Lively walking tours, Scottish food tastings, swinging kilts and the sound of bagpipes will bring the grounds of Ayr Mount in Hillsborough to life this weekend, Oct. 11-13.
The Alliance for Historic Hillsborough is presenting Outlandish Hillsborough, a town-wide celebration exploring Hillsborough’s own unique Scottish heritage, with events inspired by the popular "Outlander" book series turned TV show by Diana Gabaldon.
A variety of demonstrations, historical reenactments, open discussions and performances will highlight Hillsborough’s own unique ties to Scottish culture.
Annie Newton, the program coordinator at the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough, said the events will commence Friday night with a walking tour called "Colonial Luminaries of Olde Hillsborough," followed by a showing of the movie "Braveheart" and a discussion of the historical accuracies and inaccuracies of the film.
On Saturday, Annie Newton said, attendees will take part in the Cèilidh at Ayr Mount.
“Cèilidh is Gaelic for gathering, and it’s a celebration of Scottish heritage and Scotland as a whole, as well as North Carolina’s colonial history,” Annie Newton said.
The event will feature performances from NCSU Pipes and Drums Band, Scottish country dancing and Scottish vendors, as well as a "wee bairns" area for children.
For fans of the "Outlander" series, Sunday’s portion of the festival will explore North Carolina’s ties to the book series and the TV show, and an in-depth analysis of North Carolina’s colonial history.
Annie Newton said season five of the show, which will air in February 2020, will be set in Hillsborough during the time of the Regulator Uprising in the 18th century, so the festival will emphasize the historical themes that the show explores.
“There’s something for everyone,” Annie Newton said. “Whether it’s learning about our Scottish heritage or just celebrating your love of the books, it will appeal to a wide audience.”
Michael Newton, an independent scholar with a Ph.D. in Celtic Studies from the University of Edinburgh, said the Scottish roots of Hillsborough are mainly that of the Scottish Lowlands, while the settlement of the Gaels of Scotland was focused more in the eastern half of the state in the Cape Fear area.
“The most common mistake that Americans make when thinking about Scottish history and identity is to assume that the Scots are a single ethnic group with a monolithic culture and identity,” Michael Newton said.
Michael Newton helped organize the event and mentioned that this blending of individual cultures, languages and histories is one of Outlander’s shortcomings—which he said he otherwise considers to be a strong depiction of Scottish culture.
The weekend, however, will also delve into the early settlement of North Carolina, and early relations between Native Americans, Europeans and Africans in addition to its Scottish nucleus.
Arwin Smallwood, chairperson of the department of history and political science at North Carolina A&T State University, specializes in these relations and will lead an open discussion on Sunday afternoon.
“If you talk to people, most will know something about the lost colony,” Smallwood said. “But they don’t realize that a year before the hundred or so colonists were left at Roanoke, that roughly 600 West Africans and Caribbean Indians assisting the English colonists also disappeared.”
Smallwood will address various misconceptions about North Carolina’s history and accept questions from spectators afterward. In keeping with the Scottish theme of the festival, he will also discuss Scotch-Irish and German settlers, as well as the role of the Quakers in the Piedmont region during colonial times.
Community members can purchase tickets to Outlandish Hillsborough through the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough’s website for a celebration of Scottish heritage, North Carolina’s rich colonial history and a weekend of food, music and fun.
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