7 October 2011
Alexander Hall — Glencairn Parish in 1560
The AGM of Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society was held in Cumberland Street Centre on 7th October.
Following the AGM Dr Francis Toolis, President, introduced Sandy Hall as speaker for the evening. Sandy's family came to the Moniaive area in 1947. He farmed at Craiglearan from 1963 to 1999, when he handed over the farm to his son. He has an admirable record of contributions to the history of Moniaive/Glencairn area in particular. Worthy of mention is the superb publication, The Glencairn Memorial Book. He was a founder member of the local Family History Society. His illustrated talk, rich in period detail, was entitled Glencairn Parish in 1560 though it ranged, of necessity, further into the 16th century.
At the outset Sandy showed two maps to demonstrate how the parish and its boundaries between properties in the 16th Century were little different from today, except that there were no walls in the early period and there is more afforestation now.
In 1550s Scotland, England and France were all ruled by regents on behalf of minors, namely Mary Stuart, Edward VI and Francis II respectively. Mary, Queen of Scots, living in France, had the prospect of becoming Queen of all three nations when she was in her mid-teens in the late 1550s. It had been a period of religious strife in which John Knox and Mary of Guise, acting as regent for her daughter, opposed each other, Protestant versus Catholic. The year 1560 brought a turning-point in Queen Mary's fortunes. The deaths of her French husband and of her mother were sad blows.
Glencairn Parish had three baronies of Crawfordton (in the south and different from the Crawfordton of today), Maxwelton and Snade. Land was valued in merklands, which did not reflect acreage but worth. Tenants were expected to pay their teinds or tythes to the factor, William Cunningham, Earl of Glencairn, for the upkeep of the church. The year 1560 was one of turmoil in the parish as well as in the nation. Many in the northern lands of the parish had not paid their dues for two years, which meant a doubling of what was owing. In 1559 Cunningham, a Privy Councillor in Edinburgh, sought the support of Parliament in Edinburgh to force the rebels to make payment. Such an order was made on 29th August. Payment was to be made within 48 hours of being charged. Unless a letter of liquidation were received, the offender might land in the dungeons of Dumbarton Castle. The issue rumbled on for years: a fresh order was sought, but the same people were still not paying in 1567.
Why were they not paying? The people in the north farmed on less productive land and bad weather frequently caused hardship. Who was the ringleader? Was it Fergusson of Craigdarroch. It had to be someone powerful to persuade about 100 people not to pay. Certainly a number of Fergussons were rebels; but so were other prominent families.
Sandy has performed an intensive study of estates, farms, tenants, non-payers and how much they were due to pay. Tenancies were complicated. The tithes for Glencairn were let by the Chapter of Glasgow for the upkeep of the Catholic Church. If Mary of Guise had not died in 1560 the huge number of French troops, stationed in Edinburgh, might have landed in Glencairn. Subsequently tithes were paid to the Reformed Church. Opposition to paying could well have arisen from the fact that there was no priest or minister serving the parish.
This was a generation which had been born and christened Roman Catholic but which would die and be buried Protestant. Cunningham had hobnobbed with Mary of Guise and John Knox. He was for the Reformed Church, as were the majority of people in the South-West. He was also a monarchist and wished to support the Queen, Mary Stuart. Her escape from Lochleven Castle persuaded people to rally to her cause. He changed sides. History seems to be peppered with Vicars of Bray!
Sandy concluded with a challenge. Is there another parish which can supply such a comparable list of land-holding for the period as he has unearthed about Glencairn? The remarkable fact is that, despite the gravity of the issues, the outcome was bloodless.
21 October 2011
George Heggarty (Research Associate, National Museums of Scotland) —
Whim, pots, pans and people: the development of Scotland's industrial pottery
The Whim. pots, pans and people: the development of Scotland's industrial pottery was the intriguing title of George Haggarty's talk to Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society.
George has had an interesting career in that he was a hands-on archaeologist, then he became a successful antique dealer in Edinburgh and ten years ago he returned to the National Museum as a research assistant and has published 122 papers. As his archive can boast 10,000 slides we knew that we were to be treated to a very special evening of interesting illustrations, which cause headaches to the reporter trying to convey the richness of such a talk.
Hitherto it has been generally accepted that Scotland's industrial ceramics date from 1748 in the Glasgow area. This is not strictly true because experimental work in the field began c1610, about which one can only speculate. Many of the early factories were sited on the East coast from Fife to East Lothian. The next significant development arose when a potter arrived c1703 from Ireland and set up work at Leith under the auspices of Lind, who resided in Gorgie in Edinburgh.
Archibald Campbell, Duke of Argyll, set up a unit on a 1000-acre estate, shown on General Roy's map in 1745 as the Whim Estate, which he bought on a whim, hence the name. Lind was associated with this the first purpose-built laboratory, about which much detail has survived except for the exact location. Argyll bought two kilns in London in 1749: one was destined for Whim but what of the other one? The idea is that it might have been for West Pans. The paintings on the Whim ware were very sophisticated and it might tie up with the fact that Cooper, an artist, married Lind's daughter.
There is a special type of pottery called A-Mark ware, the clay for which came only from Carolina. Only four pieces in very poor condition are known. A cracked cup went for over £13,000. It was not considered to be Scottish and yet it was discovered that on 11th June 1754 such clay came into Leith. Lind died in 1754. Argyll lost interest. Stalemate ensued for the next 10 years.
Lind's son, George, entered the field along with Thomas Shelly, potter and Ed Ackers, china painter. Excavations at West Pans have revealed that moulded ware was being made. It is known that there were slipwear potteries at West Pans pre-1760s. The remains of a redware kiln of the 1750s have been uncovered. There are few pieces of the rare West Pans pottery known. The NMS acquired one such piece in October 2011. A tea bowl of West Pans porcelain dating from the period 1764–1777, when William Littler was working in Scotland, with lobed moulding and showing the arms of Pringle of Stichill was found in East Lothian. Sadly items thought by experts to be English have been lost to Scotland and the regret is that they are now known to be Scottish in origin.
In 1750 Cadell, a local merchant, was in touch with people in Birmingham such as Dr Roebuck and Samuel Gabett in connection with the Old Kirk Pottery at Prestonpans. A factory producing sulphuric acid, scarce in Scotland, was set up at Prestonpans and a pottery was built alongside. One white salt-glazed bowl, which was donated to the masons, survives and illustrates the strong link between potters and freemasons. Shipowners were looking around for a type of pottery which could be used for holding lime drinks supplying vital vitamin C to sailors, as lead was obviously unsatisfactory.
By 1805 changes were taking place as neo-classical ware emerged in the form of dipped and rouletted pearlware. A copper roller ran round the pottery to decorate it. Some Scottish output can be traced to individual factories by the rouletting.
Lottery money is being sought for further study into early Scottish ware, a decision about which will be made in December. Analysis of salt glazes will be made to try and prove that items were made in Scottish factories. Excavations at Seacliff, Prestonpans, yielded a ceramic mould for the coronation of William IV and Queen Adelaide in 1831. The paintings on Scottish ceramics are generally better than those on English pieces: they are more natural and the backs are also painted. There was another factory at Morrison's Haven about 1750. Anthony Hilcoat was producing pottery on Lord Hyndford's estate. An example of Newbigging Pottery from Musselburgh takes the form of a moulded bone bowl, decorated with the arms of Musselburgh possibly to mark the visit of George IV to Scotland in 1822.
James Watt (1736-1819) was working at the Bo'ness factory for Roebuck. When the latter went bankrupt Watt moved to Birmingham. The siting of a plethora of such factories on the east coast was determined by the presence of coal. It took 12 tons of coal to fire one ton of clay. A number of the Scottish potteries failed for lack of capital. By 1830 only the properties producing quality wares were surviving, largely in England, such as Spode and Wedgewood. However, the Portobello factory functioned until 1973.
George halted his talk with the promise that the history of the more illustrious Glasgow pottery remains to be told on another day. Haste ye back, George!
4 November 2011
Nic Coombey (Southern Upland Partnership) — Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere
Nic Coombey, who served 15 years as a landscape architect with Solway Heritage, has embarked on a two-year Biosphere Reserve project, funded by Leader. It was on that very subject that he came to address Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society.
Biosphere Reserves are a network of UNESCO designated world class areas of which there are 580 in 114 countries. It is their contribution to people and nature that earns them such status. The style has been evolving since 1976 and the one located in Galloway and South Ayrshire will perhaps be the first new-style model in Scotland, according to criteria laid down in 1995. It will seek to promote a balanced approach between man and nature for sustainable living. Caerlaverock was designated as such in the 1970s but it was crossed off because it does not fit the current concepts. St Kilda, too, has lost that status, while Eigg might gain it. One drawback for Biosphere Reserves is that those in charge can only encourage people to follow their recommendation but, unlike administrators of National Parks, they have "no teeth".
Lanzarote promotes its uniqueness as a volcanic island and Slovakia conserves its primeval beech forest: these factors have gained them the designation. What is our approach going to be?
We must identify what is special about our area. In Galloway and South Ayrshire there is a Core Area of research and monitoring, which includes as protected areas Cairnsmore of Fleet and Merrick Kells/Silver Flowe, now linked up instead of being separate as formerly. Beyond the Core Area there is a Buffer Zone to ensure protection. The Transitional Area, outwith those key situations, is where we all live and try to promote sustainable living.
The focus has been identified as high-quality locally-produced foods and exceptional pieces of work in the craft field. Various special constructions in the area provide examples of outstanding design, such as 'The Striding Arches' by Andy Goldsworthy and 'The Snail' by Charles Jencks at Portrack. Another worthy feature of our landscape is the recognition accorded to the Dark Sky Park in Galloway.
Strong encouragement is given to groups to come together. For instance, a new community use is being sought for the recently-closed school at Glentrool. Support is being given to the Newton Stewart Walking Festival, as most of the walks take place on part of the Biosphere Reserve.
Other projects receiving attention are the preservation of the water vole, which has now been found to be more numerous than was first thought: high on the list for continued success in its survival is the control of mink. SEPA is leading a move to discover where the most important areas are for water courses. Attempts are also being made to involve youth clubs and scouts in 'fishing for knowledge' in the countryside.
Ideas abound with Nic providing encouragement to people in general to become involved in making South-West Scotland stand out from the rest of Scotland and convince UNESCO that we are worthy of the designation of the status of a fully-fledged Biosphere Reserve.
Nic believes that the case is a good one. In visiting communities throughout the area and delivering interesting, well-illustrated presentations, such as this, he is spreading the word that as many people as possible should become involved in proving the unique, go-ahead nature of our part of Scotland and subscribing to the principles of Biosphere Reserves. It will be to our advantage, especially in the field of tourism.
18 November 2011
Valerie Reilly — Indigo — a blue to dye for
Indigo, a Blue to Dye For was the topic of Valerie Reilly's talk to Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society. Having served for 35 years in Paisley Museum, from which she has now retired, she is very knowledgeable about dyes and Paisley shawls.
In a lively and well-presented illustrated discourse Valerie covered every conceivable aspect of the story of indigo, which touches more spheres of human activity than most people realise — trade, industry, furnishings, clothing, medicine, veterinary products, agriculture, science, the arts, cosmetics, etc.
Listed in the seven colours of the rainbow, it is placed between blue and violet. India, believed to be the oldest centre of indigo dyeing in the world, was also an important supplier of indigo dye, obtained from the plant Indigofera tinctoria. The name is derived from the Greek word indikon; the Latin term is indicum and hence indigo in English. The Sanskrit term is neel; anyle or indico are also used interchangeably.
The dye was in use in the third millennium BC. Historically blue colours have been revered: in Egypt, for example, Tutankhamun's funerary apparel displayed it; likewise Inca textiles in South America. As it required several pounds of indigo from another source, Murex trunculus, for each dyeing, indigo-dyed textiles were associated with wealth. Wools for much-prized Persian carpets are still being produced by ancient processes. The ancient dye pits in Karo in Nigeria are still in use today.
Marco Polo, the explorer described indigo industry at Kerala in India in 1298. Gradually the cultivation of indigo-producing plants spread westwards, although efforts were made to confine it to Islamic areas by the Ottoman Empire.
By the 13th Century many in Europe made their livelihood producing woad, which had been another source of the dye since the Hellenistic period from about 323BC to 31BC. Woad, Isatis tinctoria, was being grown in southern England in Anglo-Saxon times but such was the demand that extra quantities still had to be imported. It was being grown around Haddington in 1693, but only for local use. The dyers were the most prosperous of all those involved in the textile trade. Woad was being added to indigo for tunics. Woad-dye waste was a pollutant.
An involved but very profitable shipping trade, promoted by the English East India Company, founded in 1600, grew up. Asian indigo-dyed textiles or supplies of indigo itself (whose suppliers were guilty of adulteration) were exported to Europe, cloth was then taken to Africa and exchanged for slaves. The on-going ships were bound for America and/or the Caribbean, where the new cargo might be indigo or sugar, destined also for Europe. This trade was vulnerable to piracy, insect damage or earthquake.
To produce the dye leaves are added to water and ash to start fermentation. The task of manual oxygenation, dangerous to health, was usually done by slaves; in time, with the spread of industrialisation, mechanised paddles came to be used. A paste is produced for local use, but it had to be dried off into balls for transporting long distances. In 1501 there is a case of a ship leaving Bordeaux and being attacked by pirates. Some of the balls of indigo seized landed up in Kirkcudbright!
The loss to Britain of the American colonies in 1783 led to India becoming the main source of indigo, huge quantities of which were required for military uniforms. The following export figures are very revealing: in 1782 when indigo was still coming from Central America exports from India amounted to only 25,000 lbs; in 1795 they stood at 4,368,000 lbs; and in 1815 at 7,650,000 lbs.
The first synthetic indigo dye, mauveine, was invented by William Perkin. The trade in it expanded rapidly from about 1930. Rivalry between natural and synthetic dyes ensued: cost was usually the determining factor. The popularity of denim has preserved the indigo trade. The invention by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss in 1873 of the pop-rivet to stop wear on the pockets gave impetus to the production of jeans. Their adoption by the late James Dean in the film Rebel Without a Cause has ensured them an undying place in fashion history!
2 December 2011, James Williams Lecture
Professor Andrew Breeze — The Names of Rheged
The December meeting of Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society was very special for two reasons. It was the James Williams Memorial Lecture, held in memory of the Society's late and much-revered, long-serving senior editor. Secondly Dr Andrew Breeze has had research papers published in the Society's Transactions, through which he communicated with James; he willingly agreed to come from Pamplona, Spain, to deliver his illustrated talk, entitled The Names of Rheged. It will be published in full in the Transactions at a later date.
The territory of Rheged is often mentioned in the earliest Welsh poems, which derive from originals composed in the related Cumbric language of North Britain in the sixth and seventh centuries. Rheged is usually located in the region around Carlisle, and was ruled by Urien, addressed by the bard Taliesin as a munificent hero and the scourge of the English invader.
Yet scholars have always had difficulty agreeing on the whereabouts of Rheged and the meaning of its name. Recent analysis of places mentioned in the poems of Taliesin and other early bards allows some progress on the matter. It offers these conclusions. Urien's domains stretched as far north as Ayr and as far east as north Yorkshire. The first would be the Aeron of his poems (the West Riding's river Aire can be ruled out), the second would be Yrechwydd, the region bordering the Echwydd (meaning 'fresh water') of the marshes between York and the Humber.
Yet his court was surely not at Carlisle, as often supposed. Carlisle is never mentioned in the early poems, and archaeologists have found no evidence for occupation there in the decades about AD 600. Other place-names in the poems point rather to south Cumbria as the focus of political life in this period, with references to a magnificent court at Rossed or Rossett, west of Ambleside; hunting by the Lodore Falls on the Derwent; and clashes with Pictish and English invaders by the rivers Winster and Lyvennet of south-east Cumbria.
Further research on toponyms in this poetry will probably confirm arguments for the English Lake District as being the core of the ancient British kingdom of Rheged.
There followed a period of lively and searching questions, fielded dexterously by Dr Breeze and which gave scope to the breadth of knowledge of this interesting and scholarly university philologist and lecturer.
20 January 2012
Lt Col John Charteris — A Thousand Years of the Charteris Family
Lt Col John Charteris, MBE MC, who retired from the army in 1998, was the first speaker to address Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society in 2012. His subject was A Thousand Years of the Charteris Family. Arriving in England in 1066, this ancient and well-connected Norman family was rewarded with lands in Northamptonshire and Wiltshire by William the Conqueror.
The Bishop of Chartres, Robert Carnoto (the Latin form of the name), was connected to King William I and by marriage to David I of Scotland, through whom the family was granted lands at Amisfield, Dumfriesshire. Further rewards of land, reflecting changing allegiance, were granted by Edward I and Robert the Bruce. In the latter case it was in recognition of support at the slaying of the Red Comyn.
The marriage of John Charteris, a Protestant, in the 15th Century to Agnes Maxwell brought an advantageous alliance with the powerful local Catholic Herries-Maxwell family. A tower house was built bearing the respective plaques of husband and wife. Sir John Charteris later built a separate mansion house to the south of the tower.
Cullivait, which served as the dower house from 1788, has passed in and out of the family's possession. In 1958 the speaker's father repurchased the house, which is now the home of John and his wife.
Successive generations of the Charteris family have held eminent positions such as High Chancellor of Scotland and Warden of the Western Marches. Border reiving, slighting a king, hanging and a duel all feature in the story. James VI stayed at Amisfield on his way south as heir to the English throne. The misfortunes of Charles I, who earlier elevated Amisfield to barony status, caused a kinsman to attempt a plan to rescue the doomed king.
Undoubtedly the most notorious name on the family tree is that of Colonel Francis Charteris (1672–1752), card sharp, thief, libertine and scoundrel. He amassed a fortune by his trickery. Marlborough considered him more of a threat to the morale of the army than the enemy. On his death bed he even tried to bribe his way to heaven.
Archibald Charteris, by contrast, in the latter part of the 19th Century served as a church minister and Moderator of the Church of Scotland. He founded the Woman's Guild movement and the church magazine, Life and Work.
Military service has featured prominently in John's recent family history. His grandfather, as Haig's chief of Intelligence, created up to MI 15. He was mentioned in dispatches eight times and showered with honours. In 1918 he was elected MP for Dumfriesshire in a landslide victory. John himself followed his architect and soldier father into the army. He served with MI 6. His Military Cross was awarded for service in Ireland.
There is much more to discover about this amazing family in R.C. Reid's 1938 book, The Family of Charteris of Amisfield.
This informative and at times amusing canter by a gifted raconteur through only 946 years, as it emerged, was delivered in a deep, rich, commanding voice which held an audience of over seventy members spellbound and left many keen to hear more.
3 February 2012
Archie McConnell (McConnell Wood Products) — Woods and wood in Dumfries and Galloway
around 1700 with special reference to the Midsteeple, Dumfries
Archie McConnell of Penpont Sawmill addressed a large audience of Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society on the subject of Woods and wood in Dumfries and Galloway around 1700 with special reference to the Midsteeple, Dumfries. Intrigued, the members wondered where a sandstone building fitted into a talk about wood!
Early in the 18th century an unexpected windfall of 20,000 merks came into Dumfries Burgh coffers. At a meeting on 30th April 1703 it was decided to build a new town house with an imposing steeple. A committee was appointed to oversee the construction work.
A Liverpool architect, John Moffat, was employed to draw up a design. He and James Johnston were empowered to pay a study visit to Glasgow. The financial records state: "To Mr Moffat, architect, and Dean Johnston £24 Scots to bear their expenses to visit Glasgow steeple." An entry for 10th April 1704 shows that Mr Moffat was paid £104 Scots for his drawing. Mr Moffat withdrew from the commitment and a Tobias Bachup was engaged to complete the scheme according to Moffat's plan, but with modifications.
Archie has made an intensive study of the reports and visits by the Committee responsible for the Midsteeple. In 1703 attempts to procure wood of a satisfactory nature for the inner framework were the cause of many headaches for the committee.
Tower houses and the Midsteeple tower itself all display the familiar square box shape of similar dimensions. Archie made the interesting observation that it hinged on the fact that the timbers available were generally about 22 feet in length and taken from trees about 200 years old. The Midsteeple with added stonework is 24 feet across.
Timber in those times was often brought from Scandinavia. This possibility was explored but "there can be none gotten at a easy rate."
They were then forced to explore Scottish sources. Visits by Moffat, the architect, and James Johnston to Stepford, Steilston and Birkbush were made because of the availability of water transport by the Cairn, Cluden and Nith. The timber at Steilston fitted the bill but a deal with the owner would have involved purchase of the whole wood. Further visits were made to Loch Ken, Airds, Shirmers and Dalry without success.
The dignitaries were then advised to inspect the wood at Garlies on the Earl of Galloway's estate, where the oaks were grown up and down the hillsides and farmed for better purposes. A deal was struck with Alex Thomsone, who had a 7-year lease to manage the wood at Cardochan on that estate. The Committee decided "to appoint James Johnston the morrow morning early to repair to the wood to procure the timber with all imaginable dispatch." This was achieved even though it was not a good time for harvesting timber as the sap was still rising.
Horses were used to bring the wood from its inland site to the Dee. It was loaded when the water level was low enough to permit the heavy timbers to roll down on to the waiting vessel. At Kelton, the nearest suitable point to Dumfries, it was unloaded at high tide to enable the timbers to be rolled off with ease. Transportation by horse power again brought the consignment into Dumfries.
The wood, already stripped of its bark and having been stored in a Dumfries barn till 1705, would be properly seasoned by the time it came to be used. Archie, being primarily interested in wood, terminated his study at this point. The actual building of Midsteeple took place 1705–1707.
A lively question-and-answer session followed. In the course of the evening the audience became aware that Dumfries and Galloway has a nationally-recognised expert in the area because Archie has supplied wood for the building of the finer aspects of the Scottish Parliament and for the recent refurbishment of Stirling Castle.
17 February 2012
Jim Henderson — The history and work of the River Nith Fisheries Board
In this the 150th anniversary year of Nith District Salmon Fishery Board Jim Henderson addressed Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society on the subject of his employment with the Board.
Jim, a native of Stranraer, who has a degree in Environmental Studies, was head-hunted for the job — a wise choice. His enthusiasm and enjoyment in the work of this statutory body was obvious.
There are 36 proprietors within the Nith catchment area. The Duke of Buccleuch, farmers, the council are all involved. There are 13 members of the Board, which has jurisdiction over 1596 square kilometres and 37 miles of coastline.
Assisted by a permanent staff of four and part-time summer employees, Jim's remit is to look after the welfare of migratory salmonids within his sphere of influence. The local rural economy benefits to the value of £2.2 million at the unpropitious back end of the year.
There are many pressures on the fish, some of which are legal and specific to this part of the world, such as haaf-netting and the stake-net fishery at Sandyhills. Less laudable are the illegal pressures of poaching, gill netting and trammel netting, which can ensure big dividends for some of the highly-organised law breakers. Jim and his staff run risks in curtailing these activities. However, they have the same powers of arrest as police officers.
The natural world also presents problems for preserving stocks of salmon and sea trout. Pike and, especially goosander and mink are serious predators. The spread of vigorous and insidious alien species of plants, such as Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam, is providing the need for costly programmes in attempts at control.
Industrial practices require careful monitoring. It was discovered that digging out gravel on the Marrburn was afoot at the very time when fish eggs were in the gravel. Similarly new road developments, windfarms, gas piplines and railway activity, such as the Portrack Viaduct, have all presented difficulties, but Jim confidently states that there is always an engineering solution, coupled with diplomacy.
Restoration of stocks also comes into the Board's plans. Two hatcheries produce two million salmon a year. It is essential that genetic strains remain pure and that the emergent fish suit their catchment area.
Education is also a key part of the job. Government ministers and anglers are kept informed of the needs of the industry. Schoolchildren are provided with aquaria to raise interest in this field and they are taken on outings to encourage respect for life in local rivers.
This beautifully-illustrated talk, delivered by a speaker with a good, clear voice, drew forth the comment from the audience that this was one of the best talks ever given to the Society. It proves once again that a talk should never be judged beforehand by its title!
2 March 2012
Alan Pallister — The Castles of the Glenkens
Members were treated to an interesting pictorial tour of that part of Galloway known as the Glenkens, conducted by a knowledgeable retired engineer.
The mottes were the earliest sites and date from the 12th and early 13th Centuries when Galloway was asserting its independence and power struggles were taking place. Detailed plans of Balmaclellan, Dalry and Parton (which has two) and Lochrinnie Mottes all featured in the account. They varied in diameter from about 40 to 50 feet and were usually of inverted pudding-bowl shape, apart from Boreland Motte at Parton, which was named by the Royal Commission as a 'citadel' because it took advantage of a natural elevation.
There are two fortified farmhouses worthy of note, one at Dundeuch near Polmaddie and one at Shirmers. The latter was in the hands of a branch of the Gordon family from the 15th Century.
Glenkens Castle, halfway up Loch Ken and associated with the Balliols, and Lochinvar Castle, associated with the Gordon family, were island defences. Earlston Castle is a tower house of the 17th century and bears a commemorative stone. It was associated with the Sinclair family, who were staunch supporters of the Covenanting cause. Barscobe Castle in the feudal barony of Balmaclellan was built in 1648 by William McClellan. Like Earlston it is L-shaped.
Kenmure Castle is the largest and strongest of all. It belonged to the ancient Lords of Galloway and might have been built on the site of a previous stronghold. It, too, was associated with the Gordons, whose arms are incorporated on a wall. Mary, Queen of Scots, stayed there in 1563. Continuing Catholic support led to the 6th Viscount Kenmure's execution for involvement in the Jacobite cause. Originally 4-sided but later becoming 3-sided, as it has remained, the building has undergone many changes right up to the 20th Century and even served as a hotel after World War II. It is no longer inhabited.
16 March 2012
Chris Rollie — Robert Burns in England
Chris Rollie, RSPB Area Manager for Dumfries and Galloway and Robert Burns enthusiast, was invited to address the Society on Robert Burns in England, the subject of his book, published in 2009 by New Cumnock Burns Club to mark the 250th anniversary of the poet's birth.
The poet paid two brief earlier visits across the border into England. On the third occasion he kept a journal, which is in the private hands of John Murray (Publishers) London. Chris arranged to see it, by dint of sheer persistence, and was amazed to discover that only three scholars had consulted it in 200 years: James Currie, Allan Cunningham and himself. Other scholars had slavishly used Cunningham's reportage and in the process had perpetuated his mistakes.
Following the publication of the Kilmarnock edition and the Edinburgh edition of his poems, Burns set off in mid-April 1787 from Edinburgh. He and his Border's friend, Robert Ainslie, made for the latter's parental home in Duns and toured around various sites in the Borders. An attack of rheumatic fever delayed Burns' departure into England.
Coldstream Bridge now bears a plaque commemorating Burns' crossing. On Friday 18th May he rode into Berwick, that town which had changed hands many times, but which finally came to be regarded as in England. There he walked the walls.
He proceeded southwards by way of Cornhill. Nearby is Flodden Field and, although it was his professed aim to see scenes of Scottish battles and those mentioned in Scottish songs, he omits to record whether he visited Flodden Field. On then he journeyed to Wooler and thence to Alnwick, whose ancient stronghold was the seat of the Percys. He made a bee-line from there for the coast to Warkworth, which is also dominated by its castle, owned, too, by the Percy family. From Morpeth he made his way to Newcastle, which he entered by the Pilgrim Gate.
Hexham and Wardrew were the next places on his itinerary. Significantly the inn at Wardrew, where he stayed overnight on 30th May, had an important connection ten years later with another important Scottish literary figure, Sir Walter Scott. It was there that he met Charlotte Charpentier, later to be his wife.
Burns proceeded along the route of Hadrian's Wall to Lanercost and Longtown and yet failed to mention in his journal what he thought of Hadrian's Wall and Lanercost Priory. He reached Carlisle on 31st May. There he met James Mitchell who acted as his guide. He visited the Sands, important scene of the droving trade, and stayed at the Malt Shovel Inn in Rickergate, where the pair dined. The landlord broke the unwelcome news that Burns' horse, Jenny Geddes, had escaped and was impounded in the pinfold. Burns had to pay a fee for her return.
It was fine weather as he rode back north by way of the coast and crossed the River Esk at the Boat House, which was the main crossing place at the time until the Metal Bridge was built. At Annan the journal ceases to have further entries. However, it is known that he made for Dumfries and thence to Ellisland.
This talk proved to be a most interesting canter through history, in which an excellent researcher and speaker had followed in the footsteps of our national bard. In the process he has unearthed a vast body of interesting information and superb illustrations. The book is vital recommended reading in order to meet many of Burns' companions, encountered on the journey, and to obtain much of the detail given in the presentation — and more besides!
31 March 2012
David Fleetwood (Historic Scotland) — The Built Heritage of Dumfries and
Galloway's Hydroelectric Power
Scotland's Hydro Heritage was the subject of David Fleetwood's talk to Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society at their annual meeting in Galloway, which this year was held in Kirkcudbright. Its sub-title was Two Dam Deer in reference to the coat of arms of the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board (NoSHEB).
David, an employee of Historic Scotland, has been involved in a study looking at buildings in Scotland with a view to listing or de-listing any man-made structure of which there are 47,540 registered in Scotland. He has looked at 350 sites in an 18-month period. In the case of HEP structures it is difficult to decide how special they are on the first visit but at the same time he quickly fell their under spell.
The early architects and engineering pioneers behind these schemes were Sir William Murray Morrison (1873–1948), Sir Edward MacColl (1882–1951) and James Williamson (1881–1953).
These are the first phase developments: 1891 Fort Augustus; 1896 Foyers; 1909 Kinlochleven; 1925–27 Falls of Clyde; 1929–34 Lochaber; 1933 Tummel Bridge and Rannoch; 1934–36 Galloway.
James Williamson's brief for the design of the Galloway scheme imposed a respect-for-amenity clause and a panel was appointed to oversee that it met the criteria. This was a private scheme built with private capital. Williamson saved on using expensive materials by using composite materials. Though unadorned, its smooth arches still take aesthetics into consideration. Sir Alexander Gibb was the consulting engineer.
To quote the Historic Scotland publication, Power to the People, "The Galloway Scheme was a pioneering development using run-of-the-river technology, specifically designed to be highly responsive to spikes in demand on the national grid. It was a significant achievement, something which many sceptics had thought would not be possible. The design is highly efficient with water having been used up to four times to generate power by the time it reaches Tongland at the bottom of the scheme."
The passing of the Hydro Electric (Scotland Act) in 1943 nationalised the system. Tom Johnston served as Chairman of NoSHEB 1947–1959 and Secretary of State for Scotland 1941–45. The following were the schemes carried out subsequently: 1944–59 Sloy/Awe; 1951–58 Tummel Valley; 1952–63 Affric/Beauly; 1957–61 Conon Valley; 1957 Great Glen; 1960 Loch Shin; 1961 Breadalbane; 1965 Cruachan; 1969–75 Foyers (conversion to pumped storage).
Sloy was the first scheme planned by NoSHEB. Fierce opposition led to a Public Inquiry. However, the bold Classical Modernist design went ahead. HM Queen Elizabeth was invited to open it. Late in the day a pertinent question was asked: "Where is the ladies' toilet?" They had a week in which to create one. It has been used only once!
David, in dealing with each major development in turn treated his audience to a splendid pictorial PowerPoint presentation and to a wealth of information. He also had an impressive array of literature to pass on.