The Italian highlanders who may have Scottish roots

Mamma mia, laddie!

High up in the mountains of northern Italy, just a few kilometres from the Swiss border, the people of the tiny village of Gurro speak a strange dialect, incomprehensible even to the other villages in the same valley.

They have peculiar surnames, and the women’s traditional costume features a patterned underskirt that looks suspiciously like tartan.

One possible explanation is that their forefathers include a unit of Scottish soldiers – the Garde Ecossaise – who served the French King, Francis I, and were defeated with him at the Battle of Pavia, near Milan, in February 1525.

The story goes that while trying to make their way home the Scots stopped in Gurro, where they got snowed in for the winter. Many locals believe they never left.


The Jewish tartan created by a Scottish-born rabbi


You are probably familiar with Black Watch, Royal Stewart and Grant Hunting but have you heard of Jewish tartan?

Creator Mendel Jacobs is the only Scottish-born rabbi practising in Scotland.

BBC Scotland’s John Beattie went to meet Rabbi Jacobs to discuss Jewish tartan and the faith’s long history in Scotland.

Records show the first Jewish person living in Scotland in 1691, more than 300 years ago.

Rabbi Jacobs told John Beattie that the weave and colours and the number of threads have been chosen because they are significant in Judaism.

The colours blue and white are present in both the Israeli and Scottish flags. The gold thread represents the gold from the Ark in the Biblical Tabernacle and is the colour of ceremonial vessels. Silver represents the silver on the Scroll of the Law and red is symbolic of traditional red Kiddush wine.