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Scotland Vacation:
Homeland '98
Homeland '98 Logo

I've been a fan of the movie and TV series Highlander for many years. When I heard about a Highlander convention to be held in Scotland, it was too good a chance to pass up. So late September 1998 found me in Glasgow, Scotland, attending a science fiction convention called Homeland '98/The Albacon. Albacon was a small literary convention; Homeland '98 was a media convention that focused on Highlander. They were held as a single joint affair, same hotel, same con-committee, and admission to one gave admission to both. After the four-day Con, I and about twenty other Americans took a four-day motor-coach tour of parts of the Scottish Highlands that are relevant to the Highlander movie and series.

The Homeland side of the convention included appearances by several Highlander stars; the biggest name was Jim Byrnes, actor and blues musician who played the character Joe Dawson on the series. Albacon also had several guests; the big name there was Ray Harryhausen, who is acclaimed far and wide for his superb animated creatures which appeared in so many science fiction B-movies over the years. All in all, it was a typical small "theme" convention, not like the tacky extravaganzas of Star Trek cons or the no-holds-barred galas like WorldCon or NASFiC. It was fun without being overwhelming, paced fast enough that there was always something going on but slow enough that you weren't likely to miss much. There was a big ceilidh dance one night, a masquerade, discussion panels, autograph sessions, talks by the guests, etc. There was a Highlander trivia game that provided some of the best entertainment of the whole Con. There was an auction that raised a fantastic amount of money for charity. And there was a lot more.

I didn't take many photos at the convention itself. Most of what I did take was of a weapons demonstration given by members of a Scottish historical group. They gave a lengthy demonstration of typical Highlander weapons and fighting tactics as of the 1745 Uprising.

Fighting Demo - Sword and Shield

1. The first demonstration was a fight with sword and shield. In this sequence, both men were armed with basket-hilted broadswords and the large round wooden shields that Highlanders call a targe.

Fighting Demo - Claymores

2. Next, they demonstrated single combat with the huge two-handed broadswords called claymores. The motion is blurred because I was shooting at a very slow shutter speed, about 1/60 second. For entertainment, you might try figuring out how fast the swords were moving . . . and how much damage one would do if it hit you at that speed.

Fighting Demo - Axe and Shield

3. Then came a demonstration of axe and shield against sword and shield. The one-handed axe isn't much bigger than a hatchet, but it can do a frightening amount of damage. After this, they demonstrated a two-handed battleaxe, but I didn't get any pictures of that. However, it's worth noting that at the end of that demonstration, the fellow who was defending only had about two-thirds of his shield left. The rest was lying in splinters all over the floor.

After the Con came the Tour, which lasted four days and visited a variety of interesting sites on a route that took us nearly the length and breadth of Scotland.