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Bella Caledonia

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Bella Caledonia
EditorMike Small[1]
Founded2007; 17 years ago (2007)

Bella Caledonia is an online magazine publishing social, political and cultural commentary.[1] It was launched in 2007 and came to particular prominence during the campaign period of the Scottish independence referendum that was held in 2014. The site is not affiliated to any political party. Until late 2017, it also produced a 24-page print magazine which appeared as a supplement in The National on the first Saturday of every month.



In October 2007, writers Mike Small and Kevin Williamson launched Bella Caledonia at the Radical Book Fair in Edinburgh.[2] The site provided some robust political commentary and explored ideas of self-determination.[3] It was named after a character from Alasdair Gray's novel Poor Things.[4] Gray later provided the site with a new version of his artwork.[4]

By 2011, the magazine was gaining more recognition for its content and The List ranked it highly in a feature about top Scottish websites.[4] During the discussions and debates that took place as part of the Scottish independence referendum, the site published commentary and arguments that helped the Yes Scotland campaign.[5][6] By 2014 the site was being read by 40,000 people daily.[7] In the run up to Scottish independence referendum, international interest grew and Bella Caledonia had more than 500,000 unique users a month, with a peak of one million in August.[8] A "Songs for Scotland" event was organised at the Òran Mór in Glasgow in September 2014, along with an album of music that could be downloaded.[9]

In 2015, the site was named as one of the top 10 political blogs in the UK by Cision.[10] By this point the site was moving from a citizen journalism model along the lines of De Correspondent, now trying to accommodate more contributions from freelance writers and engaging in journalistic collaboration.[11][12] In 2015 the website began to publish articles that were written in Gaelic and in Scots.[13]

In January 2017 the site announced that it was facing closure due to running costs and launched an urgent fundraising appeal.[14] The magazine's advisory board met days later and resolved to continue publishing, agreeing upon a plan for a complete restructure- closing as a company and becoming a media collective.[15]

In March 2017, it began producing a 24-page supplement for The National, to appear in the edition on the first Saturday of each month.[16]

In November 2021, just weeks following the murder of the MP David Amess, the website was heavily criticised for publishing on Twitter the whereabouts of the UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel. The Tweet said: "BREAKING NEWS: UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is at a public event at the Hilton Grosvenor in the West End tonight (Friday). 1-9 Grosvenor Terrace, Glasgow G12 0TA. Do with that what you will". Bella Caledonia has since deleted the tweet.[17]


  1. ^ a b Blain, Neil (16 January 2017). "Scottish media is in dire straits – it's why alternatives like Bella Caledonia are vital". The Conversation. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Fresh thinking for the new republic - Bella Caledonia". www.senscot.net. 21 October 2007. Archived from the original on 27 November 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Bella Caledonia: borne of a desire for a pro-indy voice". The National. 18 September 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "The best Scottish websites. The top 30 websites made for and by Scots". The List. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  5. ^ McKenna, Kevin (30 March 2014). "More power to Glasgow's online journalists". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  6. ^ "Andrew Marr: Why I'm torn over Scotland". New Statesman. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  7. ^ Aisha Gani (1 December 2014). "Scottish blogs: what next for alternative media post-referendum?". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  8. ^ Angela Haggerty (26 September 2014). "Scottish news website Bella Caledonia launches 'buycott' plan to redirect BBC licence fee funds amid bias row". The Drum. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Jim Gilchrist: Spirit of the age reflected". The Scotsman. 20 December 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  10. ^ Ealasaid MacAlister (11 June 2015). "Bella Caledonia on final push to make fundraising target". CommonSpace. Archived from the original on 27 November 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  11. ^ William Turvill (9 July 2015). "Scotland sees 'flowering' of news websites as national press wilts north of the border". Press Gazette. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  12. ^ Roy Greenslade (22 June 2015). "CommonSpace joins Scotland's burgeoning alternative media outlets". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  13. ^ Miriam Brett (28 October 2015). "Bella Caledonia launches Gaelic and Scots content". CommonSpace. Archived from the original on 27 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  14. ^ "Bella Caledonia website facing closure due to funding issues". BBC News. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  15. ^ Learmonth, Andrew (12 January 2017). "Culture magazine Bella Caledonia is set for restructure". The National. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  16. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (1 March 2017). "Scottish daily The National launches monthly magazine in association with website Bella Caledonia". Press Gazette. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  17. ^ Dickie, Douglas (7 November 2021). "Indy supporting website urged to explain 'ominous' Priti Patel tweet". Scottish Daily Express.