The rolling countryside of southern Frederick County filled in for the Highlands of Scotland last weekend as descendants of Scots gathered here to engage in a bit of old-style gastronomy and pageantry.
Garbed in berets, kilts and tartans, nearly 80 Scottish Americans and others with an affinity to Scotland and its ways gathered at the 42-acre farm of Charles and Harriet MacFarland for a day of song, speeches, poetry and dancing.
"It gives people a chance to relax, enjoy themselves and each other," said Harriet MacFarland. She and her husband, a computer specialist with the federal government who says he is a descendant of Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott, have been active in such Scottish festivities for several years.
The fete was the second thrown by the MacFarlands since they moved last year from Gaithersburg to their 200-year-old house near Urbana. The couple plans to hold the festivals annually, and hopes to open them up to the public in a couple of years.
Many who came here last weekend belong to Scottish organizations such as the Stuart Appin Military Reenactment Regiment and the Southern Maryland Celtic Society, which celebrates the cultural heritage of Great Britain.
The Appin regiment, said group leader Terry Purke, was the name of a regiment that served in 1745 under the army of Charles Edward Stuart, remembered in Scottish history as Bonnie Prince Charlie. Stuart led the Highlanders' revolt against English rule, but his army was defeated a year later in the battle of Culloden Moor.
"That battle pretty much ended the Highland way of life," said Purke, a Takoma Park resident. "This is a living history type of hobby for us, a tribute to that now long-gone way of life."
The 15-member regiment, Purke said, attempts to present an historically accurate portrayal of the Scottish military troops of 1745. They wear handmade wool or cotton uniforms and period footwear.
"There's constant research and much sincerity to the history of the era," Purke said.
Indeed, the festival itself was a pageantry of ancient Scottish ways, although some liberties were taken for practical purposes.
The feast was opened in traditional Scottish splendor. Guests were saluted by an appropriate skirl from bagpiper Paul Harrison, a trucker from Prince Frederick County, Va., who marched them single-file into the dining room. Then David Morehead, a Calvert County artist, took a place at the head of the table and gave an animated recital of poet Robert Burns' "Address to the Haggis."
The ritual dish of haggis is made from sheep innards, oats and onions. Traditionally it is cooked in a sheep's stomach, but the chef this time made do with an electrical Crock-Pot.
For the uninitiated who might not have a taste for haggis, there were other Scottish eats, such as shortbread and oatcakes.
The feast ran for about an hour and was accompanied by toasting, poetry and bagpipe playing.
Then the Appin regiment assembled in a field of thistle outside the MacFarland house and reenacted a charge from the battle of Culloden Moor, brandishing shields, flintlocks, pistols, swords and daggers.
To the shrill, bagpiped sounds of "Scotland the Brave," the troops let loose with blood-curdling battle whoops and raced down the field, firing blank muskets and flailing their swords ahead of them.
Later, as the evening of camaraderie and communion wound down, the clan gathered by a campfire to sing such Scottish favorites as "Loch Lomond" and "Auld Lang Syne."