Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Grenago Stane 2


I have just received the OK to use the material from Rev. Haddow’s work, “Dowsing for Patterns of the Past – The stone Circles of Aberdeenshire”.

The following is the entry for the Grenago stane, for the full work go to: http://weirdcreweandnantwich.blogspot.com/search/label/Aberdeenshire

Quote.

This solitary stone stands in the middle of a golf course (Old Meldrum) and has no recorded associations with a stone circle.
“Grenago” means “groaning” and gets its name from the despairing cries heard from the Earl of Buchan at the stone when he fled from the Battle of Barra in 1308, his men being routed by King Robert the Bruce.

Fig. 37 shows the dowsing pattern pointing to a comparatively small recumbent stone circle of 7 stones including the recumbent. The variation of the rod`s response to the longest stone indicates a recumbent and its flankers close together; this was confirmed by the segment of energy between it and the centre of the circle where there is an elliptical shape measuring 10 feet 2 inches east-west by 8 feet 6 inches north-south.
The stone on the east of the circle was very close to the central area, i.e. 2 feet.
It is unusual for the recumbent and its flankers to be in the north-east.
These previous examples of standing stones show them, according to the dowsing pattern, to be part of stone circles and the position of the other stones could be found. As many stone circles have disappeared completely but their sities have been recorded, it should be possible by dowsing these areas to gain information regarding the type of circles which were there.

End Quote

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wallace’s Putting Stone

Our next geological star is known as Wallace’s Putting stone, and is located within the hill fort on the summit of Barra hill. (NJ 8024 2570). It is an example of a glacial erratic, and is described variously as a green or serpentine rock. It is also the largest of our trio with a girth of 24 feet. Quite how it acquired the name is unclear, because to my knowledge William Wallace has no particular connection with the area, but as will be seen he is incorporated into the mythology of the battle. It is one of three stones of the same name, the other two being located in the borders one near Galashiels, and the other on Raeberry Hill in Dumfries and Galloway.

A basic description and data on the stone can be found in the RCAHMS data base at the following link:
http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/pls/portal/newcanmore.newcandig_details_gis?inumlink=144326
For a description of the general area of the site follow this link:


There is a local folktale about Jock o’ Bennachie, a giant who guarded Bennachie.
Jock by all accounts was massive even for a giant but had numerous enemies, the main one being Jock o’ Noth. The two were said to have “traded compliments, in the shape of large bolders” which they hurled at each other. Wallace’s putting stone being one such bolder which went astray.
In one ballad Jock’s love, the Lady Anne, left him for Jock o’ Noth, and in his grief, Jock throws a boulder as the lovers stood on Tap o’ Noth, killing them both.
In the second Jock encounters a mystical woman whom he mistakes for the Lady Anne, and when he kisses her they both sink into the mountain and are never seen again. However legend has it that Jock is only asleep and when an enchanted key is found he will awaken and be free.
This legend is interesting because it was said that Bruce’s followers, during the period of his NE campaign, were spreading tales of a prophesy of Merlin.
One element of Arthurian legend is that Arthur is not dead, but sleeping, and will arise at the time of greatest need and lead the Celtic peoples to victory.


Bennachie

The Rev. Bisset, give the following account of the local legend of William Wallace and the Battle of Barra.

……..Jist at this time, whan a stir began amo’ them, (Comyn’s troops), Sir William Wallace, as wus agree’t on wi the Bruce, up’s wi’ a stane like a house-side, and wi the strength o’ 10 Galiahs, bungs’t frae the tap o’ Bennachie; and that they micht ken fa the compliment cam’ fra, he first prented the initials o his name (W.W.) i’ the side o’t. Fung it gaed thro’ the air and lichtin’ i’ the middle o’ the camp kill’t not a few, and gart the yird stot to the very clouds. The hurly wus noo complete, and oot o’er ither’s heeds like as mony sheep oot o’ a fauld………

And that is how the stone came to lie on the top of Barra hill in the middle of Comyn’s camp

Pictures courtesy of Moira Gregg

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Grenago Stane


The Grenago Stane, or Groaning Stone”, is located on the 14th fairway of the present day Oldmeldrum golf course. http://www.oldmeldrumgolf.co.uk/course.htm
For a more detailed location follow this link. http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/898972


Legend has it that the Earl of Buchan lay beside the stone crying and groaning after his defeat by King Robert.

The stone long predates the battle of Barra, and according to the Reverend Angus H. Haddow B.Sc, in his work, “Dowsing for Patterns of the Past – The stone Circles of Aberdeenshire”, the stone once formed part of a long lost stone circle.
I had hoped to get permission to use some of the material, but have been unable to contact, the Rev. Haddow, so I am proceeding without it.

The stone features in an 1870 poem by the Oldmeldrum poet, James Fraser.

The Grenago Stane

Oh wha hasna heard o’ the Grenago Stane
That stands on the richt o’ the road to Kilblean
Like A sentry, on guard east end o’ the common
The object o’ interest to man and to woman.
When a cowherd, lang, syne, my leifie lane,
I’ve mused on the past by the Grenago Stane
An’ the spirit o’ history from sleep did me summon
To see Earl Buchan the notorious Comyn
When routed by Bruce below Hill o’ Barra,
He fled from the field wi’ the speed o’ an arrow,
Wi’ Fire and wi’ sword is driven fae Bara,
Tae pillow his head on the Grenago Stane,
His broadsword is dimmed o’ its glancing sheen,
The presence o’ Bruce on the field o’battle
Scattered his foes like a herd o’ cattle,
While the Earl ske-daddled to the Grenago Stane,
Sick at seeing where the conflict had been.
Thanks to the burghers o’ brave Bon-Accord
They cam wi’ what strength the town could afford,
And that help, that lives yet in memory green
Laid Comyn to groan by the Grenago Stane.
The Earl while resting was heard to groan
Hence, says tradition, the name of the Stone.
And deny who list
That the Earl had been lodger by the Grenago Stane.
Five centuries and mair have passed away
Since our brave fighting fathers did sleep in the clay,
But wha disna gaze wi ‘sparklin’ e’en
To where Comyn lay doon by the Grenago Stane?
Proudly did the Royal Flags float o’er the field
When the rebel invaders were driven to yield,
So perish all rebels to the reign of our Queen

And bury their bones by the Grenago Stane.

Can anyone provide information on James Fraser?

The stone is also mentioned in a foot note by Fred R. Coles, in his 1902, “Report on stone circles of North Eastern Scotland” for the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
“Before quitting this district, I may note, in passing, the big boulder that goes by the name of Girnigoe, or Grenago Stone. It is, I think, an ice-poised boulder of whinstone, nearly 6 feet high, and roughly rhomboidal in contour, and stands on the commonty of Old Meldrum. In local histories it has a traditional association with a battle between Bruce and the Comyns.”


In modern times the stone apparently still retains the power to make grown men “groan”.
The Oldmeldrum Golf Club website carries the following warning:
“Look out on the 14th fairway for the Groaner or Groaning Stone, a large projection of ancient rock which inspired the club logo. If struck by a wayward shot, it can cost strokes by deflecting a speeding ball straight into oblivion”


Barra hill viewed from the golf course.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Stoned in Meldrum


Now that things are back to normal, I would like to look at some of the current places around Meldrum, which have connections with the battle, legendary or otherwise.
I have already looked at Bruce’s Field, Comym’s Camp, Bourtie Kirkyard, and would now like to look at three of the most common objects to be found around the locality, namely big stones.
There are three specific stones in the vicinity with associations to the battle, and I would like to deal with them in the following order, The Grenago Stane, Wallace’s Putting Stone, and Bruce’s Seat.
But firstly I would like to speculate on why such common objects are often associated with important events. Has this to do with our ancient past? The North East is rich in stone circles, and other prehistoric sites, or is this need to associate events to the stones part of some long lost folk memory? Is it that a particular stone had significance to a particular age, and when that time passed, the stone or place of significance was transferred to the beliefs or legends of the current age? In the way it is said that pagan sites were often adopted by the early Christian church.
Any thoughts?
Next post “The Grenago Stane

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

After Ike


Just a quick post to say, that we are all OK here in Tomball Texas, following the passage of hurricane Ike.
Ike arrived in the area in the early hours of the morning of Saturday 13th , and we were very fortunate that the only damage to our property were a couple of fences down and countless branches, some of them large blown down. Some in our area were less fortunate and had trees fall on their houses. But all of us here were far more fortunate than the people in Galveston and other areas on or near the coast.

We finally had electricity restored last night, so Juliet and I are so relieved.
I am finally back on line so thought I would post an update and let everyone know that,


“Normal service will be resumed shortly”

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Moving of Sir Thomas

When I started this topic I had no idea that there would be so much material on Sir Thomas, but for now I think this will be the final chapter, but one can never tell.........
The Rev. Bisset, in the 1845 Statistical accounts, has this to say about the legend of Sir Thomas and Barra
This derives some vraisemblance from two rather rude images of a knight in armour and his dame, which occupied a niche in the old church of Bourtie. They lie now in the church-yard, neglected like the stranded remains of Polydorus. It is hardly necessary to remark, that no such knight as Sir Thomas de Longueville is known historically to have been amongst the followers of either party.
(I believe that the Polydorus referred to was the son of Praim (King of Troy), who was murdered by Polymestor, and his body left to rot. See Wikipedia entry on the subject for more details.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymestor)

Bourtie Kirk yard

Ninety years later a young Doug Smith was part of a team who moved the “stranded remains”, from the kirk yard to their present position inside the kirk.

Below is Doug’s account of the move:

"The effigies were moved from the churchyard to inside Bourtie Kirk in 1956. Tom Webster was the contractor. He also completed the Meldrum Kirk restoration in 1954. Willie Henry, foreman mason, was in charge. Kenneth Macmillan was the minister of both Bourtie & Meldrum kirks.
The effigies lay side-by-side close by the right of the path, approximately mid way between the entrance gate and the kirk doors. (I am certain they lay facing the kirk and due east)
There was significant weathering of the effigies which was the reason for moving them inside. Controversy and much debate took place about the move.
This job was far removed from the usual run -of -the mill work we did and proved challenging and interesting, not forgetting heavy.
No mechanical lifting aids were available. We used pick-axe handles to move them ( 6 of us in pairs) through the narrow doors with a tight turn into a small room, upended them and fixed them to the wall. Now they were facing west."




Doug with the figures he moved half a century ago

Doug also confirmed that they had to carry-out some repairs to the figures as well as securing them to the wall.

Further insight into the move comes from the “Random Memories”, of the late Rev Kenneth MacMillan, who was also provost of Oldmeldrum from 1956 -1957 and was the driving force behind the restoration of Meldrum Parish Church.

Rev Kenneth Macmillan wearing his Provost chain of office

In 1950/1951 Mr. Mackenzie of Bourtie House made a strong attempt to have the effigies placed in the body of the church. Mr. Mackenzie, who was a member of the firm of A. Marshall Mackenzie, well known Aberdeen Architects, drew up the plan with the effigies lying side by side on a plinth. This would have dominated the interior of the little Kirk, and found little favour with the congregation. At the meeting of the congregation held to decide whether to agree to the plan or not there was much discussion, then one of the elders (Proctor) killed the idea by saying, “We have enough sleeping members in the kirk without having more!”
The effigies remained outside until 1956 when a small section of the vestibule was turned into a museum and with the help of Tom Webster, the Old Meldrum builder, Sir Thomas and his Lady were set standing side by side on one of the walls. The church bell, which had fallen down and cracked, nearly killing the beadle as it fell, found a place in the museum. Also a pedestal font, found by workmen clearing the ditches near the church and three long handled offeratory ladles, one dated 1690 were among the treasures.
In a short time there were many less “sleeping members” and many more awake to the fact that the Bourtie Kirk was still the Parish church and that Bourtie was still a parish. It would be hard to forget names like Stronach of Selbiehill, Green of Collyhill, Manson of Smithycroft, Cooper of Shadowside, Morris of Greenford, and Miss Thompson who ran the Sunday School. They were all Bourtie folk with a sense of belonging.



Once again I have Evelyn to thank for providing a copy of the notes shown above, which are in the possession of the MBHS. A longer version of the notes also appears in Marion Youngblood’s book “Boutie Kirk - 800 Years” , which is well worth a read for anyone with a deeper interest in history of the kirk.
For those interested in the modern day church, information can be found on the following site:
http://www.meldrum-bourtiechurch.org/

Legion Update


Once again due to the hard work of Evelyn, we have some answers on the “Meldrum Sports” picture.

Past secretary of the Sports committee, Bob Forsyth, found the answers following a search of his collection of old “Sports” programmes.
The year was 1954 and the Sports that year were opened by The Marquis of Aberdeen


In 1954 the Oldmeldrum Branch of the British Legion presented an ambitious re-enactment at Meldrum Sports entitled:

'A Pageant in Four Scenes'


We now also know that Sir Thomas de Longville was played by George Meldrum, who at one time had a shop in the Square - in 1954 it was Gall and Bruce's shop.

The Pageant must have been some undertaking; the programme has pages of historical notes, too many to reproduce here. But this must have been the norm for the time because the following year they presented an equally ambitious re-enactment about the Raising of the Gordons. 12,000 attended that year & Richard Dimbleby opened the Sports.

Thanks Evelyn and Bob for all your efforts.

Ethnic Cleansing or the Fortunes of War?

Well folks this post has been a long time in coming. Due to the nature of the content it has been very difficult to create a balance post. This has been the hardest post to date.

Dan Carlin looks at aspects of this question in several of his Hardcore History podcasts.
http://www.dancarlin.com/
One in particular (his first) he compares Hitler with Alexander, and it turns out that the “darling” of the classical era was a blood thirsty genocidal maniac. (We all probably secretly knew that but ignored it)
Indeed one could consider that Hitler was a “light-weight” in comparison, but our current conceptions do not, and should not allow us to view it in that way.
However the Alexander /Hitler method of dealing with things was for most of our history the norm. But by the twentieth century we had progressed, to the point where the Alexanders of this world could no longer be our heroes, and although, as countless tyrants have proved, this behavior has not been eradicated, it can no longer be trumpeted in public, and must be hidden or somehow “justified”.
Is it simply the chronological relationship which affects our judgment or is there something else?
As a member of the Bahá’í Faith, I believe that mankind is evolving spiritually, and hence behaviors which were commonplace only a generation or two ago are no longer acceptable. This is a wide generalization, and in practice varies across the globe, but the overall trend is one of improvement.


“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”

Bahá’u’lláh

For us we must choose how to conduct ourselves, and not in the huge global or national matters, but in our day to day lives, so that if we are ever faced with such horrors we can act in a principled manner. A fine example of such behavior is that of Corrie Ten Boom, and her family who risked their lives to save Jews in occupied Holland, their story is recounted in her book, “The Hiding Place”.
See also: http://www.corrietenboom.com/exhbits.htm

Abdu'l-Bahá; the oldest son of Bahá’u’lláh, the prophet founder of the Bahá’í Faith, tells us this about man’s dual nature.

“When man allows the spirit, through his soul, to enlighten his understanding, then does he contain all Creation...
But on the other hand, when man does not open his mind and heart to the blessing of the spirit, but turns his soul towards the material side, towards the bodily part of his nature, then is he fallen from his high place and he becomes inferior to the inhabitants of the lower animal kingdom.... “
(Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912 )

We are also told that:

"All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization."
Baha'u'llah

Many would say we are the same people that devastated Buchan, but with a thin pretence of civilisation. We have no problem in accepting that we have advanced technologically since then, so why can we not accept that we have spiritually advanced as well? (Or if you are not comfortable with that, then consider it ethical and moral advancement).


"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants"

Newton


It is clear that we can choose to turn to our spiritual or material natures, but if we take heed of the above quote, attributed to Newton, we can identify countless “spiritual shoulders to stand on”.

This is all very well but what about Robert?

Robert will always, rightly occupy a pre-eminent position in the pantheon of Scottish heroes, because, at its darkest hour, he and “The Flower of Scotland” preserved Scotland as an Independent Nation. Without their victory much of what Scotland has given to the world would not have come to pass. But ironically Scotland greatest contributions came after the “voluntary” union with the “Auld Enemy”.
So whilst recognizing and learning from his greatness we must also understand that the moral standards of his day are no longer relevant, and must be discarded as obsolete. Medieval man believed war to be the natural order, and understood that it was raw and brutal; modern man on the other hand believe it to be only necessary at times and that it can be regulated by moral codes.
But one could paraphrase von Moltke thus: No moral value survives contact with the enemy
Another of his lesser known maxims is, “War is a matter of expedients”, and expedients ultimately lead to the “dark side”.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

We two Kings of Albion are?


How should we react when one of our national icons acts in a way we now consider ethically wrong?

Can we or should we hold them to our standards?

Firstly how does the destruction of Buchan fit into the War of Independence, and the period in general?

Bust of Robert I courtesy of Keith Kaase

The war started with a Scottish cross-border raid, which although a military failure, it cannot have been pleasant for those on the “receiving end”. This was followed by Edward I’s sacking of Berwick, which is remembered for its savagery, but may not have differed much from the fate of most medieval towns that were taken by storm. (It was normal practice to offer terms to a town that surrendered, but if it was taken by storm there would be no quarter or restraint). The sack of Berwick essentially “set the tone” for the rest of the war. As the fortunes ebbed and flowed, both side committed acts of savagery, without ever achieving the upper-hand, for long. Finally in 1304 with both sides exhausted most of the Scottish nobles came to terms with Edward, and his vision of over-lordship appeared to be realised. The general levels of violence between this time and the Bruce coup, probably declined, excepting the brutal execution of William Wallace.
Following the Coup Edward I ordered his commanders, in Scotland, to “raise the dragon banner”, which was basically the general warfare equivalent of taking a town by storm. There would be no quarter and all those aiding Robert who fell into English hands would suffer the same fate as Wallace, and some of the “Bruce” ladies were hung in cages from the walls of English castles.
As the “Bruce bandwagon” got rolling Edward’s policy began to have the opposite effect from that desired, and belatedly he tried to moderate it:

“As he understands that some have interpreted his recent ordinances for settling Scotland as too harsh and rigorous, which was not his intention”*

But too much Scottish blood had been shed and in Wallace, Scotland had a martyr to complement the hero king. For the king’s enemies time had run out.

Edward is commemorated by a plaque hanging in the U.S. House of Representatives, to acknowledge his contributions to the parliamentary system, the same man who persecuted Jews, and made them wear a yellow badge. (Have a familiar ring?)
For Scots he is remembered as a tyrant, but lets be fair the majority of the inhabitants of Scotland may have agreed with Edward’s Jewish policy, if they had not been too busy fighting for their lives, because prejudice was rife in medieval Europe.

So we have two kings who are considered “great” in their respective countries, but clearly they also had a “dark side”. (Or at least to the modern eye)

Now ga we to the king agayne

One thing that is noticeable is that the sources closest to the events do not appear to have any problems with Robert’s actions.

From Barbour’s

“And gert his men bryn all Bouchane
Fra end till end and sparyt nane,”

To Bower’s

“….Advancing thence consumed Buchan with fire”.

These were churchmen who were writing in praise of the heroes of Scotland’s war of independence, and would not have included something which detracted from the hero king. So a “spot of ethnic cleansing” was obviously considered “business as usual” for a medieval king.

But I think I have written enough for one post so I will explore this idea further in the next post, but I will leave you with a quote to ponder.

Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.
Yoda

  • G.W.S. Barrow : Robert Bruce and the community of the realm of Scotland 1988

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The herschip of Buchan

As said earlier we do not have any hard evidence regarding the movements of the Bruce brothers as they set out in pursuit of the enemy. Bower mentions a pursuit as far as Fyvie, but has the King leading it.
Entries in the “The New Statistical Account of Scotland” (1845), for New and Old Deer give the following information, which presumably comes from local folklore, relating to place names.


New Deer

“About a mile to the west of the village is an extensive piece of moor called Bruce Hill. This is said to have derived its name from Edward, brother to Robert the Bruce. Here he is reported to have encamped after the battle of Inverury, and from this to have gone in pursuit of the Cummins to a place near Old Deer, called Aikey Brae. In memory of this victory, the market of Aikey fair is said to have been established on the spot where the battle was fought.”

Bruce's Hill
For and accurate location of Bruce Hill follow the attached link
Old Deer

“There are visible proofs still remaining that this parish was formerly the scene of warfare, occasioned by family feuds, civil strife, or the invasion of the country by foreigners. On the top of the hill of Bruxie, and at the Den of Howie, near Fetterangus, there are traces of fortifications and encampments; and near the foot of Arkey-brae, there is a cluster of tumuli, pointing out the graves of warriors who fell in a bloody contest reported to have taken place between Edward, the brother of King Robert the Bruce, and Cumming the Earl of Buchan, with their followers and clansmen.”


Aikey Brae Stone Circle

For and accurate location of Aikey Brae follow the attached link
http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/257902
For those interested in stone circles see Chris Lodge’s site

Whether there was a battle at Aikey Brea or not all the medieval sources are agreed that Robert ordered the destruction of Buchan.

Barbour gives us this account.

Now ga we to the king agayne
That off his victory wes rycht fayn,
And gert his men bryn all Bouchane
Fra end till end and sparyt nane,
And heryit thaim on sic maner
That eftre weile fifty yer
Men menyt the herschip of Bouchane,
The king than till his pes has tane
The north cuntreys that humbly
Obeysyt till his senyoury
Sua that benorth the Month war nane
Then thai his men war everilkan,
His lordship wox ay mar and mar.

______________________________________________


Now let us go to the king again,
Who was well pleased at his victory,
And had his men burn all Buchan
From end to end, sparing none.
He harried them in such a way
That a good fifty years afterwards
People bemoaned the devastation of Buchan
The king then took to his peace
the north country which obeyed his lordship humbly
so that north of the Mounth there were none
who were not his subjects one and all.
His lordship spread always more and more


Barbour’s The Brus – Lines 295 – 307
From the Canongate 1997 Edition: Edited by A.A.M. Duncan

Bower’s account seems to “soften” Barbour’s, “sparyt nane”.

….. Advancing thence consumed Buchan with fire
He struck down some of the people and made peace with others,
He scattered his enemies and so came away from there victorious.


And gert his men bryn all Bouchane Fra end till end and sparyt nane

So how do we handle the fact that our national hero instigated, and would continue to instigate events, which would, in modern times, get him a trial in the Hauge?
  • Note: The above pictures are supplied by the following individuals on a “creative commons” license, courtesy of the Geograph site. Thanks to Les Harvey for “Bruce Hill”,
    Chris Lodge for “Aikey Brae Stone circle”, and Martyn Gorman for his picture of “Slains Castle”, which I took the liberty of modifying, and the finished picture therefore carries the same “Creative Commons Licence”

Sunday, July 27, 2008

After the Battle


I believe we have had enough of Sir Thomas for the present, but I would like to revisit him later.

What happened after the battle?


Well as mentioned in an earlier post only those with good horses got away, and although we have no direct evidence, the lesser classes, would have suffered the normal fate of the defeated in medieval battles. They had no value for ransom, (although in this very “uncivil” civil war it does not seem that even a potential ransom would have saved you) and they were therefore hunted down and slaughtered by the victors.
The Earl of Buchan fled north into his heartland, after a brief stop at the Grenago stane to lament his fate, (I will have a post on the Grenago Stane later), and may have sheltered briefly at Fyvie Castle, but his flight led ultimately to England. It is not clear who accompanied him, but David de Brechin is said to have fled south to his castle of the same name.


Fyvie Castle
For and accurate location of Fyvie castle follow the attached link http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/294690
What followed was an exercise in terror, designed to destroy forever the Comyn power, and send a clear message to others that the King of Scots could do as he pleased and the distant and embattled King of England was powerless to help his “friends” in Scotland..
It brings to mind a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.


Cry "Havoc," and let slip the dogs of war.


We have to remember that Robert, although innovative and flexible in his conduct of the war, was very much a man of his time, and was more than capable of acts of incredible savagery when the situation required it. To modern eyes what followed would be considered an act of “ethnic cleansing” (or maybe more accurately “dynastic cleansing”, which in a feudal system would affect all from top to bottom).
Robert unleashed his brother Edward, who after pursuing the fleeing enemy, brought some of them to bay at Aikey Brae, defeated them, and then proceeded to devastate Buchan from end to end.
The evidence for the rest of the campaign is apocryphal in nature, and has the Earl of Buchan taking refuge at Fyvie castle, but there is no record of any fighting there, so either this was not the case or Edward simply by-passed it on his way north, and the Earl “slipped away” to England.

Next Post – The Herschip of Buchan

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sir Thomas de Longueville (4)

I had decided to take a break from Sir Thomas, and was doing some research for the next post when I came upon a copy of an 1884 “reader” which contained Walter Scott’s tale recounted in the last post. But it also had the illustration below, and although not historically accurate I thought I would include it for interest.


William Wallace captures the Red Reaver

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sir Thomas de Longueville (3)

Apparently Sir Thomas was a noble of France, but having killed a man in front of the King had to flee his justice, where-upon he embarked on a highly successful career as a pirate, becoming known and feared as “The Red Reaver. The tale of how he was won over to the Scottish cause is best left to another celebrated knight, Sir Walter Scott.
Sir Walter Scott


Sir Walter Scott, is one of Scotland’s and the world’s literary greats, and although he did not let the facts get in the way of a good story, (He was defiantly a “Print the legend” kind of guy.), I would not presume to do justice to the story, so below is an extract from his “Fair Maid of Perth”, telling how Scotland’s other great hero Sir William Wallace, captured and befriended the Red Reaver.


“The Fair Maid of Perth” (pages 28-29)


During the brief career of the celebrated patriot Sir William Wallace, and when his arms had for a time expelled the English invaders from his native country, he is said to have undertaken a voyage to France, with a small band of trusty friends, to try what his presence (for he was respected through all countries for his prowess) might do to induce the French monarch to send to Scotland a body of auxiliary forces, or other assistance, to aid the Scots in regaining their independence.


The William Wallace Statue in Aberdeen

The Scottish Champion was on board a small vessel, and steering for the port of Dieppe, when a sail appeared in the distance, which the mariners regarded, first with doubt and apprehension, and at last with confusion and dismay. Wallace demanded to know what was the cause of their alarm. The captain of the ship informed him that the tall vessel which was bearing down, with the purpose of boarding that which he commanded, was the ship of a celebrated rover, equally famed for his courage, strength of body, and successful piracies.It was commanded by a gentleman named Thomas de Longueville, a Frenchman by birth, but by practice one of those pirates who called themselves friends to the sea and enemies to all who sailed upon that element. He attacked and plundered vessels of all nations,like one of the ancient Norse sea kings, as they were termed,whose dominion was upon the mountain waves. The master added that no vessel could escape the rover by flight, so speedy was the bark he commanded; and that no crew, however hardy, could hope to resist him, when, as was his usual mode of combat, he threw himself onboard at the head of his followers. Wallace smiled sternly, while the master of the ship, with alarmin his countenance and tears in his eyes, described to him the certainty of their being captured by the Red Rover, a name given to De Longueville, because he usually displayed the blood red flag,which he had now hoisted. "I will clear the narrow seas of this rover," said Wallace. Then calling together some ten or twelve of his own followers, Boyd, Kerlie, Seton, and others, to whom the dust of the most desperate battle was like the breath of life, he commanded them to arm themselves, and lie flat upon the deck, so as to be out of sight. He ordered the mariners below, excepting such as were absolutely necessary to manage the vessel; and he gave the master instructions,upon pain of death, so to steer as that, while the vessel had an appearance of attempting to fly, he should in fact permit the Red Rover to come up with them and do his worst. Wallace himself then lay down on the deck, that nothing might be seen which could intimate any purpose of resistance. In a quarter of an hour De Longueville's vessel ran on board that of the Champion, and the Red Rover, casting out grappling irons to make sure of his prize, jumped on the deck in complete armour, followed by his men, who gave a terrible shout, as if victory had been already secured. But the armed Scots started up at once, and the rover found himself unexpectedly engaged with men accustomed to consider victory as secure when they were only opposed as one to two or three. Wallace himself rushed on the pirate captain, and a dreadful strife began betwixt them with such fury that the others suspended their own battle to look on, and seemed by common consent to refer the issue of the strife to the fate ofthe combat between the two chiefs. The pirate fought as well as man could do; but Wallace's strength was beyond that of ordinary mortals. He dashed the sword from the rover's hand, and placed him in such peril that, to avoid being cut down, he was fain to close with the Scottish Champion in hopes of overpowering him in the grapple. In this also he was foiled. They fell on the deck, locked in each other's arms, but the Frenchman fell undermost; and Wallace, fixing his grasp upon his gorget, compressed it so closely, not withstanding it was made of the finest steel, that the blood gushed from his eyes, nose, and month, and he was only able to ask for quarter by signs. His men threw down their weapons and begged for mercy when they saw their leader thus severely handled. The victor granted them all their lives, but took possession of their vessel, and detained them prisoners. When he came in sight of the French harbour, Wallace alarmed the place by displaying the rover's colours, as if De Longueville was coming to pillage the town. The bells were rung backward, horns were blown, and the citizens were hurrying to arms, when the scene changed. The Scottish Lion on his shield of gold was raised above the piratical flag, and announced that the Champion of Scotland was approaching, like a falcon with his prey in his clutch. He landed with his prisoner, and carried him to the court of France, where, at Wallace's request, the robberies which the pirate had committed were forgiven, and the king even conferred the honour of knighthood on Sir Thomas de Longueville, and offered to take him into his service. But the rover had contracted such a friendship for his generous victor, that he insisted on uniting his fortunes with those of Wallace, with whom he returned to Scotland, and fought by his side in many a bloody battle, where the prowess of Sir Thomas de Longueville was remarked as inferior to that of none, save of his heroic conqueror. His fate also was more fortunate than that of his patron. Being distinguished by the beauty as well as strength of his person, he rendered himself so acceptable to a young lady, heiress of the ancient family of Charteris, that she chose him for her husband, bestowing on him with her hand the fair baronial Castle of Kinfauns, and the domains annexed to it. Their descendants took the name of Charteris, as connecting themselves with their maternal ancestors, the ancient proprietors of the property, though the name of Thomas de Longueville was equally honoured amongst them; and the large two handed sword with which he mowed the ranks of war was, and is still, preserved among the family muniments. Another account is, that the family name of De Longueville himself was Charteris. The estate afterwards passed to a family of Blairs,and is now the property of Lord Gray.

So where does all this leave us?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sir Thomas de Longueville (2)


Sir Thomas appears in a number of histories, but in all but the Barra legend he is said to be a native of France. The name is associated with the lands of Kinfauns in Perthshire, where a Sir Thomas uses the name of Charteris. Some accounts give this as his real family name, but others say he married the heiress to Kinfauns, and took her family name.
If the Barra legend refers to the same Sir Thomas he did in fact survive the battle (if he were actually there), and went on to serve Robert I well. One story has him as the first man to follow Robert into the moat of Perth castle, when they took it by stealth, in 1313. It was for this action that Robert is said to have granted him the lands of Kinfauns.


Barbour describes the events at Perth thus:


And when the king thaim hard nocht ster
He was blyth on gert maner,
And his ledder in hand gan ta
Ensample till his men to ma,
Arayit weill in all his ger
Schot in the dik and with his sper
Taistyt till he it our-woud,
Bot till his throt the watyr stud.
That tyme wes in his company
A knycht off France wycht and hardy,
And quhen he in the watyr sua
Saw the king pas and with him ta
His ledder unabasytly,
He saynyt him for the ferly
And said, ‘A, lord, quaht sall we say
Off our lordie of Fraunce that thai
With gud morsellis fayrcis thar pawnce
And will bot ete and drink and dawnce
Quhen sic a knycht and sa worthy
As this throu his chevalry
Into sic perell has him set
‘To win a wrechyt hamillet.’
With that word to the dik he ran
And our efter the king he wan,
And quhen the king’s menye saw
Thar lord out-our intill a thraw
Thai passyt the dik and but mar let
Ther leddrys to the wall thai set
And to clymb up fast pressyt thai,
Bot the gud king as I herd say
Was the secund man tuk the wall
And bad thar till his mengye all
War cummyn up in full gert hy.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And when the king heard them not stirring
he was extremely pleased,
and took his ladder in his hand,
to show an example to his men.
Well armed in all his gear,
he plunged into the ditch,
and with his spear
tested as he waded over
but the water reached up to his throat.
At that time there was in his company
a knight of France, a strong and bold [man];
and when he saw the king go into the water thus,
and take his ladder with him without hesitation,
he crossed himself in wonder,
and said, ‘Ah, Lord what shall we say
of our French lords,
always stuffing their bellies with good food,
willing only to eat drink and dance,
when such a knight, so noble as this one,
by his chivalry,
has put himself in danger,
to win a wretched hamlet.’
With that he ran to the ditch,
and made it over after the king
and when the kings company saw
their lord cross over,
in a crowd they crossed the ditch,
and without more hindrance set their ladders to the wall,
and hastened to climb up fast.
But the good king, as I heard tell,
was the second manwho took the wall,
and waited there till his company
had come over with all speed


Barbour’s The Brus – Lines 387 – 419
From the Canongate 1997 Edition: Edited by A.A.M. Duncan

So if the French knight was in fact Sir Thomas, he may well have, like Mark Twain commented :

“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated”

I will conclude the story of Sir Thomas, with the assistance of one of Scotland’s (and arguably, the world’s) literary geniuses, in the next post.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Legion takes the field

In response the post earlier today, on Sir Thomas, I received the picture below from Evelyn.



It shows the Royal British Legion's pageant entry at the Meldrum Sports. (For information on Meldrum Sports "click" on the Oldmeldrum Community website link at the left)
Evelyn was able to tell me that Robert the Bruce was played by the late Donald Kirkpartick, of Ardfork. The date of the picture is not known at the present nor is the identity of Sir Thomas.
Can anyone provide this information? Also if any one remembers participating in that particular pageant, and has any stories, it would be great to include them in the blog.

Some of you may have noted that the date in the picture is 1307, and not 1308. This was not that the participants “got it wrong”, but that up until very recently historians were still divided over the date. Of the medieval sources, Barbour gave the date as Christmas 1307, whilst Fourdon gives it an unspecified 1308 date, and some versions of Bower’s Scotichronicon give Ascension day 1308 (May 23rd).*
The latter date now being the commonly accepted.

I am looking forward to receiving your responses to the above questions

  • G.W.S. Barrow : Robert Bruce and the community of the realm of Scotland 1988

Sir Thomas de Longueville (1)

Earlier, I promised a post on the legend of Sir Thomas, so here it is. However when I started I found I had a lot more information than expected, so have decided to present it in several posts.
I would first like to express my gratitude to the Rev. Hugh O’ Brien, minister of Meldrum and Bourtie kirks, who took time during one of my visits to show me the church, the two figures, as well as answering my questions, and allowing me to take the photographs in this post.
The legend of Sir Thomas appears in several histories, but the account that follows appears in both, “The New Statistical Account of Scotland” (1845), and “A New History of Aberdeenshire” (1875). There is also a similar account displayed in the present day Bourtie Kirk
.
A framed account of Sir Thomas' death hanging in the Kirk

The New History of Aberdeenshire gives this introduction:
“There is now lying in the Churchyard, two rather rude images cut in stone, of a knight in armour, and his dame, which occupied a niche in the old church of Bourtie, about which there is the following legend"


The "rude images" now inside Bourtie Kirk

After the battle, the king’s spirits waur noo high, as you may believe; but he was doom’t to get a sair heart afor’ nicht. His busom Comorade, the brave Englishman, Sir Thomas de Longueville, was mortally wounded i’ the battle, but he continued to fecht while it lasted. He raid aff the field till he cam’ to the dykes o’ Fala; but there fell frae his horse.

Picture of the view west toward Dykes of Fala from Barra Hill

Callin’ to the king, “Noo, Robin”, he said till him, “my een will soon be clos’t, and I’ve ae request to mak. Ye maun jist lay my banes wharever this arrow fa’s”.
So drawin’s bow, he sent the arra wi’ a’ his micht through the air, and it fell i’ the kirk yard o’ Bourtie here, twa mile awa. The king’s love o’ Sir Thomas was great, and he caus’t mak the image o’ him, whilk ye see lyin’ yonder, and placet it on’s grave.
The ither image as I’ve heard say, is Sir Thomas Ladye, wha fan the news o’s death reach’t England, gaed oo’t o’ ae dwawm intil anither, and wi her last breath beggit to be laid asid him”.

A composite picture of Bourtie Kirk and Graveyard


It is interesting the similarity between the Sir Thomas story recounted here and an early ballad about the legendary Robin Hood.

Robin Hood and Maid Marion

But give me my bent bow in my hand,
And a broad arrow I’ll let flee;
And where this arrow is taken up,
There shall my grave digged be.

But who was Sir Thomas and did he really die at Barra?
More next post…………….
Note: Bourtie Kirk lies due south of Barra Hill (for location details follow this link http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/670924 ), and the Dykes of Fala are due west.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Of Acre and Annandale

One legend has Robert Bruce (father of the King), participating in the 9th crusade to Acre.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninth_Crusade

Akka

He and his companion-in arms Adam de Kilconquhar, apparently travelled to the Holy land for the 9th Crusade, but Adam died or was killed in 1270, and Robert returned to Scotland with the sad duty of informing his widow. One of the leaders of the crusade was Prince Edward of England, (Later Edward I who featured prominently in earlier posts), so it may be that Robert was part of his following. It should be noted that, Scottish –English relations of this time were relatively cordial, and that the Bruces, like many of those who would be participants in the War of Independence, were powerful Anglo-Scottish nobles, who owed allegiances to both Kings.



Robert returned to Scotland and in one romantic account, meets the widow (Lady Marjorie of Carrick) out riding with her ladies, who on seeing the handsome young knight, surrounded him and took him captive to her castle, where she kept him until he agreed to marry her. Robert obviously succumbed to the charms of the Lady, and there may have been some thoughts of the Earldom that would come with any marriage. (As seen in earlier post the Bruces were not shy in pursuing their dynastic advancement).
But let us not spoil the mood – they were married 1271, and the union would produce Scotland’s Hero King.

However there is a problem with the chronology, the 9th crusade did not effectively start until mid 1271, and by then Robert must have been back in Scotland, thinking of marriage, so it seems unlikely that he an Adam were involved in any of the fighting.
It is known that the couple married without Royal consent, which resulted in temporary dispossession, and the payment of a fine to resolve the issue, so maybe the above story is a distraction to take attention away from the issue of permission.

But what the heck !!! – You know the motto of this blog “Print the Legend”

Meanwhile Prince Edward was busy campaigning and forming alliances, in the Holy land, but when news of the death of his father, Henry III, reached him in 1272, he returned to England to assume the throne. Acre would hold out for another twenty years, but by the opening years of the 14th century the last crusaders were ejected from the Holy land and Scotland was on the verge of final subjugation.

Siege of Acre 1291
So the stage was set and all that remain was for the Hero King to fulfill his destiny

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Detour via Akka

One of the beauties of a blog is that you do not have to be sequential or ordered.
So I am taking advantage of the fact that we have just returned from a Bahá’í pilgrimage to the Haifa/Akka area of Israel, to exploit a tenuous connection between Robert Bruce (the father of the King) and Akka, (medieval Acre) where he is alleged to have participated in the 9th Crusade.
I “penned” this post whilst sitting in a restaurant on Ben Gurion Ave. looking towards the Bahá’í terraces on Mount Carmel, but due to internet issues was not able to post at the time
. (See picture below)


The Bahá’í Faith is the newest of the world religions, who’s world centre is located in Haifa. http://www.bahai.org/

The Shrine of the Bab and the Bahá’í terraces

So what is the connection?

Bahá’u’lláh, is the latest of the Messengers of God, who brought new spiritual and social teachings for our time. His essential message is of unity. He taught the oneness of God, the oneness of the human family, and the oneness of religion


“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”

Bahá’u’lláh
Bahá’u’lláh was born in Iran in 1817, and was destined to suffer imprisonment and exile for the majority of his life, because of his teachings. His coming was announced by the Bab (The Gate), who was martyred in Iran and whose remains rest in the shrine pictured above. Bahá’u’lláh was initially exiled to Bagdad, and subsequently to Constantinople (Istanbul), Adrianople (Edirne), and finally to the prison city of Akka, which is located across the bay from Haifa. Bahá’u’lláh and his family arrived in Akka after an arduous
journey on the 31st of August 1868, only to be confined, in the citadel, under appalling conditions. Akka like everywhere in the middle east , has a long and varied history, and in recent years the remains of Knights Hospitaller building buried under the cell block levels where Bahá’u’lláh and his family were confined, have been excavated and work is on going to preseve and present them.
The Knights Hospitaller Courtyard viewed fom the enterance to Bahá’u’lláh's cell block

The outside of Bahá’u’lláh's cell block

Bahá’u’lláh was finally allowed more freedom and spent his remaining years in more comfortable circumstances, in Akka, and later at the mansion of Bahji, where he passed away on 29th of May 1892. Since his passing the Faith has been lead by his Son, Great-Grandson, and now the Universal House of Justice, and has spread Bahá’u’lláh’s healing message throughout the world.

“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth"

(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Some thoughts


Looking towards Lawel hill from Barra hill


I have not posted for some time, because we have been on holiday, (vacation) and did not have reliable internet. We were in the Haifa/Akka area of Israel and will post some information on a connection with Robert the Bruce, in my next post.
But now that the excitement of the anniversary and the traveling are over, I need to get back to the subject of the blog, “The Battle of Barra”
I looked at the “official” version, in an earlier post, but what can a review of the general military facts of the period, and the various legends which have come down to us, tell us?
As my favourite history podcast presenter, Dan Carlin says, the big advantage of not being a professional historian is the greater scope to look at the, “what ifs”, and the maybes. (Dan’s history podcasts are very simulating and cover wide range of topics, from ancient to modern; but no Scottish ones yet – why not Dan? ) If you are interested in history check it out at
http://www.dancarlin.com/
The “official” version has the hero king rise from his sick bed , and immediately lead his army against the enemy, who are defeated by resolute leadership and courage.
However the distance from Inverurie Bass to the Bruce Field, is about 4 miles a the crow flies and would certainly be more for a marching army, which puts it at the upper end of the average daily distance covered by medieval infantry. This is not to say the distance was not achievable, on the same day, by forced march, or if most of the force consisted of troops, who travelled on tough ponies and then dismounted to fight.
We also do not know the site of the battle, although local folklore gives us two sites, one “The Bruce Field” and the other “Comyns Camp”, both of which were featured in earlier posts, but do not seem to be likely sites. Two local legends mention Lawel Hill, which is located to the south of Barra hill, placing it closer to Inverurie than either of the other two, so there may be some justification in locating the battle site on that side of Barra hill.. The first relates to the death of Sir Thomas de Longeuville. (Which will have a post to its self).
The second relates to a night march by way of Lawel hill, where the royal army gathered up cattle and drove them towards the Earl’s position. They then tied clothes and lanterns to their horns and stampeded them into the enemy.
We know that on two subsequent occasions Robert divided his force prior to battle, and whilst he launched a frontal assault on the enemy, one of his trusted lieutenants led a smaller force to fall upon the enemies’ rear, the combined assaults causing a complete collapse of the enemy. Both battles, Pass of Brander later in 1308, and Byland 1322, were deep in enemy territory, so maybe Robert tested this tactic first, whilst “playing at home” in the Garioch.
So a possible sequence of events could have been as follows.
After David de Brechin’s attack the royal army prepared to march, whilst scouts located the enemy. The obvious choice of leader for the flanking force would have been Edward the king’s brother. So with the enemy located in the Meldrum area, where they would spend the night, the King with the infantry, and Edward with a smaller mounted force set out. Edward gathered cattle as discussed earlier, and then waited, possibly in woods on Lawell hill, until his brother arrived with the main force. When he learned that the king was approaching the earl deployed his troops and awaited the assault. The King’s men formed-up and advanced on the enemy position. With the enemy probably already somewhat unsteady, in the face of the veteran’s advance, Edwards force burst out of the woods and fell upon the enemy rear. Caught between the two forces the Earls army disintegrated, and as Barbour says;
“Quha had gud hors gat best away”

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Final Report Card

Having made it back to Houston, I have some time to catch-up with the events of our whirlwind trip. As always it was not possible to fit everything in, but as well as the visits already reported, we were able to meet several members of the MBHS, and visit the memorial.


Evelyn and Colin very kindly opened their home, which has a wonderful panoramic view of Barra hill



On my first visit I met John Pirie, who was the inspiration behind the memorial.
He brought several aerial pictures, and was able to provide details of the original location of Bruce’s Seat (pre 1950s), and the location of the rock pile where it lay for half a century, before being rescued by the MBHS.
We were able to view the locations, through Colin’s binoculars, from the comfort of the living-room. Colin also directed us to a website where it is possible to “zoom – in” and view Barra hill in great detail.
The conversation roamed over a wide range of topics, about which John was a mine of information.

The second visit allowed us to meet Doug Smith, Jenny Beber and Jim Presley, all of whom were involved in making the memorial possible.
We had a very stimulating conversation on the battle and the numerous other MBHS projects, past and present.
Doug also recounted his memories of moving the stone figures, from Bourtie Kirk yard to inside the Kirk, during the 1950s. (More of that in a later post).
We also discovered that Jim’s sister lives close to us in the Tomball area, near Houston.But, “nae man can tether time nor tide”, and we had to say our farewells and head back to Aberdeen

On Saturday we visited my son Graeme’s new flat, in Aberdeen, and then brought him out to Meldrum, where we got our first close-up view of the memorial.This was followed by a visit to Haddo House, and then lunch, with Graeme, Neil and their Mum at Lochter outdoor activity centre. http://www.lochter.co.uk/

Our trip was closed out with a visit to my parents in Forfar, where we had a mini family reunion,
I took the opportunity to visit the site of another little known, but significant battle; Nechtansmere, which is located close to Dunnichan, and was the site of a decisive Pictish victory over the Nothumbrians in 685. I was a little disappointed that the centennial memorial was looking a little shabby. I hope future Meldrum generations will sustain the work of the present MBHS.


On the way back to Aberdeen we visited a dreich, wet and windswept Dunnoter castle

Thanks to everyone who made this a wonderful trip.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Meldrum Visits

One of the advantages of business travel is that, now and again it can fit in well with some personal matters. I had come to Aberdeen for meetings, but I had several hours before I could check into my hotel and the meetings did not start until the next day, so I was able to make a couple of personal visits.

First, I had the pleasure of visiting Mrs. Hazel Sim’s P5 class at Meldrum Primary, some of whom had taken part in the unveiling ceremony for the Battle of Barra memorial.
But first I had to figure out how to get into the school! Things had changed since my boys went there, so after some driving around I had to ask the “lollypop lady” (crossing guard for Americans), how to get in. However I finally made it, and received a warm welcome from Hazel and her class. The class had recently completed a project on “Wallace and Bruce”, and the told me about it and showed some of the things they had made. We spoke about the Battle of Barra and I told them about the “blog” and answered some questions. I also heard about plans for a future activity where they will learn more about Barra Hill and the battle.
I hope it will be possible to provide a report on this in a later post and to show some of the work the class did for their project.
Thanks to Hazel and P5 for a great visit.

Next I had my “fly cup” (a mid-morning or afternoon cup of tea) with Moira Gregg, the author of an article on the battle, in “Scottish Field”, featured in an earlier post. Moira, whose home is at the base of Barra Hill, and overlooks the Bruce Field, told me about her decision to start writing and how it was so natural to write about these events which had taken place almost in her own garden. She was full of praise for the MBHS, their work on the memorial, and the information provided by various members for the article. We discussed the history a bit, and the fact that her problem with the article became, “what to leave out”, because of the wealth of information available. Although Moira is quick to point out she is no historian, she has produced a wonderful, short and concise article on the battle, which has helped reach a much wider audience, and increase awareness of the battle’s importance to the history of Scotland.
I plan to share some of her pictures in a later post.
Thanks Moira, for your hospitality.

I also spoke with Evelyn and was delighted to receive an invitation to meet with members of the MBHS, at her house on Friday. I am really looking forward to this and will post the details later.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Houston.....Meldrum Base here...... The Tyauve has landed

Well I made it here safe and well.
I landed on typically dreich NE day.
I was sitting on the plane wating for my first glimse of Scotland, and with all the mist and cloud, it was some time in coming. We broke through the cloud somewhere over Meldrum, and through the mist and rain I could see the patchwork of fields, many of them the bright yellow of oilseed rape, and many more edged with yellow whin or broom, as the plane made its final approach.
After getting my car and digging out my waterproof jacket, I set off for Meldrum. I drove by and had my first view of the Memorial, the weather not showing it at its best, but it as great to see it "in the flesh". I had lunch at the Redgarth, ( http://www.redgarth.com/index.html )which was the same as I remember, with my son Neil, and then arranged to meet some people. (reports on that in later posts).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Meldrum Visit

I am heading out tomorrow for Scotland, and a visit to Oldmeldrum, so my next post will be from Aberdeen. I am looking forward to visiting the memorial and meeting some of the people involved.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Now's the day, and now's the hour

Well the big day has finally arrived, and once more Evelyn has done a great job of getting pictures and providing the following report.

"Hi Jim
Here are the photos. It was a bit difficult to take photos today with lots of people weilding cameras & moving about.
The unveiling ceremony was very meaningful and quite moving with the Saltire waving nearby in the breeze and the Lion Rampant covering the memorial. A fair crowd had gathered, including photographers from the Press & Journal, Inverurie Herald and Inverurie Advertiser.
Gillian Smith, in highland dress, set the ceremony in motion playing the bagpipes and as you can imagine it was stirring stuff for the soul.
Akki Manson, MBHS chairman, welcomed the crowd that had gathered then John Pirie related the story of the stone and the background to the battle.
The Meldrum primary pupils in their red school jumpers were a delight to behold as they whipped off the Lion Rampant to reveal Bruce's Seat and enjoy a round of applause.
All those who had helped in the project were thanked and then Gillian again played a selection of Scottish traditional tunes before all those who had contributed made their way to the Royal British Legion where Jim Presly, MBHS events' convener, had laid on a lavish array of refreshments which had been prepared by his wife Alice and daughters Karen & Angie.
I can safely say that the morning was greatly enjoyed by everyone, especially the schoolchildren, and we are all proud that we now have a memorial to commemorate the Battle of Barra.

It's such a shame you couldn't have been here.

Will be in touch soon.

All the best,
Evelyn"