12 October 2012
David Edwards — Utah and Arizona — a Love Affair
Following the AGM of Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, David Edwards was introduced as the speaker for the first meeting of the new season. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, he has served as a lecturer in Earth Sciences and he is well-travelled. For instance, he led an expedition to Botswana.
His topic on this occasion was 'Utah and Arizona — a love affair', in preparation for which he sifted through his 900 slides to select many remarkable landscapes. On his first encounter he was unexpectedly bowled over by the Grand Canyon, which in USA terms is a small National Park. He just had to go back and was lucky enough to be appointed as a ranger.
The Grand Canyon has several advantages. Low rainfall inhibits vegetation and so its dramatic outlines are visible. Although there are 5 million visitors a year it is still possible to derive a wilderness experience. It has a great diversity of flora and fauna, most unexpected of which was to find the tree frog there in the desert and the most dangerous, the pink rattlesnake. There are four climate zones from the top at 10 thousand feet, where snow can be lying, down to base level.
In order to understand the passage of time regarding developments on earth David suggested taking a year and equating each month to 375 million years. By March 2nd the oldest known rocks had formed. It was July before oxygen began to accumulate in the atmosphere and mid-July before the Grand Canyon's oldest rocks took shape.
All continents at or south of the Equator had formed by October 4th and by the 12th the climate and oxygen content were familiar to that of today. November saw large animals and plants coming to life and sandstone forming.
On December 11th the youngest Grand Canyon rocks were created and December 15th saw the rise of the dinosaurs, a most successful group. There are no dinosaur fossils because they are not old enough. They became extinct 135 million years ago. A meteorite might have been the cause because one set off a fire in the Grand Canyon 6 million years ago.
Modern humans appeared only at 24 minutes before midnight, that is 250 thousand years ago. One second ago we began altering our environment when the Industrial Revolution took place and thereafter we introduced rapid change. Man ought to recognise that we have a responsibility of stewardship of the earth.
The above outline of developments presents a challenge to the beliefs of creationists because they can't go past 10 thousand years ago. They think that the earth was created for man.
David went on to show the many magnificent features of other canyons and national parks. Bryce Canyon is carved purely by intense rain storms in which 5–6 inches fall in one go and cause a mobile, changing landscape created by incredible landslides.
In Zion National Park the peaks are twice as high as Ben Nevis; Utah has the third highest number of endemic (i.e. they are found nowhere else) plants in the USA; and it would take a trip from the Canadian border to New Mexico to encounter the same biodiversity.
The Arches National Park is characterised by over 2,000 arches of fins of rock. Arches over water in time become a bridge instead. A fault in the rock allows a crack to develop; water flows down and erodes the rock and creates a deeper chasm. The rocks on both sides of the canyon don't line up.
Chiricahua National Park, near the Mexican Border, is the most dangerous. Three rangers died in 2008. Drug peddlars are the reason.
The dilemma faced by all National Park authorities is that, in encouraging increasing numbers of visitors, they can destroy nature's wonders that they came to see.
26 October 2012
Dr Douglas McElvogue — The Missing Link: The Mary Rose Excavations 2004–06
Members of Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society were delighted and honoured when Doonhamer Dr Douglas McElvogue, a very experienced marine and shipwreck archaeologist based in Portsmouth, agreed to speak on the subject, The missing link: the Mary Rose excavations 2004–6. The fact that his parents live at Kippford helped to secure the engagement.
The Mary Rose was one of two new ships commissioned by Henry VIII, soon after he came to the throne in 1509. The Great Harry was the more famous in the King's lifetime. The situation is now reversed.
Originally written as Marye Roose, the sailing ship, completed in 1511, was taken to London for fitting out 1511–12. Hostilities with France broke out 1513–14. Serving as a Channel Guard, she took up a position at Brest and was involved in battle.
In June 1520, she took Henry to a meeting with Francis I of France near Calais, the legendary Field of the Cloth of Gold. Despite signing treaties, the two nations were at war again a couple of years later.
In the period 1536 to 1545, modification of the Mary Rose took place. Gunports had originally been created low down in her side to equip her like the Scottish ship, the Great Michael. New heavy guns, placed high up for strategic reasons and causing the removal of part of the forecastle, had been ordered by Henry, despite the warning that such a change would weaken the ship.
Further hostilities broke out in 1543. The Mary Rose was positioned in Portsmouth Harbour for the purpose of protecting Southampton and Portsmouth from the French. She moved out with an offshore wind. In manoeuvring, she sank in July 1545 in fairly shallow waters, about a mile from where she was built. There were only 36 survivors because netting, designed to stop boarders, trapped about 500 on board.
Her loss was catastrophic for the King looking on. He ordered a salvage attempt which failed. Over time, the ship, lying on her starboard side, trapped silt and was buried, helping to preserve her starboard side but with the port side eroded away.
Millions watched on television in 1982 as the Mary Rose was raised. Her bell was one of the last objects to be raised before she was lifted. The bow, shaped like a wishbone, was cut off for operational reasons. At that time, Douglas was only a youngster. After he became involved, he met some of the original crew and divers. Douglas was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow 2001–2006 to help with an in-depth archaeological publication. Although surveys had been done previously, he became engaged in recording the finer detail of the parts of the ship and collating all the research. He was accordingly well able to take the audience on a fascinating pictorial tour of inspection of the vessel.
He revisited the site from which the Mary Rose was moved at Portsmouth when a new dredging channel was made. The aim was to find what had been left behind. As a nautical archaeologist, Douglas, using special underwater paper, made records 60 metres down on the sea bed. He made a drawing of the stem post, the crucial missing link, which was later raised. Amongst the many other finds were one or two trenails (long wooden pins or nails for fastening the planks of a ship to the timbers), coins, an anchor, rigging and bits of caulking.
Computer studies have brought about a reappraisal of this vessel of 500 tons, which was later increased to about 700 tons. Ballast, it is suspected, moved to the starboard as she hit the sea-bed. The big guns did nothing to counteract it. That is part of the cause why she sank. The inspection carried out by Douglas found shot impact sites but no definite evidence of French cannon shot. The suggestion that she might have been hit on the side now missing can be discounted because one would still expect to find evidence.
The conservation process involves spraying with fresh water to keep her wet until about 2013. She will be coated with polyethylene glycol wax, which will dry off. Then she will be air-dried slowly. The year 2016 is the date when the new Mary Rose Museum will open alongside the famous ship. Thousands of artefacts, ranging from weaponry to surgical equipment to dice and beer tankards, will go on show.
The missing link from this report is the ability to show the fascinating photographs, which accompanied a great talk.
9 November 2012
Paul Godwin — War Memorials in Dumfries and Galloway
Paul Goodwin from Dalry is well-known for his dedicated work for the War Memorials Trust of Dumfries and Galloway, a field in which he has been conducting research and making photographic records since 2006. His background of 27 years in the army, followed by involvement in IT, has equipped him well for such endeavours.
His address to Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society took the form of portraying the many interesting memorials throughout the region, each one with an interesting history. Scotland has many monuments to battles, such as the Waterloo Monument at New Abbey. However, Paul claims that Scotland's first War Memorial is at Balmaclellan and in this case it is uniquely to the Crimean War, not to human sacrifice.
In considering design and architects in the field, the Troqueer and Maxwelltown Memorial on the New Abbey Road is to a Henry Price design, like the one at Annan, and it is so outstanding that it was chosen for the cover of Frank Borman's book, British War Memorials. George Henry Paulin drew up a number of designs in Scotland, Wales and even Belgium, as well as the magnificent one at Kirkcudbright. Dodds of Dumfries designed the World War One Memorial at New Galloway and Kells. They were built by Alexander McCubbing whose own son, John, is named at Kells.
Amazingly and tragically for the families, Gatehouse, Kells and Crossmichael War Memorials each include four brothers as casualties. The World War Two Memorial for Kells, located in New Galloway Town Hall, is also a work of art by Jessie M. King.
Memorials to the fallen take different forms: for instance there is a stained glass window at Balmaclellan Church to Rev. George Murray and to his son, a KOSB, who died in 1917 and who is also remembered with honour on the Tyne Cot Memorial. Though the cover is distressed, a book in Balmaclellan Church is a magnificent record with hand drawings and paintings of badges, not only of those who died but, in addition, of those who survived.
The pedestrian bridge at Annan serves as a World War Two Memorial. The communion Table in Castle Douglas Church records the names of the fallen on the ends.
Plane crashes in the region are also recorded on memorials: a B29 crash in 1951 is recorded in a field beyond Carsphairn and the Memorial has wreckage from the plane at its base; and the badly-weathered stone plaque to eight crashes on Cairnsmore of Fleet, accidents of geography, now has a new brass plaque, thanks to War Memorial Trust.
Closure of churches and demolition of buildings places memorials at risk. The Civic Memorial in the former Beeswing Church caused the Planning Department to stipulate that the stained glass must be wholly visible and that visitors could request to see it. Now that Cummertrees Church has been sold, the Parish War Memorial, which took the form of the lych-gate and which was renovated by means of a grant from the War Memorials Trust, is also likely to be protected by conditions. Sections bearing names from the former Sanquhar Institute, after demolition, were incorporated into a stylish external display.
The stories behind some 'lost' memorials reveal an element of good fortune. The Roll of Honour for the Oddfellows was rescued from a skip at New Abbey Church. There were two stained glass windows in the former Tarff Church. One is lost. Three sections out of four of the other one, by artist Una Anderson, were found at the back of a shed underneath a tarpaulin. Castle Douglas Roll of Honour was said to be in the Post Office, where it was eventually tracked down, through Paul's persistence, in a cloakroom.
Moves are afoot to bring recording up to date, as happened recently when the names of Stephen Gilbert and Joseph Pool were added to Dumfries War Memorial beside St.John's Church, which, incidentally, also includes World War Two losses for Maxwelltown because of the uniting of the two burghs in 1929.
Paul and his fellow researchers are amassing a huge body of information about Dumfries and Galloway's rich heritage and making it available on-line. The region is to the fore in Scotland. In 12 years 20 publications of parish studies have emerged.
23 November 2012
Dave Hutchinson — The Scottish Regional Chair
The Scottish Regional Chair was the subject of the latest talk delivered to Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society. Dave Hutchinson, FSA Scot., the speaker, now residing at Wanlockhead, had a distinguished career as teacher and headmaster.
Twenty years ago a change of direction led him into studying the design and composition of Scottish furniture, especially the chair, which has become his obsession and causes him to scour the country in search of its variations. A Churchill Scholarship in 2010 enabled him to study Scottish influences in this field in New Zealand. Fittingly he holds the chairmanship — pun intended — of the Scottish Vernacular Buildings Working Group.
Found timber, sometimes sourced as driftwood, has led to many primitive forms of seating, such as the cutty stool. 'Primitive' in such cases is not a derogatory term but rather a source of great delight to Dave. The wee ('peidie' in Orkney and 'peerie' in Shetland) creepie represents a slightly more-advanced stool.
Examples of naturally-occurring shapes in wood, such as 'knees' or 'elbows' were incorporated into simple hand-made chairs by forming a continuous line along the sides of chairs down to the floor or up the sides of the backs; they are now in museums in the North of Scotland. The 'T-joint' from one piece of wood formed in some cases the top-to-bottom back line of a chair with the branch emanating along the side of the seat.
Dave proceeded to show illustrations of chairs, some typical and some unique, from the regions of Scotland. Shetland chairs display Scandinavian influences involving mortice and tenon joints. Orkney chairs, the only vernacular chair still commercially made and commanding high prices, have semi-circular sides — originally to exclude draughts — made from roped and twisted barley straw and are often fitted with driftwood as the seat. The Darvel chair, from Ayrshire, is the Scottish version of the Windsor chair, which looks simple but is difficult to create. A marriage chair from Wanlockhead had planking running from back to front instead of side to side.
Early forms of langseats, ladderback and brander back chairs, some rescued from barns and abandoned houses, were all highlighted. Metal repairs by the local blacksmith are often to be found. The Glasgow chair pattern, with tapering legs and seats extending all the way to the edges, spread to other regions. Those in the North East of the country, with bridle joints, demonstrate the rural influence of the wheelwright, for instance, and are less primitive than those of the North West. Caithness chairs, made by a good house carpenter, exhibit refinements tending to a Regency style.
Dave, having invited attendees to bring along samples of Scottish seating, found himself facing a total of 17 stools and chairs. There was everything from a cutty stool to an Orkney chair to a grand exquisitely hand-carved caqueteuse chair (for the lord-of-the manor), dated 1663. Revelling in the variety of woods and styles represented, he pointed out that laburnum was the Scottish 'fancy' timber before mahogany was imported; and also that, when green timber is used, it dries out and wooden pegs tighten. He was in his element and the owners of the chairs were grateful to benefit from his profound knowledge.
Dave has a number of inexpensive publications to his credit. Some Chairs from the Far North of Scotland and The Vernacular Furniture Maker, His Tools and His Craft relate to this fascinating talk.
7 December 2012, James Williams Lecture
Lionel Masters — Amongst Stone Giants: Easter Island Explored
Lionel Masters, well-known and very popular in Dumfries and Galloway as an archaeologist and Glasgow University extra-mural lecturer, was invited to give the James Williams Memorial Lecture to Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society in December.
Lionel replied: "I am delighted and honoured to accept, particularly as after almost 50 years I'm finally retiring from University teaching this year. It is very fitting that I shall round things off where I started — in Dumfries."
He continued: "As to subject, I've recently been working on Polynesian prehistory, so Amongst Stone Giants, Easter Island Explored would be the title and although it might not seem to have anything in common with Jimmy's interests, there is the common theme of trade in stone (British Neolithic polished stone axes/Polynesian stone adzes) and the use of various types of volcanic rock. This would fit in with Jimmy's geological interests."
Since 2007 Lionel's interest in distant Polynesia has grown, especially in Easter Island (or Rapa Nui), at the eastern end of the Polynesian triangle, first discovered in 1722 on Easter Sunday — hence the name. It measures 14×13×12 miles and is "just like Arran with sunshine!" Its isolated location is 2000 miles from Chile and a further 2000 miles away from Pitcairn Island beyond. The only settlement, Hanga Riva, has 4 thousand inhabitants.
Thor Heyerdahl's theory that the area was colonised from South America is wrong. It used to be thought to have taken place about 700 years ago: radiocarbon dating has proved that it was about 1200 years ago. It is now recognised that there was a slow and steady drift of colonisation from west to east. The people of the area were brilliant navigators in their double-hulled canoes in the days before the compass and the chronometer. The chances of striking the miniscule pockets of land by seafarers in the great Pacific Ocean would seem to be slim in those long-ago times.
The garments of the people were made of bark cloth. Feathers and fish hooks are the basic archaeology of the region. Metal products came only in time from the New World. Six-inch nails proved to have appeal.
There are over 70 volcanoes in the area. Three in particular are worthy of mention: Poike and Rano Kau are about 1 million years old and Terebaka is about 700,000 years old.
The statues with the characteristic elongated ear lobes were created in the period up to 1600. The rock to make them comes from the small but beautifully-formed Rano Raraku volcano. The volcanic rock is hard on the surface but relatively easy to work with a pick made of hard rock (basalt). There are about 330 statues all round the volcano. They are either still attached to the rock or on the outer fringe.
The Pukao is the head with its empty eye sockets and top-knot of red skoria; the Moai is the body, the largest of which is over 30 feet high and if it were to be extracted would weigh about 80 tons; legs are very rare. Generally a large section is below ground in pits and therefore not visible, a factor which has preserved fine detail. The rock is yellow but when exposed turns grey in about 50 years. It seems that in order to move the statue to its platform (the Ahu) a rocking from side to side was employed.
Only about one fifth of the sites have been recorded. Reconstruction began after 1956. The largest completely reconstructed site is Ahu tongariki, where all the tourists are taken. The Japanese brought in the first mobile crane to replace the statues, which all look inland and have their backs to the sea. One huge statue has eyes of red skoria like the top-knot and black obsidian disks as pupils. The characteristic of redness for the eyes imbues the statue with Manu, sacred power.
Sheila Fraser delivered an appreciative vote of thanks, not only for this memorable lecture, delivered with customary enthusiasm, but also for the years of dedication to advancing knowledge here in the South West. With regret we say farewell to a 'Master'.
18 January 2013
Richard Clarkson (National Trust for Scotland) — The Flora of the
Grey Mare's Tail Nature Reserve
On Friday 18th January, members of the Dumfriesshire & Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society were given an entertaining and enlightening lecture with stunning photography by Richard Clarkson on the Flora of the Grey Mare's Tail Nature Reserve, owned by the National Trust for Scotland and containing White Coomb, the highest point (821 m, or 2,694 ft) in Dumfriesshire. Richard, a native of Herefordshire in England, moved to Scotland, to Caithness, in 1990, drawn by his interest in Nature. He continued to develop that interest, always in Scotland apart from time spent at Staffordshire University from where he graduated in Ecology, until he was appointed Ranger at the Reserve in 2010.
He began his lecture with the geology of the Grey Mare's Tail area, its underlying rocks being formed 400–500 million years ago far south of the equator before tectonic drift took them to their present location. The Grey Mare's Tail itself, dropping 200 feet and the result of a glacially-formed Hanging Valley, is the fifth highest cascade in the UK. It is fed by Loch Skeen, home to a population of vendace (Coregonus vandesius), Britain's rarest fish, formerly found only at Derwent, Bassenthwaite Lake, and the Castle and Mill Lochs at Lochmaben. It has since become extinct at the last three sites, although not before some of the Bassenthwaite vendace were brought in the 1990s to Loch Skeen, where they now appear to being doing well. In addition to the Grey Mare's Tail, the Reserve has a second waterfall, Dob's Linn, a world famous geological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) where Charles Lapworth, a Galashiels schoolteacher and a giant of Geology, studied graptolite fossils and proposed (and named) a new geological period, the Ordovician. He was also the first to recognise that older rocks could be thrust over younger, a concept that at the time conflicted with orthodoxy.
Richard then discussed the fauna of the Reserve. It has a number of bird species — peregrine falcons (whose nest can at certain times of the year be viewed by CCTV), meadow pippets and the very rare ring ouzel (the Reserve has only 1–2 nesting pairs of this migrant from North Africa). Other bird species include wheatear, stonechat, red grouse and ravens, as well as transients such as short-eared owls. Grazers include sheep (the NTS does not own the grazing rights to the Reserve), a population of wild goats of ancient lineage and a small number of mountain hares, with occasional roe deer.
He then moved on to the main part of his talk, the flora, beautifully shown on superb slides (with not a love-'em-or-loathe-'em wind turbine in shot!) The Reserve is a European Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interest with respect to its flora. Plants of the Reserve, the terrain of which allows some rarer montane (alpine/subalpine) species to survive in crevices inaccessible to grazers, are found in eight distinct habitats of European importance. Within the Habitats, there is one Endangered, 17 Nationally Rare and 12 Regionally Rare species. The highest Habitat, Montane Grassland, has Woolly Fringe-moss (Racomitrium lanuginosum) and Heath Bedstraw (Galium saxatile). At a lower level are Alpine and Subalpine Heaths, the principal plants here in the Reserve being Blaeberry, Cloudberry, Crowberry and Dwarf Cornel. Dry Heaths are a third Habitat, comprising mainly heathers — Bell, Brush and Cross-leaved heath — Blaeberry and an orchid, Lesser Twayblade (Listera cordata). This population contrasts with that of the Soligenous Mires Habitat, kept wet by late snow melt and water run-off, and which supports Starry and Golden Saxifrage, the insectivorous Butterwort, Chickweed Willowherb, a declining population of Hairy Stonecrop (now growing in only one flush) and the very rare Alpine Foxtail, found only in the Highlands, the Moffat Hills, a few sites in the Borders and northern Pennines. Outside these sites, it is found only in Svalbard.
Another Habitat in the Reserve is Blanket Bog, comprising sphagnum, heather, Common and Hare's-tail Cottongrass, Cross-leaved Heath, Lousewort and the splendidly named Tormentil (Potentilla erecta), once considered an aphrodisiac and still used as an astringent, a red dye, as the basis for a Black Forest liqueur called Blutwurz and as an anti-diarrhoeal. Acidic Scree, another Habitat, supports Parsley Fern, and then there are the Habitats of Tall Herb Communities and Plants in Crevices, the rarer plants mentioned earlier beyond the reach of grazers.
1 February 2013
John Burnett (National Museums of Scotland) — Festivity in South-West Scotland in the 18th
and 19th Centuries
John Burnett, a Cambridge graduate, who spent 26 years from 1986 working for the National Museum of Scotland mainly as a specialist on how the ordinary Scot lived his life, was the speaker at the beginning of February. The subject chosen was Festivity in South-West Scotland in the 18th and 19th Centuries, an aspect of his historical research in retirement, for which local newspapers and local poetry help to serve as sources of information. Sadly, he finds, it is hard to discover when customs arose and reports mention happenings, but carry little detail about what people actually did before 1900.
Festivity almost anywhere in Europe starts from the Christian calendar of the Middle Ages. Scotland has been singularly at variance in this respect. The secular calendar provided the impetus for Scottish festivity, probably because religious festivals were suppressed by the Reformers and were to some extent associated with the Roman Catholic Church.
The late Professor Sandy Fenton, a noted linguist, in the 1950s had the skills to compare how people lived and went about their daily lives in various European countries. He was associated with thirteen volumes of studies from the School of Ethnology (to be found in the Ewart Library), the fourteenth of which is about to appear. A series of regional studies in Scotland, following his example, are planned. The vanguard study is being conducted in Dumfries and Galloway and John's talk is the basis of his chapter for the forthcoming publication.
The holiday on New Year's Day, the biggest of the year, provided a reason for celebration. First-footing starts to appear when cheap whisky became available at the end of the 18th Century. It emerges that there was a custom, recorded in Edinburgh and Dumfries, of it being permissible for a man to grab any woman he met and kiss her on New Year's Day. There is evidence of socialising involving tea, scones and dancing being organised in village halls. Such simplicity in merrymaking is in marked contrast to city life, where, for instance, the environs of the Tron Kirk in Edinburgh attracted huge crowds to assemble for the fun of the day.1890 was quite a year. New Year's Day fell on a Wednesday, but strangely in Dumfries New Year's Day was celebrated on the Thursday, which was market day. As the Town Council advised that pubs be closed and one third obeyed, it was reported that there was little evidence of drunkenneess. "Questionable," said John. The fact that William Ewart Gladstone, had reached the age of 80 provided a reason for the biggest holiday of that year. Temperance movements were strong at this time: in Dalbeattie, for example, we find the Flute Band of The Independant Order of Rechabites playing on the streets.
Michaelmas, 29th September, fell around harvest time, which was very labour-intensive in the days before mechanisation. Such an intermix of people allowed courtships to take place: Robert Burns at the age of 16 fell in love with 'Handsome Nell' while harvesting. Before the 1740s there was always a risk of famine and therefore, once the harvest was in, the harvest kirn was celebrated round the last sheaf. The Dumfries Weekly Magazine in 1825 describes older women chatting in the background while young women danced; there was singing; whisky and a cold collation, perhaps of oatcakes and cheese, was on offer.
Halloween inspired several local poets. John Mayne's poem had some influence on that of Robert Burns. The blind Dumfries poet, James Fisher, was born in 1759 like Burns; the two of them seemed to prefer country girls in their simple, everyday attire. Janet Little, a milkmaid, also born in 1759 — near Ecclefechan — associated the event, as did Burns, with the supernatural and folks trying to discover their fate:
There was feasting at Martinmas, 11th November, because beef animals, which could not be taken through the winter, would be slaughtered.
At Halloween, when fairy sprites
Perform their mystic gambols,
When ilka witch her neebour greets,
On their nocturnal rambles;
When elves at midnight-hour are seen,
Near hollow caverns sportin,
Then lads an' lasses aft convene,
In hopes to ken their fortune,
By freets that night. (Little)
"For mony a ane has gotten a fright,
An' liv'd an' died deleerit, On sic a night. (Burns)
Shooting competitions were popular at New Year. Kirkcudbright and Dumfries each have similar Siller Guns: the former dates from 1587 and, while there is no definite date for the latter, it is thought to have been introduced around the same time. The story that James VI donated it is unlikely to be true. By the middle of the 18th century the competition was held on the king's birthday, especially during the reign of George III. John Mayne's poem, The Siller Gun, is his best. The competition in Dumfries is expertly captured pictorially in two detailed scenes by Thomas Stothard RA in collaboration with R.H Cromek, engraver. One shows the incorporated trades on the Whitesands and the other one shows the competition taking place at Maidenbower. Prizes were awarded. At Lockerbie another 1890 event involved the hotels — The Crown, The King's Arms and the Black Bull — organising such a competition. No need to say what form the prizes took!
Fairs, of which the Glasgow Fair was the greatest, were growing in popularity as there was entertainment on the fringes. The Keltonhill Fair outside Castle Douglas has given rise to the saying, when describing a rumbustious event: "It was like Keltonhill Fair!" There is a poem, The Fair by Robert Shennan (c1782–1866) of Kirkpatrick Durham, which describes cooperware being sold, as well as seeds, cloth, fruit, and confectionary. Dancing took place. Meanwhile pickpockets were circulating. Apart from New Year such a fair was the only other holiday for country folk.
In 1794, thanks to events in France, patriotism was in the air. The Duke of Queensberry arrived in Dumfries. The magistrates and Town Council, the seven incorporated trades, the Volunteers, dipping their flags, paraded past him. Barrels of porter, freely available in the streets, allowed the people to drink his health. The Duke threw money into the crowds and gave the incorporated trades £25 to drink his health. A remarkably lavish and costly occasion!
Dumfries, like other towns and cities, entered into celebration of St Crispin's Day, 25th October, in 1813 and 1818 when an elaborate procession took place in the town, thought to be emulating the Lord Mayor's celebrations in London and demonstrating national unity.
History records at length the exploits of kings and generals. In contrast, John Burnett considers that it is important to look at what ordinary folk were doing.
15 February 2013
Pam Taylor and Nic Coombey — What's so special about the Solway Firth?
What's so special about the Solway Firth? was the title of the talk given by Pam Taylor and Nic Coombey to Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society in February.
Both work for Solway Firth Partnership, a local charity, launched in 1994 and "dedicated to supporting a vibrant and sustainable local economy while respecting, protecting and celebrating the distinctive character, heritage and natural features of our marine and coastal area".
Pam has had a lifelong involvement in community and environmental projects and has been with Solway Firth Partnership for five years. The organisation's aim is to bring together all the interests in the estuary and help make links between English and Scottish partners. A new system of marine planning is being introduced and aims to help balance demand for use of the firth with the need to protect wildlife and habitats. The Partnership has been supporting this process by gathering information on how the area is used. The boundaries of Solway Firth Partnership's operation are not rigidly defined and stretch from Loch Ryan right round to St Bees Head in Cumbria.
The Partnership aims to provide an open forum for debate on issues affecting the area. Views on developments such as offshore wind-farms are wide-ranging and the Partnership's role is to support balanced discussion. A Solway Energy Gateway feasibility study has been carried out to help assess the potential for generating tidal energy in the estuary. The technology needed to harness energy in this way is still developing and tests on new devices have been carried out recently in a mill lade in Cumbria. The Solway is a highly protected area and any new developments need to demonstrate that potential impacts on important species such as the iconic barnacle goose have been fully considered.
Sea fishing by its very nature takes place away from most people's daily observance and experience. As a result, the types of fishing that take place and the part they play in the culture of the area are often poorly understood. Solway Firth Partnership works to address this in a range of ways such as by producing informative publications. There is a need to make sure fisheries are sustainable long term and the Partnership has carried out work to promote the Marine Stewardship Council accreditation scheme locally. An old photograph showed a fleet of oyster smacks from Kent in Isle of Whithorn around a hundred years ago when oysters were commercially fished in Luce Bay. Today, scallop fishing is one of the mainstays of the local economy with high value landings in Kirkcudbright.
Creel fishing for crab and lobster takes place in the west of the region where the shoreline and underwater habitats are rockier. Work to conserve crab and lobster stocks in places such as Sussex and the Isle of Man has shown the benefits of inserting creel escape panels to allow juveniles to escape. Solway Firth Partnership is currently bidding for funding to enable this practice to be introduced locally.
The Partnership has arranged training for local divers so that information about marine species and habitats can be gathered. The work is part of a national Seasearch project which involves underwater surveys and helps to provide the information needed to support good decision making. Grant support for equipment including an underwater camera has helped to illustrate the diverse and colourful nature of local sea-life such as the dahlia anemone (Urticina felina).
Nic Coombey spent 15 years as a landscape architect and is well known in the area through work with Solway Heritage and the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere project. He joined Solway Firth Partnership six months ago working as a Coastal Ranger on the Making the Most of the Coast project. Education is a key part of this project and Nic is working with primary and secondary schools as well as organising training events and producing publications.
As part of the Scottish Coastal Heritage at Risk project, Nic is encouraging volunteers to report on archaeological sites at risk from coastal erosion. He is also organising local beach cleans and marine litter surveys as part of national Marine Conservation Society initiatives.
Another project, The Shore Thing, has been measuring the effects of climate change by monitoring indicator species. Assessing local trends in sea temperature rise is complicated by the semi-enclosed nature of the Solway and the volume of water flowing from rivers combined with tidal effect. Some species are extending their range northwards with increasing numbers of bass in the Solway for example. Studies of rocky shores show that cold water species, such as the tortoiseshell limpet (Tectura testudinalis), are still in the Solway but becoming rarer, while the toothed topshell (Osinalis lineatus) is extending its range northwards. The honeycomb worm (Sabellaria alveolata) forms complex reefs along the coast and appears to be moving north and thriving at the moment. The non-native Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) has been found in three or four places in the Solway recently. It is thought to be too cold for it to breed locally although resident populations have established at sites not far away.
Nic has a special interest in dog whelks. Although many eggs are laid in each egg-case, only about 15 might survive because the bulk of them are consumed by the emerging young dog whelks. Dog whelks might spend their whole life in one square metre of territory and many never spread more than 15 metres from their birthplace. Enclaves of them are to be found along the Solway coast. Some are impressive-looking with orange and black striped shells, while others are all white. In sheltered places they grow large and long; in not-so-sheltered places they are short and fat. A school pupil is going to survey a few sites under Nic's guidance.
At question time the subject of cockling in the Solway arose. There has been little cockle fishing for some time due to low stocks. Harvesting cockles stirs mixed emotions with their high value making them much sought after. Solway Firth Partnership recently worked with Marine Scotland to hold a local meeting exploring options for future management of the fishery.
1 March 2013 — Member's Night
Anne Fairn and Eileen Toolis — Survey of Gardens and Designed Landscapes
around Dumfries: Castledykes and Terregles
Liam Murray — Life and Work in Tanzania in the 1960s
Two members of the Garden History Society of Scotland spoke to Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society on Members' Night at the beginning of March. They are part of a team of 15 volunteer contributors to surveys being carried out since 2009 in our region, where 20 such surveys have been conducted and are incorporated in the book, An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland, while 160 more are taking place throughout Scotland. The aim is to enhance awareness and knowledge of designed landscapes.
The elements of the study comprise investigation of the location, ownership, size, history, maps, illustrations, architects, designers, designs and planting.
Eileen Toolis, former president and now a fellow of the society, chose Terregles House and garden estate as her subject. The name Terregles is derived from Welsh and means 'church land'. Owned by the Herries family, it then passed to the Maxwells by marriage. Mary Queen of Scots stayed there after the battle of Langside in 1568 before embarking on her fateful journey into England. Burns wrote the poem Nithsdale's Welcome Hame to the return of the Jacobite-supporting Maxwells from exile. The last and most handsome of the houses on site over the centuries was built in 1789 and demolished in 1964. The gatehouse and stable block are still there.
In the late Victorian period Terregles estate boasted beautifully-landscaped gardens. Documentation of the period reveals an ice house, gasometer, brick works, potting sheds, walled garden, glasshouses, vinery, fernery, extensive orchard, two full size tennis greens, a fountain, a sundial and statues of the four seasons. A loyalty photograph of 1909 shows a staff of fifteen, of which six were gardeners, standing on the steps of the italianate garden with the statues of three of the four seasons clearly visible as a backdrop.
Eileen quoted the report of DGNHAS members' visit to Terregles Gardens on 7th June 1890.
The Terregles gardens and ornamental grounds are notable for their extent and their magnificence. Stately trees, beech hedges of giant stature and perfect symmetry, terraces and banks of velvety turf, cunningly contrived grottos, lake and stream, and statuary present at every turn new features that invite the visitor to linger in admiration; at this season the grounds are gorgeous with the bright and artfully blended tints of the rhododendron and azalea, while on their outskirts a long bank of the yellow broom reflects a golden glow.
Henry Cockburn, Law Lord, visited the site and found much to admire, although he was critical of the fact that a professional rock maker from London had been employed in Scotland where nature was the supreme rock maker!
Minor elements remain but the former carefully-tended scene now serves mainly as pasture.
Anne Fairn, retired teacher and local historian, chose the villa garden of Castledykes as her subject. She had researched the scene previously for the South West Decorative and Fine Art Society (SWSDFAS) and produced a booklet in 2010, copies of which are still available from Dumfries Museum or Ewart Library for £3.30.
The attractive present-day site with a unique and magnificent layout for a municipal garden has an interesting history spanning the centuries. Two Norman castles, associated with Edward I of England and his campaigns to subjugate Scotland have occupied the site. After slaying the Red Comyn in 1306 Bruce captured Castledykes Castle from Edward's control and held it for three weeks. Anne recommended reading Edward's Wardrobe Accounts for the 28th year of his reign: inequality of remuneration of the sexes is evidenced by the fact that men were paid ten pence per day and women were paid one penny. While Bruce held the castle the accounts show the loss of 9 casks of wine, 2 casks of honey, 221 quarters of salt and 182 horse shoes! Bruce retook the castle in 1313, which was laid waste by 1335 — perhaps at the hands of Bruce. Murals, now requiring refurbishment, depict scenes from this period.
The Burgh of Dumfries acquired the site, a source of quarrying material, in the Middle Ages until 1800 when the sandstone became depleted. The Midsteeple in 1707 was constructed from Castledykes stone.
Early in the 19th century the site passed into private ownership. Ebenezer Scott, formerly of Kelton , who made his fortune in cotton in the USA, acquired it in the 1820s. Walter Newall designed an italianate villa for him, which incorporated — most unusually for the times — water closets on each floor and running water even in the servants' quarters. His young American wife, Elizabeth, a keen botanist and plantswoman, used her influence to achieve lavish expenditure of £20,000 on the garden scene, incorporating a vinery and hothouses. They grew mushrooms, peaches, grapes, figs and pomegranates. The Burgh was paid 100 guineas for moss from Kingholm Merse to provide a good base for her plants. The much-publicised garden attracted key visitors, such as J.C. Loudon, botanist and garden designer, who criticised the laying of turf on the steep banks round the quarry, as being impractical for cutting. John McDermott in 1832 described the scene incorporating "shady walks, pellucid springs and garden rills." Elizabeth, once widowed, took her precious house plant collection back to the USA.
In 1931 the Burgh bought back the site. Thereafter the house was let to various people, including James Carmont, a banker, who had 60 years association with Crichton Royal Institution administration. Castledykes House was demolished in 1952.
Alfie Truckell conducted two site excavations in 1953.
Allen Paterson, a well-known horticulturist, who has retired to Dumfriesshire, did a tree survey in 2004 to establish the age of the trees on site.
These two interesting and well-illustrated talks made the audience realise what magnificent local scenes have passed into history.
A third talk was given by Liam Murray, former treasurer of the Society. It was also enhanced by a series of interesting slides.
After graduating from Glasgow University he worked as a farm manager before joining the Colonial Service in 1955 as an Agricultural Officer. The second spell of his two-year training in Tropical Agriculture was spent in Trinidad where he met and married Heather, a charming young Air Hostess with British West Indian Airways.
In 1957 the couple went to Tanganyika which had been a German colony, but which had been mandated to Britain after the First World War. In 1955 a large number of graduates were recruited but in 1957, after the Suez crisis, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan made his famous speech declaring that "the winds of change are sweeping through Africa" and it was apparent that Independence was going to come soon and that Liam's job in the Colonial Service was not going to be a job for life.
His first posting was to Moshi on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Although the local tribe were advanced and industrious, the Governor, Sir Edward Twining, who visited Moshi in 1958 was not keen on independence being granted. However, he was replaced by Sir Richard Turnbull who had been Governor of Kenya and who believed that Independence should be granted.
The plains below Kilimanjaro were very arid but they did have a major river, the Weru Weru, running through them and the Government decided to use the water to set up an irrigation scheme, which Liam managed as his first job. In order to find the best crops for the scheme, trial plots of maize, paw paw, cassava, bananas and cotton were set up with cotton being found the most successful. It was grown, harvested and then taken to markets which were run by Indians who sent the crop to both Britain and India.
After a year the Murrays were transferred to Mbulu, located above the Rift Valley. The local tribe, the Iraqw built their houses into the side of the hills. These very enclosed buildings had no windows, a factor which gave rise to a high incidence of tuberculosis amongst the local people. They were a friendly tribe and they made a great deal of fuss of Liam's children on those occasions which were attended by both the local people and the European families. The Iraqw were traditionally cattle people and efforts were being made by the Agricultural Department to have them become involved in cash crops, particularly pyrethrum which grew well in the area and was seen as the great hope for replacing DDT. Whilst he was there Liam was involved in supervising national and local elections some of the stations for which in the remote areas were held under a tree and on the back of his pick-up truck.
The following tour he was posted back to Moshi as the District Agricultural Officer, arriving this time, not by ship and car, but instead by plane touching down on Moshi's spectacular airport on the plain below Kilimanjaro. Here they lived in a large old colonial house with an extensive garden and spectacular views of Kilimanjaro from the dining-room window and a nanny for the children. Ten nights every month had to be spent out on safari staying in tents or rest houses, which were maintained by the government. On occasions Heather would accompany him to enjoy what was, in the upper slopes of the mountains, scenery and streams which were very like those to be found in Scotland.
The main crop was coffee, which at the time each local farmer processed on his own farm and thereafter sold through the District Cooperative Society, but because of inconsistency in the processing it never obtained the top prices that the European crops secured. However, after Liam and the government marketing officers met up with local chiefs a Central Processing Factory was set up, which resulted in the high quality Tanganyikan Arabica Coffee which is now sold in the UK. The climate also suited wheat and large acreages were grown by the European farmers on the western plains of the mountain.
On his third tour he was sent to Bukoba on Lake Victoria as Regional Agricultural Officer. The plane landed on sodden ground, a feature of the wet season when the lake regularly flooded. There was a golf course on the ground alongside the lake on which there were not "greens" but "browns" of sand which were smoothed over after the players had putted out by a lad dragging a sack around the "brown". If the course had been flooded they played in Wellington boots. The roads were basic with dirt and ridges in the dry season and puddles in the wet. The Lake Steamer arrived three times a week from Kenya delivering supplies.
Independence came in 1961 and the colonial officers — other than the Administration Officers who were all given early retirement — were presented with the option of transferring to another colony or transferring to the Tanganyikan Civil Service for which a cash compensation was given. Liam took this option and with the cash was able to take a glorious family holiday in Malindi on the East Coast of Kenya.
Meanwhile there was unrest building up in Tanganyika and in 1964 the army mutinied. Julius Nyerere, the President, managed to escape and Britain responded to his appeal for help by sending in a Battalion of Commandos who quickly quelled the mutiny as they did also with a copy cat mutiny in Kenya.
Bukoba was on the border with the Congo where a vicious revolution had taken place and Liam and Heather decided to return to Britain with their three young children. The Colonial Office had set up a Resettlement Bureau and a job was found for Liam with Scottish Agricultural Industries who sent him on his first posting to their office in Dumfries to work as a Farm Management Adviser.
15 March 2013
Nic Card (Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology) — The Ness of
Brodgar — the True Heart of Neolithic Orkney
Nic Card of the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology addressed a joint meeting of Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, which numbered 73 people altogether. Delivered by an expert in his field, it proved to be a very special talk.
Nic's career in archaeology has been served with the National Museum of Scotland, Bradford University and for the last 15 years in Orkney. It was punctuated by a period in the building trade, which equipped him well when interpreting building forms in the field.
His talk was entitled The Ness of Brodgar — the True Heart of Neolithic Orkney? He began by quoting a saying about Orkney: "If you scratch its surface it will bleed archaeology."
Up to 1989 the various sites, such as Maes Howe, Skara Brae, Ring of Brodgar, Stones of Stenness, Watch Stone and Barnhouse Stone seemed to stand in isolation. After the Barnhouse itself was revealed and the status of World Heritage Site was conferred in 1989, new archaeological finds were made, associated for instance with Historic Scotland's laser scanning, the Rising Tide Project set up in 2005 and the Royal Commission's aerial surveying, which brought to light the New Bookan enclosure on the Ring of Bookan site. The Banks Chambered Tomb on South Ronaldsay was discovered by a chap making a new car park. On the Links of Noltland, Westray, a figurine called "The Westray Wife" was uncovered.
In 2002 a series of geophysical surveys was undertaken. Magnetometry was used in the Inner Buffer Zones of the World Heritage Site, namely The Ring of Brodgar and the Ness of Brodgar. When geophysics was applied to pleasant green fields in the area round the Stones of Stenness a wealth of revelations showed up, such as Big Bowe, and proved that there was still much to be investigated. Study of the area round Skara Brae revealed a new and unsuspected Broch site, much bigger than the one under guardianship.
Against this promising background, the tip of Brodgar, having thrown up a wealth of linear, rectangular and oval anomalies, was deemed worthy of excavation. Looking from the Watch Stone to the Ness of Brodgar it should have been obvious that, with the two standing stones on site, there was more to uncover on a stretch of land 150 metres long and 100 metres wide.
The history of discovery at Brodgar began with finding a decorated slab, now in the National Museum of Scotland, on the Ness of Brodgar in 1925. Two fields, ploughed in March 2003 revealed an unusual notched stone slab with a rebated back edge. Glasgow University was called in. Instead of the expected kist being uncovered, a structure similar to what Professor Colin Richards had uncovered at Barnhouse came to light. Test trenches were opened up 2004–2007 to determine whether all the finds were Neolithic and in all but one they were. More and more sites were opened up but still perhaps only 2–3% of the site was uncovered to reveal at least seven major structures. It was only the tip of the iceberg.
Radiocarbon dating has revealed 1000 years of activity at the Ness. In all there are fourteen structures. The state of preservation of Structure 1 is superb with its six recesses, two hearths at either end, two central squares and an enigmatic oval anomaly. Walls up to 1 metre in height were found. Such great areas of underground preservation take years to uncover. To uncover the remains of one such building would keep any archaeologist happy but more was to come...
The collapse of Structure 8, which is about 20 metres long, revealed an earlier underlying structure. Some might even have more than one underlying structure, which proves that remodelling and re-using of sites took place over time. Here random rubble with trimmed stone of a uniform thickness suggested to Nic the possibility of a collapsed roof. Once down at floor level it is easier to understand how the building was organised. Much more analysis is yet to be undertaken.
At Structure 14 an artefact initially called the "Brodgar Babe" was unearthed until the other half was found and the "Wine Bottle Stopper Theory" emerged! Beautifully-shaped and polished stones are being found. One exquisite axe head was the best Nic has ever handled. This coming summer they hope to reach floor level.
Each structure, although bearing similarities to others, has its idiosyncracies and all seem to be contemporary. Different types of stone such as lumps of igneous rock are contained within the walls. It could be that different communities were coming together to interact on the site. Everything appears to have been contained within a massive walled enclosure 4 metres wide, later widened to 6 metres, around which there is an external ditch.
On the other side of the Ring of Brodgar there is the Dyke of Sean, thought previously to be a mediaeval boundary until cows revealed beautiful foundation stonework. These two walls contain the Ring of Brodgar. In 2009 another linear anomaly, known as the lesser Wall of Brodgar, emerged to be a stupendous wall 1.8 metres high. There were in fact two parallel walls, one on either side which proved to be a Neolithic walled precinct from 5000 years ago.
Structure 10, uncovered at the start of 2009, was a rectangular and outstanding anomaly, 25 metres long and 20 metres wide and labelled by the press as a "Neolithic Cathedral". There were no walls where expected. Most of the walling, which is double-skinned, has been robbed out. There is pavement all the way round. The cruciform shape has a central chamber like the one at Maes Howe. Another similarity with Maes Howe is a chambered tomb. There is a partially-reassembled standing stone, incorporated into buttresses, with a hole through it and taking a line down a central axis, there is another standing stone a few metres away.
However, unlike Maes Howe which is seen as a monument to the dead, this Brodgar structure is more for the living, like Skara Brae, as there are four 'dressers', one on each wall: it may be that the word 'altar' will prove to be more applicable. In places the walling is fantastically beautiful with extensive use of contrasting colours of pink, yellow and blue-grey stone. Structure 10 when first built must have been one of the most outstanding structures in Britain and even beyond.
Art work is to be found right across the site. The number now stands at 350 examples. Colour — reds, yellows, browns — is not limited to the walls, but it also extends to pottery and brings the Neolithic to life. Coloured grooved ware was also found. A tiny percentage of exotica, such as polished axe heads of pitchstone — a type of obsidian — from Arran, complemented by flint from the East coast was present.
Ingrid Mainland studied bone deposits found round Structure 10 in only 1 metre square. She identified the tibias of 40 animals, mainly of cattle.
What does the scene represent? Was it a temple precinct, a pilgrimage site, or a tribal meeting place? These are the sane suggestions. Was it a hospital, a brothel or an abattoir. Perhaps during 1000 years of its life it served all these functions and more. Whatever its purpose, the Ness of Brodgar ceased to function about 1000 years BC. It is tempting to link its downfall with the arrival of bronze.
Barely 10% of the site has been excavated. Keyhole surgery might continue. As archaeological investigation is costly, donations are welcomed via the website.
Last summer the site had 7,500 visitors. In 2013 there will be daily guided tours from
17th July to 21st August. Neil Oliver's television documentary reached an audience of 3 million
viewers and led to a 200% increase in visits. The
website has received 12,500 hits. The
suggestion that the Ness of Brodgar might be
John Gair, a member since 1945 when his father introduced him as a boy to the Society, gave a very appreciative vote of thanks in which he called the Ness of Brodgar "an extraordinary treasure-house".
6 April 2013
Ronan Toolis (Director, GUARD Archaeology Ltd) and Dr Chris Bowles (Archaeology Officer, Scottish
Borders Council)) — The Galloway Picts Project: Trusty's Hill and the Dark Age
Kingdoms of Scotland
In Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society's final lecture of 2012–2013, there was standing room only at Gatehouse of Fleet Community Centre on Saturday, 13 April, when 135 people turned up to hear the results of the Galloway Picts Project. This major archaeological excavation of Trusty's Hillfort, just outside Gatehouse of Fleet, was undertaken by the Society last summer to mark its 150th anniversary. Over a two-week period of glorious weather, the hillfort was excavated with the assistance of professional archaeologists from GUARD Archaeology Ltd and over 60 local and international volunteers.
Trusty's Hillfort has always been known to be an unusual site, possessing Pictish carvings cut into the living rock at the entrance to the fort. High definition laser scanning undertaken as part of the excavation showed these to be of a style consistent with the construction of the fort around 600 AD. Remarkably, too, the Society found a rock-cut pool at the fort entrance, eerily similar to Dunadd in Argyll, the known capital of Dal Riada, a contemporary Dark Age Gaelic Kingdom, where an entrance pool and Pictish carvings, again far from the Pictish homeland, are also found. Similar outlier carvings have also been found at Edinburgh Castle Rock, once the capital of another Dark Age Kingdom, that of the Goddodin, the Britons of south-east Scotland.
Other exciting finds included recycled Roman Samian pottery and E-ware pottery from post-Roman Empire Gaul; a spinning whorl and an iron pin, probably a cloak pin, with a thistle head almost exactly matching a mould found at Mote of Mark. Was the pin made there? Perhaps the most remarkable find to emerge was what looked at first sight a small thick rusty disc but which turned out to be a beautiful horse harness decoration. There were even traces of leather still on the back!
Extensive radiocarbon dating confirmed that the fort was inhabited from the fifth to the late sixth centuries AD, coming to a violent and fiery end around 600 AD, at the time the Northumbrians moved into Galloway and the Kingdom of Rheged disappeared from history. What this excavation has revealed is that Trusty's Hill was a royal stronghold at the heart of the Dark Age Kingdom of Rheged, that was pre-eminent amongst the kingdoms of the north during the late sixth century AD. It was in this kingdom, at Whithorn in the Machars and Kirkmadrine in the Rhinns, that Christianity and literacy is first apparent in Scotland. These sites, along with fortified strongholds like Mote of Mark near Rockcliffe and Trusty's Hill itself, were well connected with continental Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean at a time when much of Britain was isolated, fragmented and barbaric. The evidence from Trusty's Hill indicates that it was perhaps here that the very idea of kingship in Scotland was first developed.
Rheged, for so long a lost kingdom, thought to be somewhere in South-west Scotland or North-west England, can now for the first time be fixed to the ground, not in Cumbria or Lancashire or Dumfriesshire, but in Galloway. For there is clear archaeological evidence now for pre-eminent secular and ecclesiastical sites in Galloway during the fifth to early seventh centuries AD, unmatched anywhere else in Scotland and Northern England.said DGNHAS President Francis Toolis.
Although the excavation itself is now over, analysis of finds by specialists continues, with fresh discoveries being posted on the project website. In addition, a new leaflet, Discover Dark Age Galloway, has been printed, promoting many of the Dark Age sites that survive in Dumfries and Galloway. The leaflet is free and will soon be available from outlets across the region, such as the Mill of the Fleet, the Whithorn Story Visitor Centre, local museums and tourist information centres.
The Galloway Picts Project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, GUARD Archaeology Ltd, the Mouswald Trust, the Hunter Archaeological Trust, the Strathmartine Trust Sandeman Award, the Gatehouse Development Initiative and the John Younger Trust.