Saturday, July 19, 2008

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 ), and the Dykes of Fala are due west.

No comments: