intermezzi Op. 117
A Scottish widow’s lullaby for her fatherless child inspired his music, but Brahms’s message struck closer to home.
9 The Battle of Neville’s Cross
Ralph Neville spoiled David of Scotland’s alliance with France in the Hundred Years’ War
10 Fiddler Tam
Music by
Thomas Erskine, Earl of Kellie
An 18th century bon viveur and virtuoso violinist, Thomas Erskine is currently being ‘rediscovered’ by the classical music industry.
11 Black Agnes Dunbar
When Edward III sent the Earl of Salisbury to take her absent husband’s castle, Agnes brushed his attack aside - literally.
12 The Ladder with Twenty-Four Rungs
The Duke of Argyll was pleasantly surprised to find one of his gardeners reading a learned book of mathematics - in Latin.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Subject and Object

Use each of the words below as either the subject or the object of a verb.

Search. Father. Leave.

JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Pine’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Change ROCK into SALT, one letter at a time.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
Do you know ‘a river, part of the Bristol-London waterway’ (6 letters), and ‘e.g. D minor’ (3 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Do you know ‘princes and princesses, kings and queens’ (7 letters), and ‘jump up and down on one foot’ (3 letters)?
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
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History (379)
Fiction (82)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

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numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic