Tuesday, 5th May 2015

Lonach Highlanders Scare Off Viking Invaders At Major Tourism Event

An impressive sight - The Lonach Highlanders welcome international delegates (credit Royale Photographics)
Armed and ready - The Lonach Highlanders at VisitScotland Expo (credit Royale Photographics)

Aberdeenshire’s historic Lonach Highlanders helped to welcome hundreds of national and international delegates attending a major travel trade industry event in Aberdeen recently, while also scaring off some Viking invaders.


Believed to be the largest body of non-military men to carry ceremonial weapons in Britain, the Lonach Highlanders provided an escort and guard of honour to visitors at the end of the opening day of the VisitScotland Expo at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre last month.


Dressed in full highland regalia and armed with traditional pikes, a six-strong party of Lonach Highlanders made for an impressive sight.  The men even managed to frighten off a group of Viking invaders from Shetland who stormed the venue earlier in the day, but who failed to show up for the evening networking reception which the Lonach Highlanders were guarding.


Held annually, the VisitScotland Expo is Scotland’s tourism showcase, welcoming hundreds of overseas travel trade delegates to learn all about Scotland’s tourism offering, whilst also experiencing the country’s famed hospitality.  The visitors were stopped in their tracks by the sight of the pike wielding, tartan-clad Highlanders, with pictures and videos of the men flooding social media.


The Lonach Highlanders are part of the 192-year-old Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, which is a charitable organisation based in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire.  The Highlanders parade annually at the Lonach Highland Gathering held on the fourth Saturday of every August.  This year is the 174th staging of the Gathering and will be held on Saturday, 22 August at Bellabeg Park, Strathdon.


The society was established to support loyal, peaceful, and manly conduct; and the promotion of social and benevolent feelings among the inhabitants of Strathdon.  Membership of the Lonach Highlanders is drawn from residents of the local area who descend from the Forbes, Wallace and Gordon clans, and currently numbers 220 men.


Jennifer Stewart, secretary of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said: “The VisitScotland Expo gave us a brilliant opportunity to promote the Lonach Highlanders and the Lonach Gathering in August to an international audience.


“Judging by the number of pictures that were taken by the overseas delegates the Highlanders proved to be quite a hit.  The Jarl Squad must have heard of the Lonach Highlander’s fearsome reputation when they didn’t turn up to the evening network event.


“The Lonach Gathering always welcomes a large number of overseas visitors, attracted by the Lonach Highlanders, the stunning setting and also the friendly welcome that awaits.  This year’s gathering will see us mark the 300th anniversary of the 1715 Jacobite uprising, and the start of our plans to mark the 175th gathering next year.”

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