Monday, February 22, 2010

George Washington's Birthday

Since today is George Washington's birthday, I thought I would post this poem Robert Burns, Scotland's favorite poet, wrote for him. It is a wonderful poem, and again shows the connection between Washington and Wallace. 

Ode for General Washington's Birthday

No Spartan tube, no Attic shell, 
No lyre Aeolian I awake; 
'Tis liberty's bold note I swell, 
Thy harp, Columbia, let me take! 
See gathering thousands, while I sing, 
A broken chain exulting bring, 
And dash it in a tyrant's face, 
And dare him to his very beard, 
And tell him he no more is feared- 
No more the despot of Columbia's race! 
A tyrant's proudest insults brav'd, 
They shout-a People freed! They hail an Empire saved. 
Where is man's god-like form? 
Where is that brow erect and bold- 
That eye that can unmov'd behold 
The wildest rage, the loudest storm 
That e'er created fury dared to raise? 
Avaunt! thou caitiff, servile, base, 
That tremblest at a despot's nod, 
Yet, crouching under the iron rod, 
Canst laud the hand that struck th' insulting blow! 
Art thou of man's Imperial line? 
Dost boast that countenance divine? 
Each skulking feature answers, No! 
But come, ye sons of Liberty, 
Columbia's offspring, brave as free, 
In danger's hour still flaming in the van, 
Ye know, and dare maintain, the Royalty of Man! 

Alfred! on thy starry throne, 
Surrounded by the tuneful choir, 
The bards that erst have struck the patriot lyre, 
And rous'd the freeborn Briton's soul of fire, 
No more thy England own! 
Dare injured nations form the great design, 
To make detested tyrants bleed? 
Thy England execrates the glorious deed! 
Beneath her hostile banners waving, 
Every pang of honour braving, 
England in thunder calls, "The tyrant's cause is mine!" 
That hour accurst how did the fiends rejoice 
And hell, thro' all her confines, raise the exulting voice, 
That hour which saw the generous English name 
Linkt with such damned deeds of everlasting shame! 

Thee, Caledonia! thy wild heaths among, 
Fam'd for the martial deed, the heaven-taught song, 
To thee I turn with swimming eyes; 
Where is that soul of Freedom fled? 
Immingled with the mighty dead, 
Beneath that hallow'd turf where Wallace lies 
Hear it not, Wallace! in thy bed of death. 
Ye babbling winds! in silence sweep, 
Disturb not ye the hero's sleep, 
Nor give the coward secret breath! 
Is this the ancient Caledonian form, 
Firm as the rock, resistless as the storm? 
Show me that eye which shot immortal hate, 
Blasting the despot's proudest bearing; 
Show me that arm which, nerv'd with thundering fate, 
Crush'd Usurpation's boldest daring!- 
Dark-quench'd as yonder sinking star, 
No more that glance lightens afar; 
That palsied arm no more whirls on the waste of war.
I'll be back with another hopefully longer post sometime this week. Until then, wish George a happy birthday!!!

Slainte, Hazel

Friday, February 19, 2010

Rob Roy Again!

Here's some more about Rob Roy like a promised earlier. Enjoy!

Rob Roy had been in the business of dealing cattle--driving them down to the markets in the Lowlands and England--and got good money for it. He earned a reputation for his trustworthiness in the deals and bought land with his earnings. However, in 1712, he raised a huge sum of money from the Duke of Montrose from their buying cattle for fattening up in the Lowlands before they could be sold the next year, and when he sent his chief cattle drover to bring in the stock, the drover bought the cattle but sold them himself. Rob was immediately bankrupt. He went to find the drover but was unable to and people accused him of stealing the money himself. The Duke of Montrose warranted his arrest and when Rob failed to show up in court, he was outlawed and his family were evicted from their property into the bargain.

Rob Roy now made it his goal to get back at Montrose. He kidnapped Montrose's factor and kept him imprisoned on an islet in Loch Katrine and demanded ransom money for his return. When no one paid it, Rob let the men go unharmed. 

Rob joined all the Jacobite Risings of the time, fighting both in the 1715 Rising and the 1719 Rising. In the '15, he was recruited as a scout to help move the troops around because of his great knowledge of the terrain and the land. For his activity with the Jacobites, he was also accused of high treason and a price was put on his head. Rob was actually captured on several occasions but always managed to escape. One of his famous escapes was from Montrose himself.

Rob was sleeping at his house in Balquidder when Montrose came and surprised him, having his men bind him tight and immediately put onto a horse flanked by dragoons, then they set off for Stirling.  

When they had to cross the Forth at Fords of Frew, night was falling and the river had swollen. Rob's arms were released for his own safety and he was put on a horse behind one of Montrose's tenants, James Stewart and tied to him with a leather thong. There's two versions of what happened next. Either, the men forgot to relieve Rob of his sgian ockle (armpit knife--I believe these were used before sgian dubhs) and he was able to cut the binding, or he and Stewart weren't on really bad terms and the man released Rob himself. But whatever happened, Rob happened to jump off the horse and dove into the freezing water, taking off his plaid as a diversion to draw off gunshot while he swam farther down stream and escaped unharmed, albeit, soaked and probably freezing!

Eventually, Rob Roy's story was known to many people and he was finally granted a royal pardon from King George in 1726.

As I said before, Rob Roy's story is just like something from Robin Hood. But these are all documented happenings and were true! You can't really help but love Rob!

I'll be back again next week. Have a good weekend!
Slainte, Hazel

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Wallace Box

Here is a few things I have found about the Wallace Box. This first thing is one I found in a book entitled The Writings of George Washington.

My Lord,

I should have had the honor of acknowledging sooner the receipt of your letter of the 28th of June last, had I not concluded to defer doing it till I could announce the transmission of my portrait which has been just finished by Mr. Robertson, (of New York), who has also undertaken to forward it. (Footnote: The box here alluded to was made of the oak that sheltered William Wallace after the battle of Falkirk. The following account of it is given in a letter from the Earl of Buchan, written subsequently to the one which was brought by Mr. Robertson.

“Sir; some time ago I did myself the pleasure to transmit to you by Mr. Robertson, of Aberdeen, a testimony of my sincere respect, contained in a box made of oak, which sheltered our great Wallace after his defeat at Falkirk; which box was cut out of the tree by the proprietor and sent to the Corporation of Goldsmiths at Edinburgh, and by them presented to me with the freedom of their Company in the box above mentioned, and which I hope you will receive. It is a respectable curiosity, and will, I flatter myself, be a relic of long endurance in America, as a mark of that esteem with which I have honor to be, &c.--Dryburgh Abbey, September 15th, 1719.”

The Company of Goldsmiths had signified to the Earl of Buchan their approbation of the manner in which he proposed to dispose of the box. He accompanied the gift with the request, that Washington, in the event of his decease, would transmit it to the man in his own country who should appear in his judgement to merit it best. The circumstance explains the closing paragraph of Washington’s letter. The box was ultimately returned to the Earl of Buchan.) The manner of the execution does not discredit, I am told, to the artist, of whose skill favorable mention had been made to me. I was further induced to intrust the execution to Mr. Robertson, from his having informed me, that he had drawn the others for your Lordship, and knew the size which would best suit your collection. (H.W. this is in reference to the portrait he was getting painted at the time) I accept with sensibility and with satisfaction the significant present of the box, which accompanied your Lordship’s letter. In yielding the tribute due from every lover of mankind to the patriotic and heroic virtues of which it is commemorative, I estimate, as I ought, the additional value which it derives from the hand that sent it, and my obligation for the sentiments that induced the transfer.

I will, however, ask, that you will exempt me from a compliance with the request relating to it’s eventual destination. In an attempt to execute your wish in this particular, I should feel embarrassment from a just comparison of relative pretensions, and should fear to risk injustice by so marked a preference. With sentiments of the truest esteem and consideration, I remain your Lordship’s &c.”

And this is from George Washington's will. As you can see, he wanted it to go back to Scotland, unfortunately it just wasn't to be.

Item To the Earl of Buchan I recommit "the box made of the Oak that sheltered the Great Sir William Wallace after the battle of Falkirk" presented to me by his Lordship, in terms too flattering for me to repeat, with a request "to pass it, on the event of my decease, to the man in my country, who should appear to merit it best, upon the same conditions that have induced him to send it to me." Whether easy, or not, to select the man who might comport with his Lordships opinion in this respect, is not for me to say; but conceiving that no disposition of this valuable curiosity can be more eligable than the re-commitment of it to his own Cabinet, agreeably to the original design of the Goldsmiths Company of Edenburgh, who presented it to him, and at his request, consented that is should be transferred to me; I do give & bequeath the same to his Lordship, and in case of his decease, to his heir with my grateful thanks for the distinguished honour of presenting it to me; and more especially for the favourable sentiments with which he accompanied it.

So that was just a bit of information I thought you might find interesting. If you want to learn more, just google "The Wallace Box" and you will find more things about it.

I'll be back later again sometime this week to post more about Rob Roy so check back soon!

Slainte, Hazel


Monday, February 15, 2010

President's Day!

Seeing as it was President's Day today, I thought I would do a special post about George Washington and William Wallace. Ever since Washington stepped onto the pages of history, people have likened him to William Wallace.

As men, they were very much alike. Physically, they were both known to be very strong and tall. They were also known to go into battle with their men and lead them from the fore unlike most generals who would either charge at the rear or stay out of the way to observe. They were men of action, and the men who fought under them respected them greatly for it. Wallace was an outlaw and was probably a bit more desperate at times then Washington, but you have to consider the time periods they lived in. Wallace lived in the 1200s where it was pretty much do or die and by the 1700s when Washington fought, warfare had taken on a more honorable approach. It actually had rules and people didn't just go around with broadswords hacking and slashing! In today's times, both the men are seen as their country's national heroes. They both fought for the freedom of their country; Wallace was made Guardian of Scotland, and Washington was made President, and they never swayed in their duty. Wallace even died for his country because he wouldn't swear his allegiance to England. And even though he did not personally win his country's freedom like George Washington did, his charisma and his horrid murder spurred Robert Bruce and many other men to take a stand, resulting, in turn, the winning of Scotland's freedom.

Another thing to point out is that the time periods the men lived in were very much alike, in a national situation anyway. Both Scotland and America in the times of Wallace and Washington were oppressed by England who thought they owned the lands. But the two men stood up and defied their oppression--Wallace when no one else would--and fought for what they believed in.

This is an interesting story that not many people know: After George Washington was inaugurated president, he received a small snuff box from the Scottish Earl of Buchan. The reason this box was so special was because it was made of an oak known as the Wallace Oak. It gained its name because legend states that it sheltered Wallace after his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. Many things have been made out of it, including this snuff box that was made for the Earl of Buchan by a jeweler in Edinburgh. The Earl passed it on to George Washington and called him the American Wallace in honor of his defeat of England. (In other words, he was saying "Nice Going!") Washington was very touched by the gift and promised to return it after he had died so that it could reside in Scotland. (If everyone was as thoughtful as Washington, Scotland would have twice as many artifacts as they have now!) Unfortunately, after Washington's death, it was stolen in a stagecoach raid in the early 1800s. No one knows what happened to it today. I personally think it is still out there somewhere. If anyone happens to run across it in the most unlikely place, please make sure it gets back to Scotland!

So here's a bit of history on two men who lived about five hundred years apart and yet almost shared a history. History does really repeat itself. Tomorrow, I will post some more on the Wallace Box like the letters of correspondence that Washington sent to the Earl of Buchan upon receiving the gift.

Slainte, Hazel

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Glenco Massacre

I apologize that I didn't get the chance to write another thing about Rob Roy this week. I just found I didn't have the time, so you can expect that sometime next week. However, today is the date of the infamous Massacre of Glenco, so I thought it would be a good idea to talk a bit about that. 

The Highlands were in turmoil after the Jacobite Rising of 1689 and King William built a new garrison fortress at Fort William to keep the Highlanders in line. William was fighting a war in Flanders at the time, though and he needed all the men he could get so he came up with an idea to settle the problem.

John Campbell of Breadalbane had called a meeting of the clan chiefs in June 1691. These were the men who had fought against King William in the Uprising and Campbell brought them together to discuss the proposal of bringing peace to the Highlands. In return, the chiefs were supposed to swear loyalty to the king before a proper magistrate by the first of January 1692. William bribed the chiefs with huge offers of money so they could buy the free title of their lands.

The king's secretary of state, Sir John Dalrymple, saw the Highlands as a constant threat and didn't think that any of the chiefs would submit on their own. However, by the end of the year, most of the clans were ready to swear their allegiance to the king. Unfortunately, an accident accrued in the listing of the names of those who had submitted. Alasdair MacIain, the twelfth chief of the Glenco MacDonalds, somehow got excluded from the list. The Glenco MacDonalds were not a really prominent clan and had made themselves unpopular with the Campbells for being noted cattle thieves. 

Alasdair was one of the many chiefs who had waited for permission of submission for the "king over the water" (James II). He didn't get it until the 28th of December. MacDonald set off at once and reached Fort William on the 31 of December. Unfortunately, when he got there he was told that the military commander could not accept the oath and that he would have to go to the sheriff at Inveraray. MacDonald once again set off into the freezing snow with a letter of explanation from the commander at Fort William. On the way there, he was stopped by a party of grenadiers who didn't accept the letter and held him for the next twenty-four hours. 

When he finally reached Inveraray on the 3rd of January, he was past the deadline and the sheriff, Colin Campbell of Ardkinglass was not there. Finally, by the 6th of January, he was able to make his submission. His oath of allegiance went to Edinburgh but since it came five days late, the lawyers refused to accept it and MacDonalds' name was left off the list.

Other clans, like the MacDonalds of Glengarry had not accepted, but Glengarry lived in a fortified house and would not be easy to attack. The government decided that they needed to reek punishment on someone as an example and the MacDonalds of Glenco fit the bill, being only housed in small huts at the foot of the glen.

King William agreed to the fate of the MacDonalds and sighed the orders given to the commander-in-chief in Scotland, Sir Thomas Livingstone. This was the sentence:

"If M'Kean (MacIain MacDonald) of Glenco and that tribe can be well separated from the rest, it will be a proper vindication of the publick justice to extirpate that sept of thieves."

The man chosen to execute the orders was Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon. His orders from Dalrymple were that he was to be secret and sudden.

Two companies of about seventy men from the Argyle regiment were sent with him on his mission. They had with them a warrant for quartering their men in the homes of the MacDonalds living in Glenco. They stayed there almost a fortnight while they waited for more orders, enjoying the famous Highland hospitality the MacDonald's gave them.

The orders came from Ballachulish on 12th of February, sighed my Major Robert Duncanson. It read:

"You are hereby ordered to fall upon the Rebells, the MacDonalds of Glenco, and putt all to the sword under seventy. You are to have a special care that the old fox (Alasdair MacIain MacDonald) and his sons doe upon no account escape your hands. You are to secure all the avenues thatt no man escape. This you are to putt in execution at fyve of the clock precisely."

The operation didn't actually work out the way it had been planned. It was snowing hard that night and the additional men from Fort William who were supposed to block off the escape routs didn't get there in time. At five in the morning, two of Glenlyon's officers burst into Alasdair MacDonald's house and shot him as he got out of bed. The sound of the gunfire, woke the rest of the MacDonalds and they ran out into the freezing weather to the hills where they could hide. Both of Alasdair's sons escaped, but about thirty-eight of the clansmen were killed.

Dalrymple thought that the Massacre was a failure because it didn't work out the way it was supposed to, but it made the Jacobites even madder and blackened the name of Campbell in Highland memory. What made it worse, was that it had happened under the hospitality of the MacDonalds. In the Highlands it was a great insult to refuse hospitality or use it in a bad way. The Marquis of Montrose, the brave hero James Graham, had been captured under false pretenses of hospitality not too long before this. The massacre really struck a hard blow to the minds of the Highlanders.

This was one of the saddest days in Scotland's history. No one has lived in Glenco since, even today. It still rests hard on the minds of Scotsmen.

Here is a link to a song sung by The Corries about the Glenco Massacre:

I'll talk to you again monday hopefully!
Slainte, Hazel

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Anyone up for a Cattle Raid?

This week I have been trying to do posts about Rob Roy MacGregor seeing as February is his birthday month. What better way to celebrate the man then to talk about one of his favorite past times? Cattle Raiding!

Cattle raiding was not exactly like cattle rustling in the American Southwest, though cattle rustling may have come from the Scots. It was more of a sport then stealing. It had rules and a code of conduct! It was usually done in the Highlands between rival clans. What would happen, is that one clan would go out and steal another clan's cows and get out of there as fast as they could. The clan who was stolen from were actually expected to go after their cows and steal them back. If they were able to catch up with the raiders before they left the other clan's property and take their cows back, then they could have them back. If not, then the chief of the clan who was stolen from would have to replace all the cows that were lost. Sometimes it came to blows between the two clans, but it was always in good fun and no one was ever really hurt. They used the flats of their blades and the worst injuries sustained were only black eyes, minor cuts and perhaps a few missing teeth. The people who were lucky enough to steal more cows either kept them or more commonly, they would go down to the Lowlands to sell or trade them for money and other things they might need. This came in handy in the winter when food was often short in the Highlands. 

The Gaelic word for a cattle raid was spreidh (spree). I wonder if this is where we get the term "shopping spree" from?

Rob was so good at raiding cattle, that once, he raided a man named John Menzies in the dead of night and the next morning, Menzies came out and saw all his cows gone without a trace. There was no real proof that Rob took them, but because no one had the skill he did at cattle raiding it was assumed to be him. Menzies had insulted him before the happening, so that just backs the fact up.

Sometime this week, I will post something on some of Rob's escapades so be sure to check back, you won't want to miss it!

Slainte, Hazel

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Highland Rogue

My foot is on my native heath and my name is Rob Roy MacGregor.

Today, I am going to introduce you to one of my favorite Scottish heros. Rob Roy MacGregor. His birthday is actually some time this month, though we're not sure which day it is, so I thought it appropriate to talk a little bit about him. In his book, Scotland: The Story of a Nation, Magnus Magnusson says this about Rob Roy: 

"Rob Roy MacGregor has become the quintessential Highlander--a curious blend of patriot (like William Wallace), freebooter (like Francis Drake), outlaw, (like Robin Hood) and frontiersman (like Buffalo Bill Cody); a man of honor who was a bandit, a cattle-rustler and the chief of a protection racket known in his time as blackmail (literally, 'black rent')."

So Rob was what you would call a romantic character. Sir Walter Scott, the famous Scottish poet and author, was a huge fan of Rob Roy. He had in his personal collection, Rob's flintlock gun, his basket-hilted broadsword, his sgian dubh and his sporran. He also wrote a novel about him called Rob Roy. Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, also wrote a book about him called Highland Rogue. (Just as a quick note, if anyone knows where I can get a copy of this book that's not incredibly rare and overpriced, please let me know!)

Rob Roy was born Robert MacGregor to Mary and Donald Glas MacGregor. His mother was actually a Campbell and after the MacGregor clan was outlawed, he went under that name. He was born in February 1671 at the head of Loch Katrine in the Trossachs. He was the third son and his father was the clan chief. He got the nickname Rob Roy from the color of his hair. Roy comes from the Gaelic ruadh which meant red-haired. Rob was a fantastic swordsman. In his life time, he fought twenty-two duels that we know of and probably more that we don't know about. He went on many cattle raids as well and was exceptionally good at not being caught. Tomorrow, I will post information about cattle raids and go into more detail. 

Rob also fought in some of the Jacobite Wars. He fought at Killiecrankie under Bonnie Dundee (John Graham) when he was only eighteen, and later fought in the 1715 uprising as well as the 1719 Rising. He was captured several times, once narrowly missing a hanging, but he always was able to get away. Rob was probably one of the luckiest Scotsmen ever. He was an outlaw for most of his life, but was eventually pardoned. He was also one of the only famous Scottish heros who got to die from old age. This about it. Wallace and Montrose were executed, The Black Douglas and Bonnie Dundee died in battle, Bruce died of sickness, but Rob dies at age sixty-three and is now buried in the grave yard of the Old Kirk in Balquidder (pronounced Balwidder) and his tome stone says "MacGregor Despite Them". He was an amazing man and is now a national hero. What always amazed me about his story is that it seems like a work of fiction. It really seems no less grand then the stories about Robin Hood, but we know that there is actually truth to the stories about Rob Roy! He will always be one of my favorite characters in Scottish history.

If you want to do more research about Rob, I would recommend W.H. Murray's book Rob Roy MacGregor His Life and Times. (Listed on my list of books) This is a fantastic book, historically accurate, and reads like a novel. 

I'll be back tomorrow with a post about cattle raiding so don't miss it!

Slainte, Hazel

Friday, February 5, 2010

Scottish Weaponry

Today, I am going to introduce you to some of the favorite weapons of the Scotsmen. The ones they fought with in battles and carried with them day to day. 

This first is the claymore, often confused with the basket-hilted broadsword that was used in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The claymore, is a broadsword like the ones used in the medieval days. Most of them were something like almost six feet in length. They were used in the days of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce and reeked havoc on the battlefield. They were never made really sharp because they were mainly used as a hack and cut weapon unlike the rapier. When you were up against men with heavy armor, this was the weapon you would want. The sword could also be reversed and the hilt and cross-tree could be used as a sort of mace. 

The weapon people probably most associate with Scotland is the basket-hilted broadsword. This was the sword of Rob Roy MacGregor and the Jacobites. By that time, the type of warfare fought didn't call for anything quite so heavy as a broadsword for armor was pretty much out of style. The basket-hilt was usually about three feet long and looked just like a normal sword except the fact that the hilt was closed in with a basket. This was because the Scots preferred to fight barehanded and wanted something to protect their hands. The hilt was usually covered with sharkskin or something rough because if your hilt got covered in blood, or, as it was usually raining in Scotland, you wanted to have a good grip on your weapon. The basket hilt could also be used as a weapon to punch people with.

This dirk was the favorite thing for a normal Highlander to carry with him at all times. Dirks were used almost every day, even for when they sat down to supper at night. A lot of times dirks were made from blades of broken swords and just fashioned to a new hilt. Because of this, dirks were thought to be almost sacred. If the sword broken had been in the family for several generations, this only added to the effect. You could even swear on the dirk when taking an oath. There's a saying in the Highlands that goes "if you lie by the dirk you die by the dirk" so as you can probably realize it was a good deterrent to breaking your word!

The targe is actually a shield that was carried by the Highlanders. It was usually made about eighteen inches round and was usually made of three sheets of wood put across the grain and covered in leather to make it as strong as possible. Most of them were equipped with a metal spike that could be fixed to the middle of the targe which also made it a weapon. What most of the men did on the battlefield was take their swords in one hand and hold their targe in the other with their spikes affixed and their dirks held behind the shield as an extra weapon.

These are just a few of the weapons that were used on the battlefield. As a better reference, here is a link to a video of the late Scottish historian, David R. Ross talking about Scottish weaponry (and the reason the sun doesn't set on the British empire!) Enjoy!

Talk to you again on monday!
Slainte, Hazel

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Today I am going to introduce you to the first Scot ever to get his name recorded in history. His name was Calgacus, which comes from the Gaelic calgath meaning swordsman. Calgacus lived around AD 84 when the Romans were in Britain. They had already conquered England with general ease and were marching up north to try and conquer Scotland as well. (Nice try!) Scotland, at this time was called the Gaelic Alba, but the Romans called it Caledonia. Calgacus obviously didn't want to Romans to take over his country, so he gathered the different clans and tribes together and went to fight the enemy. 

Calgacus was not only the first Scot to get his name recorded in history, but he was also the first Scot to get his words quoted. This was all due to a Roman scribe named Tacitus who took down his pre-battle speech to his men before they met the Romans on the battlefield of Mons Granpius.
Here's a bit of it:

"Former battles in which Rome was resisted left behind them hopes of help in us, because we, the noblest souls in all Britain, the dwellers in its inmost shrine, had never seen the shores of slavery and had preserved our very eyes from the desecration and the contamination of tyranny: here at the world's end, on its last inch of liberty, we have lived unmolested to this day, in this sequestered nook of story.
But today the farthest bounds of Britain lie open; there are no other peoples beyond us; nothing but seas and cliffs and, more deadly even then these, the Romans, whose arrogance you shun in vain by obedience and self-restraint. Harriers of the world, when the earth has nothing left for their ever-plundering hands, they scour even the sea; if their enemy has wealth, they have greed; if he be poor, they are ambitious; neither East nor West can glut their appetite; alone of people on earth they passionately covet wealth and want alike.
To plunder, butcher, steal--these things they misname 'empire': they make a desert, and they call it peace."

These are fantastic words and you can imagine how they effected the men listening to him, for after he was done talking, the Scots took up the battle cry of "Freedom!" and rushed forward with a vengeance to meet the Romans.

Unfortunately, victory was not to be won that day and Calgacus was slain on the battlefield. The defeat didn't break the clans though, they went on to chase the Romans out of their land for good, never to come back again.

There is an interesting thought on where the battle took place. Today no one knows where "Mons Granpius" is. Some historians think it might come from the Grampian mountains, and others think it might have been fought somewhere up near Inverness, perhaps even on the battlefield of Culloden where the clans were broken in 1746. Where ever it really was though, we may never know.

As a wee fun thing, here is a link to a funny song about the Roman invasion of Scotland, sung by Matt McGinn. This made me laugh really hard the first time I heard it. Enjoy!

Slainte, Hazel

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Honors

The Honors is another name for the Crown Jewels of Scotland. They are far older then the ones used in England and are, perhaps the oldest in the world! They consist of a crown, a scepter and a sword as well as other various items like the Lord Treasurer's Rod, the George, a type of medallion that belonged to James V, the collar of the Garter that belonged to James VI and the St. Andrew coronation ring that belonged to Charles I. The crown, scepter and sword are the oldest pieces though. The crown is said to contain the gold from the circlet that Robert the Bruce wore in the 1300s and was remodeled in 1540. It is set with ninety-four pearls, ten diamonds and thirty-three other gems. The sword of state was given to James IV by Pope Julius II and was made in Italy.

The crown, scepter and sword have actually had an interesting history. In 1651, they were taken to Dunnottar Castle as one of the safest places to keep them because Oliver Cromwell was reeking havoc in Scotland at that time. Unfortunately, Cromwell's troops besieged the castle which was under the command of George Ogilvy of Barras. Ogilvy was forced to surrender because of starvation but before that happened, the Crown jewels were smuggled out by a woman named Mrs. Granger. She was the wife of a minister from a nearby town called Kinneff, and one day she asked for permission to visit Ogilvy's wife. While in the castle, she was able to find the Honors, hide the crown in her clothes, and wrap the sword and scepter in lint which she was carrying. As she left, the English general actually helped her mount her horse with her precious cargo and she rode off without a word back to her home. That night, her husband buried the Honors under the flagstones of his church. They stayed there until 1660 when George Ogilvy presented them to Charles II. Unfortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Granger didn't receive a reward for their work, but there is a monument to Mrs. Granger in the church where the Honors were buried.

After the Union of Scotland and England, the Honors were taken to Edinburgh Castle and they still reside there, waiting for another king to use them.

Here is a link to a picture of the Honors :

Slainte, Hazel