OUR ancestors built towering cathedrals and vast roadway systems that crisscrossed the country. They also constructed thousands of miles of drystane dykes, canal systems and railways through the most desolate of landscapes. For tools, they had little more than picks and shovels.

Their accomplishments are incredible; from castles to the majestic buildings such as Hopetoun House, decorated in finely-crafted carvings, all done with an eye for detail. Perfection.

Just think of Linlithgow with its remarkable palace and the grand St Michael’s Church with its famous stained-glass windows. Throughout West Lothian even the buildings of only 100 years ago are constructed from carefully hewn blocks of stone to produce impressive edifices. Yet these craftsmen’s tool boxes were primitive, containing little more than a mallet and chisel.

Inside, the builders produced lavish freize work, wooden floors, oak panels and polished brass fittings.

What pride these builders must have taken in their work, that even today we still gaze upon their labours with awe.

Have you ever gazed at some of these achievements and wondered how it was possible? And have you considered what wonders they could have achieved in our times given the machinery, tools and technology they would have at their disposal today?

Unfortunately, these days the bureaucrats and bean-counters have taken over. Where builders should be producing even more stirring feats of planning and architecture, given the technology and the knowledge they have accrued over the centuries, all they can manage is concrete boxes, crumbling brickwork and a forest of rusting street furniture.

In these modern days we have Health and Safety madness, hi-viz jackets, plastic goggles, traffic cones and a mountain of red tape. Such is the constrictive legislation and absence of imagination that rather than constructing grandly inspirational buildings, adorned with ornate stonework, we can’t even get the potholes filled.

Our ancestors must be spinning in their graves.

Drew McAdam



  1. jackie says:

    I don’t know Drew – I think there are still people who could, who have the skills, to achieve all of that. The trouble nowadays is the cost of these projects. That kind of intensive craftsmanship is possible, but at a huge price, without the army of skilled labourers available. I still think they could be done, but you’d have to be gey rich.

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