Thursday, December 22, 2011
The Stone of Destiny; the symbol of sovereignty in Scotland. Wherever the stone rested, there would Scotland be ruled, said the old legends. It was taken by Edward Longshanks during the Wars for Independence and brought to England, resting there for nearly seven centuries until a young man, Ian Hamilton, and three compatriots decided to take it back.
If you read Ian Hamilton's biography, Stone of Destiny, you find that he had grown up with stories of Bruce and Wallace and the devastation Scotland had suffered through the ages by many English rulers. Times in Scotland in the mid 20th century were hard, pleas for home rule kept being denied by Parliament; the people of Scotland needed a symbol to bring back their pride and Ian Hamilton and his three companions, Alan Stewart, Gavin Vernon and Kay Matheson decided they were going to take back the Stone of Destiny.
They planned for months, studying maps and layouts of the Abbey and procuring funds and everything they would need to do it. The entire story of the taking of the Stone is something right out of a fiction thriller, in fact, I've read fiction with less exciting plots! Going down to London in middle of winter, sleeping in freezing cars, nearly getting caught on more than one occasion, struggling to drag the stone out of the Abbey into their waiting vehicle... I'm not going to attempt to tell the whole story for I could not do the it justice here, so I would suggest highly that you all go and find a copy of Ian Hamilton's book. There's no better way to describe it than he does, for, obviously, he was there, and he lived it.
When they drove the Stone back over the Border, it was the first time the Stone had been back in Scotland since Longshanks took it in 1296. That Christmas Day in 1950 was one Scotland will remember for centuries to come as the day that true Patriots of Scotland won a victory as big as Bannockburn and brought hope back to the people.
They eluded the police for months, and probably never would have been found by them if they hadn't given the Stone back, putting it in Arbroath Abbey where the famous Declaration of Arbroath was signed by Robert the Bruce and his followers in 1320. The Stone was sent back to England, Ian and his friends were arrested, but never were put in prison, and Scotland was given the hope it needed to thrive once again.
And of course, now the Stone is back in Scotland where it belongs, having come over the Border in 1996 to much exaltation; then 1997 brought the Yes-Yes vote and Scotland's own Parliament.
So at the end of this post, I wish to quote that famous passage from the Declaration of Arbroath:
"For as long as a hundred of us remain alive, we shall not submit to the domination of the English. It is in truth not for glory, or honor, or riches that we fight, but for Freedom alone. Which no honest man gives up but with life itself."
Go read Ian Hamilton's book Stone of Destiny and also watch the wonderful film of the same name. Both are spectacular, and the fact that it's a true story only makes it more so.
Merry Christmas, and a Guid Hogmany to you all!
Alba gu Brath
Sunday, December 18, 2011
I feel terribly awful for not posting anything historical in a long time, but I have truthfully been so busy I have not had time to research. I usually wrote along the lines of what I was writing in novel form, but I have not been working on any particularly Scottish novels in a long time. However, I am planning a special Christmas post this week about a very wonderful, and amazing true story that happened on Christmas Eve and was to change Scotland forever. So keep a look out for that, and do have a wonderful holiday!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
If you want to share, just post it here, or if it's online, post a link. I'll be willing to try any suggestions that come in! I might even share a couple recipes this year as well!
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
I still can't believe this is my second year of writing posts for you everyone, and I'm still not giving up, even though I've been a little slow lately. I've started an author's blog now and I've been trying to write for that. If you haven't already seen that, go and take a look, it's good fun ;)
But anyway, the Battle of Stirling. This was the first real battlefield victory in the Scottish Wars for Independence and truthfully the last until Bannockburn almost seventeen years later. Both proved many points. Wallace's victory at Stirling caused men to flock to his banner, hearts warmed to the fact that they could actually win against the English. Unfortunately, the disaster at Falkirk the year after, struck them back down to guerrilla warfare which, again, was not a total loss. Bannockburn, of course, won Scotland's freedom, but if Wallace had never fought on Stirling that day at the River Fourth, the Scots probably would not have had a hero to look up to in years to come. It is still, to this day, one of the Scots' greatest victories, made even more so in 1997 during the Yes-Yes vote that won Scotland a parliament of their own. Odd how history connects itself. This is why you remember your heroes, all my dear people.
So that's all I really have to say for now. Please, my friends, I'm still taking in Thoughts for Wallace so do not think you are too late. At any given moment, I would love to hear what you have to say about him.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
I choose things I like to put on it from Amazon.com and if you buy them through my store, I get a percentage of the selling. So I've put on some books I have talked about on my blog, and others that are some favorites of mine. There's a Scottish section that has books I recommend in history and historical fiction. I will be adding more things soon too, so there's not a lot on there right now, but there will be more soon. :) Please go and take a look anyway, and if you see anything you have wanted, buy it thorough my store!
Here's the link: Hazel's Picks
So, I'll be back some other time. If you have not looked at my new Author's Blog yet, please do.
Monday, September 5, 2011
The really fun part about my blog is that I'm going to be writing some of the posts from the point of view of my characters. I've even had them comment on the posts to make it more fun for you readers. The blog is also for you to get to know the characters more and have a chance to interact with them. (Truthfully, it's not as weird as it seems. It's all just for fun!)
So hop over to by new blog at hazelwest.blogspot.com
Also, you know what I'm going to say, but I'm disappointed I only got one thought on Wallace for Wallace Day. Very sad about that. So I've decided to be nice (again) and give you another chance. If you can think of anything now, just let me know. Even if you just say something like "William Wallace is really awesome" I'll be happy. Because remember, Wallace is a character I used in my latest book and he's going to be writing in on my author's blog, so he would like to see what you say about him. ;-)
All right, I'll be back when I can think of what I want to write about next. Don't forget that the Battle of Stirling was fought on the 11th of this month! Hey, that's another good chance to write in about thoughts of Wallace!
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
It was not for glory that he fought
Our Wallace, brave and true.
For he had only thoughts of freedom
When he stood under the White and the Blue.
Nor was it for fame he risked his life
And fought when no one else would
To free his land from the English tyrant,
For Scotland, he did all he could.
And neither was it for riches he defied
Cruel Longshanks the English king.
He rose and fought for his mother land
Like a valiant eagle on the wing.
Our Wallace was the bravest of men,
He fought with no reserve.
He defied England and its tyranny
For no false king would he serve.
Wallace was betrayed by Menteith
Who prized gold over his native land.
And sad was that awful day
When he was delivered into the Tyrant’s hand.
But Wallace was defiant to the last,
He would never give in.
He vowed to fight to his last breath
Never mind what they would do to him.
It was because of all this
That the men followed him true.
They followed him faithfully to the death
And made the English their deeds to rue.
And it was because of his noble deeds
That we remember him still.
The brave man who fought for his country
And never gave in to Longshanks’ will.
For, William, you were never forgotten,
No matter your thoughts back then.
You’re still very much in Scotland today
And fill the hearts of all the men.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Well, Wallace day is next Tuesday, which for people who don't want to do the math is one week away. And I have still only gotten ONE thought from you readers regarding William Wallace (see post below) My goal is ten, so please don't be shy and tell me what you think!
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Well, I am incredibly excited to announce that my first book is now up for sale! (YAY! play a peppy bagpipe tune everyone!) I talked about my book on my other blog The First Scribbles a while ago (too long ago) and now I have finally put it up for sale and before Wallace Day like I promised! This book is about William Wallace as a teenager and it will be a great thing to buy for yourself or a friend for Wallace Day (hint hint) It's really a young adult book, but there's no reason why anyone couldn't read it. There's nothing stupid or childish about it. It's simply my take on Wallace as a young man. A lot of my stuff from it is taken from Blind Harry because he's the only one who really talks about Wallace before Stirling Bridge. I added my own villain though, because I wanted a plot line! I think it's a good story, I'm happy with it, which means a lot, believe me, and I feel strongly about the characters. There's more historical people in it as well like John Graham, Marion Braidfoot and several others. So if you'd like to give it a go, it would make me really happy!
Monday, July 4, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
He didn’t know how long he knelt there before he heard a horse galloping toward him. He looked up and saw that it was an English knight with a lance leveled at him. But it was not the lancer who had caught his eye. It was another horseman who was riding out of the Scottish ranks. At first, Wallace searched to see who it was, for the stance of the man and his device seemed familiar to him, then he was left in no doubt when he saw the golden hair curling from underneath the helmet.
“Bruce!” Wallace spat, his eyes flashing as he leapt up, forgetting his sword, and grabbed the surprised lancer, throwing him from the saddle. He leapt on the horse and tore after the retreating knight.
“ROBERT BRUCE!” Wallace shouted out, his voice so full of hatred and anger that Bruce looked back over his shoulder. His heart actually clenched in fear as he saw Wallace, vengeance clouding his eyes, as he rode the traitor Scotsman down.
Wallace urged his horse onward until he was neck-and-neck with Bruce’s mount, then he leapt sideways, grabbing Bruce’s arm and bringing them both crashing to the ground. Bruce fell on top of Wallace, crushing his ribs with his heavy armor. Wallace didn’t seem to notice the weight crushing him and shoved the other man away. His helmet had fallen off and Wallace grabbed him around the throat, glaring into his eyes.
“Robert, ye’re a bloody traitor!” he shouted at him.
Bruce wrenched Wallace’s hands away from his throat and shoved him backwards, standing up as he glared at the other man..
“Traitor, is it? Where do you get your gall to oppose the king of England?!”
Wallace stood up as well, his hands clenching into fists. “Robert! It’s your unwillingness to act and yer cowardice that cause me to fight to free a land that is yours by right!” he shouted. “Have they brainwashed ye sae much that ye believe what Longshanks has to say? It’s ye Bruce, who have driven me to such drastic and perhaps even foolhardy measures, because ye, Scotland’s rightful leader, wouldn’t wake up and lead them against the English tyranny!” Wallace shook his head in disgust and quieted his voice a bit. “I told ye several months ago that I would follow ye if only ye would take the lead,” he motioned to his dilapidated army. “They would follow ye, Robert, but they need to know that they can trust ye, and nothing I say will make them decide that. So ye need to choose if you are going to serve Edward and hope he doesna spike yer head on London Bridge, or if ye want to be the man who will lead the Scots to freedom.”
“I would fight, Wallace!” Robert began. “It’s just complications. I want what you want, William: Freedom. But there are other ways to get it than fighting useless wars!”
“So ye would make a pact with our worst enemy instead?!” Wallace cried, disgusted almost to the loss of words. “That’s not freedom, Robert. You don’t have the gall to stand up and fight for a country that is yours by right! You think Longshanks will set ye on the throne? He want’s it for himself! Ye’d be nothing but a puppet, Robert, a lackey bent to his will like Toom Tabard! I have seen Baliol, Robert. And he’s a broken man. No, you would not rule Scotland, Bruce, and I think deep down inside ye know that.”
“I don’t have a choice, Wallace!” Bruce protested, his voice hoarse with feeling and anger. “I...”
“There’s always a choice!” Wallace shouted, stopping his words. “Do you not see that? I would have followed you! As my brother, Robert!” He paused and then lowered his voice to an earnest whisper. “As my king.” Then without another word, he turned and stumbled off, leaving a flabbergasted Bruce standing open-mouthed, watching his back as he walked off. The Scottish knight felt his mind clear then and suddenly, he knew where his allegiances lay and where, now, they always would.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Well, I finally got my plaid! It's an Ancient Campbell set, authentically woven and very hot to wear in the middle of summer in Florida! I put it on tonight to take some pictures for my profile and I wished for Highland weather!
Monday, April 18, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tale of a Hero
Roderick MacGregor piled more wood onto the fire to stave off the chill of the autumn night in the Highlands. Orange sparks flew into the air as the logs settled into place. He looked out at the glen now purple with the heather of the season that glowed in the setting sun. He closed his eyes for a minute and breathed deeply, remembering days long past when he had grown up in this same glen as a bairn.
He suddenly heard the sound of footsteps behind him and turned with a smile to see his twin son and daughter running toward him.
“Da, we want to help wi’ the fire!” said the little lad, Jamie.
“Of course ye do,” Roderick said and took the lass, Flora, into his arms. “And when ye’re done, I’ll tell ye a story before ye go to bed.”
“What kind of story, Da?” asked Flora as Roderick put her down again.
“Ye’ll just have to wait and see,” Roderick told her and smiled at the two again as they each took one of his hands and went off with him to pick up more kindling for the fire.
Once they got back and tossed all the branches and twigs onto the fire, the night had settled in, that gentle gloaming time when the earth held onto the last of the day’s light before letting it go until the next morning. Flora and Jamie danced around the fire, watching the sparks fly off into the night. Their mother came out of the cottage they lived in and stood with a small smile as she watched her children play.
“Shouldna ye two be in bed?” she asked them, raising an eyebrow.
“But Ma, Da said he would tell us a story!” Jamie said and stuck his bottom lip out.
“Please can we stay up?” Flora begged.
“Let the wee ones stay up for a few minutes, Aileen,” Roderick told his wife. “I think they need to hear this story.”
Aileen smiled at the young ones and nodded her head. “All right, ye young rogues, ye can listen to yer da’s story.”
“Yeah!” Flora and Jamie ran to Roderick as he sat on a log by the fire and he took them up upon each knee.
“I want to hear a story about fairies, Da!” Flora said.
“No fairy stories tonight,” Roderick said.
“Is it a story about William Wallace?” Jamie asked excitedly.
“Not about Wallace,” Roderick told him. “This is a story about another great Scottish hero. One who always did what he thought was right for his king and country. Now, ye have to understand, my wee bairns, that some people may tell ye he was the villain, but they never knew the real story; never knew who he really was.”
“Are ye going to tell us the real story, Da?” Jamie asked, his eyes already wide.
“Aye, I am,” Roderick told him. “Ye see, this story happened when I was about your age. Yer Granda fought in the war that came about because of the trouble brewing in Scotland around that time. Ye see, my wee ones, Scotland was in a bit of a mess with the controversy of the Covenanters and all that, but ye’re too young to understand all the politics behind it so I’ll just tell ye what happened. Ye’ve heard my stories about the great Montrose who fought for good King Charles, havena ye?”
“Oh aye,” Jamie shook his curly head. “He was a great warrior.”
“Aye, that he was,” Roderick smiled. “Well, the hero of this story is his descendant. He was a great military commander and started off his career fighting in Holland until war with the Covenanters brought him back to his own country. Our hero loved Scotland, so he gathered all the loyal men he could find and fought for her right.”
“Just like Wallace,” Flora said excitedly. “Right, Da?”
“Aye, just like Wallace, mo chridh,” he said and kissed her on the nose. “And just like Wallace, he refused to serve a false king. His king, Scotland’s king, was James, and he fought for his right to the throne. When he was called to the banner of his rightful king, he knew he would never give up until the war was over or death took him.”
“Like a true Scotsman!” Jamie cried and grinned.
“Aye, lad. He certainly had a true Scottish heart. When King James tried to get the throne, it resulted in many battles, eventually causing the king to have to leave Scotland and sail for Ireland.”
“Oh, Da, he came back didna he?” asked Flora.
“I have to finish the story,” Roderick told her with a grin. “Our hero never gave up hope though. He still fought with his loyal men, having all kinds of adventures. Once he even scaled the rocky face of Edinburgh castle to talk to the man who was holding it for King James.”
“That must have been hard!” Jamie exclaimed even though he had never seen Edinburgh castle before.
“Aye, it was, lad,” Roderick told him. “But our hero did it. Before long he was outlawed for fighting against the English king and a price was put on his head. This didn’t stop him from fighting for what he knew was right, though. He gathered more men from the Highlands, Camerons under the Chief Lochiel, and marched out to meet the foe.”
“Was there a big battle, Da?” Jamie asked excitedly.
“I’m getting to that,” Roderick assured his son. “The English were scared at the force he had gathered and sent a regiment under the command of MacKay to send them packing. They met at the Pass of Killiecrankie, our hero appearing to the traitors over the top of the hill. He and his men, having the high ground and a strong cavalry charge, made it immediately clear to MacKay that they had the upper hand.”
“Because a Scotsman can always fight better with a hill at his back, right Da?” Jamie asked. “You always told me that.”
“Aye, that’s right. And they did have a braw charge at that! MacKay’s troops tried to hold them off, but as soon as the Highlanders charged down the hill, the Sassenachs lost their nerve and ran away.”
“So the Scots won, right Da?” Flora asked.
“They did,” Roderick told her. “But their victory came with a price. Many of the men were killed and our hero unfortunately was shot in the charge.”
“No!” Jamie cried and Flora grabbed Roderick’s hand.
“He died,” Roderick told them. “But he died leading his men intae battle, and there is nothing unworthy about that. His men carried him off the field and the piper played him a fine pibroch called Lochaber No More, you’ve probably heard it before. And he had a hero’s funeral.”
“But what happened to the war, Da?” Flora asked. “Did James ever become king?”
Roderick shook his head. “Nae lass. But I dinna want ye two to despair. Someday, Scotland will have her own king again and it will be men just like the ones I just told ye about who will make it happen.”
“What was the hero’s name, Da?” Jamie said suddenly. “Ye never said!”
“He’s known by many names,” Roderick told them. “The English called him ‘Bloody Claver’se’ because they made up rumors that he was a butcher and killed men mercilessly.”
“That’s no’ true though, is it, Da?” Flora asked.
“Of course no’,” Roderick shook his head. “The Scots wouldna follow someone like that. The Highlanders liked to call him the Gaelic name Ian Dhub Nan Cath, which means Black John of the Battles because of his black hair and his courage on the battlefield.”
“But what does everyone else call him?” Jamie asked.
“The normal people?” Roderick raised an eyebrow. “Well, his real name is John Graham, but ye know what the men who fought under him always called him?”
“What?” the two little ones asked with wide eyes.
“Isna it time ye get into bed?” Their mother, Aileen came out of the cottage and beckoned to them.
“Aw Ma!” Jamie whined.
“I let ye stay up long enough,” she said with a concealed smile. “It’s time for bed.”
Roderick stood up and took the two into his arms, carrying them back to the house. “Come on ye two. It willna do tae get yer mother mad!”
They complained as he tucked them into bed and kissed them goodnight. “Have sweet dreams my wee bairns,” he said to them.
“Da, wait!” Flora cried grabbing his hand. “What was his name? What did his men call him?”
“John Graham?” Roderick said. “For what he did for his country and his kindness, the men all called him Bonnie Dundee.”
And I have probably already told you this before, but read Rosemary Sutcliff's book Bonnie Dundee. As far as fiction goes, I don't think his story could be bettered.
Have a good day my feres and if I can, I will be back tomorrow with a post about Montrose. Weather it will be some heartfelt comments and drabbles or a little information, I don't know yet.